Student Research Partners Program

Students gain hands-on experience with scholarship in a specific field with the Student Research Partners ProgramGeared toward incoming first-year students, this program pairs a student with a faculty mentor to work on a project related to the faculty member's research or creative area. Students gain hands-on experience with scholarship in a specific field, and may elect to continue during their sophomore year. Participation is selective, based on high academic achievement.

Students are expected to work a maximum of 7 hours per week, for a compensation of $10/hour. Up to $800 can be earned as a Student Research Partner over the course of the year.

If you are interested in this program, view the list of available projects below, think about what interests you, and fill out the online application form (Found on Moodle/Coursewebs).

We will be hosting a reception in the KC living room on September 13th from 1:30pm-3:30pm for interested students to meet and talk further with the faculty members. Completed applications are due on Friday, September 21 by 4 p.m. online. Faculty sponsors will choose their SRP students by September 27.

If you have questions, please contact either Dr. Vanessa McCaffrey () or Renee Kreger () for more information.

SRP 2018-2019 DESCRIPTIONS

ENGLISH
Panther Tales: Real and Imagined Stories of The Black Panther Party—Nels Christensen

Project Description: The Black Panther Party for Self Defense was born on the streets and college campuses of Oakland, CA in the 1960s.  Over the course of the next decade or so, The Panthers shook the world.  But by the early 1980s, the Black Panther Party had officially dissolved.  Despite its relatively brief run as a radical political program, the Black Panthers still live on today—in the real and imagined stories told by and about The Panthers.  This research project seeks to discover and compile a list of novels, stories, poems, plays, songs, movies, memoirs, newspaper and magazine articles, documentaries, and critical treatments written or created by and about members of the Black Panther Party.

Student Responsibilities: The student will be responsible for searching library archives and other public resources for primary and secondary sources about and by members of The Black Panthers.  Students also will be asked to work on a master annotated bibliography of those sources.

Qualifications Students must be intellectually curious about The Black Panther Party and willing to spend lots of time researching in the library.  If you love the Panthers but hate reading and libraries, this project probably isn’t for you.

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KINESIOLOGY 
Binge Watching  - Julie Cousins

Project Description: Binge TV watching is a relatively new behavior. This study will examine the associations between physical activity and binge TV watching in college athletes during the competitive season and out of season. We will measure physical activity, TV watching time, sedentary time, total body water, skeletal muscle mass, flexibility, neuromotor ability, and vertical jump in college athletes.

Student Responsibilities: The student research partner will assist in data collection, data entry, and possible data analysis. They will use Pubmed to identify relevant peer-reviewed journal articles and summarize the literature in a table. The student will assist in writing a literature review and methods section.

Qualifications: The student should have an interest in working with college athletes and be able to organize and summarize information found on Pubmed.

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CHEMISTRY
Catalytic oxidation of styrene – Dr. Vanessa McCaffrey

Project Description: Oxidation reactions are used to synthesize a variety of different molecules. There are many ways to perform these oxidation reactions and many of the important methods include transition metal catalysts. In this project, we are screening a variety of different vanadium containing catalysts. Previous work has looked at heterogeneous catalysts (the reagents and the catalysts are in different phases) but I would like to extend this work to homogeneous catalysts (the reagents and the catalysts are both dissolved in a solution). In this project, we will be screening a variety of different factors that are related to these reactions.

SRP Responsibilities: The student will be responsible for maintaining a laboratory notebook, performing oxidation reactions (under supervision) and analyzing the results of the reactions. Student/s will also be responsible for reading old lab notebooks and organizing the data from previous students’ work. The SRP(s) will present the results of the project at the  Elkin Isaac Student Research Symposium in Spring 2019. 

Student qualifications: The SRP(s) should possess curiosity and interest in chemistry, particularly organic and inorganic chemistry, be reliable, and well-organized. The SRP(s) should make this project a priority over extra-curricular events that arise in the semester and be able to work either Thursday or Friday afternoons.

