Clean energy for families, the evolution of women’s health, the effects of access to television on vaccination rates: these three topics might seem to have little in common, but they share one important feature — they were all the subjects of student summer research highlighted at the 5C symposiums.
This summer, students across the 5Cs received school funding to complete research projects on everything from creative writing to physics to climate science. Students from Scripps College, Pomona College and Harvey Mudd College (HMC) presented the culmination of their research in various symposiums throughout the month of September.
At Scripps, students showcased their research during the school’s weekly tea on Sept. 27.
Zoe Wellick SC ’23 completed her research through Denison Library’s Arthur Vining Davis intern program. She spent the summer studying the history of women’s employment in the textile industry and its health effects.
“I just wanted to take a topic that I was interested in and hadn’t actually learned a lot about and go my own way with it,” Wellick said. As a creative writing major, she had not previously taken any classes relating to her research, but a full summer of immersion in it allowed her to explore her interests outside of graduation requirements.
Mirabella Miller SC ’24 spoke highly of her experience doing research, adding that the application process was easy and that the support Scripps gave, mostly in the form of weekly check-ins with her advisor, was just the right blend of helpful and hands-off. Miller received the Esterly Award to support the completion of her summer project: the expansion of a short story into a 30,000 word short novel.
“There is funding for creative projects, which I found really helpful as someone who wants to be a practicing writer or artist,” Miller noted.
At Pomona, an online exhibition from Sept. 18 to 20 and an in-person one on Sept. 21 showcased the different topics students explored over the summer.
This year, the Summer Undergraduate Research Program featured 140 students and 80 faculty. Andy Schuster, grants administrator at Pomona, said the program’s goal was to allow students in every field to work closely with faculty.
“Research in the summer can be more time-intensive, productive and rewarding because students can more easily focus on their research as a ‘full time’ commitment,” Shuster told TSL via email.
HMC’s symposium took place on Sept. 21. 127 students and 44 faculty worked together to complete research in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines.
Nilay Pangrekar HM ’24 worked in the RESIST lab over the summer, studying clean ways to heat residential buildings home to more than one family in cold climates. He thoroughly enjoyed the experience, particularly his interactions with his faculty advisor and fellow student researchers.
“I see my future in the area of modeling heat transfer and the research very much aligned with that goal,” Pangrekar added in an email to TSL.
Katherine Van Heuvelen, R. Michael Shanahan professor of chemistry at HMC and one of the program’s administrators, underscored the value HMC places on summer research.
“Participating in research helps students transition from studying science to being scientists as they investigate cutting-edge questions and create new knowledge in collaboration with their peers and with a faculty mentor,” Van Heuvelen told TSL via email. She added that summer research has been conducted at HMC since the school’s creation and the department is committed to its continuation.
Claremont McKenna College (CMC) summer research projects are currently highlighted on their website, though the school has not yet hosted a symposium of its own. According to the site, projects from this summer included the nation-state’s effect on personal identity, which familial structures best protect children’s rights and a study of algae to understand the effects of climate change, among others.
At CMC, summer research focuses particularly on cultivating student-faculty relationships: This summer, 14 faculty members worked alongside only 27 students to complete research in both humanities and STEM disciplines.
Professor Adrienne Martin, director of summer research at CMC, spoke highly of the opportunities afforded students by the program.
“The goal of the SRP is to provide students with an opportunity that is rare, at the undergraduate level: to immerse themselves full-time in a research project and a research community,” Martin told TSL via email.
Miller expressed her gratitude for the summer research programs present at the 5Cs.
“I would encourage anybody who has a [summer research] project in the back of their heads to just go ahead and apply for it and lean into it,” Miller said.