The Tartan

Students can pursue research in any field through MCC program

Amber+Steiger+presents+her+research+at+the+Undergraduate+Student+Consortium+last+spring+
Amber Steiger presents her research at the Undergraduate Student Consortium last spring

Amber Steiger presents her research at the Undergraduate Student Consortium last spring

Amber Steiger presents her research at the Undergraduate Student Consortium last spring

By Kelsi Morefield

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Students have amazing and original ideas, but they spend their days sitting in class being told that “this is what we need to get done today,” and suddenly there is no time to explore new concepts. They are expected to attend class, memorize material, regurgitate it for a test, and promptly forget it. The Undergraduate Research Scholar Program at MCC — URSP — provides a think tank for students who wish to expand their education past the boundaries of the classroom.

Marla Garrison, a science instructor at MCC and long-time supporter of the undergraduate research program, has many years of experience working with URSP students. Previously, at a scientific gathering at which students displayed their research, three of her students have won best science research, and one student won best research project overall. Additionally, in her department, all 17 of her undergraduate researchers have gone on to complete paraprofessional or professional programs, and one student was granted the top internship in the country with the Mayo Clinic. Currently, she has two students under her wing completing undergraduate research, both in the sciences. One student is collecting data on the disinfection of ambulances in McHenry County, and the other is researching the drug resistance of staphylococcus aureus in the county.

Although microbiology is certainly a worthy field in which to pursue research, as Garrison’s students are, not all research has to be scientific. Most instructors at MCC welcome students interested in branching out of the curriculum. Archaeology, poetry, sociology, geology and English are only a handful of broad fields in which any student is encouraged to pursue research outside of class.

A few past topics from 2016 include “Boys MUST be Boys: Writing Masculinity into Adolescent and Young Adult Literature” by Alex Woodard and Kate Midday, “Parasitism in Dragonfly Nymphs from Three Wisconsin Lakes” by Madison Chudik and Marla Garrison, and “Facebook Marketing” by Rebecca Olson, Joanne Pantin-Waite, and Sherry Ridge. For a more complete list of departments as well as past research projects, go to the MCC homepage and search URSP.

With all of the opportunities available for undergraduate research, it is easy to enter into the scholar program. Professor Garrison recommends simply telling the instructor of one’s desired field of research that they wish to begin work in the scholar program, and the instructor will direct them from there. Even if that professor is not currently able to work with a student, they will refer the student to an instructor who is. Their job is to first assure that the research has never before been done, and then to help develop a working project. From there, the student will meet with the instructor once a week for a semester in order to make sure that everything is running smoothly. When the research is completed, each student will present their work at the Undergraduate Student Consortium, last held in April of 2017, to show off their hard work.

It is essential that the student’s idea is original, as this research is not a science fair project and will truly be an advancement in their field. However, if there is a topic that one loves, but they are not sure where to begin, the instructors are always there to help find an original idea.

The student information page for URSP mentions several advantages for students in the scholars program. It allows students to “gain more confidence in [their] ability to interpret, evaluate, and discuss information,” “develop a rapport for working with peers and faculty,” “gain additional credentials for resume or application to four year school or graduate study,” and others. The benefits of becoming a student in the Undergraduate Research Scholar Program are plentiful. As Professor Garrison gleefully commented: “Every student that I have ever done research with has considered it incredibly valuable. It’s on their resume, and it opens doors.”

For more specific questions or guidance, Dr. Flecia Thomas is the main contact for the URSP, and can be reached by email [email protected] or by phone 815-479-7620, or visit the URSP homepage http://www.mchenry.edu/ursp/

 

 

 

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