Classroom based learning is an important part of an undergraduate education. However, experiencing the full flavor of scientific and mathematical work requires a different type of environment. Independent study research experiences complement regular courses by offering in-depth projects concentrating on one topic. Typically students work a full semester or a full summer on one particular project. Working closely with a faculty member, the student defines a research project, completes calculations, proofs and experiments, and analyzes the results. The project culminates in a written report and oral presentation. Many students also present their projects at external meetings, such as regional meetings of the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM), Society of Physics Students (SPS) and the Mathematical Association of America (MAA). Click here to see departmental guidelines for independent study projects. Students often present posters at meetings. Click here to see guidelines for preparing large posters. Click here to see examples of past independent studies.
William Carroll Scholar
Summer is an ideal time for immersing oneself in an independent study project. Many Roanoke graduates report their summer research experiences to be among the most memorable experiences of their undergraduate careers. To support the MCSP Department's summer research program, donors have given money to the William Carroll Fund, which is used solely for the purpose of providing stipends to summer research students in the MCSP Department. This support allows several students each summer to concentrate full time effort on their independent study projects. Click here for Guidelines for William Carroll scholarships and click here for examples of summer research.
Roanoke College has recently added a college wide program that also supports student researchers in the summer. A stipend and housing are provided for over a dozen students each summer, with projects drawn from all academic disciplines on campus. In addition to their disciplinary research, participants have regular meetings to share current research reports, and to explore other common interests such as learning the oral and written presentation skills they will use at the conclusion of their projects. Click here for examples of summer research.
Additional funding exists for students pursuing independent study projects. Certain research projects have external funding specific to that project. Those external grants cover both research expenses and student stipends.
For general information on undergraduate research opportunities, talk to any of the faculty in the MCSP department.
“If I can help pique my students’ interest in research and scientific careers, I feel that I have done my job as a professor to promote an extended education,” Dr. Balasubramanian says.