Students are 'driving force' behind summer research

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video iconAfter working at a Manhattan consulting firm last summer, Emily Kennedy ’11 has traded the hustle and bustle of city life for an opportunity to hone her research skills during the quieter months on campus.

“The change is fantastic,” said Kennedy, who is assisting geology professor Connie Soja this summer with the completion of a book about endangered species.

“Summer research is a unique experience to work one-on-one with professors and fully delve into a project,” added Kennedy. “You don’t have the distractions that come during the academic year.”

She is one of about 140 Colgate students receiving paid summer research fellowships, allowing them to collaborate with faculty members on projects of common interest.

Spanning all disciplines, this summer’s research endeavors include investigating local ant species, developing a tool that measures the quality of a home’s insulation, and creating a web-based system that contains information about gas wells in the region.

Summer Research

“It’s great to see an undergraduate get in the lab and be the driving force behind answering questions,” said Ken Belanger, associate professor of biology.

Belanger’s research assistant Elise DeRoo ’12, a molecular biology major, is getting a real taste of the demands of scholarly research as she studies how proteins are imported into a nucleus.

DeRoo’s summer-time pursuit inside a Ho Science Center lab is expected to result in two publications. It is not unusual for the summer research assistants to present work at conferences or even co-author papers in academic journals.

“I will definitely have a leg up when pursuing a graduate degree and eventually a profession in my particular field,” said DeRoo.

Belanger noted that the experience is just as gratifying for faculty members: “Our student-collaborators give us fresh insights into our research fields.”

The summer research experience isn’t all about work.

When they’re not in a geology lab or at an off-campus field site, research partners Alison MacNamee ’12 and Jacky Baughman ’13 can be found exploring the Hamilton area.

“I really feel like we got to be part of the community, integrating ourselves in ways we wouldn’t have otherwise,” said MacNamee.

Summer Research