New A&S Program Expands Undergraduate Research Opportunities
A new College of Arts and Sciences program will support undergraduate students working on research projects with faculty members over the summer.
The Nexus Scholars Program, funded by nearly $ 5 million in philanthropic support, will leverage the student-faculty ratio and dynamic A&S research enterprise to expand opportunities for students, while strengthening the culture of collaborative scholarship at Cornell.
“We have positioned the College of Arts and Sciences as the hub of discovery and impact, and the Nexus Scholars Program embodies this philosophy very well,” said Ray Jayawardhana, Dean of Arts and Science Harold Tanner. “Being part of a research project as an undergraduate student can be a life-changing experience. This ambitious new program expands the possibilities for our students to participate in frontline research and make discoveries alongside our professors. “
In addition to the eight-week paid summer research experience, Nexus Fellows will also participate in professional development workshops, career exploration events, and have the chance to join a cohort of students who are also passionate about research. .
The Nexus Scholars website will present a wealth of research opportunities in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and mathematics. Undergraduates will be able to explore the projects listed on the website, as well as others through their own inquiries, and request support. Program staff will help match faculty and students.
The program will help solve a problem for undergraduates who may never have done research before. “Many students don’t know how to find a mentor or how to ask questions about summer research,” said Michelle K. Smith, Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education at the College and Associate Professor Ann S. Bowers in the Department of Ecology. and evolutionary biology.
It will also be a boon for professors, especially professors who are not already working with undergraduates.
“Most humanities teachers are used to working alone in archives or conducting oral histories. They like to work closely with undergraduates, but often don’t know how to involve them in their projects, ”said Tamara Loos, professor and chair of the Department of History (A&S). “The Nexus Scholars program offers historians and other humanists the opportunity to involve undergraduate students in their research by teaching them how to conduct and transcribe oral histories, how to conduct historical research in digital race relations journals or the American reporting on the Vietnam War and how to organize public history exhibitions.
David Pizarro, associate professor of psychology in A&S, will be the program’s first faculty director. He said the program will help students who are unsure of how to get involved in research or who might be intimidated to contact a professor to join their team.
“We hope that the Nexus Scholars program can remove some of these barriers, enrich the educational experience of our students and make a positive contribution to the Cornell research community,” said Pizarro.
The program is open to all A&S students, and administrators hope it will reach first-generation students, students from under-represented minority groups, and female students interested in science and math.
The program is made possible by a number of gifts from alumni including Elaine Wong ’97 and Fritz Demopoulous.
“More diverse and creative thinking in science will undoubtedly lead to substantial gains in our understanding of the physical world,” Wong said. “Encouraging young women at Cornell to explore academically and eventually pursue science-driven careers will certainly contribute to this vision. “
Kathy Hovis is a writer for the College of Arts and Sciences.