Students Build Strengths Through Summer Research

Undergraduate research is a popular summer activity at Meredith College. This year, nearly 20 students worked with faculty mentors on research efforts, with support from Meredith’s Undergraduate Research Program (URP).

URP Director Paul Winterhoff calls summer an optimal time for research because students and faculty have more time to dedicate to the projects. Students are able to work up to 35 hours per week during the summer.

“Immersing herself in a research project in the summer time allows the student to work more intensely with her faculty mentor,” Winterhoff said. “Faculty, in turn, can provide student researchers more one-on-one attention because their teaching loads are generally lighter, and in some cases the student is working in a broader research program that the faculty member concentrates on in summer.”

Benefits of summer research include pursuing a project that produces a tangible result, such as a presentation or publication, clarifying career interests, and building marketable skills that are attractive to future employers or graduate programs.

“Students gain and hone a number of valuable skills under their mentor’s tutelage including problem-solving and creativity, critical and reflective thinking, skills in collaboration, and information literacy, presentation, writing, and the use of specific research tools and techniques of their discipline,” Winterhoff said.

Student Rachel Powell, ’16, worked with Associate Professor of Biological Sciences Karthik Aghoram on research looking at a gene that is thought to increase the drought tolerance of plants. She said she used strengths identified through Meredith’s StrongPoints® program.

“My strengths all work together in the lab to help me expect obstacles, plan ahead, and learn what I could have done differently to avoid the issue. My ‘Command’ strength helped me immediately tackle any issues that could arise by making quick decisions. The ‘Achiever’ in me just likes to stay busy,” Powell said. “I used all of my strengths … expanding the knowledge I’ve gained in the classroom with new techniques and procedures I learned this summer.”

Bri Crumbley, ’16, worked on a theoretical examination of the ways in which individuals interact.

“Focusing on worldviews, belief systems, and gender, I looked to answer the question ‘Why should I respect someone who is different from me?’ using the writing and theories of various philosophers in the phenomenological, humanist, and feminist schools of thought,” Crumbley said.

Research has added to Crumbley’s educational experience at Meredith.

“[Research] enhances the way that the classroom is experienced,” she said. “It gives you the opportunity to dive into a project in a way that gives you a total sense of ownership and the ability to really find joy and success in the outcomes.”

These projects are funded through the Undergraduate Research Program, supported by Meredith’s Shepard K. Halsch Endowment for Undergraduate Research. In addition, projects that are sustainability focused are funded through the Environmental Sustainability Initiative (ESI), thanks to a generous grant from the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation.

Watch a video snapshot of summer research at

Melyssa Allen

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