Summer Research Proving to be a Pretty ‘Cool’ Idea
Ah summer! The season conjures up images of long hours at the pool, sleeping late, travel and parties. Increasingly, however, the summer months have become a time for college students to delve more deeply into areas of academic and professional interest through expanded coursework, internships and working with experts in their field. Thanks to the initiative of an assistant professor with a passion for research, and the support of in-house grant funding, six University of Findlay juniors and seniors will embark on a summer of research in 2017.
The program, Summer Research Scholars, is the focus of a UF Goal Getter Grant proposal submitted by Ed Nyman, Jr., Ph.D., in June 2016. Nyman felt that UF should “catch the wave of research proliferation that is spreading among liberal arts colleges nationwide.”
“Today’s undergraduate students are attracted to universities that offer the opportunity to creatively explore the academic fabric,” said Nyman in his proposal. “The students of the new millennium seek to ‘learn rather than be taught’ and ‘to do rather than be lectured to’.”
The University’s Goal Getter Committee granted Nyman $18,000 for a pilot program that will see selected students working alongside UF faculty mentors from May 8 through July 16, 2017. Student researchers will each receive a $2,000 stipend and support for individual project research materials. Nyman feels the stipend will encourage UF’s “best and brightest” to apply and not have to worry about lost income from potential summer employment. He continues to develop and refine the application criteria.
“I don’t think we’ll be as concerned about the applicant’s GPA as much as the proposed research topic, their passion for that topic and what kind of contribution it could make to the field,” Nyman added. “We also want to make sure the applicant has done enough homework, through some level of literature review to see if their topic will fill a gap in the existing research.”
Presently, faculty from the College of Health Professions, College of Pharmacy and the College of Sciences have committed to being mentors next summer, but Nyman hopes that interest will expand to include the humanities. He looks forward to a diverse group of student researchers in the summer of 2017 and thinks that the University of Findlay is the perfect size to develop a program of this type. He feels that the channels of communication flow easily between colleges and programs, something that might not be possible at a large state university.
Once the applicants are screened and selected, they will each be paired with one of six participating faculty members. Prior to the summer research period each selected student will receive a packet of preparation materials that will include a detailed project summary, research hours, project deliverables, and student goals and responsibilities. The student-faculty mentor teams will be required to meet a minimum of two hours before the beginning of the research period. Any projects involving human subjects must also have UF Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval and those involving animal research will require the approval of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC).
Nyman has been a full time faculty member at the University of Findlay since December 2015, teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in biomechanics, pathomechanics and research design. He earned his Ph.D. in Biomechanics from The University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio, received post-doctoral training at the US FDA Division of Biomedical Physics in Washington, D.C., and holds a Bachelor of Science in Sports Medicine from Ursinus College, Collegeville, Pennsylvania.
Faculty mentors for the 2017 summer research program are Nyman and Thomas Dillon, Ed.D., O.T., College of Health Professions; Guofen “Heather” Yu, Ph.D. and Kim Lichtveld, Ph.D., College of Sciences and Richard Dudley, Ph.D., College of Pharmacy. One mentor spot has been intentionally kept open at this point in hopes of diversifying the areas of research interest beyond the Colleges of Health Professions and Sciences.
“Of course, grades are important,” said Nyman, “but college isn’t just about high grades. In this summer program, students will learn to apply and expand their knowledge. They’ll learn to think like researchers.”
Students interested in becoming a Summer Scholar can contact Dr. Nyman at email@example.com A web page featuring the program and an online application form will be published in the next few weeks.