Each year, the Social Science Research Center at Saint Mike's accepts applications from students looking to pursue summer research with professors. I'm pleased to say that my application was accepted, and I'll be doing research on private prisons with Professor Walsh in the Economics department this summer!
The SSRC, as well as the Office of the Vice President of Academic Affairs, which also gives students awards for independent research, offer unique opportunities in that the students selected have quite a bit of autonomy in determining the question, hypotheses, and methods of their research. So while my professor will advise me in the process of gathering data and crunching numbers, the direction of my research is largely up to me, At the end of the summer, I'll have a final paper written as the culmination of the investigation, which I'll be able to present at the academic symposium at the end of my senior year.
There are also students who do research through organizations like EPSCoR, which works with Saint Michael's faculty and students, but is an external organization. My best friend and room mate Carlos Sian just did his final presentation on the research he did last summer (pictured), which was about the levels of ammonium and nitrate in Vermont streams and watersheds.
This availability of such opportunities really speaks to the culture of academia on campus, because many students are actively engaged in research during the summer and also throughout the academic year. Obtaining such a position often requires extra work and motivation, but the students who take advantage of them are learning invaluable skills in their various fields that will translate well in other long-term pursuits. And these researchers are no joke--a student in the chemistry department was recently the first Saint Michael's student to be named a Goldwater scholar, which is a very prestigious award.
I'm very grateful and humbled to be selected for such an opportunity, and I look forward to beginning my research this June! If you have any questions about research opportunities, my research, or anything in general, don't hesitate to shoot me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Thanks for reading!