Student-faculty research tackles big questions

Amanda Crawford '14 presents her summer research at a recent poster session on campus.
Amanda Crawford '14 presents her summer research at a recent poster session on campus.

The questions are big: How do we get middle school girls interested in computer science? How can we make computers run more efficiently? Are fatty foods addictive?

This summer, 74 students worked with faculty on research projects to find answers for these and many other questions in fields including behavioral neuroscience, biological sciences, botany, chemistry, anthropology, psychology and sociology.

Amanda Crawford ’14 is a computer science major from Chicago who discovered she has a natural talent for programming in an introductory class at the College. She began to wonder why computer science wasn’t introduced to her – and other girls like her – at an earlier age.

“I want to inspire young women to do research in the field of computer science and change the face of technology,” she says.

She worked with Christine Chung, the Tempel Professor of Computer Science, to research the digital divide between girls and boys to understand why young women, and specifically those from underrepresented groups, aren’t attracted to the field of computer science. She is using the results of that study to build an application to teach programming to middle school girls.

Crawford and more than a dozen other students presented the results of their summer research at a recent poster session. Students interested in conducting research with faculty are eligible for a number of fellowships and grants. All students are also eligible for a $3,000 internship educational award that can be used for a student-faculty research experience.

“As someone working toward a career in science of medicine, being a part of this amazing research is helping me hone my skills to reach my professional goals,” says Lauren Cameron ’14. A behavioral neuroscience major, Cameron worked with Joseph Schroeder, associate professor of neuroscience, on a research project that compared the addictive qualities of high-fat/ sugar foods and powerful narcotics like cocaine.

The research poster session was sponsored by the Academic Resource Center, which provides tutoring, workshops and group study for academics, study skills and time management. The center collaborated with the College’s science departments for the session and will plan similar events with other departments in the future.

September 19, 2013