Undergraduate research is an essential component of a high-quality training program in the biological sciences, providing students with early opportunities for understanding and implementing the scientific method. Moreover, undergraduate student involvement in scientific research encourages critical thinking and problem-solving skills and fosters the development of effective communication skills and enthusiasm toward scientific inquiry.
The Hampden-Sydney College Biology Department offers numerous opportunities for undergraduate research over the entire span of the 4-year major curriculum. All biology students will participate in various long-term, course-based research projects in many of their major courses, from the 100-level Principles of Biology course through more advanced courses at the 200- and 300-levels. Additionally, many students participate in Independent Study and Honors Research Projects during the academic year (where they receive academic credit toward the biology major) and in the summer months (where they receive housing and stipend support from the College's Honors Council). In these independent research settings, students work closely with biology department faculty members who have active research programs in diverse areas that include cancer biology/immunology, virus prevalence/pathogenicity in reptiles, whale physiology, invasive plant species, neurobiology, and genomic characterization of bacteriophages.
Affiliations with other undergraduate institutions through research initiatives sponsored by prestigious programs such as the Howard Hughes Medical Institute also offer collaborative research opportunities for our students. Biology majors participating in these collective research experiences have delivered presentations and received awards for their work at state and national scientific research meetings, received external funding from various agencies to support their research projects, and become co-authors on peer-reviewed publications in leading scientific journals giving them a competitive edge on the job market and when applying to graduate and professional programs.
Read more about Student Research at Hampden-Sydney College.
Brant Boucher '17 and James H. Lau '17 presented their melanoma research at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting. Their work "provides new insights into FOXC2 function that have not been previously reported and describes a novel strategy for interfering with FOXC2 specifically in melanoma, but not healthy, cells," explains Elliott Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Kristian Hargadon '01. Both Boucher and Lau are headed to medical school.
James H. Lau '17, a biology major and Goldwater Scholar, performed research with Elliott Associate Professor of Biology, Dr. Kristian Hargadon '01. The goal of James' research was to understand factors that control melanoma growth and metastasis. Specifically, he investigated the role of the FOXC2 protein as a regulator of melanoma progression.
Josh Chamberlin '17, was involved in Assistant Professor of Biology, Dr. Erin Clabough's research investigating the developmental patterns that regulate sea turtle hatching on Hatteras Island. The work involved the placement of sensors into newly laid sea turtle nests using an innovative, remote controlled, real time access sensor and communication system designed to monitor motion within the nests. This was an extension of his summer research through the H-SC Honors Program, which he did jointly with an internship at the Hatteras Island Ocean Center.
Taylor Meinhardt '16, under the supervision of Associate Professor of Biology, Dr. Mike Wolyniak, presented his research on the molecular activation of T-cells at the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) in San Diego, California. Taylor performed this research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in conjunction with the Hampden-Sydney Honors Council Summer Research Program. His mentor at the NIH, Dr. Sricharan Murugesan, visits H-SC regularly and works with Dr. Wolyniak to bring cutting-edge laboratory research opportunities to the College's biology students.
The Journal of the Sciences, Hampden-Sydney's very own science publication, has half a decade under its belt. It showcases a wide variety of undergraduate research in the Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. According to Dr. Michael Wolyniak, Associate Professor of Biology and advisor to the Journal, it is a place to consolidate the great undergraduate scientific work taking place on Hampden-Sydney College's campus.