Feb. 18, 2011—Nancy Peterson, professor of chemistry, was recently appointed the College’s first coordinator of undergraduate research. In making the announcement during a faculty meeting fall term 2010, R. Devadoss Pandian, vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty, noted that one of the objectives of the 2007-2012 Strategic Plan is to expand faculty-student collaboration, including undergraduate research. In her role, Peterson will work collaboratively with Perry Hamalis, director of academic opportunities, the Faculty Professional Development Committee and academic departments to promote undergraduate research and creative investigation.
Peterson noted there’s a steady increase in undergraduate research at liberal arts colleges and many schools are collaborating with each other. Having a point person on campus to communicate with and coordinate efforts is beneficial to all parties and for advancing the College’s Strategic Plan objectives.
Undergraduate research has long been a priority and integral part of a North Central education, resulting in increased numbers of students pursuing independent and collaborative scholarship with faculty and a wider variety of academic fields being represented. For example, the number of students participating in the prestigious National Conference on Undergraduate Research has risen from two in 2005 to 38 in 2011. Having a go-to person on campus, says Peterson, will help facilitate and coordinate current and future growth.
“In creating this faculty position, this institution is making a very visible commitment to undergraduate research. And it includes every academic area, not just science,” says Peterson.