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.
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.Read more
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.
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.Read more
Fields of Study in the Natural Sciences
The Pulse of Natural Sciences at F&M
During more than three decades of teaching and conducting scientific research at Franklin & Marshall College, Phyllis Leber has demonstrated a tireless dedication to transforming her undergraduates...Read More
A new examination of marine fossils dating back 23 million years is providing scientists with clues about which oceanic animals and ecosystems in the world's coastal regions might be at natural risk...Read More
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...Read More