Research, Partner, Publish in the Natural Sciences 

In a classroom on the Franklin & Marshall campus, it's not unusual to find a student standing shoulder-to-shoulder with a professor who is a theoretical physicist, writing complex problems on a chalkboard, both working in partnership together to solve a complex problem.

Halfway around the world, you might find other students in a geosciences class diving in the ocean alongside their instructor during a snorkeling excursion to study the marine biology of a reef complex off the Big Island of Hawaii.

This is part of the distinctiveness in the study of the natural sciences at F&M.

F&M students working hand-on-hand with faculty advisers and mentors learn to be nimble, innovative and critical thinkers in ways that will serve them for life. This takes place in the laboratory, through experiences studying in the field, and through advising throughout independent research. 

More than half of students majoring in the sciences in the most recent graduating class — 53 percent of graduates — did at least one independent research project. In some fields, such as chemistry and the geosciences, more than 80% of students pursue independent research. Some publish their work as co-authors with excellent faculty who are leaders in their fields. Students don't have to wait until graduate school to have these amazing experiences. Some students are coauthors of as many as six publications by the time they graduate.

All students receive instruction in small classes (generally fewer than 20 students per class), and in some departments, students begin research as early as the summer after the first year.

Faculty-student Team Searches for Answers in an Unknown Mutated Protein

Students working in neuroscience and chemistry worked side-by-side with an associate professor of  biology to discover how a certain, mutated protein, never before studied, causes kidney failure, intellectual disability, blindness, small heads and other severe symptoms of a genetic disorder called Yoder Dystonia.  

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Experiences in the Field 

Field experience is regarded as a fundamental component of teaching and research in a number of the science departments at F&M. In numerous Biology, Geoscience, and Environmental Science courses fieldwork is an integral part of the learning process. Students go on field excursions during scheduled laboratory periods, on weekend trips, or spend weeks in the field on for-credit summer courses, travel courses, or internships for course credit.

In addition, many collaborative research projects are field-based or have a field component for initial data collection. For example, groundwater or surface water chemistry analysis, stream sampling for invertebrates or sediment load, invasive species documentation, forest ecology, and restoration projects all entail field work. Geological mapping, fossil, mineral, and rock sample examination, and Geographic Information System (GIS) analyses usually begin with fieldwork. Many projects in Astronomy use telescopes at sites remote from F&M, essentially another kind of field work. Scientific shipboard experiments and sample collecting excursions are an additional field-based experience that some faculty and students participate in.

Both the biology and earth and environment departments take students and faculty on extended trips in either for-credit, or non-credit, field-based learning experiences. For example, the biology department sponsors a trip to Belize and Earth and Environment has taken students on departmental field excursions to Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the Grand Canyon, Florida Keys, and Death Valley, among other localities.

Of Math & Mosquitos: Student Pursues Dual Interests

Deep in the woods of Lancaster County's Millport Conservancy, senior Joshua Finkel was focused on his pursuit of small prey, the mosquito. His research into making more effective mosquito traps could have the potential to save public health agencies and beleaguered homeowners untold thousands of dollars trying to control the bloodsucking insects.

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The Pulse of Natural Sciences at F&M

Story 10/20/2016

How a Scientist Had His Book Burned by the Nazis and the U.S...

James Strick, Franklin & Marshall College Professor of Science, Technology and Society and recipient of the 2016 Bradley R. Dewey Award for Outstanding Scholarship, began his Oct. 20 talk in Mayser...

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Story 10/19/2016

Students Travel to Jordan to Work with Syrian and...

Two Franklin & Marshall College students took the initiative this summer to help Syrian and Palestinian refugees stationed at a tent encampment in Jordan, where they spent a week working with...

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Story 9/20/2016

F&M Alumna on the Front Line to Fight Ebola

Virologist Claire Marie Filone ’03 lectured students Sept. 20 about  understanding Ebola, finding therapies to disable the deadly diseases, and her academic experiences that led her into the field. 

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Story 9/15/2016

Searching the Clouds for Climate Warning Signals

For years, a Franklin & Marshall College biologist and her students have traveled to the jungled mountains of Central America to sling ropes over the branches of tall trees, fasten harnesses, and...

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Story 8/30/2016

Convocation Remarks by junior Julia Ramsey

If my experience has taught me anything, it is that time, and especially your time here at F&M, may not go according to plan. But that is the greatest gift of all – when the plan goes differently is...

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Story 8/16/2016

F&M Recipient of National Teaching Award Makes Science...

Franklin & Marshall College's Associate Professor of Chemistry Kate Plass has been named a Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar, a national honor recognizing instructors committed to engaging undergraduate...

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Story 8/11/2016

National Internship Brings Two F&M Students to Nation's...

Under the prestigious Frank Karel Fellowship in Public Interest Communications the students -- one at the World Wildlife Fund's U.S. headquarters and the other at Martha's Table --  learn how...

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Story 8/10/2016

Biology's Blue Egg Mystery Explained

A Franklin & Marshall College biologist and a colleague at the City University of New York have answered the age-old question, why are robin eggs blue?

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Story 8/1/2016

Students Explore Heavens Under South African Skies

Three students and a faculty member from Franklin & Marshall College traveled to South Africa earlier this summer to attend an international astronomy conference on using pulsars to detect...

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