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POLITICAL SCIENCE  - (2 Projects)

Methodological Training in Comparative Politics - Dawid Tatarczyk

Project Description: The student(s) will help Dr. Tatarczyk create a new dataset. The goal of the project is to examine the extent to which top comparative politics journals in America and Europe publish articles using QCA (Qualitative Comparative Analysis) methodology. 

Student Responsibilities: The student will conduct original research by searching for QCA articles in top comparative politics journals. The student(s) will also create bibliographies in Excel, copy-edit manuscripts and help get them publication-ready. 

Qualifications: Student applicants should be self-motivated and able to work well independently. Successful applicants will have strong written and oral communication skills, be attentive to detail, reliable, and have strong interpersonal skills. Open to all majors, but students with interest in comparative politics are preferred.

 

Human Rights & International Criminal Justice -  Carrie Booth Walling

Project Description: The student will assist Dr. Walling at various stages of the publication process for a set of related writing projects on international human rights and international criminal justice. The student will also assist Dr. Walling in making improvements to the “Human Rights Advocacy and History of International Human Rights Standards” website, www.humanrightshistory.umich.edu.

Student Responsibilities: The student will conduct scholarly literatures searches, create bibliographies, copy-edit manuscripts and help get them publication ready, examine and analyze government documents, help prepare conference presentations, and create and edit website content.

Qualifications: Student applicants should be self-motivated and able to work well independently. Successful applicants will have good written and oral communication skills, be attentive to detail, reliable, and have strong interpersonal skills. Open to all majors but students with a passion for political science, human rights, or international law are preferred. Special consideration will be given to students who plan to enroll in PLSC 256: Human Rights in the Spring 2019 semester

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PSYCHOLOGY   (2 Projects)

Children's Understanding of Pretend Food with Dr. Andrea Francis & Dr. Mareike Wieth

Project Description: The Creativity, Cognition, and Education Research Laboratory at Albion College, supervised by Drs. Andrea Francis and Mareike Wieth, is currently looking at whether the way an adult talks about pretend food impacts children’s understanding of pretend food. Specifically, in this project we will be assessing whether the role of Theory of Mind in children’s understanding. For this project, the student students will learn how to conduct psychological experiments with children at a local children’s museum (Kids ‘N’ Stuff), including the collection and analysis of data.

Student Responsibilities: Responsibilities will involve assisting us in collecting, entering, and analyzing data across these ongoing projects. In addition, participation in project and lab meetings is expected, and opportunities will be available for helping organize, design, and complete appropriate follow-up experiments. In addition to the usual SRP benefits, the student will have the opportunity to be an author on resulting conference presentations and/or publications related to this project.

Qualifications: Since the student will be interacting with adults and children at a local children’s museum the student must feel comfortable approaching and interacting with people, including children. It would be best if the student had an interest in one or more of the following academic areas: psychology, education, criminal justice. A high school course in statistics would also be helpful, but is not essential. This position will provide an excellent grounding for continued study in any of these disciplines.


Health Communication in the Media – Dr. Megan Hill & Dr. Katey Price

Project Description: Is a content analysis of news media coverage of legendary University of Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt’s diagnosis, and eventual death, from young-onset Alzheimer’s disease. We are attempting to describe the nature and arc of news media coverage of her disease.

Responsibilities: The student assigned to this project will be asked to identify and save all news media stories containing coverage of Pat Summitt, from the time of her diagnosis to her death. The student may also participate in discussions of how to code the materials they collect and, depending on the project’s progress, may participate in actual coding of the materials.

Qualifications: The student must show technical proficiencies in utilizing on-campus databases to find news articles, as well as an interest in mediated communication. 

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HISTORY  (2 Projects)

History of the Mexican Midwest with Dr. Deborah Kanter

Project Description:  My book Chicago Católico: Making Parishes Mexican is slated for publication in 2019. I have a couple related mini-projects, including searching digital archive of Chicago newspapers for accounts of the closure & reopening of St. Francis of Assisi Church (“la catedral mexicana”) c.1995-2000.  

