August 06, 2013

Collaborative Research Gives Students an Interdisciplinary Experience

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This summer, more than 25 Hamline students have been hard at work researching various topics as a part of Hamline University’s collaborative research program. Every year, students and faculty have the opportunity to work together to write research proposals as an application for research grant. Students who win the grant work 35 - 40 hours a week for ten weeks over the summer to research their topic of shared interest with their faculty adviser.

Julia Christensen, a junior pursuing a major in psychology and minors in biology and linguistics, said the collaboration with her faculty adviser, psychology professor Matt Olson, is very important. Her project, entitled Activating the Behavioral/Biological Immune System is aimed at investigating how subliminal messaging of different images increases activity in the immune system.

“At first, I was nervous about undertaking this project, but when I contacted Professor Olson about it, he was very supportive,” Christensen said. “When we talk about where my research can go, he’s been really supportive.”

The student researchers are broken into two seminars for the summer, and they meet with their peers in the seminars once a week. Students represent a wide-variety of majors and areas of interest.

“You’re not only doing some very targeted and in-depth research in your own discipline through your own project, the experience helps foster an interdisciplinary community.” Lucas Dolan, a junior majoring in philosophy and political science, said. “The collaborative research program is purposely set up so that each seminar has a diverse array of projects. In my seminar there are students studying religion, biology, education, political science, and philosophy.”

Dolan is currently focused on reading about the 20th century existential philosophy of aesthetics and how it relates to ethics in his project entitled Moral Creation: Sartre’s Use of The Work of Art as a Model for Ethical Decision Making. Though he’s on the verge of writing a culminating research paper, he has been doing a lot of reading and pulling together of sources so far this summer.

Eric Lindahl, a senior majoring in biology and public health with a minor in criminal justice, is studying the relationship between maximal voluntary contraction strength and bone frailty. Lindahl’s project requires that he builds a machine to test leg strength, uses the machine to collect data, and compares that data to basic leg frailty tests. This research could lead to an easier way to recognize frailty.

“It has been great so far. The people and the experience have been very beneficial to me. I have learned a lot about research and testing processes, which will be very helpful to me in the future,” Lindahl said.