University Fellows Take Part in Summer Research Projects
After recent announcements of its positive performance in The Princeton Review’s Best 379 Colleges and Fiske's Guide to Colleges, it’s safe to say that St. Lawrence University is well known – and well regarded – for its broad-based liberal arts curriculum. However, some may not be as familiar with the numerous research opportunities available to its undergraduate students as well. Take for example its University Fellowship program, where students have the chance to work one-on-one with professors, utilize state-of-the art laboratory equipment, travel for data collection, or simply explore their creative talents.
Samantha Yee ’15 was one of 41 St. Lawrence students who were awarded a University Fellowship this summer. Her project picked up on an existing undergraduate research project, which analyzed how cortisol and thyroid hormone affect the thymus gland in amphibians.
“We’re trying to see if the thyroid hormone actually acts directly on the receptors of the thymus gland, where it undergoes another mechanism and goes through adrenal gland,” said Samantha, who is majoring in biology. “I’ve dissected the thymus gland from various stages of tadpoles and kept them in an organ culture to try to make them stay alive for three to four days. Then, we can see how the hormones affect the thymus gland and use that in a comparison with untreated thymus glands to see what happens.”
As a fellow, Samantha received a generous stipend as part of the Phelps Family University Fellowship and was provided with on-campus housing for the nine weeks. She worked closely with her faculty mentor, Associate Professor of Biology Alexander Schreiber, who coached Samantha as well as two other fellows this summer.
Samantha, who is from Oxford Mills, Ontario, just over the U.S.-Canadian border, has also been active outside of the classroom and biology laboratory. She was a member of the women’s track and field team, is the current co-captain of the Dance Team and has been active in both the Omicron Delta Kappa honor society and the Hope Club.
Once she graduates, Samantha hopes to go on to graduate school, where she would like to eventually conduct cancer research.
“Grad schools recommend that students have research experience,” she said. “So you want to be working in a lab where you can work hands on and applying concepts learned in the classroom. Here at St. Lawrence, professors will take you in if you ask and guide you along the way. It’s accepted here that student and professors will have a close working relationship.
The University Fellowship program allows undergraduate students to receive funding for a specific research project while working closely with a faculty mentor. The program aims to promote close student-faculty collaboration outside of the regular academic calendar while enabling students to conduct independent and interdisciplinary research. University Fellows will typically present their research in the fall semester.
Another opportunity for students is the Tanner Fellowship. Named after Tanner Cornwall whose short but extraordinary life touched many people, the Tanner Fellowship is meant to encourage students to enlarge their capacities to make a positive and creative mark on the world. The award allows recipients to design and pursue educational experiences not otherwise available to them. Tanner Fellows typically present their research in the spring semester.