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SURF Symposium Showcases Research

Aug 08, 2014

People at SURF SymposiumRandolph-Macon College held its 17th annual SURF (Schapiro Undergraduate Research Fellowship) Symposium on August 7, 2014. 

The Symposium, held in Copley Science Center and Andrews Hall, 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. Forty-five students participated in the summer SURF program, making the total number of SURF students exceed 500 since the program’s inception. President Robert R. Lindgren welcomed students, parents, faculty and friends to the Symposium. 

“I am delighted that you are all here to celebrate student achievement at its best,” said Lindgren. “The SURF program is truly one of the flagship academic programs at Randolph-Macon College. This program is so special because it allows our excellent students to explore new areas of knowledge, gain new insights, and develop lasting connections with the faculty advisors with whom they have worked side-by-side this summer on intellectual challenges.” 

Keynote Speaker 

This year’s keynote address was given by Richard Conti, director and CEO of the Science Museum of Virginia. Conti’s talk, “Curiosity Transforms the World,” encouraged students to tap into their creative spirit, look beyond borders, and embrace the unknown.
Each year, the Museum attracts over 300,000 visitors and serves approximately 100,000 people through its outreach program and events. Home to 60,000 square feet of interactive exhibit experiences, working labs, and other educational offerings, the Science Museum has become a significant tool in the Commonwealth’s effort to promote science, technology, engineering and math education (STEM) for young people in Virginia. 

SURF Directors

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

“SURF is an excellent opportunity for everyone involved,” says Lambert. “In addition to providing a wonderful learning experience for the students, it provides opportunities for professors to fine-tune their research and scholarship skills as they work alongside student researchers.” 

Schreiner says the SURF experience is enriching to both students and professors. 

“The one-on-one interaction is invaluable,” he says. “Faculty and students—unencumbered by other classes, as they would be at other times of the year—can dig deeply into the research.” Many students continue their research well beyond the nine weeks of SURF, something Schreiner calls “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 the spring in a celebration of the summer’s activities. 

SURF Symposium 2014 Photo Gallery