A Taste of Scholarship

  • Johanna Schein ’11 (left) and Claire Gilpin ’11  
  • Ben Berg '10

Seventy-one Hackman Summer Research Scholars will work on challenging, high-level research projects this summer in coordination with 42 faculty mentors. Ranging from art and sociology to chemistry and geosciences, these projects enable students to experience advanced scholarly work.

For example, Johanna Schein ’11 and Alysse Vaccaro ’11 will collect oral histories of 40 years of coeducation at Franklin & Marshall College. Claire Gilpin ’11 will investigate candidate signals from the Arecibo PALFA Pulsar Survey.

Ben Berg ’10 and Brad Woodman ’11 will be working with Ryan Mehl, associate professor of chemistry, to probe protein interfaces with unnatural amino acids.

“We can synthesize new amino acids to replace a natural one and design them to permanently bind proteins that ordinarily have a temporary interaction with each other,” Berg explained, who hopes to be able to publish the finding with Mehl and Woodman after this summer.

“This is a chance to explore something you learn in the classroom in more detail,” Woodman added. “I just finished a class in cell biology and organic chemistry. To be able to take that knowledge and apply it to research is pretty exciting.”

During the summer of 2009, the students will receive more than $230,300 of support through grants from the Bonchek Institute for Reason and Science in a Liberal Democracy, the William M. and Lucille M. Hackman Student/Faculty Research Fund, the Paul W. and Margaret R. Eyler Student/Faculty Research Endowment, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

The projects take place during 10 weeks in the summer beginning in May. The current stipend is $3,500 per student researcher and some of the projects may be continued during the academic year. In some cases, the work ultimately leads to publication in a professional journal and/or presentation of results at professional meetings.

The Hackman Summer Research Scholars program, established by William M. and Lucille M. Hackman, has grown considerably since its inception in the early 1980s. Between the summers of 2000 and 2008, the College supported 586 students with $1.75 million in stipends. These students worked with 402 faculty mentors on research projects.

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