While most students head home for the summer, a handful can be found across campus doing research. Assistant Vice President for Research Kevin O’Kelley has been working hard this semester to consolidate all the research programs and looks forward to seeing what students do this summer. Across campus, over 40 students can be found this summer hard at work in labs and offices.
“We have a variety of programs across campus where we invite students to do something new, something on their own that is not in the textbook,” O’Kelley said. “We have students who work in every school on campus. We have students who are doing archaeology work … we have students doing choreography work, and there are students doing work on the Missouri River.”
Participation in some of these programs required an extensive selection process, complete with applications and interviews. These students will engage in research all summer long, with many of them committing over 30 hours a week.
“We support you over the summer, so we do expect you to work. There’s an interview process. It’s a commitment,” O’Kelley said. “It’s not 40 hours a week, but we pay enough that you don’t have to have a second job. We do expect you to be in the lab.”
While these students don’t get to experience the summer off like many do, summer research participants tend to be better applicants for graduate schools. Additionally, independent research can teach valuable skills that often aren’t taught in traditional classes.
“Virtually all of our medical school students have been engaged in research, and for law school students, many of them have done creative scholarship outside of the classroom,” O’Kelley said. “I’m not saying that it just pads the resume; I’m saying it teaches them to work on their own. They learned the scientific method or sometimes they learned failure.”
Students who did research last year really felt like the program made a difference in their lives.
“I want to continue doing research. I really liked it, and I learned a lot and felt like that was one aspect where I can ‘put my stone in the edifice,’” student Hugo Morvan said.
Last summer, Morvan participated in the ten-week U.Discover program.
“I’m going to do a Master’s [program] and try to do another research project, and then maybe a Ph.D.”
Students participating in many of the funded summer programs will start in the next few weeks, continuing until the end of July.