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Funding from the KINSC allowed Winifred Johnson ’09 (left) to do research in biophysical chemistry at Lund University in Sweden.
Funding from the KINSC allowed Winifred Johnson ’09 (left) to do research in biophysical chemistry at Lund University in Sweden.

Reporting on the KINSC

When it opened in 2001, the Marian E. Koshland Integrated Natural Sciences Center (KINSC) became the hub for science on campus. This state-of-the-art, 140,000-square foot complex encompasses eight academic departments, as well as several interdisciplinary concentrations, and houses a host of high-tech research labs

But the KINSC is more than a well-appointed building. Thanks to generously endowed funds from eminent biochemist Daniel E. Koshland (husband of Marian E. Koshland), in 2008 the KINSC also became the college’s newest interdisciplinary Center, administering an array of initiatives to advance student and faculty scholarship in science. The KINSC’s first annual report, released this winter, chronicles its accomplishments as well as the vision that informs the programs that have touched the lives of dozens of faculty and student researchers.

The idea for the KINSC arose in the early 1990s, when Board of Managers member Marian Elliott Koshland (1921–1997), an immunologist and professor at the University of California, Berkeley, arranged for the Board to hear from a group of group of science faculty interested in promoting inter-disciplinary education at Haverford. Koshland, who had come to know Haverford in the 1970s, when two of the Koshlands' sons attended, invited the group to argue for a new building that would house all of the sciences and promote interactions among faculty and students. She also generously provided the lead gift that made possible the building the College would posthumously name in her honor.

Biology Professor Robert Fairman was appointed KINSC director in early 2008, becoming the first director to be charged with making program recommendations. “Our main priority has been to support and enhance the interaction between student and faculty,” says Fairman. He sought to emulate the best elements of the Hurford Humanities Center (HHC) and the Center for Peace and Global Citizenship (CPGC). “We found ourselves continually asking, who on the faculty is sponsoring students in doing work that will most enrich their academic experiences—both in research environments around the world, and once they return to campus?”

One section of the annual report highlights faculty-led projects with international collaborators, which provide students with unique research opportunities around the globe. For the past several summers, for example, Biology Professor Iruka Okeke, has brought students to Nigeria and Ghana to study molecular biology. “Students were transformed by these experiences,” says Fairman.

The report also highlights the many research-rich opportunities that student fellowships and travel stipends provided by the KINSC make possible. Adam Subhas ’09 studied deep sea coral during a month-long research cruise in the South Pacific. Elizabeth Willis '13 traveled to Greece to support sea turtle conservation efforts. Lee Flaherty ’12 devised his own internship in hydrology and engineering at the Seawater Greenhouse Australia. And Shanaye Jeffers ’12 spent the 2009–10 winter break in Costa Rica and Nicaragua doing clinical studies as part of the Medical International Service Learning Program.

Emily Northrop ’13 and Genna Cherichello ’11 traveled to do research in distinguished laboratories at (respectively) Harvard’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and the Neurosciences Institute, San Diego. According to Fairman, KINSC support can remove barriers for students who seek to study with a particular scientist who may not have funding for an added position.

“In the sciences you don’t take on research help unless you can pay for it,” Fairman says. “Nine times out of ten, when scientists learn that the Center can defray the cost, they are eager to take on a Haverford student.”

KINSC activities are directed by a steering committee comprised of faculty members from various disciplines (including the arts and humanities) as well as ex-officio member John Mosteller, the College’s assistant vice president for academic resources, who also works with the HHC and the CPGC. Since 2007 the center has employed a coordinator, Natalie Marciano, now full-time, who administers the Center and supports the student and faculty programs.

When Fairman completed his term as director in June 2010, Chemistry Professor Rob Scarrow succeeded him. Scarrow says that the KINSC will continue to support students in summer projects, as well as aid them in traveling to meetings where they may present results and meet other scientists who might be future collaborators.

Scarrow, who sees the KINSC playing a facilitator role for groups of faculty and students from multiple disciplines working together, says the Center is also soliciting ideas from faculty for new projects that offer promising opportunities for undergraduate involvement. “The National Science Foundation often wants to see several papers published before you can apply for a grant,” Scarrow says, “but we like to provide support when a program is in its earliest stages.”

--Alison Rooney

The ramp from Magill Library with Ryan Gym and Sharpless Hall in the background.

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