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Professor’s study on ‘insect version of sharks’ offers new understanding on the division of labor in ants
Professor’s study on ‘insect version of sharks’ offers new understanding on the division of labor in ants
When Assistant Professor of Biology Chris Smith studies the behavior of ants, some species track his every move, too. In a recent research expedition, Smith scoured the Argentinian rainforest for Dinoponera australis, one of the largest species of ant in the world.

Collaborative Research

Collaboration is the key to research and scholarly activity at Earlham. Students develop close working relationships with faculty in the classroom, laboratory, library and in the field. The College’s Mission Statement envisions teaching and learning at Earlham as offering “extensive opportunities for students and faculty to interact with each other as persons, to learn from each other in a cooperative community, an important aspect of which is collaborative student/faculty research.”

Of Earlham’s teaching faculty, 85 percent report having conducted research with students. This interaction extends across all the disciplines at the College and often to off-campus sites throughout the United States and the world.

Talk to senior natural science majors today, and they might say that the opportunity to participate in student/faculty research has been one of the most significant experiences during their Earlham educations. But collaborative research is not confined to the sciences at Earlham; it also takes place throughout the academic disciplines, much of it sponsored by Ford/Knight Research Projects.

Ford/Knight Research Projects

Through funding provided from the Ford and Knight foundations in the mid to late 1980s, the College has encouraged a great amount of activity. Students involved in hands-on research gain several benefits long identified by educational researchers: increased motivation to learn, augmented independent thinking, greater reliance on evidence for decision-making, enhanced creativity and improved communication skills. Student-faculty research strengthens critical thinking skills and gives students the experience of working collaboratively on a research team of both faculty and students. At Earlham the experience often results in the opportunity to share the project at a campus event, a publication in a scholarly journal, or a presentation at a professional conference.

Since 1986, the Ford/Knight Program has funded between 250 and 300 projects involving nearly 1,500 students. For 2010-11, 16 projects are in progress, involving 17 faculty from Humanities, Social Science, Natural Science and Fine Arts divisions plus four librarians.

Natural Science Research

Earlham's Natural Science faculty believe that one reason for our students' successful pursuit of higher degrees is the emphasis on student-faculty research in the Natural Science curriculum. According to the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools Comprehensive Evaluation of Earlham College in 2004, "The [Earlham] science faculty have embraced a model of excellent science education involving student-faculty research."

Original research is required in some majors (e.g., Biochemistry, Chemistry, Neuroscience) and is required for departmental honors in all majors. All Natural Science departments engage students in hands-on research within specific courses in their curricula. Students use primary scientific literature as part of their research and course work, thus participating in the wider scientific research community.

Earlham science faculty regularly involve students in their own professional research projects and have received funding for various student-faculty research projects from the W.M Keck Foundation, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Merck Company Foundation and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and the National Science Foundation.

Read more about recent grants

Researching native bees
Leading scientific research about bees keeps Clara buzzing
Learn more about Clara Stuligross’ Earlham experience.
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