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 1/25/2016

His Mind is a Million Miles Away

Astronomer and aspiring astronaut Richard Camuccio first remembers looking through a telescope at the moon and stars when he was 6 years old in Telford, Pa. Sixteen years later, the Franklin &...

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Story 12/21/2015

Plight of the Wild Bees

A national study co-authored by a Franklin & Marshall College professor is expected to have the science community and federal policymakers buzzing over the plight of wild-bee populations in the U.S.

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Story 12/17/2015

Teagle Grant Supports Linking of Business, Liberal Arts

F&M  and two collaborating institutions — Bucknell University and the University of Pennsylvania — have received a $280,000 grant from the Teagle Foundation to continue work linking business...

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Story 12/16/2015

2015 Rouse Scholars Aspire to Leadership Roles in Healthcare

Franklin & Marshall College students Saliyah George and Jennifer Deasy have much in common. Both sophomores are active campus leaders. Each aspires to influence the fields of health and medicine. Now...

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Story 12/15/2015

Psychology Symposia Showcase Students' Team-Based Research

In the final week of each semester, Franklin & Marshall's Psychology Department conducts a Collaborative Research Symposia to showcase student-team projects on a variety of psychological phenomena. 

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Story 12/10/2015

Your Brain: The Great Connector

Aristotle once said, "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts." As he shared his groundbreaking research in neuroscience, a Franklin & Marshall College professor pointed out that brain...

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Story 12/4/2015

Evidence of Climate Change is Convincing, Speaker Says

“Do you believe in climate change?" Rear Admiral David Titley asked a Franklin & Marshall audience Dec. 3. "I don’t believe in it, but I’m convinced by the evidence.”

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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 landmines in current and past warzones.

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