Gustavus Students Busy with Summer Research Projects

Posted on July 15th, 2010 by

Summer is a time when most Gustavus Adolphus College students return to their hometowns to reunite with family, friends, and summer jobs. But for 44 current Gustavus students, this summer is an opportunity to delve into a variety of research projects on campus.

While a majority of the Gustavus students on campus this summer are working in the sciences under the leadership of biology, chemistry, and physics faculty members, other academic departments such as English, geography, political science, religion, and theatre and dance also have students participating in scholarly or creative work.

“Participating in research, scholarship, and creative work is a wonderful opportunity for deep learning in one’s field of interest,” said assistant professor of chemistry Brandy Russell. “In addition to specific research skills, we find that students who engage in this kind of work gain a great deal of confidence and independence in their academic work.”

Russell, who serves as Faculty Associate for Undergraduate Research under the College’s John S. Kendall Center for Engaged Learning, says that the number of students interested in pursuing research during the summer months has increased dramatically over the past two years.

“Several years ago it was typical for us to have somewhere between 15 and 20 students conducting summer research,” Russell said. “In recent years the College has increased the number of Presidential Faculty/Student Collaboration grants it awards, and recent external awards from the Merck Institute for Science Education and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) have certainly helped as well.”

Examples of summer research projects include Noel Amborn ’13 and Alex Chubick ’13 who are both spending this summer working with Assistant Professor of Biology Karla Marz to better understand how the proteins that form the gears inside our bodies’ clocks fit together. Spencer Bonnerup ’12 is working with Assistant Professor of Chemistry Dwight Stoll on the development of a rapid testing methodology for the determination of drugs of abuse, including codeine, morphine, and a variety of antidepressant pharmaceuticals, in blood and urine samples.

The students who are working in the scientific fields this summer are enjoying the opportunity to work with some of the state-of-the-art instruments the College has acquired in the past two years thanks in part to several grants from the National Science Foundation and HHMI. Those instruments include an inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer, a scanning laser Doppler vibrometer, and a Zeiss laser confocal microscope.

A symposium will be held on Friday, Sept. 17 for students to showcase their summer research projects. For more information on summer research opportunities at Gustavus, contact Russell at


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin


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