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 5/13/2015

Scouring Ancient Landscapes for Clues to Cleaner Water

Having made their mark on the natural landscape the last few hundred years, humans are now undoing some development -- notably with regard to old milldams and sediment-filled ponds that have...

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Story 5/5/2015

Senior Spotlight: Nicole Strauss

Wayland, Mass., native Nicole Strauss reflects on friendships made and her newfound passion for public health.

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Story 5/4/2015

Senior Spotlight: Hanyu 'Peter' Sun

China native Peter Sun says doing research in chemistry and independent study in math were challenging and rewarding moments.

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Story 4/16/2015

Listening to the Deaf Community's Concerns About Culture

Today's advances in science, medicine and technology would seem to offer promise to those born unable to hear, but the deaf community -- which has a language and culture all its own -- fears...

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Story 4/3/2015

TEDx Speakers Discuss Range and Purpose of Voice

Four speakers discussed the various ranges and purposes of voice at Franklin & Marshall College's second TEDx talk on April 2 in the Green Room Theatre.  

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Story 4/2/2015

A Geoscience Course Takes Students to Volcanic Hawaii

During the mid-March spring break, a group of geoscience students and their professor trekked through tubes of rock where hot lava flowed 50 years ago, examined ancient petroglyph images carved in...

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Story 4/1/2015

Integrative Research and Discovering the Psychology of...

Trained as a biologist, Assistant Professor of Psychology Tim Roth, along with Professor of Biology Aaron Krochmal of Washington College in Maryland, published a groundbreaking paper, "The Role of...

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Story 3/30/2015

F&M Astronomers, Students Part of National Gravitational...

Two Franklin & Marshall College professors are part of a national consortium of astronomers that recently received a $14.5 million grant to build a center for the purpose of detecting gravitational...

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Story 3/20/2015

Panel Explores Consequences of 'Fracking' on People, the...

Building a natural gas pipeline through Lancaster County might produce economic benefits for the region, but the cost of the project to the environment and social fabric ultimately would be too high,...

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