Local student to do collaborative research this summer at St. Norbert College

From St. Norbert College, April 10, 2007
by Mike Counter, mike.counter@snc.edu, (920) 403-3089

Faculty-student collaborative research is a hallmark of a St. Norbert College education, and this summer, senior Nick Rankin (Algoma) will join a distinguished group of biology majors who have benefited from National Science Foundation funding to participate in Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU).

"REU projects involve students in meaningful ways in ongoing research programs, such as the work my colleagues and I have been doing to chronicle the foraging behavior of largemouth bass in a small seepage lake in Michigan's Upper Peninsula," said Jim Hodgson, professor of biology.

For seven consecutive years, Hodgson has applied for and received grants that are used to provide undergraduate students an opportunity to do research work during the summer. The six thousand dollar grant includes a stipend for the student, money for materials and supplies, plus travel and accommodations as they do their research.

According to Hodgson, it is vital that science students understand the intellectual content of their discipline and the process in which this knowledge develops. "Research is the most effective, if not the only, vehicle to the ultimate development of this skill," he said.

Specifically, to gain a better understanding of predator-prey interactions, Rankin will collaborate with Hodgson and monitor bass and pumpkin seed diets. "I've been given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I will never forget," Rankin said.

Hodgson explained, "In teaching students about the way scientific knowledge develops and advances, we must provide them with meaningful research experiences such as those provided by the REU program. Through hands-on activities they learn to formulate and test hypotheses."

Past St. Norbert College REU participants include Allison Rick (2006), Mikaela Provost (2005), Elsa Hansen (2004), Joe Buechel (2003), Eddie Heath (2002) and Beth Charipar (2001).

Participation in the REU program has inspired many students to publish their research findings and to continue their professional training in graduate school. Hansen, for instance, is currently a graduate student at the University of Minnesota and has a publication co-authored with Hodgson.