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The Teaching Scholar Advantage
Students learn best when they engage with faculty whose passion for teaching is informed by active scholarship. Opportunities abound here for undergraduates to conduct real-world research [video] and publish in scholarly journals with the help of teaching-scholar faculty members. Often, they have opportunities that usually are reserved for graduate students.
Student Research at Santa Clara
Learning in the classroom is only the first step—whether you’re isolating DNA for biochemistry research, interviewing residents at a shelter, or helping produce a professional musical, you'll gain new skills through real-world application in your field. Opportunities abound at SCU for students to conduct research and publish in scholarly journals with the help of teaching-scholar faculty members. This page from the provost's office includes information about awards, grants, and stipends created to support student research.
Dissecting Biotechnology with Religion and Ethics: A Research Poster Session
Students in the course called Social and Ethical Dimensions of Biotechnology were challenged to tackle some of the modern world’s most challenging ethical dilemmas. As they looked at topics such as pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, the development of AIDS vaccines, gene therapy, genetically modified crops, and informed consent scenarios, students constantly evaluated the ethical responsibilities and implications of cutting-edge technology and research.
The class culminated in a poster session of the student’s research with students using science and their ethical principles to arrive at defensible conclusions. Watch this video about the biotechnology and ethics poster session to learn more.
Robotics Systems Lab: Where Research, Partnerships, and Innovation Come Together
The SCU Robotics Systems Laboratory, under the direction of mechanical engineering Associate Professor Christopher Kitts, is always buzzing with activity. From designing and operating a shoe-box-size spacecraft to analyzing the computerized diagnostics system on a top of the line BMW automobile, students of all levels and engineering disciplines are involved in real-world engineering on a daily basis.Professor Kitts has worked hard to establish strong working relationships with various local and national leaders in industry: NASA Ames and Marshall Centers, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, Lockheed Martin, BMW, and NVIDIA, to name a view. And then there are key partnerships with universities like Universidad Centroamericana, St. Louis University, University of Texas at Austin, University of Hawaii, and Milwaukee School of the Engineering.
“Working with Professor Kitts is a unique and valuable experience,” said Richard “Mike” Rasay ’01, M.S. ’07, a mechanical engineering Ph.D. candidate and a lab staff member. “His prowess in developing successful ideas that yield functional, robust, and extensible systems gives students a firsthand look at industry-grade engineering without ever having to venture outside the campus.”
Solar Powered, Neonatal Incubator: A Student Project
Kadee Mardula ’11 made caring for the world’s people and resources the overarching theme of her four years at Santa Clara. Take for example her senior design project: developing a low-cost, solar-powered neonatal incubator for use in Nigeria.
The idea for the project came from bioengineering graduate Simi Olabisi ’11, who worked on the invention with Mardula and five other students. Olabisi was born prematurely in Nigeria. “She only survived because her father was able to run her to one of the few hospitals that had an incubator,” Mardula said.
Even the hospitals that have an incubator often do not have the power to run it, which is why Mardula and colleagues designed a solar-thermal collector to generate power for a small photovoltaic panel that operates the life-saving equipment. They had to figure out how to keep the water hot enough to heat the incubator for up to three days in case storms or clouds disrupt solar collection strategies.
“Santa Clara has all these opportunities—all sorts of things focused on the betterment of humanity,” Mardula said. “It made me more aware of what is needed and also more aware of how to effect change.”
Student Researchers Getting Their Hands Dirty in Costa Rica
Each summer, Michelle Bezanson provides undergraduate students with a chance to conduct real research in the jungles and heat of Costa Rica [video]. Bezanson, an assistant professor of anthropology, specializes in the study of primate locomotion: how they walk, climb trees, and navigate the forest canopy. She said allowing students to conduct hands-on research deepens their understanding of science and can often open their eyes to new possibilities for their own careers.
"It's a life-changing experience," she said of both the fieldwork students conduct as well as the details of living on-site in rustic facilities. "And it's really neat to see all students gain such a wonderful, amazing experience—but for each student, it's also unique."