Many college students look forward to summer break, using it as a time to rest, relax, and refuel before the start of another semester. Others view it as a chance to sharpen their skills and gain valuable work experience through internships or other hands-on learning opportunities. Castleton University’s Natural Sciences Department has offered undergraduate students summer research opportunities for the past 12+ years, allowing them to conduct independent research. Over the past eight years, six Natural Sciences faculty members have been awarded a total of $1.6 million to support student-faculty research, which has resulted in more than 30 Castleton students participating in summer research.
Summer research provides motivated Castleton students a chance to work one-on-one with Natural Sciences faculty to conduct research in a variety of fields, including microbial genetics, human physiology, environmental chemistry, herpetology, and more. Research at this level is an opportunity that is more often provided to students at the graduate-level, but Castleton prides itself on offering students experiential learning opportunities in their first year.
“Student-faculty collaborative research experiences are at the heart of the sciences and the Castleton education,” said Associate Professor and Environmental Science Program Coordinator Andrew Vermilyea. “These unique opportunities exemplify our personal, community-based teaching philosophy, while training students as creative, independent thinkers that are prepared for scientific careers and advanced study programs. Our undergraduates are performing research that might only be available to graduate students at larger universities.”
This year, students will work alongside faculty members including Associate Professor and Biology Program Coordinator Preston Garcia, who is continuing his multi-year research investigating the ways in which bacteria carry out genetic processes using Sinorhizobium meliloti as a model. Other faculty members include Assistant Professor of Exercise Science Andrea Corcoran, who was recently awarded nearly $35,000 in funding to explore the effects of CBD on individuals at rest, Professor of Biology Brad Coupe, and Vermilyea.
Students must apply for summer research positions, which last 10 weeks from June through August. Students are provided with a stipend and the option to live on campus, if necessary. Many of Castleton’s summer research students have presented their work at regional and national conferences and some have been published in peer-reviewed journals.