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Summer program offered research opportunities, flexibility

During a packed academic year, finding the time for research was often difficult.

That is why senior Max Tenaglia, a geosciences major, conducted geological surveys in the canyons of New Mexico over the summer – with funding for his research provided by University of Miami’s “Beyond the Book” program.

As part of an ongoing effort to make research opportunities more accessible to UM undergraduates, the College of Arts and Sciences offers the “Beyond the Book” program, which funds selected students’ summer research projects and allows students to pursue unique research opportunities.

“This program tries to facilitate students who are motivated to do original research as undergraduates,” said Traci Ardren, the senior associate dean of academic affairs and civic engagement, who coordinates the program. “Many of our students are already doing research, but this is an opportunity to enhance that, especially if the research requires that they travel, or work over the summer, or do something on top of their regular course load.”

For UM students like sophomore Michael Venincasa, who participated in the “Beyond the Book” program last summer, the program allowed for a level of research commitment that would have been impossible during the school year.

“It was very nice to be able to research for extended hours,” said Venincasa, who is majoring in neuroscience. “During the school year, classes keep me from putting in six to eight hours a day, and so doing summer work allowed for much more productivity.”

The “Beyond the Book” program provides a $2,500 stipend to selected students, which can be used in a number of ways.

One of the program’s biggest advantages is its flexibility, said senior Ali Zaman, a neuroscience major. She spent last summer working with specialists at the Miller School of Medicine to improve treatments for Hepatitis C.

“Any effective way of learning outside the classroom is something that this scholarship will fund, whether it is research, internships or fieldwork,” Zaman said. “You are not restricted to a location or topic. It is a great way to get students active in the fields they would like to work in.”

Although most “Beyond the Book” stipend recipients are aspiring scientists or doctors, the program is not limited to science majors.

Last summer’s participants included students majoring in history, economics and anthropology.

In fact, the program is open to all freshmen, sophomores and juniors currently enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences.

The program is highly competitive, with an acceptance rate of around 30 percent, and requires a brief application and faculty recommendation.

Nevertheless, the effort is one worth making, said senior Annie Siassipour, a biology major who spent last summer researching invertebrate neuroanatomy with the program.

“This was a great opportunity for me, and I encourage other students to apply,” she said.

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION

What: “Beyond the Book” program, offered by the College of Arts and Sciences to fund selected students’ summer research programs
When: Applications for the program are due Feb. 18.

For more information about the “Beyond the Book” program, and to download the application form, visit as.miami.edu/scholarships/beyondthebook.

July 11, 2013

Reporters

Eric Keen


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