Students and Faculty Come Together for Summer Research

April 11, 2008

When college students think about summer, they might envision lazy days spent on the beach or quiet time relaxing at home. Many Rollins College students, however, give up their summer vacations to take part in Rollins Student-Faculty Summer Scholarship Program. The program annually features a variety of in-depth research projects that are typically only available at the graduate level.

Joseph Bromfield and Jennifer Cavenaugh
As part of the Student-Faculty Collaborative Research Program, Rollins student Joseph Bromfield (left) and Jennifer Cavenaugh, who holds the Winifred M. Warden Endowed Chair of Theatre Arts and Dance, studied letters from actress Annie Russell. Their collaboration will continue into the summer of 2008. 

Every summer, students and faculty members take part in the Student-Faculty Collaborative Research Program. The Summer of 2008 had 22 students and 15 faculty members collaborate on 18 different research projects in anthropology, art, biology, chemistry, computer science, philosophy, physics, political science, psychology, religion and theater. Summer projects include research on post-traumatic stress in children and oil dependence and energy policy in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

In the summer of 2007, 43 students and 20 faculty members participated in the program, which is open to all Rollins students who wish to perform collaborative research with faculty. Students and faculty members work together to develop a proposal for a unique research project in the faculty member’s field. A faculty committee reviews the proposals, and funding is awarded to as many projects a possible.

The program offers students the opportunity to participate in high-level scholarly research -- research that is typically only available at the graduate-school level. Once the projects are selected, the only requirement is that the research meets internationally recognized and accepted scholarly standards. This usually means getting published in a peer-reviewed scholarly journal. However, not all fields require a paper. The program welcomes creativity, and students in all majors, including theatre and art, can participate. Their research can culminate in a performance of their play or display of their artwork.

Professor of Physics Thomas Moore leads the program. “What makes our program different from other similar programs is the goal of a high level of academic scholarship from the faculty themselves,” Moore said. “This is a collaborative project between the student and the faculty, not just a student project or an assistantship to a faculty member’s own research.”

One of the goals of the Program is to allow students to do projects that capture their interests and inspire their desire to learn. Projects conducted last summer ranged across various academic fields and included a community mural project by studio art majors, research on letters from actress Annie Russell, an improvised play put on by theatre students and research conducted on the International Criminal Court by Michelle Tanyhill, a philosophy and psychology major, and Assistant Professor of Philosophy Eric Smaw.

Another unique aspect of the program is that many of the researchers travel to conferences around the U.S. and the world to present their research. If they are accepted to present in a professional section, they receive funding for their travel. Smaw and Tanyhill traveled to Peru in June to present their research on “The International Criminal Court as a venue for prosecuting all forms of discrimination of women as a crime against humanity.”

While some may think doing research over the summer is no day at the beach, students and faculty at Rollins relish the opportunity to learn from each other and the community. Erica Tibbetts, a studio art and English double major, was one of the three students working on the community mural project with Professor of Arts Rachel Simmons. Their project was about more than work. “We love art, and we got to share our art with other people who will be able to enjoy it for a long time to come,” Tibbetts said.

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