Ohio Wesleyan University is sharing in a three-year, $450,000 National Science Foundation grant to support undergraduate students collaborating in neuroscience research at four private liberal arts institutions in Ohio and Indiana.
The grant creates a multi-institution “Research Experience for Undergraduates” (REU) site at Ohio Wesleyan, The College of Wooster (Wooster, Ohio); Kenyon College (Gambier, Ohio); and Earlham College (Richmond, Indiana).
“This REU unites the successful neuroscience undergraduate research programs (of the four colleges),” the foundation stated in announcing the grant. “Participants will work on challenging, authentic research questions and learn methods, skills and content to succeed in their research endeavors.”
Jennifer R. Yates, director of Ohio Wesleyan’s David O. Robbins Program in Neuroscience, said the federal grant will support nine-week summer research experiences for 48 students annually between 2016 and 2018. Each school will host four student-researchers overseen by two faculty mentors. The teams will work on separate projects tied to a faculty mentor’s expertise.
“This grant allows us not only to train students at our own institutions for later independent research, it allows us to engage students in these high-impact practices early in their academic careers and from institutions that traditionally have fewer research opportunities,” said Yates, co-principal investigator on the grant with Wooster’s Amy Jo Stavnezer. “Ongoing mentoring of student-participants will allow for continuation of projects and presentation of research findings at regional and national neuroscience conferences.”
Students selected to conduct research at one of the REU sites will receive a stipend of $4,725, as well as housing, meal and travel allowances. Eight of each year’s students will come from the four collaborating sites and eight from other schools around the nation.
Yates said the program evolved from a smaller, two-year program, funded by the Great Lakes Colleges Association’s Expanding Collaborations Initiative, with the four institutions guiding more than 30 students through a similar experience. Those students reported “significant gains in confidence using a variety of neuroscience methods.”
The student-participants and their mentors will start their summer experience with a three-day workshop at Ohio Wesleyan that focuses on project and professional development activities. The students will continue to meet throughout the summer via in-person and virtual meetings, and they will present their findings at a concluding research symposium in Wooster, Yates said.