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Undergraduate Research A Priority At Clarkson: 50 Students Deliver Poster And Oral Presentation At Annual Research Symposium
[A photo for newspaper use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/sure2003.jpg.]
From the development of a treatment technology to remove arsenic from drinking water in small water and domestic water systems to the synthesis of a durable, nontoxic polymer coating for a prosthetic heart valve, some 50 Clarkson University undergraduates presented the results of original research projects at the annual Symposium of Undergraduate Research Experiences (SURE) held recently on campus.
At Clarkson, undergraduate research is part of the foundation of an experiential-based curriculum that has earned the University accolades and awards over the last few years.
“Early research is one of our biggest competitive advantages,” said David Craig, director of the Honors Program, ”and the projects this year exemplify our key themes – that research can enhance undergraduate experience, that our size enables us to increase and personalize interaction between students and professors, and that a Clarkson education is focused on the individual.”
Undergraduate research at Clarkson is supported by a variety of programs including the Honors Program, the McNair Scholars Research Program, the K-12 Project-Based Learning Partnership Program, and Research Experiences for Undergraduates, in addition to numerous funded and unfunded research projects hosted by individual faculty investigators across all of Clarkson's four schools.
Research projects cover a wide variety of disciplines, from bio-molecular science and psychology to mechanical engineering and computer science. For some students, participation in research starts even before they officially begin their freshman year. Honors Program students are invited to assist in laboratories and learn research methodology the summer before they enter Clarkson. Over the next four years, students will often work as research assistants in faculty laboratories or are given the opportunity to design and conduct their own experiments.
“When I developed an idea for an original research experiment, I received a lot of support. The Honors Department found lab space and an adviser to work with me. I definitely received more help and encouragement than I expected,” said student Sarah Allen, who worked with Biology Professor Craig Woodworth on an investigation of the over expression of EGF-R, a membrane tyrosine kinase receptor, in cervical cancer. Allen begins a doctoral program in cell molecular biology at the University of Rochester in the fall.
Students present their research at the spring symposium each year, which includes an afternoon of poster displays and oral presentations before fellow student researchers, faculty and the general public. The presentations give them an opportunity to address two key elements of the scientific process: defining methodology and interpreting results.
“Conducting original research and assisting faculty research projects immerse students in a collaborative learning environment, and offer them an invaluable opportunity to participate in ‘open-ended’ problem-solving, scientific methodology, and cutting edge science,” added Craig. “It also gives them a solid foundation for future work in graduate school or in corporate laboratories.”
May Graduate Cynthia Koziol, who begins an advanced degree program in pharmacology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison next fall, agrees. “Graduate school directors were really impressed with the amount of research experience I had at Clarkson. It clearly made me a more competitive candidate. Also, I will enter graduate school with greater confidence, since I have an understanding of research techniques.”
PHOTO CAPTION: Clarkson University students display the results of original research projects to fellow students, faculty and the general public at the Fourth Annual Symposium of Undergraduate Research Experiences held recently on the Clarkson campus.