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 11/25/2015

Plotting a Trajectory to the Stars

Astrophysics major Richard Camuccio has been fascinated by the stars for as long as he can remember. At Franklin & Marshall, he's tackling big scientific and philosophical questions.

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Story 11/11/2015

F&M's Mission From NATO: Clear Landmines Cheaply, Precisely,...

NATO has enlisted an international scientific group — including two Franklin & Marshall College professors — to create an effective means of eliminating landsmines in current and past warzones.

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Story 10/22/2015

Adkins Honored With One of Physics' Most Esteemed Awards

For his work in the classroom and laboratory, Processor of Physics Greg Adkins has been awarded one of the most prestigious honors given in physics, the 2016 American Physical Society Prize for a...

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Story 10/20/2015

Initiative: Diving for Sea Turtles, Launching a Career

On a research vessel 75 miles off the coast of California, F&M senior Matthew Steinwurtzel dived into the waters after a rare sea turtle, launching a career in marine environmental studies.

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Story 10/12/2015

Looking at the Future of Fossil and Renewable Fuels Through...

Sauleh Siddiqui '07,  assistant professor of civil engineering at Johns Hopkins University, will speak at the Oct. 22 Math Colloquium Series on transportation fuels and how safety and climate-change...

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Story 9/22/2015

POGIL Pioneers to Receive Prestigious Teaching Award

Two Franklin & Marshall College professors of chemistry, Rick Moog and James Spencer, were recently honored for their commitment to a teaching style that emphasizes group learning, deep conceptual...

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Story 9/10/2015

Giving a Lift to At-Risk Youth

As a senior at F&M, Will Kiefer '14 began a weightlifting program for the Lancaster community's at-risk youth in an effort to contribute purposfully to his community, but he may have tapped into...

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Story 9/4/2015

Moog Wins Prestigious National Education Award in Chemistry

Franklin & Marshall College Professor of Chemistry Richard Moog will be awarded the 2016 George C. Pimentel Award in Chemical Education this March in San  Diego.

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Story 8/25/2015

Chemistry Professor Earns National Award for Scholarship,...

Franklin & Marshall College Associate Professor of Chemistry Scott H. Brewer has been named a Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar.

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