Summer Fellows Delve into Original Research with Faculty

In its 18th year, the Summer Fellows research program at Ursinus College has stayed close to its roots as a time for students to work on original research with faculty, without the distractions of the academic semester. It began with a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in 1996, and as the grant ended, the program was extended to include all disciplines.

Now, some 70 students each summer study such diverse topics as nervous system development, single-walled carbon nanotubes,the housing crisis and and themes in Jean Rhys’ fiction.

Jamie Faselt worked on a nine-acre field in Trappe, Pa., studying predatory insects and alfalfa, a main feed crop for cattle, as a means of finding alternate methods of pesticides. She, a faculty mentor and another student will present their research at the Entomological Society of America’s annual conference in Portland, Oregon this fall.

At the request of the Historical Society of Montgomery County, Lindsay Doyle and her faculty mentor Rebecca Jaroff pored over the delicate pages of a Civil War era newspaper in which they uncovered a debate on the morality of slavery between two prominent men of the time.

Michael Gasbarro traveled to the man made lagoons in Ocean City, N.J., to test water quality and bacterial levels so that swimmers can know if the water is safe, and if not, can take action to improve the quality of water in lagoons.

The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC &U) has championed student research as one of the “high impact practices”  that involves students “with actively contested questions, empirical observation, cutting-edge technologies, and the sense of excitement that comes from working to answer important questions.”

The Summer Fellows program at Ursinus allows a sophomore or junior to pursue an independent scholarly project under the mentorship of a faculty mentor, during two months when both can devote more time exclusively to research. Participants in the selective program can do an independent research or creative or artistic endeavor on or off campus, and receive a $2,500 stipend and a room on campus.  Fellows cannot hold fulltime jobs during this period. Many present their research or projects at conferences or carry it on during the year.

The 2014 program concluded July 25 with a symposium and an audience of peers, mentors and visitors.