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Pomona College Summer Undergraduate Research Program Awarded $247,500

Pomona College has been awarded a $247,500 grant from the Sherman Fairchild Foundation Science Education Program for the College’s Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP). Opportunities for undergraduate students to engage in hands-on research are one of the hallmarks of a Pomona College education. The Sherman Fairchild grant will fund 15 students each year from 2012-2014, for projects in biology, chemistry, molecular biology, neuroscience, physics/astronomy, geology and environmental analysis.

“A long-standing priority…is to enable students to become critical thinkers and practicing scientists,” said Pomona College Professor Dan O’Leary, chair of the chemistry department. “The optimum way to accomplish this mission is to purposefully blur the lines between traditional coursework and independent research and to develop an environment in which these synergies are supported.”

During summer 2011, more than 140 students received a SURP grant, which provides students with up to $4,000 in financial support for extended, focused research projects in close cooperation with a Pomona faculty member. Their research spanned a wide range of topics across disciplines. In the sciences, these included:

  • the effects of protein glycation on iron homeostasis and immune response in diabetics;
  • cetacean research in the Cook Islands;
  • structural study of the Cheddar Dome, Grenville Province, Ontario, Canada;
  • the cognitive effects of music learning in low-socioeconomic settings;
  • light treatment causing damage to the retinas of hypopigmented zebrafish

Following their research, students present their work to the College community at the Pomona College Summer Poster Conference. Students may apply for College support to present their project at a national conference. SURP projects frequently form the basis of a senior project and can lead to year-round research with a professor.

Professor Cynthia Selassie, who previously directed the Pomona College SURP program, wrote the proposal with input from the chairs of Pomona’s science departments and programs, says, “The success of our SURP program, particularly in the sciences has been buoyed by four coalescing factors: significant faculty commitment to the research-scholar paradigm, strong student interest in faculty-mentored research, the administration’s recognition of the critical importance of research-based pedagogy, and the availability of significant resources, such as state-of-the-art laboratories, equipment and instrumentation, and information technology services for science faculty and students. The new grant from the Sherman Fairchild Foundation will significantly help to tide us over as we move towards the College’s Campaign goal of raising $10,000,000 for a SURP endowment.”

Ongoing support for the Pomona College summer research program is also provided by the Paul K. and Evalyn E. Cook Richter Memorial Fund, the Kenneth Cooke Memorial Fund, the Faucett Family Foundation, the Kenneth T. and Eileen L. Norris Foundation, the Dale N. Robertson Fund, the Aubrey H. and Eileen J. Seed Student Research Fund, the Schulz Fund for Environmental Studies, the Brian Stonehill Fund, the Elgin Fund and the Evelyn B. Craddock-McVicar Memorial Fund.

Learn more about Pomona College’s Summer Undergraduate Research Program.

If you would like to contribute to Pomona's goal of extending summer research opportunities to more students, please visit our giving page.