New freshman science research project prepares students for careers
Loyola students studying science or math will get a chance to start their research earlier than ever. The University’s new First-Year Research Experience allows undergraduate students pursuing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) degrees a chance to perform exciting research with faculty members as first-year students. The program is funded in part by a $1.9 million grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, a science-oriented philanthropic organization supporting research and scientific education.
According to the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, students who perform research early in their academic careers are more likely to stay in their field. Chemistry Instructor Linda Brazdil, PhD, who is also the director of Loyola’s Center for Science and Math Education, said students sometimes get discouraged from these challenging fields and switch majors before getting a chance to experience academic research. The program intends to introduce it to students early, exposing them to the nomenclature of scientific inquiry and career possibilities.
The program runs from spring semester into the summer and includes a credit-based course to prepare students for their upcoming research. It concludes with a three-week experience in May in which students work directly with faculty members to conduct research and receive an $800 stipend. Most students are housed either at Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus or at the Retreat and Ecology Campus in Woodstock, IL.
The program currently serves 80 students this semester, but Dr. Bradzil said they expect to have as many as 160 annually in coming years. Students must apply to be considered. Although all first-year students majoring in a STEM field are eligible, the program is intended particularly for underrepresented groups, women, and first-generation college students.
The program gives students a chance to build their resumes, as well as develop professional contacts and experience. “The goal is for students to learn the research tools and how-tos in order to succeed, so they continue to engage with faculty and research,” said Dr. Brazdil.
Learn more about this program or the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry by visiting LUC.edu/chemistry.