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 6/22/2017

Student Investigates Why Grocery Stores Leave Neighborhoods

It was the first Giant grocery in the city of Lancaster, located in a low- to moderate-income neighborhood, but after 40 years, the supermarket chain closed the store, leading to protests and...

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Story 6/15/2017

Biology Researchers Study What’s Killing Tropical Ocean...

In a Franklin & Marshall laboratory, Professor of Biology Peter Fields works with rising senior Rachel Clifford, a biology major using a spectrophotometer to measure how long a protein in algae...

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Story 6/14/2017

Mathematics Models Provide Insight Into Brain Function

A room in the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science is not where you would expect to find research on the neurological pathways of brain function; however, for a Franklin & Marshall...

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Story 5/5/2017

Senior Spotlight: Linking Academics with Athletics

"I have most enoyed the people I have met and the relationships I have made here at F&M." As they prepare for their May 13 Commencement Ceremony, Franklin & Marshall seniors look back at their four...

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Story 5/4/2017

Senior Spotlight: She Found She Could Reach for the Stars

"Without F&M’s encouragement to engage in topics outside of my comfort zone, I wouldn’t know myself as much ... ." As they prepare for their May 13 Commencement Ceremony, Franklin & Marshall seniors...

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Story 4/27/2017

Faculty, Students Plant and Climb Trees at F&M's Arbor Day

As one of Pennsylvania’s few colleges certified as a Tree Campus USA, Franklin & Marshall College recognized Arbor Day April 27 with the planting of a Kentucky coffee tree on the front lawn of...

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Story 4/24/2017

Classics and Physics Professors Collaborate to Invent...

The fields of classics and physics intersect in a parking lot, where two F&M professors agreed to work together on device that reveals hidden text in Medieval manuscripts.

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Story 4/17/2017

Potential Growth in Targets of Racial Discrimination

Sara Albrecht-Soto, a senior psychology and Spanish double major from Lancaster, Pa., wanted to study whether incidents of racial discrimination could be opportunities for positive growth? 

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Story 3/27/2017

Research Takes Senior, Professor to Bonn UN Conference on...

Senior Lea Senft’s twin passions for wildlife and environmental conservation and her research into public policy recently sent her to a United Nations conference in Bonn, Germany.

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