The World of Science
From Lake Champlain to Nevada and El Salvador, much recent faculty-student
collaborative research has applications far beyond the boundaries of
|Assistant Professor of Biology
Carlos R. Ramirez-Sosa (right), studies plants on the Kip Tract,
a short walk from campus, with Ashley Arnista '05 and Benjamin
J. Frisch '05.
By Alexei Boulokhov ’03
From studying rats to saving the planet, St. Lawrence student scientists
get to do it all. As esoteric research transforms into practice at
a speed and with a magnitude unprecedented in history, the University
is endeavoring to stay on the fabled “cutting edge” of
both the purely academic and the practical application sides of science.
Mindful of its historic philosophy of personal attention to its students,
the University remains more committed than ever to supporting independent
student research and faculty-student collaborations in all areas of
the curriculum, including the sciences.
Sometimes, such projects have
an impact far from campus. The computational chemistry research group,
led last summer by Assistant Professor of
Chemistry Jeffery Greathouse, investigated geochemical interactions
relevant to the proposed nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain
in Nevada. “Our research provides a molecular-level picture of
how radioactive substances interact with minerals, if they were to
come into contact,” Greathouse explains.
Some academic opportunities
take students farther afield. During Summer 2002, Denise Velez ’05,
Bronx, N.Y., and Assistant Professor of Biology Carlos Ramirez-Sosa
studied plants as indicators of environmental
pollution in the jungles of El Salvador. “It was such a beautiful
time in my life,” says Velez. “You can read everything
there is to read about it, but nothing beats the experience of actually
working in the tropical environment, in the real jungle.” She
spent four weeks collecting samples in El Salvador and another four
weeks back on campus performing chemical analysis.
Interest in preserving
water cleanliness led Stephen Drake ’03,
Harleysville, Pa., and advisor Ning Gao, assistant professor of chemistry,
to base their research for mass balance assessment of mercury in Lake
Champlain on a previous senior project by Nathan “Gabe” Armatas ’02. “I
was impressed with his work, and getting to build on something a fellow
St. Lawrence student did was an awesome experience,” says Drake.
The findings will combine with those of others striving to protect
what has been called “America’s sixth Great Lake.”
research projects bridge the gap between the sciences and other disciplines.
Leslie McCabe ’02 completed an honors project in physics that
looked at the lives and struggles of women in the sciences. “The
Concept of Women's Work in Astronomy: Women at the Harvard College
Observatory, 1875 — 1930,” demonstrates
one of many ways St. Lawrence students find to celebrate the sciences.