Research program seeks students

By Kelley Byrne

The Summer Research Opportunities Program is seeking students to participate in research and post-graduation experiences.

The program will accept applications until Feb. 28, and the program runs from June 16 to Aug. 8. The program is open to students with a 3.0 or higher GPA who are sophomores that have completed at least three semesters of college-level coursework, as well as juniors and seniors who will not graduate in spring, according to the program’s website.

“The students conduct research half the week and then the other time they spend doing professional development workshops, designing and working on their resume and participating in discussions with other members of the program,” said Lauren Boddy, psychology student and student worker at the office of Student Engagement and Experiential Learning. “If the student is just below [a 3.0 GPA] we encourage them to apply given that they may have other opportunities, skills or assets to the program that will help them complete the project.”

The program is meant to help students gain experience in their fields of study.

“I gained so much from the program,” said senior biology major Evan Wittke. “I learned a lot about communicating my research effectively to both informed and lay audiences, devising research experiments and becoming a more proactive member of my research community.”

Participating students stay in residence halls and cannot be enrolled in a summer course or employed.

They are provided a meal plan and dedicate about 40 hours a week to research.

Boddy said some of the program is working on research, collecting data, working in the lab, meeting with a faculty mentor and working on a presentation for the Research Symposium.

“[The application process] included the typical application information, like educational background, demographics and a few letters of recommendation that speak to a student’s ability to pursue intensive research,” Wittke said. “Overall, the application process was smooth, and whenever I had a question the helpful OSEEL staff addressed the issue.”

During the program, students participate in field trips that pertain to their areas of study. Last year students visited FermiLab and the Field Museum.

“This year, we plan to coordinate trips that pertain to some of the students’ majors,” Boddy said. “So we design it kind of around the students’ interests and see if we can take them and maybe meet with an alumni in the area that they’re interested in.”

Senior history major Thomas Bouril said the program will benefit him the future.

“I know what I’m expecting when I start grad school,” Bouril said. “I also feel like I became much more acquainted with NIU’s campus, especially as a transfer student. Living here over the summer, talking to professors, I made a lot of friends.”

Bouril said he feels he academically benefitted from the process.

At the end of the program, students present their work at a symposium.

Boddy said the program is for students who may need research experience in a graduate setting.

“You can learn as much as you can in the classroom, but it takes a lot more to go out into the field and do the work and then you’re learning practically through hands-on work,” Boddy said.