St. Olaf summer research and inquiry gets underway
In labs and classrooms across the St. Olaf College campus this summer, scores of talented students are working alongside faculty members on significant research and creative projects in a wide array of fields.
It’s all part of the St. Olaf Collaborative Undergraduate Research and Inquiry (CURI) program, which enables students from all academic disciplines to gain hands-on experience and close guidance from faculty and staff mentors. This summer 90 St. Olaf students are working alongside 30 faculty and staff members on 34 different CURI projects. Ten of these students are conducting their work as part of the St. Olaf TRIO McNair Scholars graduate school preparatory program.
At the CURI Opening Symposium June 12, students provided an overview of their projects and the questions they plan to investigate this summer. Their work includes efforts to understand a wide range of issues, from studying water quality in local watersheds to using data science to measure glacier loss to curating a digital archive for the Kierkegaard Library at St. Olaf, the largest collection of writings by and about Kierkegaard outside of Denmark. The CURI site includes a public directory of all of this year’s projects.
Professor of Mathematics Jill Dietz, the new director of the CURI program, says these opportunities will benefit students academically and help prepare them for their future career paths.
“I hope that they learn to practice their profession, whether it’s investigating a reaction in a lab or learning about German refugee stories from the 1940s. Students and faculty have the opportunity to work closely together in an intensive environment that should be fulfilling to all of them,” she says.
Dietz speaks from a wealth of experience. Over the course of her career, she has supervised nearly 50 research projects involving nearly 100 students. “Supervising student research projects has been a main focus of my career, so CURI is a good fit for me,” she says. “I’ve worked under lots of different models and hope to introduce new ways of thinking and working under the CURI umbrella.”