Why were Patrick Page and Josh DeJong in the laboratory at three in the morning during Spring Break? Well, that’s a long story. But the quick version is that they like discovering things. They’re crazy about figuring things out. And they love working with Dr. Boomsma on academic-level scientific research.
For the record, Dr. Boomsma was not in the laboratory at three in the morning during spring break. Just Josh and Patrick. And they were on some serious caffeine.
If you’re a first- or second-year student, seeking to do serious academic research you might appreciate knowing a bit more about the prestigious Maurice Vander Velde Junior Scholarship Awards that enable and fund professor/student research. The VV Scholarship offers five grants (three in the sciences, two in the humanities) to outstanding junior or senior students who wish to do collaborative research with a Trinity professor. It’s not an assistantship. It’s more of a collegial, collaborative relation, in which you and your professor produce a scholarly product for publication or presentation.
As you can imagine, figuring out which proposals to fund was no easy set of decisions. The sub-committee making the decisions was made up of Dean Huyser, Professor Browning, Dr. Hassert, and Dr. Lake. As they deliberated about which proposals to support, they adhered to several criteria:
1) whether or not the student demonstrated awareness of the project’s relevance and context as well as of the specific background knowledge and/or abilities required to undertake;
2) how ambitiously and realistically, the student articulated his or her project (e.g. with a clear focus, purpose, and agenda); and
3) how strong and articulate the support was from the sponsoring faculty member.
After receiving and reviewing the various proposals, the Honors Committee reported being so pleased by the quality of the research proposals that they wished to fund more scholarships than the program actually permitted.
But here are the finalists for 2013-14 that the Committee settled upon:
• Calob Lostutter, who with Dr. Tom Roose will be studying metabolic speciation in an aquaponic system.
• Kiera Dunaway, who with Dr. Clay Carlson will research the effects of bisphenol A on arabidopsis thaliana.
• Alexa Dokter, who with Dr. Dave Klandermann will explore “Higher Dimensionality in Literature Interpreted through Geometry.”
• Ethan Holmes, who with Dr. Mike VanderWeele, will be studying the interaction of the sonnet form and social experience on our campus.
• Chadd Huizenga, who Professor Emily Thomassen will be studying the relation between the worship of Yahweh and other deities of the ancient Near East
I hope you join me in congratulating these students for their fine work. And I hope that the other scholars who also proposed will go ahead and pursue that work anyway. Good work will find an outlet, perhaps at a student conference, perhaps in a journal submission, perhaps in an OPUS presentation. Professors want to do this sort of research, not least because Trinity has long honored scholarship as an important way that our students and faculty pay attention to the creation and to our cultural conditions. As a community committed to scholarship—not just as a group of autonomous scholars—programs like the Vander Velde Junior Scholars award help make possible collaborative research between faculty and students. That’s a scholarly mode of attention both deeply personal and richly communal, even at three in the morning on spring break.