Summer Research Opportunities

Opportunities for Swarthmore undergraduates

Exploring New Dimensions: Ken Williams '96 and Ethan Magness '96, both of the Math Department, spent the summer of 1995 trying to learn to view the fourth dimension. Here they are shown wearing the periscope goggles built by Don Reynolds to put their eyes one above the other. Normal 3-D stereo vision is produced by horizontal disparities between retinal arrays. Can vertical disparities provide an additional dimension?

Goals and structure of summer research opportunities:

Research experience can be an important part of an undergraduate education in Psychology and other sciences. Much advanced work in Psychology involves an appreciation of research: How questions are framed, hypotheses developed, and evidence gathered.

Each year a number of Swarthmore undergraduates are funded to work in the VIsual Perception Laboratory. In collaboration with Professor Durgin, students help to develop, design, carry-out and analyze novel empirical reserach studies in human perception and cognition. Stipends (currently $3500 for a ten week period) are provided through various sources that are applied to in the Spring (usually the deadlines are near the end of February).

Carolyn Harp '95, spent the summer of 1995 studying the auditory facilitation of visual target detection. (Carrie is not actually a pirate.) Carrie is now a graduate student in Cognitive Psychology at Penn State.

Alex Huk '96, spent the summer of 1995 studying the role of eye-movements in the perception of memory-enhanced illusory contours. Alex is now in graduate school studying Cognitive Science at Stanford University.

Funding for undergraduate summer research at Swarthmore

Currently Swarthmore College receives money from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute that helps, among other things, to fund summer undergraduate research in areas related to bio-medicine (including vision science, and physiological psychology). The Howard Hughes program is intended to foster an interdisciplinary appreciation of scientific research. In addition to funds for undergraduate research opportunities, program designed to provide high-school students with exposure to bio-medical research.

In addition, the Division of Natural Sciences and the Division of Social Sciences each offer a limited number of summer stipends to support undergraduate student research experiences. These are typically in support of faculty research, but, because of the nature of Swarthmore's commitment to undergraduate education, are intended at collaborative apprenticeships.

Rob Samsot, a high school student, worked on temporal sequence-contingent texture-density aftereffects during the summer of 1995.

Ann Cary was an HHMI-supported high school student who completed a study on interocular transfer of texture density and texture-contrast aftereffects. She is shown here wearing left-right reversing goggles.

Summer 1997

In the summer of 1997 the lab employed four Swarthmore undergraduates and one high-school student, Evoni Story, as well as our part-time RA, Richa Jain. Students were engaged individually or coolectively in projects on sensory-motor adaptation, metacontrast masking, face perception, motion perception, stroop, depth perception, etc.

Summer Researchers, 1997
From Left: Sasha Clayton '98, Fred Bush '98, Beth Wiles '98, Richa Jain, Saudia Amiruddin '98, Prof. Frank Durgin (not shown: Evoni Story)

July 1997
Lunch at Countryside Deli
Saudia, Fred, Beth, Sasha

Funding for student-initiated projects

Although summer research is usually a faculty-directed collaboration, a few sources of funding exist on campus for student initiated proposals. Students interested in pursuing a project of their own design under the guidance of a faculty member should consider applying for these awards.