Eleven members of the class of 2006 were recently awarded First-Year Summer Research Projects. These students were selected out of what was described by the Office of the Dean of First Year Students as "the largest and strongest pool in the program's history.
The program, which has been in existence for 12 years, is designed to provide first-years with an opportunity to conduct research in a specialized academic field, to interact closely with a Dartmouth faculty member and to take advantage of summer off term opportunities.
"It's one of the programs that I'm always most excited about in the First Year Office," Dean of First-Year Students Gail Zimmerman said. "The proposals from the Class of '06 were absolutely outstanding. There were some very hard decisions to make because funding is always limited."
Students can receive up to $1000 to go towards funding their projects.
Abigail Donahue '06 will be conducting her research under the supervision of Professor Jennifer Tickle of the psychology department. "I thought it was a great way to find out if I'm interested in majoring in psychology," Donohue said.
Donahue will be looking at 12 women's magazines from 2002 and analyzing the number of cigarette ads and their content. "I'm comparing my research to a study done in 2000 and trying to guess the direction the ads will take in the future."
James Redfield '06 decided to propose his research project, which will take him to Fez, Morocco, for seven weeks because he has "always been interested in the relationship of how language works to how thought itself works."
In Morocco, Redfield will study the Arabic language and conduct a series of interviews for his linguistic anthropology project on Arabic spatial prepositions.
"Morocco seems like an excellent place to look at that issue, given the critical importance of a more unified relationship between America and the Arabic-speaking world. Basically, the project is designed to investigate a set of key relationships: between a speaker's language itself, his or her culture and the way in which he or she might think about the world."
However, if the State Department issues a strong travel advisory due to the five Al-Qaeda attacks on Casablanca, it is unlikely that Redfield will go.
Karilyn Abrahamsen '06 had an internship lined up for the summer, but decided that "it would be cool to do a little cutting edge research on the side."
Abrahamsen will be shadowing a veterinarian in Maine and conducting equine infectious disease research by studying antibiotic resistance among local equine populations.
"I can't wait to get started," Abrahamsen said. "I'm psyched to work with animals this summer, and the veterinarian I'm shadowing is someone I've wanted to work with in the past, and now I have the chance."
Olivia Agusti '06 is excited about working closely with Dr. James Aronson of the earth science department. "I'm most looking forward to hanging out with Dr. A. He's so cool."
Agusti's project will involve dating artifacts from Ethiopia by matching the chemical fingerprints of volcanic glass from two dig sites.
One added benefit of the program is that participating students who receive financial aid will also receive a portion of their expected leave term earnings in addition to funding for their research.
Zimmerman expressed enthusiasm about providing early opportunities for students to research and conduct independent studies. "It helps spark some interest early on" Zimmerman said.
Geography Professor Adrian Bailey, who has supervised several first year research projects, has written, "I will continue to convince my brightest and most motivated students to apply. For me, the program does something unique at Dartmouth. It offers a student a relatively unstructured opportunity to explore, for the sake of exploring, an idea. It is fun: it is fun for the students, and certainly it is fun for this faculty member."
The other members of the class of '06 conducting research projects include Martin Cheffins, Don Roger Daniels, Tracey Fung, Reiko Harigaya, Jon Jacobson, Evgeniya Petrova and Tramaine Tyson.