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Students Offer Up Science for Lunch

June 28, 2016

This summer, more than 50 students will present their original research to a room of their peers and professors. The students are in the John S. Rogers Science Research Program, which supports collaborative projects between students and faculty.

Over the course of the summer, Rogers students work on their research full-time. Each week, students present their findings to other members of the program and receive meaningful feedback from classmates. While the Rogers program is open specifically to students of math and science, the skills they develop—tenacity, creative thinking, and strong presentation skills—are valuable across all fields of study. Research topics range from the functional traits of seedlings in an Amazonian rainforest to the unique acoustic properties of the mandolin.

For instance, team members Mako Gedi ’17, Helen Ippolito ’17, Jonathan Torres ’18, Isaac Boardman ’19, and Mehtab Sal ’17, led by Professor of Biology Tamily Weissman-Unni, are mapping the neuronal development of zebrafish to determine whether cells in the brain undergo competition during development. Eddie Tellez ’19 and Owen Gartner ’17, working with Professor Diana Leonard, are looking at a different aspect of cognitive responses by measuring women’s levels of self-stereotyping in response to sexism.

Meanwhile, Sophia Aron ’18 and Gabriella Tost ’18 are approaching the brain in yet another way: the team’s presentation, part of the Brown Bag on June 28, will explore the possible advantages of bilingualism when it comes to cognitive control. Alongside Professor Yueping Zhang, they will be comparing the performance of bilingual and monolingual speakers on a variety of executive-control tasks and relating scores to participants’ language experience. “I grew up around bilinguals and spent all of my years of formal education learning languages,” said Aron when asked about her interest in the project. “We’re looking at how learning languages affects the brain, which is something that really interests and impacts me.”

No matter the group, faculty and students alike stress the importance of this collaborative research. Professor Zhang says she views student participation as a vital part of her research. “I hope the hands-on experience and the experimental skills gained from working on this research project will make these students more competitive candidates for future advanced study in psychology and behavioral/cognitive neuroscience. Working with these students has been a very rewarding experience for me.”

Similarly, Tellez believes that working with faculty and benefitting from the one-on-one instruction the program promotes has given him unique research opportunities that he might not have otherwise explored. “Working with Professor Leonard has been a great assistance to my research. It really helps to have an experienced psychological researcher helping me out and providing me with direction.”

The Rogers Science Brown Bags will be held once a week until July 19, 2016. Visit the John S. Rogers Research page for more information and a full schedule of presentations.

John S. Rogers Science Program

Upcoming Brown Bag Lunch Presentations


Emily Price ’18 developed this story. 

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