4-College Research Symposium, SURF Barbeque, and Lab Crawl – Friday, July 16, 2010

This past summer, Smith College hosted the 4-College Research Symposium, SURF Barbeque, and Lab Crawl. Science students, faculty, and staff from HHMI-funded institutions Mount Holyoke and Amherst College along with Hampshire College were invited to participate.

In conversations between the organizers from the three colleges involved (Christine White-Ziegler (Smith), Craig Woodard (Mount Holyoke), and Steve George (Amherst)), we developed the lab crawl with multiple goals in mind including:

  • Initiate and facilitate interactions between labs with similar research interests in the Five College area
  • Allow students the opportunity to present their research to a greater audience and get fresh perspectives on their work from students and faculty at other schools
  • Allow students to tour various laboratories to get a greater appreciation for the the techniques and biological systems used in research by their peers
  • Learn about facilities, services, and expertise that could be shared between institutions
  • Initiate and facilitate interactions between faculty teaching similar courses

At the event held on July 17, science faculty and students attended a series of talks in the morning by Smith College students on their summer research projects. Three separate, concurrent sessions included talks presented from 9 am-12:30 pm. Talks within each session included a diversity of research projects from the sciences with majors from biology, biochemistry, neuroscience, chemistry, environmental science and policy, psychology, geology, math, computer science, physics, and engineering. Sixty-eight students presented their research in ~ 35 different oral presentations (see attached program for details).

A lunchtime barbeque served to bring all of the participants together prior to the lab crawl. The lab crawl allowed students and faculty the opportunity to explore the HHMI funded Centers (Center for Molecular Biology, Center for Proteomics, Center for Microscopy and Imaging) along with various individual research labs that featured instrumentation used in a variety of research areas (see attached program for details).

Students and faculty from both Mount Holyoke and Amherst attended the entire day-long event allowing interactions with Smith students and faculty. These colleges are positioned in a unique environment with close proximity that afford the opportunity for fruitful interactions, but these need concretely developed through specific events such as the lab crawl. The increased participation this year by students and faculty from all of the colleges demonstrate that the 4-College Research Symposium/Lab crawl is succeeding in its goals. Approximately ~140 students and faculty from the participating institutions were involved with the event.