I have a new research project about braceros (Mexican temporary workers) in Michigan and Ohio and Catholic outreach to them in c.1950-64. I have gathered 100+ letters from that time period. Cataloguing related newspaper accounts about migrant workers will help advance the project.

Responsibilities: The student research partner will read some background material to gain familiarity with my projects. Most of the work will be done on-line and the student will keep on-going records in Word and/or Excel. Research with the bracero-related documents will involve reading print-outs of hand-written letters, mostly in Spanish. The student researcher will transcribe select letters. Depending upon the student’s language skills, I may encourage the translation of a few letters into English. Student might create a timeline and write a basic narrative of the Mexican church in Grant, MI.

Student Qualifications: Ability to read Spanish is required. Curiosity about the history of Chicago and the Midwest desired. A willingness to take direction and work independently. Attention to detail is crucial


History - U.S. Civil War    Dr. Marcy Sacks

Project Description:  In this project, I am examining the attitudes of white Union soldiers towards African Americans whom they encounter while serving in the military: as slaves on southern plantations, as refugees to Union camps, and as fellow soldiers after 1863 when President Lincoln finally authorizes the enlistment of black men for combat service. Specifically, I am asking if and how white soldiers' views about black people evolve through their interactions.

Student Responsibilities: The SRP will read diaries available online in search of any references to African Americans. He or she will carefully transcribe relevant sections of those diaries and keep precise track of source/citation information (the author of the diary, the location, page number, etc.). Training will be provided.

Qualifications: The student should have an interest in United States history and ideally also African American history. The SRP must demonstrate very careful attention to detail and precision.

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BIOLOGY  -  (2 Projects)

Ecology: The invertebrates of Michigan with Dr. Abigail Cahill

Project Description: This project will explore the invertebrates that live an inland salt marsh, an extremely rare habitat in Michigan. Due to the presence of an ocean in this area tens of millions of years ago, salt deposits exist in the region, sometimes close enough to the surface to influence the species that live there. Although some data exist about the plant species present in these communities, very little is known about the invertebrates (insects, worms, snails, spiders, etc.). Dr. Cahill’s lab is sampling one of these communities to begin to identify and classify the animals that are found there. Are they similar to animals found outside the salt marsh? Have they adapted to salt marsh life? So far we have found strong seasonal variation in the marsh environment, but we don’t know if that has an effect on the animals that live there.

Responsibilities: The SRP will identify invertebrates that have been collected in the marsh this year, using both morphology and genetic techniques. The SRP will also have the chance to help with future sampling dates, including this fall. The student will (schedule permitting) take part in regular lab meetings to become familiar with the system and techniques that we use.

Student qualifications: The SRP should have an interest in biology, as well as a willingness to work both outside in the field and inside in the lab. I expect the student to be responsible, reliable, and able to work independently.

 Dawn and dusk behavior of male and female House Wrens with Dr. Dale Kennedy and Dr. Doug White 

Project description: Much is known about dawn singing by male birds but little is known about early morning behavior of female birds, and little is known about behavior of either sex around dusk.  In Summer 2018, we used audio recorders to obtain songs of male House Wrens at their nests during the incubation period (when females are sitting eggs in the nest).  Our automated recorders collected audio of birds for four hours each day:  an hour before sunrise to an hour after sunrise, and an hour before sunset to an hour after sunset.  We used iButtons™ (small, temperature data loggers) in nest cups to determine the incubation activity of females.  We are interested in the relationship between dawn singing by males and earliest time of nest leaving by incubating females in morning and evening singing by males and beginning time of night incubation by females.  Do females leave nests in the morning when males begin singing (around civil twilight, about 25 minutes before sunrise) or later (closer to sunrise)?  Do males change location during their early-morning singing and sing closer to the nest to “signal” females when it is light enough for them to leave their nests to forage (around sunrise)?  Do males sing in the evening in any pattern relative to onset of incubation by females?

