Work in the scientific field is highly competitive. While many college students graduate to find themselves struggling with the pressures of these challenging careers, Anderson University helps prepare students through first-hand experience in research and presentation. Students also gain interdisciplinary knowledge through classes such as the science seminar, a capstone class that brings senior biology, chemistry, and physics students together in one classroom.
“By bringing multiple disciplines together, the seminar allows students to see first-hand that the basic principles of the scientific method are the same across fields,” said Andrew Spracklen BA '09. “It increases students’ comfort in exploring areas outside of their primary fields of study. This is very important as research becomes more and more interdisciplinary.”
[Photo: Anderson University senior Jacqueline Burgher presents her science seminar research project. Credit: Stefanie Vinsel]
Students select an advisor and three faculty members to be a part of their committee, which provides feedback and support throughout the two-semester class. Students then choose any topic of interest to research and decide whether to present published research or do their own original studies.
“We encourage as much as possible for the students to do original research,” said Professor of Biology Dr. Kimberly Lyle-Ippolito. According to Lyle-Ippolito, original research provides first-hand experience in science professions while still under the support of AU faculty and staff.
“Whether they did their own research or they summarize the recent research of another scientist, every student is required to write a formal paper, meeting all the requirements that would go into submitting the paper for publication,” said Associate Professor of Chemistry Dr. Scott Kennedy. “Every student is also required to give a formal, 20-minute presentation, typical of the type of presentation at a national conference.”
To help students prepare for the requirements of their future employers, presentations must meet strict time limits and be given in a format that any science professional could understand. Presentations must include an introduction, methods, materials, results, and conclusions.
Spracklen is currently a second-year Ph.D. student in the Molecular and Cellular Biology Graduate Training Program at the University of Iowa. According to Spracklen, the science seminar class gave him an extra advantage when beginning grad school.
“Seminar provides a great opportunity to learn how to effectively communicate scientific work to a critical and diverse audience,” he said. “Presenting my current work, whether at weekly lab meetings or at national conferences, is much easier and much more comfortable thanks to the experience of having gone through it during seminar.”
— Kelly Gualdoni is a junior from Fort Wayne, Ind., majoring in communication arts. Gualdoni is an associate with Fifth Street Communications™, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2010, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the seventh consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing, and theology.