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Lessons in going beyond the book

Academics are more than just cracking open books and regurgitating ideas on a midterm.
Funded by a donation from alumna Jill Viner, the College of Arts and Sciences is sponsoring the Beyond the Book scholarship for undergraduate students in the college to execute independent research proposals.
“The scope of proposals is limited only by the imagination of the students,” said Jacqueline Dixon, interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
Students who wish to apply for the project must submit a document detailing an initial project idea, along with a preliminary budget for the $2,500 they would receive if awarded the scholarship.
With her scholarship, recent alumna Kristina Astone traveled to Costa Rica to conduct research in anthropology. Her project included the excavation of 11 skeletons on an island off the mainland.
“It was fun to experiment and just take in the culture,” she said. “I’ve never been camping before, so it was a huge experience for me living in a tent with no running water.”
Another student, recent alumnus Derek Freitas, who also received the scholarship, worked with Professor Nita Lewis to improve molecular wires, or microscopic threads, that can be used to connect the components of miniscule computers or nano-sized medical devices that may, in the future, be used to fight diseases.
“Because I was given a stipend, research was all I did over the summer. All of my time, 40 hours a week, was devoted to just research,” Freitas said. “It was a lot of hands-on experience, finding out what research was about. Just working in the lab a lot of time.”
Candidates for the scholarship dedicate themselves completely to creating a research project organized and pertinent enough to merit a scholarship.
To download an application for the Beyond the Book scholarship and view previous student proposals, please visit www.as.miami.edu/undergraduate/beyondthebook.

Ramon Galiana may be contacted at rgaliana@themiamihurricane.com.
July 22, 2010

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