NEWBERRY — Students with an interest in research now have opportunities for academic and professional growth with the Summer Mentoring and Research Training (SMART) program, now in its second year.
The SMART program was created to motivate students to gain research experience, allowing them to work with faculty mentors. Student-scholars experience the development of research as a creative intellectual activity in a real-life learning environment.
According to Assistant Professor of Chemistry Dr. Evelyn Swain, director of the SMART program, eight applications to the program have been received. These applicants represent the fields of Chemistry, Psychology, Nursing and Social Science.
“Although it’s still a new program,” Swain says, “we’re trying to branch out into other fields.”
SMART holds an annual Research Day, which allows students to present their projects and findings. The first, held in October 2011, had three students who were not working for the program, but were participating for the academic experience. After it received funding, SMART was able to present three funded student/faculty research teams and seven presenters. All three funded students represented Chemistry.
SMART’s presentation day is usually held a week before homecoming, allowing alumni to attend. The day features food, guest speakers, and prizes.
Swain hopes to “keep building the program over the next few years and would like to have at least 15 spots available.”
As funding for SMART has increased, its scholars have been able to present at other regional meetings. Swain would eventually like to have enough funding to take the student-scholars to Washington; there, they could present their posters and meet with legislators. She hopes that in the near future, research day will become a full day of celebration and host representatives from all departments.
Students who participate in SMART say it offers many benefits. One participant, Mike Sexton, says it gives him better opportunities for research.
“For Chemistry, I’ve been able to work in the lab on my own, and nothing is really planned out, which allows me to do my own thinking,” he says.
Alaina Brown says the experience is helping her prepare for life beyond college.
“This program has given me a lot more confidence, and has made me realize that I do want to go to grad school,” Brown says.
For more information on SMART, and to obtain forms and applications, contact Swain at email@example.com.