LU-R1 Reimagined: Program to be restructured and renamed

The popular LU-R1 Research Program is now being restructured into the Summer Science Research Program.  The new version of the program will not only include off-campus opportunities, like LU-R1, but will also incorporate on-campus research opportunities. In the long run, the hope is that the changes will increase Lawrence’s summer research offerings.

The faculty member acting as coordinator in the effort to bring on-campus and off-campus summer research under the same umbrella is Bart DeStasio, professor of biology and Dennis and Charlot Nelson Singleton Professor of Biological Sciences. To accomplish this integration, coordination between student, mentor, advisor and the Office of Career Services is being increased.  One important goal of this coordination is to increase student awareness of these opportunities.

The LU-R1 program arose in 2010 from funding provided by the estates of Maurine Mueller and Henry Kimberly, Jr. The funds were set up so that no interest would accumulate and the money would last four years. It was a pilot program, and to date it has provided stipends and travel allowances for 76 students. These students traveled to perform scientific research in a variety of large research institutions with host mentors who were often Lawrence alumni or friends of Lawrence.

R1 (Research-1 University) was the level assigned to the largest research universities under the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. As of 2005, this categorization system is no longer in use but the idea of an R1 institution was still recognizable enough that the program was called LU-R1 to signify the connection being made between Lawrence and the largest research universities in the country.

Prior to the LU-R1 program, most summer research was confined to the Lawrence University campus. This made the opportunity LU-R1 presented to students invaluable.

Program participant and senior Emily Hoylman said regarding her experience, “The LU-R1 program gave me invaluable experience in how a graduate-level laboratory functions, which is a key component for anyone looking at a research-based career in the sciences to understand.”

However, the LU-R1 mentors’ connection to the program was not as strong as some would have preferred, and the amount of control in the hands of the students was greatly reduced. Because of this, the relationships between Lawrence undergraduates and their mentors were not thoroughly fostered.

With these problems in mind, plans are now being made to include learning agreements between students and mentors. The agreements will be written and signed before the summer research session begins. This will allow both parties to agree to what will occur during the research session. It is the hope of the planners that this will engender a more fruitful and comfortable working environment for all involved.

To apply, students should get in contact with Professor DeStasio. The process involves filing out a statement of interest form regarding a project they are interested in. Additionally, it is beneficial for the student to contact a faculty member with whom they are interested in working. To get more information about opportunities in all fields, there is now a Moodle page dedicated to this subject.

“We’re hoping this will move forward to provide off-campus study opportunities for many different areas of study, including those beyond the sciences,” said DeStasio. “We believe that experiencing a different environment such as one at a research center is important for a well-rounded liberal arts education.”