This opportunity is exclusively for students participating in the PERSIST (PEeRS In STem) program.
The PERSIST program is for underrepresented students in STEM (e.g., students of color, first-generation, Pell-eligible, and women) to develop a network of support through mentorship (junior and senior students will mentor first and second year students, and first and second year students will mentor Oberlin High School students) and common interest in the sciences. The students participating in this program will have the opportunity to take a Winter Term short course to introduce them to scientific research if they are not already participating in research at Oberlin or elsewhere during Winter Term.
This is not a remedial research course, but rather an introduction to the many different aspects of interdisciplinary scientific research. The purpose of this course is to inform students about research opportunities both at Oberlin and outside of Oberlin (e.g., NSF REU programs), and to prepare them for what to expect once they begin working in a research laboratory. For students pursuing a degree in science, involvement in a research laboratory appears to be critical in their retention in science programs and ultimately the formation of their science identity. The idea behind this course is to catalyze students’ research experience and give them the tools they need to find a laboratory to which they can contribute.
The first skills that students will learn include how to search for scientific papers, how to dissect and read a full-length scientific paper, how to write about a scientific paper (an example activity would be to write a short article geared toward the general public), and best practices in giving an oral presentation about a paper. The focus on scientific literature will be familiar to the students, as they will have already participated in at least a half-semester of discussing simple scientific articles, individual figure panels, and perspectives provided by PERSIST faculty mentors. The focus during the Winter Term course, however, will be to tackle more complex papers. As all seasoned scientists know, being able to engage the literature with ease is important in constructing experiments and bolstering results found in the laboratory. Demonstrating this importance of scientific literature to students initially will help cement the importance of scientific literacy.
Students will also be guided in how to best approach faculty about research opportunities. Importantly, students will learn simple lab techniques used in different departments and meet a variety of science faculty. This will require the assistance of faculty from different departments to highlight one or two techniques that are commonly used in their department (e.g., as a biochemist, I will teach students how to properly use micropipettors, and incorporate that technique into a simple UV-visible experiment that generates a standard curve to analyze the concentration of protein in a solution). Ideally, we will have 9 simple experiments for students to do during the 3-week period. The purpose of bringing in other departments is to demonstrate the importance of basic knowledge about many different fields of science, and encourage cross-discipline discussions among the students. By actually working on laboratory experiments, students will also have the opportunity to learn best practices in keeping a notebook, a skill all scientists need to perfect, and analyzing data.
Finally, students will be required to work on a literature research project during the entire duration of Winter Term that focuses on building an annotated bibliography about a topic that is of interest to them. The faculty mentor (Lisa Ryno), will help curate some topics of interest and meet with students early to help guide them. This bibliography will serve as their final report for completion of their Winter Term project.
January 6th - January 28th, 2020