Summer research programs bolstered by Merck grant

The College was selected as one of 15 colleges and universities nationwide as a winner of the Merck Institute for Science Education and the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Undergraduate Summer Research Program. The biology and chemistry departments of The College will receive a $60,000 grant, paid over three years, to support interdisciplinary research in biology and chemistry. The grant will be used to fund stipends for five students participating in summer undergraduate research programs for the next three summers.

The grant will be used to provide stipends for undergraduate students participating in interdisciplinary summer research projects that are conducted by members of the faculty from both chemistry and biology departments. Indirectly, the grant will also help establish the field of biochemistry at the College.

“I really believe that the bridges that will be created between the two departments will be long lasting,” Sudhir Nayak, professor of biology, said. Research projects in biochemistry as well as novel courses in chemical biology that are currently underway “would not have happened without the momentum from the grant,” according to Nayak.

The College offers a wide array of research experience options for undergraduate science students. Students may participate in research with faculty members on campus for a summer or throughout the school year. In Summer 2006, 16 students participated in the College’s biology research program and 15 students in the chemistry program. Undergraduate research is the “hallmark of a great department,” according to William Klug, professor of biology.

Marcia O’Connell, chair of the biology department, states that the commitment and support of Jeffrey Osborn, dean of the School of Science, and Beth Paul, interim provost of Academic Affairs, have been “critical to our success and our grant.”

“Dr. Osborn’s expertise in interdisciplinary research and pursuing external funding for it” has been crucial, O’Connell said.

According to Osborn, about 35 students have participated in research programs in 2006.

“I would like to see that number double in the near-term,” he said.