RISE supporting undergraduate research, creative opportunities

Earth sciences faculty member Diana Boyer, director of the Office of Research and Individualized Student Experiences, or RISE, can speak from experience on encouraging and enabling student research, creative work, internships and conference travel.

“When I was in high school, I was given an amazing opportunity to work with a faculty member at Penn State, where I’m from,” said Boyer, who wanted to explore her interest in paleontology. “I did a research project. I went out into the field, collected fossils, did the lab work, presented at a regional conference — and from that moment on I was hooked.”

Diana Boyer and RISE

Diana Boyer, center, director of the year-old Office of Research and Individualized Student Experiences, talks in a Snygg Hall laboratory with biochemistry majors Ryan Cotroneo ’13, left, and Adam Szymaniak ’13, who worked as Summer Scholars with Fehmi Damkaci of chemistry, now associate dean of graduate studies.

Under Boyer, the year-old RISE has worked to increase opportunities for and interest among students in scholarly and creative activities across campus and across disciplines.

“I understand how important and how powerful these experiences can be for students,” she said. “Maybe it’s a bit of a pay-it-forward kind of thing, but I do feel very strongly about these opportunities, and we have a huge number of faculty on campus who are willing and excited and love to work with students. So to help make that happen is what I hope to do.”

RISE helps students start a mentored research or artistic project, assists with funding and research travel through its parent Scholarly and Creative Activities Committee, or SCAC, advisory board and searches for outside sources of funding.

Boyer, who has students working with her under an American Chemical Society grant, noted the RISE-administered SCAC grants for Summer Scholars to assist professors with research improved last year, supplying not only a stipend but housing. More than $67,000 in funds supported 17 projects.

Undergraduates have pursued a wide variety of research interests, from robotic telescope software development to diabetes prevention in Congo, from wetlands ecology in Brazil to creating musical and artistic works.

In addition to outside grants, funding has come from sources like The Fund for Oswego. In all, SCAC last year recommended 23 grants for faculty and students totaling about $96,500.

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