Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Summer Research at Coe

Special Summer Series: Elizabeth Hoover de Galvez from the library's reference department, shares her observations of summer research at Coe. This summer she is working with Dr. Feller's materials science group.
It is May 12.  Spring classes and commencement have passed and May term is about to start. The library looks very empty, not only due to fewer students, but also because the artwork throughout the library has been taken down in preparation for the library renovation, which will get underway soon.

This will be my first full summer on campus and I am looking forward to learning about all of the research that happens at Coe during the break from classes.  The summer research program which I've heard the most about at Coe is the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program, funded by the National Science Foundation. I've been browsing the national REU website, and it looks like Coe is unique as one of only four institutions in Iowa to host REU students (alongside the University of Iowa, Iowa State University, and the University of Northern Iowa).

Coe has seven REU projects which undergraduates from around the country can apply to spend their summer working on:
  • Acoustics of free reed instruments: J Cottingham
  • Biochemistry of sea worm cement: M Dean
  • Experimental and computational materials science: S Singleton
  • Materials Science: S Feller
  • Molecular Biology: P Storer
  • Particle Detector Development: U. Akgun
  • Optics: M Affatigato
Last summer, I began working at Coe in time to attend the final presentations given by the REU students and was surprised by what I heard.  I never would have guessed that musicians might study how a drum vibrates depending on where the surface is hit or that physicists would be involved in the creation of glass.  So far as I can recall, my physics classes in high school and college didn't cover current research, instead focusing on equations and laws written up in textbooks.  

One of the things I am most excited about at Coe is that undergrads are encouraged to participate in research during the summer after freshman year or even earlier.  This summer, I hope to be able to get into the labs to observe first-hand the work being done and to get to know some of the students doing research at Coe.  

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