The Flash of Light
The program is unique in that it offers students an opportunity to do advanced research with faculty and even be published and present at professional conferences as early as the summer after their first year.
The students present updates on their research throughout the eight-week period in weekly colloquia with their fellow summer science participants, and the program culminates with a poster symposium in the fall during which students share their work with the entire College community.
“This is a way to give students a significant head start compared to their peers from other schools,” said Emily Tarsis, a lecturer in chemistry who is coordinating the 2019 Summer Science Research Institute.
“We see this as an important tool for science students to immerse themselves in the language of science the way world language students study abroad for their immersive experience,” she added.
Grace Kovic ’21, who has participated in the Summer Science program the past two years, worked with Assistant Professor of Chemistry Jacob Stewart on his current research analyzing the gas Isoprene using Infrared Laser Spectroscopy. Isoprene is a key gas found in the Earth’s atmosphere and plays an important role in the production of ozone and other gases related to climate warming. Levels of the gas in a person’s breath may be linked to medical conditions as well, such as lung cancer.
“It’s been a huge privilege as an undergraduate student to work so closely with professors while also being able to work independently and design new experiments to support their current research,” Kovic said.
She added that the experience has built her confidence and honed her research and lab skills, and she believes the program has given her a strong foundation for pursuing several career paths she is considering, including in the area of biostatistics.
“I’ve learned more than I ever imagined I would during these few short weeks, but I also had a lot of fun,” Kovic said. “Spending summer days with a group of students and professors who share my scientific interests has been great.”