Friday, December 19, 2014

Putting theory into practice

A phenomenon is occurring across our campus as the amount of undergraduate research grows each semester and each summer. Yes, I said undergraduate research. Traditionally research in higher education has been reserved for graduate studies, a staple for master thesis work and doctoral candidacy.

Here at Bloomsburg University, we’ve added a third component.

We take pride in the way we integrate out-of-classroom experiences into our undergraduate curriculum. Research and creative work provide students with a richer academic experience and allow them to hone the skills they will use in their professions.

In labs, studios, auditoriums and elsewhere, students are working at a professional level. In the sciences, for example, Kevin Ball, associate professor of psychology, has been awarded a grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the neurochemical aspects of addiction.

Working with students, Ball’s research may suggest ways to combat addiction. In the arts, the members of BU’s Jazz Ensemble have earned a place on a very public stage at the Montreaux Jazz Festival in Switzerland in the summer of 2015, an experience that combines performance with an opportunity for international travel.

These two successes and others like them are worth celebrating. The redesigned and expanded 2014 edition of Research and Creative Activities includes in-depth stories about projects, as well as a broad overview of the various activities — research and creative — students and faculty have undertaken in the past year.

The publication includes:
  • A story about biology professor John Hranitz’s research on bees and the ongoing threat of hive collapse.
  • A study of how high-fat diets may impair learning ability.
  • A project by a business professor and two students that could enable researchers to analyze data in medical records while maintaining patient privacy.
These successes and valuable research experiences carry our students to the next level. This is evident from a recent email we received from East Carolina University praising two of our alumni who are enrolled at its Brody School of Medicine. The program specifically mentioned how well Bloomsburg University prepared these doctoral students, both of whom have made such an impression that ECU is hoping to recruit more Huskies.