Section: News

Students share summer research projects at poster session

On Friday, Kenyon students, family, friends and faculty gathered on the Toan Track to learn about student research conducted over the summer. Eighty five students from the Humanities, Social Sciences and Natural Sciences had the opportunity to present and answer questions on their original summer research projects. Opportunities for this research came from avenues such as Summer Science Scholars, Kenyon Summer Scholars, Kenyon Legal Scholars and National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates. 

Each program offers an accessible way to actively engage in professional research in undergraduate years, a resource that is not often readily available in other undergraduate settings. Director of Student Research and J. Kenneth Smail Professor of Anthropology Bruce Hardy explained that these programs “give the opportunity for a student and faculty pair to work together on a research project so the students get a full-blown, 10-week research experience.” For student researchers, the most challenging aspect of research is often distilling the information into one poster that the general public is able to understand. However, any confused attendees could ask researchers to help explain the intricacies and methods of their work. 

Physics major Luke Wilson ’25 participated in the Ohio 5-OSU Summer Undergraduate Research Experience in the Electrical Engineering Department with professor of material sciences and engineering and physics Steven Ringel. “I studied semiconductors and their properties and tried to figure out how we can better grow semiconductors for integrating them into a modern technology,” he said in an interview with the Collegian

Kat Coffin ’26 explained that her involvement in research began at a Kenyon “Open Hood” event. “I went to the Open Hood event where I could take a tour of all the different Chemistry labs at Kenyon, and that sparked some interest for me,” she said. Although she had only taken Introductory Chemistry and Introductory Chemistry Lab prior to beginning research at Kenyon, her ability to join a lab was not hindered. “[Assistant Professor of Chemistry Katie Mauck] filled in all the holes and I was able to do research over the summer for eight weeks,” she said.

Classics major Sara Landon ’24 chose to investigate Cicero’s use of Greek in his personal letters and why he might have done so, considering his professional speeches were almost entirely in Latin. She said that in her field of study, it can seem like all the research has already been done with ancient texts. Landon encouraged students who hope to conduct more original research to read existing scholarship and find gaps in the text. “Finding your niche and carving out your specific interest and your voice is really important,” Landon said. 

Although beginning the research process can seem like a daunting task, especially for first-years, the upperclassmen all gave similar advice. “Talk to your teachers, ask them if they’re doing research that interests you and see if you can help or join them,” Physics major Jimmy Hart ’25 said. 

Wilson agreed. “Getting into research can be really intimidating, but if you have a genuine interest in it it’s best to apply and give it a shot,” he said. 

Coffin put it succinctly: “There really are no boundaries in research,” she said. “You should follow your curiosity and let that lead you to where you want to go because that’s probably where you should go.”

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