F&M provides funding support for many students to pursue research with an F&M faculty mentor for ten weeks, full time, in the summer. The most common source of these funds is the Lucille and William Hackman endowment, and so the scholarships are often referred to collectively as “Hackman Scholarships.” The Hackman research period usually extends from the week after graduation in May to the end of July. In the Biology Department, most students will spend this time in the lab or the field with their mentor and other students involved in the research. The first few weeks may be spent learning techniques and mastering background information and concepts, but as the summer progresses, students take more ownership of the work and perform research independently. Often, a summer scholar experience leads to further independent research during the academic year (a 390 or 490 project for credit).
Students interested in pursuing summer research should contact professors working in their area of interest relatively early in the year – October or November is not too early. You can find descriptions of faculty research interests here. It often is worthwhile to talk with other students who currently are conducting research with faculty in the department. Once you have narrowed down your options, set up a meeting with one or a few faculty members to discuss research opportunities. Faculty understand that there is no commitment on your part at this time, and faculty too will not be committing at this point, either. As time progresses and faculty members understand better the number of students that will be in their labs, as well as their own funding situation, opportunities will be come more concrete. Ultimately, near the end of January both faculty and student will have to commit, and then it is the responsibility of the faculty member to write an application requesting funding to support the student’s summer work. The faculty member usually hears by the end of February whether funding has been awarded.