Rickey Foundation Supports Research – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Rickey Foundation Supports Research

Each summer since 1987, Hobart and William Smith have been bringing students together on campus for the Summer Science Research Program that partners students with faculty mentors to engage in original research projects.  The Colleges are proud to announce that the Brenda and David Rickey Foundation has recently approved a three year, $45,000 grant to support students in the Summer Science Research Program who will undertake research projects in Geneva at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station (NYSAES), a division of Cornell University.  The foundation’s support marks the first time the summer program has received funds specifically earmarked for projects performed at the NYSAES. 

Beginning in summer 2009, annual increments of $15,000 will support three students from the Colleges’ science departments.  Students will conduct 8 – 10 weeks of research on a pre-determined project within their given fields under the guidance of Cornell faculty mentors at Geneva’s NYSAES.  Student funding will cover a modest stipend, housing, a food allowance, supplies and, occasionally, travel to a national conference to present research results. 

Dave Rickey

A native of Geneva and 2006 recipient of the Colleges’ prestigious President’s Medal, David M. Rickey, and his wife Brenda, have long been known for their philanthropic support of the Colleges and the greater Geneva community.  In 2005, the Brenda and David Rickey Foundation supplied funding to endow the Colleges’ George F. Rickey ‘45 scholarship fund in Chemistry, named in honor of David’s father.  The foundation is now stepping forward again to provide financial support for science education while simultaneously strengthening the Colleges’ collaborative ties with the State Agricultural Experiment Station. 

Thomas Glover, professor of biology and a lead faculty member for the Summer Science Research Project, discussed the synergies between the Colleges and the NYSAES that the Brenda and David Rickey Foundation will help carry forward. 

“Our long-standing relationship is mutually beneficial to both institutions. We send them conscientious, strong students to assist them in their research and the Station provides that ‘out of classroom’ experience, giving students exposure to the vocational side of their scientific interests,” said Glover.  “Students are also able to tap into the Station’s extensive resources, offering exposure to state-of-the-art equipment and additional mentoring opportunities. I am grateful to their faculty for their continued willingness to counsel with our students and for the available funding opportunities that allow this relationship to continue and flourish.” 

The 2009 Summer Science Research Program has currently placed a total of 51 students from variety of majors out of a competitive pool of 109 applicants.  Additional placements are still pending.  Applicants must demonstrate a compelling interest in science and show the potential to be outstanding researchers. All students are welcome to apply but certain projects may require class prerequisites.

Summer 2009 recipients of the Brenda and David Rickey Foundation summer research funds are:

Melissa Backus ’10 will perform research in the plant pathology department on Phytophthora Blight, which is caused by a water mold. Her scholarship will allow her to work with Dr. Chris Smart, who is studying the effects of Phytophthora Blight on pumpkin crops in New York State and other vegetable crops. Backus is a double major in classics and Ancient Greek and a double minor in biology and health care professions. In addition to her intensive studies, Backus also serves on campus as a member of the healthcare professions club and is a tour guide, a hosting coordinator, resident advisor and a member of the William Smith Judicial Board. Currently, she is taking coursework to become an HWS EMT. After graduation, she plans to pursue a doctorate in pharmacy.

Cullen White ’11 will be working in horticultural sciences on a project to develop willow as a benign, sustainable energy source. White is a biology major and a public policy minor, who plans to attend medical school. He has a special interest in orthopedics. Outside of the classroom, White is a member of the varsity golf team, club hockey and lacrosse as well as a member of health professions club and an intern at the radiology center at Geneva General Hospital.

Gillian Meade ’11 has been assigned to the USDA Plant Genetic Resources Unit to perform DNA fingerprinting on apple accessions from around the globe. Meade is a biology and environmental science double major with an education minor. When she’s not studying for class, Meade serves as a biology teaching assistant and a tutor with the Center for Teaching and Learning. She is also part of the Colleges Chorale, Campus Greens, Close Knit, and William Smith Club Rugby. After graduation, she plans to enter the research field.

Intensive research projects can affirm a student’s passion for their vocation, lead to credit-bearing internships and assist with admission into top graduate programs. Interested applicants for the 2010 Summer Science Research Program and related funding opportunities should speak to their faculty advisor about program qualifications and application deadlines.  Annual applications are processed through the Provost’s office in Coxe Hall.