Geneva, N.Y.—Hobart and William Smith Colleges have been selected to receive a prestigious 2001-2003 Merck/AAAS Undergraduate Science Research Program Award. The grant, one of only 15 made nationally, provides $20,000 per year for up to three years for direct support of the summer research program in biology and chemistry. Funds from the grant will support eight current students in four faculty-student research groups in their exploration of interdisciplinary research questions that bridge the fields of biology and chemistry.
The summer research program provides opportunities for interdisciplinary undergraduate science research projects, promotes cross-disciplinary communication, and emphasizes that students present their research at regional and national conferences. Student participants are chosen through a competitive application process.
The grant helps provide summer research students with stipends, housing and board, laboratory supplies, and travel expenses when they present their findings at conferences. The students will team with four faculty members, two from the biology department and two from the chemistry department, who will serve as mentors. These teams will meet regularly to exchange ideas and cross-disciplinary perspectives and the faculty members will help students achieve depth, breadth, and coherence in their scientific inquiry of nature. The students will also give works-in-progress seminars throughout the summer to develop their ability to present their findings.
The program will provide biology and chemistry faculty with more opportunities to collaborate on scientific matters and subsequently to reflect their discussion in their teaching and research. Research undertaken during the summer by Merck scholars will result in material for lectures and new laboratory exercises that focus on connections between biology and chemistry. Such interdisciplinary topics include “Investigating the Structure-Function Relationship of Membrane-Bound Desaturases” and “Correlation of Muscle Myosin Isoforms with Structure and Function in Insectivores and Bats.”
A portion of the funds will also be used to promote intellectual exchange of ideas among students and faculty through speakers and poster presentations. All Merck scholars will present their summer research in a formal poster sessions for majors and faculty members of both departments. All Merck scholars will also be expected to present their research at regional or scientific meetings with the long-term goal of submitting their research for publication in scientific journals. A Merck lecture series will be offered, featuring discourses by external scientists. Science lecturers will be asked to link their seminars to topics in offered biology and chemistry courses.
The Colleges received a similar grant in 1997, when support was available regionally in the northeastern and mid-Atlantic states. The 1997 grant provided 21 additional research opportunities, and led to collaborative research projects, joint seminar series, undergraduate poster sessions, and the growth of student-led biology, chemistry, and health clubs. Through the summer research program, 32 papers were presented at the 1998 and 1999 American Chemical Society meetings in Boston and San Francisco by Merck scholars.
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