WOOSTER, Ohio – The College of Wooster recently received a share of a $450,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant, thanks in large part to the leadership of associate professor Amy Jo Stavnezer, Ph.D., the grant’s principal investigator. It is being utilized to support undergraduate students collaborating in neuroscience research during the summers of 2016-18 at four private liberal arts institutions – Earlham College, Kenyon College, and Ohio Wesleyan University, in addition to Wooster.
The grant successfully funds a summer Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) through the NSF Divisions of Biological Infrastructure and Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences. The REU consists of four research teams, one per partner institution, each with four students and two faculty mentors for a unique nine-week summer experience.
“Each group will focus on a separate research project from a faculty mentor’s area of expertise. Participants will work on challenging, authentic research questions and learn methods, skills, and content to succeed in their research endeavors at their home institutions,” stated Stavnezer, chair of Wooster’s neuroscience academic program.
“We have a very rich and talented neuroscience community within a few hours driving distance, and this grant gives us a wonderful opportunity to work together to more fully develop our students and create collaborative research projects,” she continued.
Wooster students Noah Armstrong ’17, Madi Hunt ’17, Michael Kahl ‘17, Ksenia Klue ’18, and Greta Minor ’17, along with students from the other institutions, presented their 2016 summer research findings in July at a symposium, held at Wooster.
In addition to the valuable research experience, students gain further professional development, such as advancing ethical and responsible research conduct strategies, improving curriculum vitae, cover letter, and interview skills, and networking exposure within academe and industry during bi-weekly meetings with the entire group.
Stavnezer added that the program evolved following the successful completion of two years of a similar program, supported by Great Lakes Colleges Association funding, and the total award from the NSF is $468,830 for three summers, with Wooster receiving $130,951.
The College of Wooster is America’s premier college for mentored undergraduate research. By working one-on-one with a faculty adviser to conceive, organize, and complete an original research project, written work, performance or art exhibit, every Wooster student develops independent judgment, analytical ability, creativity, project-management and time-management skills, and strong written and oral communication skills. Founded in 1866, the college enrolls approximately 2,000 students.