SRP responsibilities: Our student research partner(s) would be responsible for working with us on audio files and learning to analyze vocalizations using Avisoft LabSAS, a sound analysis software program that creates a visual representation of vocalizations.  The SRP would also go through iButton™ records for female morning departure and evening arrival times and ambient temperatures on recording days.  The SRP(s) may be involved in other activities, such as creating and maintaining a spreadsheet of information, transferring some audio clips, and carrying out a literature search on related research projects.  We anticipate that the SRP(s) will present the results of the project at the Biology Research Symposium and perhaps at the Elkin Isaac Student Research Symposium in Spring 2019. 

Student qualifications: The SRP(s) should possess curiosity and interest in animal behavior and biology, be reliable, well-organized, and willing to observe and carefully transcribe many hours of vocalizations.  The SRP(s) should make this project a priority over extra-curricular events that arise in the semester.

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COMMUNICATION STUDIES  (2 projects)
Content Analysis of Dietary Behavior Message on Social Media with Dr. Fang Wang

Project description: Obesity is a serious public health issue worldwide. Dietary behavior is one of major drives for being overweight or obese. Given the heavy usage of social media including Tweeter, social media has a tremendous influence on individuals’ belief, attitude, and behavior. This project will investigate what dietary messages that people have tweeted and comments through Tweeter, what the goals are, and how followers comments on the original tweets.

SRP responsibilities: The student research partner(s) would be responsible for working with me on coding process and learning to analyze the media messages. The SRP(s) will also be responsible for do literature review on social media use in general and in health context. We anticipate that the SRP(s) will present the results of the project at the Student Research Symposium in Spring 2018.

Student qualifications: The SRP(s) should possess curiosity and interest in tweeter use and dietary behaviors. He or she should be reliable, well-organized, collaborative, and have high work ethics. The SRP(s) should make this project a priority over extra-curricular events that occurs in the semester.

Health Communication in the Media - Megan Hill & Katey Price

Project Description: The project is a content analysis of news media coverage of legendary University of Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt’s diagnosis, and eventual death, from young-onset Alzheimer’s disease. We are attempting to describe the nature and arc of news media coverage of her disease.

SRP Responsibilities: The student assigned to this project will be asked to identify and save all news media stories containing coverage of Pat Summitt, from the time of her diagnosis to her death. The student may also participate in discussions of how to code the materials they collect and, depending on the project’s progress, may participate in actual coding of the materials.

Student Qualifications: The student must show technical proficiencies in utilizing on-campus databases to find news articles, as well as an interest in mediated communication.

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LIBRARY / SCIENCE
History of Science Justin Seidler – Library Archivist & Vanessa McCaffrey, Chemistry

Project Description: The Maynard C. Bower collection of scientific letters is an historically significant, yet underutilized manuscript collection held in the Albion College Archives. The collection of letters was donated by Maynard C. Bowers, an alumnus and noted botanist. The letters span his communications with botanists from the Arnold Arboretum at Harvard University. The student research partner will transcribe the letters and write an official finding aid detailing the contents, history, and usefulness of the collection for researchers from various disciplines.

Student Responsibilities: The student research partner will be responsible for transcribing the handwritten letters into a digital format. Both Vanessa McCaffrey and Justin Seidler will work with the student to help train them in working with these rare manuscripts. The SRP will also be responsible for researching the scientists who have written the letters and who might be mentioned in the letters. As needed, the student will also need to work with librarians to find primary literature and research articles relating to the content of the letters.

Qualifications: The student research partner should be interested in interdisciplinary studies of history and science. Time-management skills and the ability to work independently are also important.

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Gender Studies
Food/History Research - Dr. Trisha Franzen

Project Description: How do our vegetable gardens make our personal histories visible?  How do our community gardens make the history of the people of Albion visible?  As the Albion Community Gardens completes its second year, it is clear that many people have brought their food traditions to our city.  The goal of this project is to document those food/gardening traditions through oral histories with Albion gardeners and analyze the findings within the developing field of food studies.

