4:10 p.m., June 27, 2003--In describing UDs undergraduate research programs, Hal White, UD professor of chemistry and biochemisty, pulls no punches.
The University of Delaware is one of the top universities in the nation for undergraduate research. UD has had an organized program for over 20 years thats become a model for other schools, White told a group of more than 65 students who gathered in Gore Hall in mid-June for the first of 10 weekly Undergraduate Research Enrichment Program sessions they will attend this summer.
|Hal White, professor of chemistry and biochemisty, and a panel of three undergrad researchers answered questions from undergrad researchers June 12. The student panel included (from left): Beckman Fellow Artie Suckow, a senior biological sciences majors; Jennifer Risser, a senior biological sciences major; and Beckman Fellow Steve Brohawn, a senior in chemistry and biochemistry.
White, along with David Usher, professor of biological sciences, coordinates UDs summer Undergraduate Research Enrichment Program. He was describing the program to science students participating in 10 weeks of research this summer. They will work in faculty laboratories and learn about careers in biomedical science.
The studentsincluding Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Fellows, science scholars, BRIN and Charles Peter White Fellows and Beckman Scholars from UD and other universitieswill take what theyve been learning in class into the laboratory and then present the results of their experiments, in poster form, to their peers and faculty at the University in mid-August to cap the enrichment program. A few will go on to present their work at national scientific meetings or compete in a national poster competition in the spring.
The late afternoon session on June 12 was the first of 10 weekly enrichment meetings, funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, designed to enhance the laboratory-learning experience. Organized by Usher and presided over by senior faculty, the enrichment program offers guidance about how to write scientific papers, apply for research grants and present results at national meetings help students understand the culture of science.
The introductory meeting, led by White and a panel of senior undergraduate researchers, was a preview of what students will experience this summer.
Research is full of frustration. If you knew the answers to your questions, there would be no point in doing experiments. The way you deal with frustration will determine how well youll do in research, White said.
He told the undergraduates theyd all have faculty mentors to guide their research projects, but they must be more than just a pair of hands. White told them it is their responsibility to understand what they are doing. He said they would be doing work thats never been done before that could be published and possibly end up in national competition.
In April, at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Undergraduate Poster Competition (ASBMB) in San Diego, Calif., four out of eight top awards went to UD students, including the grand prize. Thirteen UD undergraduates competed in the ASBMB research poster competition.
Sajid Noor, a biological sciences major who graduated in May, won the grand prize. Alaina Brown, a senior biochemistry major, Erwin Puente and Beckman Fellow Artie Suckow, senior biological sciences majors, each won first-place honors.
Suckow, Jennifer Risser, a senior biological sciences major who also competed in San Diego, and Steve Brohawn, a Beckman Fellow and a senior in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, answered questions about what to expect in the laboratory this summer and at the competition. Suckow and Risser both called the competition a worthwhile experience.
At the ASBMB poster competition, undergraduate and graduate students were all in the same room talking about their posters. Suckow said no one could tell undergrads from grad students, so, when graduate school representatives find out youre an undergraduate, a lot of recruiting goes on.
A student asked how much Suckow, Risser and Brohawn knew about their research projects when they started the summer program. Almost nothing. You learn as you go, Suckow told them.
Risser said she gathered a lot of data really quickly and had no trouble in the lab, but Brohawn and Suckow had mishaps. Mishaps that made their experiments look faulty until they discovered what they were doing wrong. Dont be afraid of making mistakes, White told them.
UD's pioneering efforts in undergraduate education have been recognized both nationally and on the campus itself.
The UD Board of Trustees, at their semiannual meeting May 28, passed a resolution commending UD's faculty and students for achieving the highest standard of accomplishment in undergraduate research and discovery learning and on the recognition of this achievement as a national standard to be emulated by research universities throughout America.
The resolution is available in its entirety on the UD web site at
Article by Barbara Garrison
Photo by Kathy Atkinson