All of our students in the Natural Sciences Department are encouraged to participate in either a relevant internship or research project. Many faculty members in the Natural Sciences Department at Castleton engage undergraduate students in research projects. We have brand new, high quality research laboratories dedicated to research in molecular biology, microbiology, ecology, analytical chemistry, exercise physiology, and geology as well as a new greenhouse with dedicated research space. We believe there are many benefits to undergraduates engaging in research, both for the faculty mentors and for the students.
First, for students, personal development is an outcome of research experience from which rewarding career choices can grow. An independent research experience provides a basis for deeper understanding of science career choices, improvement of marketable technical and research skills, and experience with communication and the larger scientific community. Research has shown that these experiences create more confident, tolerant, and independent workers. These attributes will better prepare science students for immediate job opportunities or admission into graduate programs upon receiving their degrees.
College faculty members and the larger society also benefit from undergraduate student engagement in research. The research mentoring process not only produces new data and scientific understanding, it informs the broader teaching activities of the faculty member and provides a continuing link to the scientific community. The benefits to society include a much deeper understanding of the nature of science among college graduates, and better retention and/or recruitment of students into life-long science careers.
Over the past few years our faculty have been awarded several external grants from the National Institute of Health (via the Vermont Genetics Network), the National Science Foundation (via Vermont EPSCoR), and the United States Geological Survey (ED Map) that has allowed our faculty to purchase new state of the art instrumentation and offer paid summer research positions to Castleton students to work on novel collaborative research. Additionally, many students work with faculty on independent research projects during the academic year and present their work at the annual Castleton Scholars Celebration in April of each year. Students should contact faculty directly to find out more information about current research opportunities.