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Unlocking undergrads' research potential

  • Holly Dickinson (centre) developed her research skills under the guidance of Dr. Joan Schwartz (left) and Lisa Binkley during the 2015 Undergraduate Student Summer Research Fellowship program.
    Holly Dickinson (centre) developed her research skills under the guidance of Dr. Joan Schwartz (left) and Lisa Binkley during the 2015 Undergraduate Student Summer Research Fellowship program.
  • Undergraduate Student Summer Research Fellowship program participants have the opportunity to present their research in Stauffer Library in the fall.
    Undergraduate Student Summer Research Fellowship program participants have the opportunity to present their research in Stauffer Library in the fall.
  • Dr. Steven Liss (far left) and Principal Daniel Woolf presented certificates to the 2015 Undergraduate Student Summer Research Fellowship recipients on Nov. 23.
    Dr. Steven Liss (far left) and Principal Daniel Woolf presented certificates to the 2015 Undergraduate Student Summer Research Fellowship recipients on Nov. 23.

Tom Hollenstein (Psychology) supervised a participant in the Undergraduate Student Summer Research Fellowship (USSRF) program during the inaugural year in 2010. Since then, he has participated every year without hesitation.

“The program is a great opportunity for students to develop their research skills, while being an asset to the research program,” he says. “I have also sat on the adjudication committee a couple of times, and I’ve seen the range of projects proposed by students and their supervisors. I would say there’s a lot of room to think creatively about the proposals so that the program is mutually beneficial for students and faculty members.”

The program, which supports projects in social sciences, humanities or creative arts, gives students meaningful opportunities to engage in discovery-based learning and to develop their research and presentation skills. The program is open to undergraduate students who will return to their studies at Queen’s in the fall after the fellowship.

The USSRF program is a great opportunity for students to develop their research skills, while being an asset to the research program.
– Tom Hollenstein, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology

Dr. Hollenstein says several talented undergraduate students volunteer in his lab during the school year. However, his grants often don’t allow him to hire them during the summer months. With the USSRF program, he can introduce an undergraduate student to different aspects of the research program.

“The benefits for students are multifaceted. For many students who volunteer in my lab, they are doing very specific tasks for 10 hours per week. They are just touching one part of the elephant,” he says. “But as a fellow, students get to see the whole elephant and help advance the goals of the laboratory. For example, I have had students included as co-authors on manuscripts because of their significant contributions to the research.”

During the quieter summer months, the USSRF student gets to work more closely with Dr. Hollenstein and other members of his research team. He has more time to work one-on-one with the undergraduate student and direct the USSRF project toward career goals.

“The continued success of USSRF wouldn’t be possible without the dedication and support of faculty members such as Dr. Hollenstein,” says Karina McInnis, Executive Director, University Research Services (URS). “All of our faculty participants take the time to mentor the students and ensure the experience is meaningful for them.”

The next USSRF deadline for applications is March 11, 2016. Up to 19 fellowships of $6,000 each will be offered to students whose projects take place on Queen’s campus. Two (with the possibility of up to five) fellowships of $5,000 will be offered to students whose projects take place at the Bader International Study Centre (BISC) at Herstmonceux Castle, East Sussex, England.  BISC fellowships include room and board, and return travel.

Visit the URS website for more details.