Colgate to Support Summer Undergraduate Research Projects Remotely 

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Colgate students conducting robust summer research in close partnership with faculty members is a long-standing tradition that will continue remotely this year.  

The University’s decision to shift to online research this year continues Colgate’s longstanding commitment to student-faculty research and discovery, while also ensuring funding for a majority of students who have sought to conduct research this summer.

“Even though this research will be conducted remotely, students and faculty conducting research together is one of the hallmarks of the University’s liberal arts education,” said Karyn Belanger, associate director for the Center for Learning, Teaching and Research. “It’s not going to look the same this year, most projects will be very different, and some projects just can’t be done remotely because they need to be performed in labs or in the field, or other situations that require close contact.  However, there are some projects where students and faculty can interact remotely to gather or generate new information, or much of the data collection has already happened. Students are able to help analyze that data, plan future experiments or next steps in a project, and perhaps even assist in the writing of manuscripts or conference presentations. Those are all important parts of the scholarly process involved with research and creative projects.”

Moving to an online mode of summer research will support about 70% of the previously planned projects, Belanger said. Typically, about 200 Colgate students conduct summer research on campus each year, and the University invests about $850,000 to support that work, with a mixture of direct funding from Colgate, corporate or foundation grants, individual donors, and faculty research grants from corporations, foundations and government agencies including the National Science Foundation, NASA and the NIH.

Examples of the breadth of research planned for this summer range from students working with Associate Professor of Biology and Mathematics Ahmet Ay to decipher cancer with biological networks; regulation and environmental risks in mortgage lending with Assistant Professor of  Economics Michael Connolly; an interactive outreach project with Professor of Geology and Peace and Conflict Studies Karen Harpp titled “Virtual Galapagos;” and Staging Cinema: Performance, Vocality, and Liveness in 1920s Cinema with Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies and Women’s Studies Mary Simonson.

While many in-person research projects usually begin shortly after commencement, the start of the remote research projects this year will vary depending on the specific projects and the schedules of the faculty and students involved. “We are planning to be fairly flexible and will work closely with students and faculty to ensure that everyone involved in the summer research program can conduct the work in a timeframe that works best for all,” Belanger said.

Provost and Dean of the Faculty Tracey E. Hucks shared her thanks to those involved with summer research in a recent email.

“Thank you for your patience regarding the status of our summer research program,” Hucks wrote. “We recognize that these decisions can be difficult, but based on what we now know, we feel that moving in this direction is the best choice for the health and wellbeing of all our students, faculty, and staff.”