Freshman research projects awarded

The opportunity to work on a cutting-edge research project from day one with a faculty member from Engineering or Medicine is one of the School of Engineering’s exciting new initiatives for undergraduates. Inspired by the legacy of former Dean James M. McKelvey and funded in part by a grant from the Clare Boothe Luce Foundation, these undergraduate research awards are giving 17 members of the Class of 2011 the opportunity to learn what makes a research university special.

Under this new program, incoming Engineering freshmen who are designated as either McKelvey or Luce Research Scholars receive an award of $8,000 each, which can be used to conduct research with one or more faculty members in the Schools of Engineering and Medicine. Research grants permit students to earn a stipend for work on a research project, travel to a conference, and buy essential materials. Scholars spend at least one summer at Washington University immersed in research under the direction of a faculty member.

McKelvey and Luce scholars also benefit from special programming that will help them gain familiarity with important issues, such as research ethics, major questions and emerging challenges in research, grant writing and applying for graduate fellowships. The program also provides numerous opportunities for improving writing and speaking skills. Scholars can publish research, participate in forums and give presentations.

Students pursue research projects in areas as diverse as tissue engineering, the mechanics of brain development, and regeneration and rewiring of neural tissue. They develop biosensors and synthesize nanomaterials for use in energy and environmental technologies. The research scholars participate in the exciting process of discovery en route to developing innovative solutions to challenging and unsolved problems. By collaborating with faculty and graduate students — and often other undergraduates working in a research group — Scholars also learn teamwork and how to function in an unstructured environment.