William "Skip" Wood '15 and Asian Studies Professor Todd Munson
Randolph-Macon College held its 16th annual SURF
(Schapiro Undergraduate Research Fellowship) Symposium on August 8, 2013.
The Symposium, held in Andrews
Hall and Brock Commons,
showcased students’ research and offered them the opportunity to formally present
the results of their research. In oral and poster presentations, students described
their research methodology and how they determined their final conclusions.
President Robert R. Lindgren welcomed students, parents, faculty and friends to
“What a pleasure it is to be with you students today to recognize your terrific
accomplishments and to help you celebrate the fruits of your labor,” said Lindgren.
“You have explored new areas of knowledge, gained new insights, and left a clear
research trail for others to follow. At its core, SURF helps you exercise your sense
of curiosity—your true love of learning—and there is nothing more precious. I am
very proud of this program and of you. Congratulations on a job well done.”
This year’s keynote address was given by
Wes Nichols ’86, co-founder and CEO of MarketShare, the leading
analytics company that helps companies grow revenue more efficiently by quantifying
what is really driving demand. Nichols serves on the
R-MC Board of Trustees; he and his wife Julie have been generous benefactors
to the college and in 2008 established the Nichols Endowed Scholarship.
Nichols shared his views on the rapidly changing world of marketing, emphasizing
the importance of using science to make advertising a more efficient and effective
“Discern what works, and what does not,” he said. “With technology and analytics,
we can see things today that we could never see. It is always important to question
where things come from.” Nichols stressed the constant need for science and research
to create valuable solutions in the marketplace. He also encouraged SURF students
to continue to challenge convention. “Disruption is good,” he said. “You should
never stay within limits. It is also important to see the world, and to not get
caught up in the ways of the past.”
The SURF program is co-directed by
Kelly Lambert, the Macon and Joan Brock Professor of
Psychology, and Serge Schreiner, the Dudley P. and Patricia C. Jackson
Professor of Chemistry.
“Not only does SURF provide students with an opportunity to conduct research, it
provides opportunities for professors to put their research hats on and step into
the lab, field or other research destinations to fine-tune their research and scholarship
skills as they work alongside students,” says Lambert. “Speaking for myself, this
is a refreshing change from my more traditional academic responsibilities. This
year my students and I stepped outside of the comfort zone of the R-MC Behavioral
Neuroscience Laboratory to conduct field research at R-MC’s new satellite lab at
the DuMond Conservancy (Monkey Jungle) in Miami, FLorida. Different from any classroom
experience, the students were out in the field early—in the Florida heat battling
mosquitos, storms and other challenges—in order to observe both
monkeys in a semi-natural habitat and
wild raccoons at a nearby study site. Throughout this process, we have
learned a valuable lesson that, at least in the field of behavioral neuroscience,
it is important to test the boundaries of our findings by focusing on new species
in new surroundings. These lessons are valuable as we have returned to campus to
embark once again on more systematic, controlled research with rodents.”
Schreiner says the SURF experience is enriching to both students and professors.
“SURF affords professors time to interact one-on-one with students,” says Schreiner.
“Unencumbered by other classes and obligations, faculty and students can dig deeply
into the research. Professors are invested in students’ projects, and students really
benefit from the opportunity to focus their efforts. Many students continue their
research well beyond the 10 weeks of SURF; I think that is a wonderful testimony
to the SURF program—and to our dedicated students and faculty.”
The SURF Program
The Schapiro Undergraduate Research Fellowship was introduced in 1995 as an endowment
to support scholarly undergraduate research by R-MC students in
all disciplines. The initial gift for the program was made by Benjamin Schapiro
’64 and his wife Peggy.
The Schapiros’ generosity provides students with the opportunity to conduct original
research under the guidance of a faculty member. The SURF program demands that students
experience a professional research environment. Students submit a research proposal
for funding to faculty reviewers, emulating a competitive external review process.
If funded, the student receives a modest summer stipend, and it is understood that
the research should result in presentation of the findings at professional meetings
and submission for publication where appropriate.
The college also provides free housing so students can engage in a number of activities
as a community. Among these activities are seminar presentations by faculty members
and visiting scholars. Results of the research are presented at the annual SURF
Symposium and on Research Day in