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 7/25/2016

F&M Student Running Across Country to Battle Cancer

Franklin & Marshall students often tackle interesting projects during the summer – internships, academic research, study abroad and more. But one is part of a team running across the United States to...

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Story 7/5/2016

Conditioning a Computer to Make the Right Decisions

While it sounds counterintuitive – making wrong predictions to learn good decision-making – that is exactly how humans think, and it's how a Franklin & Marshall College professor wants artificial...

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Story 6/10/2016

Simic '15 Makes Presentation to NATO and Ukrainian Leaders

A Franklin & Marshall College alumna took the place of a professor who was unable to attend a recent security conference in Kiev that highlighted NATO-Ukraine cooperation on demining efforts in the...

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Story 4/29/2016

Senior Spotlight: Inspired by Seeing the Obstacles Others...

Cameron Rutledge: "It has been my honor to learn the obstacles many of my closest friends have overcome to be here at F&M today. It has truly been inspiring and life changing."

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Story 4/28/2016

Senior Spotlight: Discovering a Community Where Lasting...

Kaitlin Oliver: "I’ve had excellent relationships with my professors. They’ve helped me grow intellectually throughout my four years."

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Story 4/25/2016

Senior Spotlight: Finding Passion in Film's Storytelling...

Dominic Akena: "I certainly liked my classes, but I honestly enjoyed going to my professors' offices for assistance or just to have regular conversations that had nothing to do with academic...

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Story 4/21/2016

Lab Students Present Their Research at Biology Elective...

On April 19 in the Frey Atrium of the Life Sciences & Philosophy Building, 40 juniors and seniors presented during the annual Biology Elective Poster Session.

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Story 3/23/2016

Golden Age of Water is Over, Author Says

Charles Fishman, author of “The Future of Water Now: Lessons from Around the World,” spoke to a crowd of about 80 at Franklin & Marshall College March 22. 

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Story 3/11/2016

Planning for Life on Mars

For Matthew Tibbetts, a Franklin & Marshall College senior and astrophysics major, large scale is the only way to consider building human habitats on Mars. 

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