Students from across departments at IUP presented their research posters at the College Lodge on
August 7, gesturing enthusiastically at graphs and figures as they explained ideas they had explored during the new Research Experience for Summer
Scholars. The poster session marked the end of the inaugural summer of the
Justin Fair, head of the new program, looked from
poster to poster as the students presented.
“A lot of cool science happens at the edges where our
disciplines meet,” Fair remarked. “The goal is to increase opportunities
for undergraduate research, so the idea was to create a program that would
The Research Experience for Summer Scholars program emphasizes
collaboration and discussion, matching students with professors from throughout
the college who can assist them in delving into their personal curiosities. The
program also works with the on-campus Writing Center to provide the students
with a workshop on relevant writing-related skills such as resume
writing for research positions.
“You don’t have to be
stuck in a lab all the time, that’s not what science is about,” said Fair.
In that spirit, the
program also included recreational activities to bring the students together outside of the lab. Pizza nights (affectionately dubbed Petri
Plate Pizza sessions) throughout the summer and a group trip to Yellow Creek
fostered a sense of community and allowed for discussion among the students this
Fair recalled a student who had come to him earlier in the summer.
“He had this compound, and
he said ‘I just think [the compound] is so cool, I really want to work with
it.’ And I said, ‘We don’t have an instrument to study this with,’ and he said.
‘Let’s build one!’ So I said, “Okay!”
This sort of enthusiasm is
apparent in both professors and students involved with the program.
“It was great, and the
best part was that it was really just a big collection of people who like to
talk about science,” said biology student Catherine Zisk, laughing as she stood
in front of graphs charting the activity of the mice she had studied over the
“This is a dream come
true,” Deanne Snavely said. Dean of the College of Natural Sciences and
Mathematics, Snavely was brought to tears by the success of the program for
the group of students gathered at the poster session. “It changed the course of
my life, doing what they’re getting to do, that’s the kind of impact I would
hope this will have for these students.”