A student-faculty collaborative project in physics and one in film that get underway in June will officially launch Mary Baldwin University’s Summer Research Fellows program — marking the first on-campus summer research funded exclusively by the college. Undergraduate research has been one of Mary Baldwin’s core strengths for many years, but projects have previously been funded by outside agencies and grants.
Organizations such as the National Institutes of Health, the Commonwealth Health Research Board, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology have previously given grants to Mary Baldwin researchers for innovative summer research projects. The additional support of the Summer Research Fellows program will provide more consistent funding and will extend the program to more disciplines, including the arts and humanities, said Lydia Petersson, director of sponsored programs and undergraduate research. The college’s goal is to raise enough money to establish an endowment to support Summer Research Fellows and solidify undergraduate investigation as a major part of summertime activity on campus.
One summer project, “Documenting Human Rights and the Arts: A Student Perspective,” will create two short documentary films from audio and visual materials gathered from three Mary Baldwin trips to El Salvador with Artist-in-Residence Claudia Bernardi. A collaboration among Allan Moyé, adjunct assistant professor of film, theatre/film major Chelsea Alexander ’13, and social work major Jessica Linares ’15, the films will follow students exploring Bernardi’s Perquin Model, which uses the creation of art as a major component of peacemaking, community building, and cultural exchange.
Alexander and Linares will participate in the post-production process by making transcriptions, translating from Spanish, organizing and selecting materials, focusing narratives, and editing the hours of video shot on location down to two short films.
“This will be an invaluable asset to the students’ education and life experiences,” Moyé wrote. “Besides being strong additions to each student resumé, the final documentary films will serve as valuable tools for Mary Baldwin.”
Another Summer Research Fellows project will provide funds to support Assistant Professor of Physics Nadine Gergel-Hackett’s investigation of the electrical characterization of memristors with physics major and Baldwin Online and Adult Programs student Sasha Boyer ’14.
“Summer funding will advance our ongoing research involving building and electrically characterizing flexible memristors — tiny, nanoelectronic devices,” Gergel-Hackett said. “Our goal is twofold: to advance the devices beyond the technical hurdles that come with any new flexible technology, and also to study them to develop a deeper understanding of the memristor’s characteristics and how it operates.”
Boyer will perform hands-on measurements of the flexible memristor to study the physics behind the device’s operation. She and Gergel-Hackett hope to move one step closer to revolutionizing nanoelectronics through the application of this device’s unique characteristics to ground-breaking flexible technologies.
“I recognize it’s very important to get as much research experience as I can,” Boyer said. “This [opportunity] was just perfect.”