Students and Faculty Collaborate on Research Program

January 05, 2009

Rollins College offers a unique opportunity for students through the Summer Research Program. The Program, which is entering its 10th year in 2009, offers students the opportunity to participate in high-level scholarly research -- research that is typically only available at the graduate-school level. This past summer through the research program, Rollins students wrote plays, created murals, conducted scientific research and more. Since it’s inception in 2000, the Rollins College Summer Research Program has “grown exponentially” states program director, Professor of Physics Thomas Moore. As an alternative component of the Rollins College Liberal Arts Program, the research program combines academic study with civic and global engagement.

During the 2008 Summer Research Program, 22 students collaborated with 15 faculty members to conduct research on 18 projects expanding over 10 academic departments. Some of the 2008 participating departments included: theater, philosophy, religion, chemistry, physics, politics, computer science, anthropology, art, psychology and biology.  Over the past few summers the projects have produced, Stage Fright, a play about Annie Russell; several new murals for the local community; and multiple science, biology and psychology studies. Some of the scientific studies include using robotics in upper-level computer science courses, researching a new method of landmine detection, and measuring the transient response of struck flat plates. The psychology department conducted research on posttraumatic stress in children and taste perception.

The Rollins College Summer Research Program enables students to further their education experience beyond the classroom and encounter real world problems. Students collaborate with professors to discuss and construct solutions. The research program effectively merges classroom concepts with real world applications.

Students work on the summer research five days a week, eight to 10 hours a day.  One of the primary goals for students in the program is publication in a professional peer journal. Students strive to present new information to the international community.  “If anyone can answer the question you’re asking- don’t ask it,” Moore said. When the research is completed students submit their work for publication in professional journals and present at national conferences. Student research was recently published in the Journal of the Acoustic Society of America and the American Journal of Physics.

2008 Rollins graduate Elizabeth Hollabaugh worked on several murals as a part of the Summer Research Program. “The summer research has been an integral part of my education here at Rollins,” she said. During the 2008 summer break, Hollabaugh worked on murals for Fern Creek Elementary, Winter Park Day Nursery and The Jewish Community Center. Art students and Associate Professor Art Rachel Simmons collaborated to design murals unique to each location. “Working collaboratively is very different than working alone,” Hollabaugh said. “When I work by myself, I will frequently change my ideas as I go and tailor that project so that it showcases my talents.  However, when working collaboratively, you have to map out every detail of what you are doing before you do it, and it is very difficult to change your ideas as you go.”  Through the Summer Research Program, Hollabaugh discovered the impact Rollins students can have in the community.

Moore believes the Summer Research Program is “the best learning experience that Rollins has to offer,” because the students do graduate level work.  “Student’s don’t know what’s best about the program until they get in it,” Moore said.

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