Student responsibilities: Student will include both traditional research, such as studying the history of Albion’s people and the food traditions from their cultures, and working in the community to develop a list of gardeners and an oral history template for interviews. Depending on the progress, the student may be involved in the technical aspect of recording oral histories. 

Qualifications: A student should have an interest in food and history, be willing to spend time reading and doing research, but also be open to contacting people in the Albion community.  They should be reliable and organized, able to keep clear records and summarize readings. 

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 GEOLOGY  -  (2 Projects)

Paleontology Research and Collections Curation - Dr. William S. Bartels, Geological Sciences

Description: The research partner will work in Dr. Bartels’ laboratory. Research will be conducted on a variety of plant, invertebrate and vertebrate fossils from various locations and ages of North America.

Responsibilities: The research partner will learn and perform basic paleontological laboratory methods such as fossil preparation, conservation, identification, and cataloguing. The student will also learn various scientific investigative procedures such as morphological character analysis, morphometrics (size and shape analysis), and systematic zoology.
Fossil collections to be worked on include: a vast collection of Devonian brachiopods with epibiont animals (corals, bryozoans, etc.) preserved on them; a very large collection of Pennsylvanian vascular plants (and other fossils) from the famous Mazon Creek locality in Illinois; and a variety of Eocene of turtles, lizards, snakes, and crocodylians from Wyoming.

Qualifications: The student should have an academic/career interest in paleontology. The partner should be well-organized, dependable, be able to follow directions, and be able to work independently. Great familiarity and experience with Excel is required as is neat handwriting. Previous hands-on experience with fossils and museum procedures is highly desirable.

Hydrology and Geochemistry - Dr. Tim Lincoln

Description and Student Responsibilities:I am looking for a student who can help out with several projects.   I have listed several projects because I do not think any one of the projects has enough work for the entire term or year.  It is not absolutely  required that you do all three, however, but you would have to be willing to work on at least two to get your hours in. 

  1. Ion chromatography methods development and testing. We have a new instrument in the Dow lab that is capable of automated analysis for the common anions in natural water samples.  I want to test the ability of the instrument to detect phosphate at very low levels using a variety of instrument configurations.   As a research partner, you would learn how to use the instrument, and how to prepare samples (filter and seal water samples into vials) and standards (carefully dilute solutions of known concentration).  You might also assist students in several geology classes in preparing their own samples for their class-related research projects.  You might also be asked to learn how to run samples in another instrument in the Dow lab (ICP), and assist with student projects using that instrument as well.
  2. I have another research interest, in hydrology, which involves modeling local stream flow. This work entails extensive work with Excel spreadsheets. I will teach you how to access daily records of streamflow from a United States Geological Survey website, download data files into Excel, create flow vs time graphs, identify periods of recession (stream fed only by groundwater), and fit flow vs time data to mathematical functions.  This work will help us determine the sources of water (and potential contaminants) entering the river before, during and after storms
  3. Help with geological sample preparation for a fluid inclusion study. This work will support a directed study I am supervising this term. Fluid inclusions are tiny bubbles of water, gas and minerals trapped in minerals.  In some ore deposits, inclusions can represent samples of the fluids from which the ores were precipitated.  To study the inclusions we prepare thin wafers of ore veins, polished on both sides.  This involves sawing the rocks into slabs, cutting rectangular chips, polishing one side, gluing that to a glass slide, cutting the bulk of the chip off, and then polishing the exposed side and finally separating the chip from the slide. 

Student qualifications:  Overall, this work is for a student who is open to learning a variety of things.  The most important qualification is the ability to be conscientious about finding times to work, and flexible, when needed, to help other students.  For the instrumental analysis project (1), you will develop some basic chemistry skills (good note taking, precision in serial dilutions of samples).  For the hydrology work (2), the ability to work with Excel and the ability to organize computer files are important.  For the fluid inclusion preparation, manual dexterity and sample documentation and organization are important.  As noted above, you do not have to work in all three areas, though I think you would find that interesting.

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