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Collaborative Research Projects

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Ford Center for the Fine Arts

The Vovis Center, in partnership with the Office of the Dean of the College, is sponsoring a program to support students seeking active learning opportunities in summer 2022. Apply to participate in a collaborative research project led by a Knox faculty member! 

What are Collaborative Research Projects?

Collaborative research projects are 8-week group projects led by a faculty member, running from June through July 2022. Selected students are required to participate for 20 hours per week. These projects are in-person experiences on-campus at Knox. Most projects are suitable for students with no experience with research or exposure to the research topics; others have a few minimal requirements. See the project details below for more information about each project. All selected students will receive a grant from Knox to support their participation in these projects.

Apply to Participate

All Knox students are welcome to apply. The deadline is March 25, 2022. Apply online now!

Available 8-week Projects

Click on a project below to see more details. Note each project's timeframe, weekly meeting times, and any preferred/required prior coursework or experience. 

  1. Tina Hope, Director of Sustainability and the Knox Farm

    The practice of bioregional herbalism explores and encourages an earth-based perspective to health and healing while offering opportunities to deepen our relationship with the local plants and other organisms that inhabit our shared community. In this applied research project, students will observe and work with bioregional edible and medicinal herbs that inhabit the Knox College campus ecosystem and surrounding area, with a focus on cultivating and working with their nourishing and healing properties as they may be used in herbal preparations and in regenerative agriculture.

    Over eight weeks, students will develop an appreciation of some of the beneficial qualities of edible and medicinal plants and fungi in relation to living soils, other plants, and humans. Participants will acquire and use basic botany skills through the patterns method of plant identification, prepare an herbal compendium with plant drawings, and explore the anatomy and physiology of select body systems and how they correspond to the properties and actions of identified herbs. Finally, students will learn how to ethically harvest, process, and prepare a variety of herbal remedies from bioregional herbs.

    Details & Logistics

    The project will be June 7-July 29, 2022. The group will be based primarily on-campus at the Knox Farm and surrounding area, along with some local site visits. Group meeting times will be Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays from 10am-1pm.

    Prior Experience Needed?

    No prior experience is necessary. Students are encouraged to apply from all disciplines.

  2. William Hope, Associate Professor of Anthropology-Sociology

    Community-scale composting systems represent an increasingly important ‘middle-ground’ between household and larger-scaled industrial composting. Moving from a ‘waste’ paradigm to a ‘resource’ paradigm, community-scale composting seeks to divert food scraps and other organic materials away from waste streams. These systems afford communities opportunities to keep resources more locally based, to enhance local soil structure and microbiology, and to provide collaborative contexts for community education and engagement on matters of food systems and social-ecological wellbeing.

    Project participants will be introduced to the practical and conceptual foundations of thermophilic aerobic decomposition. Over the course of the eight weeks, participants will work together to construct blends of materials to be used in different types of compost systems. We will explore the opportunities and challenges of: 1)  collecting and processing materials, 2) improving labor efficiency in site development and batch creation, and 3) facilitating community education and engagement.

    Details & Logistics

    The project will be June 7-July 29, 2022. The group will be based primarily on-campus, with some local site visits planned. Group meeting times will be either MWF from 9am-12pm or Tues/Thurs from 9am-1:00pm.

    Prior Experience Needed?

    No prior experience is necessary. Students are encouraged to apply from all disciplines. Aerobic decomposition can be connected to matters of microbiology, ecology, chemistry, thermodynamics, systems design, and community engagement (among other disciplinary interests).

  3. Vera Kazakova, Visiting Assistant Professor of Computer Science

    Students will work together to build a knowledge base that collects and connects information about Knox, its faculty and staff, its services. etc. The project will require collecting this information from online documentation and from campus personnel. The project will also require students to make design and implementation choices to populate and effectively query the graph database that will serve as our knowledge repository. The project will focus on building a prototype, as well as on gathering data on currently unaddressed needs, hurdles, and questions to facilitate future solutions both within and without the new knowledge base (services, workshops, training, web-pages, etc.). Students will learn about data gathering, graph database management, use-case based design and development, human testing requirements (such IRBs), acquiring new skills while "on the job" to rise to the project's expectations, while also altering plans to work around the inevitable unpredictable elements of real world development scenarios. 

    Through this project, students will have the opportunity to directly support the Knox community through the skills they have acquired in CS courses. In order to create an intensive learning and collaborative environment similar to what they will likely encounter in the real world, students will work together on campus, for approximately 4 hours, 5 days a week, for 8 weeks. The project will require students to learn and follow industry standard agile practices, with iterative design and development, 2-week Minimum Viable Product deadlines, non-negotiable demo days, daily stand-up meetings, agile board utilization, client-focused goal-setting, and task allocation that effectively leverages the skills while circumventing the limitations within a heterogeneous team of junior developers.

    Details & Logistics

    The project will be June 7-July 29, 2022. The group will be based entirely on-campus. Students will meet in person for 4 hours, 5 days per week.

    Prior Experience Needed?

    There are three spots for CS students (students should have taken at least one 200-level CS course) and one spot for a non-CS student. The non-CS student should have at least some experience with data collection, analysis, or conducting surveys (such as a psychology major/minor).

  4. Ritwik Bose, Visiting Assistant Professor of Computer Science

    Mark Slabodnick, Assistant Professor of Biology

    Students will work in teams to design and enact solutions to assigned problems. This will involve aspects of both computer programming to model the behavior of biological systems as well as molecular biology and genetics skills to engineer bacteria to elicit the modeled behavior. Throughout this process, students will identify and appreciate the overlap between biology and computer science. Students will engage with how information is encoded in the genome, genomic regulation, and the basics of molecular coding. Students will learn how to design a genetic circuit using modular components, while learning computer science basics, such as scripting for data processing and modeling. Students will also use modeling software to design proteins to perform computation functions.

    Details & Logistics

    The project will be June 7-July 29, 2022. The group will be based entirely on-campus. The group will meet on MWF from 10am-12pm and Tu/Th from 10am-12pm and 1-2pm.

    Prior Experience Needed?

    There are three spots for biology students and three spots for computer science students. The biology students should have completed BIO 120 and BIO 130; completion of BIO 210 would be a plus but is not required. There are no computer science prerequisites, but any programming experience is a plus.

  5. Laurie Sauer, Associate Librarian for Digital Initiatives and Collections

    Joseph Taylor, Assistant Librarian for Special Collections and Archives

    Students will engage with aspects of information literacy, research, and writing for Wikipedia. Throughout the course of the project, students will develop a foundation in what Wikipedia is and how content gets created on the site. As the students progress through the project, they will develop an awareness of knowledge gaps in Wikipedia, especially as it relates to underrepresented populations. The group will work to collaboratively write and edit Wikipedia articles. In doing so, students will improve their written communication skills, develop information and media literacy knowledge, and learn about archives and how to find information in the Knox College Special Collections and Archives.

    Details & Logistics

    The project will be June 7-July 29, 2022. The group will be based on-campus and meetings will be in Seymour Library. The initial weeks will require more in-person group meetings than the later weeks. The group will meet for 2 hours each day during weeks 1-2 and then 2 or 3 days per week during weeks 3-8

    Prior Experience Needed?

    No prerequisites are required.

    Apply online by March 25!

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Printed on Monday, May 23, 2022