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summer research student

Research Redefined

Summer research is more than just an extension of the academic year at Widener University; it teaches students across all majors to become leaders and innovators in their respective fields.

Dr. Angie Corbo, co-director of the summer research program, remarked how student projects in 2015 represented “the greatest breadth of intellectual diversity the program has seen.”

More than 70 students and 40 faculty mentors from the College of Arts & Sciences, the School of Nursing and School of Engineering participated in the program.

Senior Jonathan Rouse put both of his majors to work this summer in his research on the muscle functions of rainbow trout. The dual physical therapy and biology major used a flume or “underwater treadmill” to record the tail beat frequencies of the fish as they swim at different speeds with or without obstructions.

“This is my first experience doing research,” said Rouse. “It helps a lot with lab experience…but it also gets myself to know the professors on a personal level more than a classroom level.”

All summer, research participants and faculty meet once a week as a group for social and professional development activities. Students can also apply for free housing during the summer months, which can foster living learning communities.

Dr. Loyd Bastin, co-director of the summer research program, added the university is working toward creating a research model that supports interdisciplinary collaboration.

This summer, French majors Djene Sylla and Ndobolo Bukasa expanded on work done by their research partner Tom Herrera, an environmental science major. Herrera used geographic information system (GIS) mapping to locate a cluster of French speakers in the area.

But traditional research is still very much a part of the summer research program.

Senior biology majors Josh Roane and Ross Staudt worked alongside Dr. Kate Goodrich, associate professor of biology, at Taylor Arboretum to determine if different compounds are elicited when specific plants are mechanically damaged versus being damaged by an insect predator.

“We are trying to figure out if these caterpillars lead this plant to emit a different volatile that attracts parasitoids that will then remove the problem which would be the original caterpillar,” said Roane.

Students presented their work at the summer research symposium October 2 in Lathem Hall. Dr. Michael Platt, the 16th Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor, was the keynote speaker.

  • 2015 Summer Research Symposium