Undergraduate research is popular summer activity at Meredith College. This year, nearly 20 students worked with faculty mentors on research efforts, with support from Meredith’s Undergraduate Research Program (URP).
URP Director Paul Winterhoff calls summer an optimal time for research because students and faculty have more time to immerse themselves in the projects. Students are able to work up to 35 hours per week during the summer.
“Immersing herself in a research project in the summer time allows the student to work more intensely with her faculty mentor,” Winterhoff said. “Faculty, in turn, can provide student researchers more one-on-one attention because their teaching loads are generally lighter, and in some cases the student is working in a broader research program that the faculty member concentrates on in summer.”
Benefits of summer research include pursuing a project that produces a tangible result, such as a presentation or publication, clarifying career interests, and building marketable skills that are attractive to future employers or graduate programs.
“Students gain and hone a number of valuable skills under their mentor’s tutelage including: problem-solving and creativity, critical and reflective thinking, skills in collaboration, and information literacy, presentation, writing, and the use of specific research tools and techniques of their discipline,” Winterhoff said.
Student Rachel Powell, ’16, is working with Associate Professor of Biological Sciences Karthik Aghoram on research looking at a gene that is thought to increase the drought tolerance of plants. She is using strengths identified through Meredith’s StrongPoints program this summer.
“My strengths – restorative, learner, achiever, command, and deliberative – all work together in the lab to help me expect obstacles, plan ahead, and learn what I could have done differently to avoid the issue. My command strength helps me tackle any issues that could arise immediately by making quick decisions. The achiever in me just likes to stay busy,” Powell said. “Throughout the summer, I’m using all of my strengths … expanding the knowledge I've gained in the classroom with new techniques and procedures I learn this summer.”
Bri Crumbley, ’16, is working on a theoretical examination of the ways in which individuals interact.
“Focusing on worldviews, belief systems, and gender, I look to answer the question ‘Why should I respect someone who is different than I am?’ using the writing and theories of various philosophers in the phenomenological, humanist, and feminist schools of thought,” Crumbley said.
Research has added to Crumbley’s educational experience at Meredith.
“[Research] not only creates a space for educational creativity, but also enhances the way that the classroom is experienced,” she said. “It gives you the opportunity to dive into a project in a way that gives you a total sense of ownership and the ability to really find joy and success in the outcomes.”
These projects are funded through the Undergraduate Research Program, supported by Meredith’s Shepard K. Halsch Endowment for Undergraduate Research. In addition, projects that are sustainability focused are funded through the Environmental Sustainability Initiative (ESI), thanks for a generous grant from the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation.
Meredith's annual Taste of Research event was held on September 16, 2015 in Carlyle Campbell Library. Twenty-two students shared poster presentations of their summer research efforts.