2009 Archives

Research program encourages pursuit of graduate school

Making the world a better place by learning to ask important questions

November 24, 2009

A new Dedman College student research program designed to encourage undergraduates to pursue graduate school is meeting its goal.

“All I have learned about the application of chemistry to the real world as well as the process of lab work has aided me in the past year in my pursuit of a medical career,” wrote Laura Roberts in a thank you letter to Jack and Jane Hamilton, benefactors of the new program. “Describing the research experience throughout the interview process helped me get to where I will be in the fall, Baylor College of Medicine in Houston."

Hamilton Scholars 2009
Program benefactor Jack Hamilton (center) with Hamilton Scholars (front row) Brian Jacobowski, Veronika Tkachunk, William Grozinger, Samantha Colletti, (back row) Kathryn Pocklington, Sara Gingrich, Laura Roberts and Young Hoon Lim.

Laura Roberts (’09), a biological sciences major, was one of nine inaugural Hamilton Undergraduate Research Scholars. She and Patti Wisian-Neilson, professor of chemistry, studied the properties of new polymer phosphazenes.

The Hamilton Scholars program pays stipends to students working with faculty on their research. Faculty members apply for the funds.

“Undergraduate research is important – through the Hamilton program in particular – because it gives students the opportunity to work closely with faculty members on important questions and to develop the kind of close mentor-student relationship that is a privilege and a treat as part of a university education,” says Caroline Brettell, professor of anthropology and director of the program.

Student scholars included economics major Brian Jacobowski  ‘09, who studied mergers and acquisitions with Tom Fomby, professor of economics, and biological sciences major Sara Gingrich, who studied a new method of insulin delivery with Brent Sumerlin, associate professor of chemistry.

Katy Pocklington, senior anthropology major, used historic WPA photography to study depression-era childhood in New Mexico. Her work with Sunday Eiselt, assistant professor of anthropology, is part of the SMU-in-Taos childhood archaeology project.

“Some of the most shocking images were of sick children, and the sense of urgency on the mothers’ faces,” she says.

Pocklington is continuing her research this fall in independent study and plans to pursue anthropology studies in graduate school.

Jack Hamilton, a member of the Dedman College Executive Board, and his wife, Jane, created the program at the suggestion of Caroline Brettell when she served as interim dean of Dedman College.

“We’re so pleased that we can help undergraduates become more involved with research and encourage them to pursue advanced studies. That’s the whole idea of education,” Hamilton says.

“These days we need more independent researchers who know how to ask and answer important questions,” Brettell says. “Graduate school is the next step on this trajectory. We need students who will pursue advanced degrees and contribute to knowledge that will make the world a better place.”

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