Big News About Research
Undergraduate Research Week, Apr. 11-15, established by Congress, highlights the importance of research in students’ personal and professional growth.
- has multiple personal and professional benefits to students.
- is good pedagogy, engaging students early in their learning careers.
- is beneficial across disciplines.
- is beneficial to faculty as well, challenging their teaching and scientific exploration.
In nearly every academic department you’ll find individual and collaborative research projects throughout the academic year, as well as during breaks, internships, and study abroad. The research often results in publication and presentations at national or international meetings.
Grinnell at the ACS National Meeting
The broad range of student research projects include applications of chemistry to energy and materials science, making new molecules (synthesis), and subdisciplines such as biochemistry, inorganic chemistry, and computational chemistry.
Grinnell provided support for the students’ research projects and travel to the national meeting.
Rethinking Human Rights
The genesis for faculty-student research may start with the faculty member being a student, too. Brigittine French, assistant professor of anthropology, participated in a faculty development seminar on genocide offered by the Center for International Studies.
From the seminar, French developed a course “Anthropology, Violence, and Human Rights,” which intrigued Heather Riggs '12 who wrote a paper, “Sovereignty, Language, and Bare Life: The Legitimization of Torture in the War on Terror.” Riggs’ paper was recently accepted for publication by the Amherst Interdisciplinary Undergraduate Law Journal.
Off-Campus Research: Classifying Pain
Bratt, who has a concentration in neuroscience, studied pain from neurophilosophical perspectives and found that classifying pain by function, as well as feel, may be helpful to clinicians and patients. He presented his research at the Institute and is working on a paper for publication.
Movies as Religion?
Just in time for the Rocky Horror Picture Show national convention, Apr. 4-10, religious studies major Carly Jerome '11 is presenting an analysis comparing it and another iconic movie, Withnail and I, with religion. She used religious theory to examine how belief, ritual, custom, tradition, community, and institution function. Her findings? The films' followings and religion function similarly.
Jerome will present “The Cult Film and Religion: Withnail and I and The Rocky Horror Picture Show” at the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference later this month in San Antonio.
This is Jerome’s second research presentation at a national conference while a Grinnell student. Her first was in November 2010, when she presented “Queering the Connection Between Pleasure and Death Drive: Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! and Bound” at the 2010 Film & History National Conference in Milwaukee.
Sports and Identity
von Geldern’s MAP, directed by Gemma Sala, instructor in political science, was an extension of his study-abroad experience in South Africa as a third-year student.
He also presented his research at the Midwest Political Science Association meeting, and his results have recently been selected for publication in the New Hampshire Institute of Politics Global Topics electronic journal.
For students in Aquatic Biology, Animal Behavior, and Organisms, Ecology, and Evolution, the lab is the great outdoors at the Conard Environmental Research Area (CERA), or “biopreserve,” located 11 mi. from campus. Recent student MAPS conducted research at CERA on:
- Bacteria-influenced sex changes in ants
- Bee diversity in planted prairie
- Seed production by pale purple coneflowers
- Goat browsing for invasive shrub control
The faculty-student collaborations resulted in presentations at the Midwest Ecology and Evolution conference this spring. And the on-campus greenhouse also allows students to conduct research in state-of-the art, climate-controlled environment.
"The Powers of Pi"
Professor of Mathematics Marc Chamberland recently co-authored a paper on a math conjecture with a local high school student, Patrick Lopatto.
Lopatto took classes through the Advanced Scholars’ Program that opens courses to local high school students. Chamberland selected the research topic and together the pair was able to create “an expanded formula for all odd powers of pi.”
Chamberland says research along these lines has been developed for over 100 years. He and Lopatto used a computer to help make conjectures, laying the groundwork for their proof.