Tag Archives: independent projects

Science and the Liberal Arts

As a chemistry major, I’m often asked about the opportunities at Middlebury for the natural sciences. “Middlebury is known for its language and environmental studies programs,” some will say with the underlying question being “Middlebury isn’t necessarily known for their sciences. So how do they fare?”

This is a fair question…and they fare pretty well if I do say so myself.

Middlebury’s Bicentennial Hall – “the science building” – was constructed with the prospect of highlighting the natural sciences in a stereotypical humanities-driven community. It is the home to seven academic departments and three academic programs, equipped with a science-focused library, the biggest window in Vermont, and top-notch professors. The professors are graduates from top research universities who are passionate about teaching. (Teaching in this case is not limited to the classroom, but includes the labs as well). They encourage independent research, they publish academic work with students as co-authors, they teach how to write for their academic discipline, and they are at the front of 100-level courses getting new students excited about their passion with interesting anecdotes and fun demonstrations. Professors, not teaching-assistants, are the ones invigorating students and consequently motivating their passion.

I transferred to Middlebury in the Fall of my sophomore year from a large university where teaching-assistants were the ones teaching my science courses. I came to Middlebury not sure if I still wanted to pursue the sciences. Despite my ambivalence, I mustered the courage to take organic chemistry my first semester and haven’t looked back since. A slew of opportunities has opened up for me upon declaring my major: I worked in an organic chemistry lab at Middlebury over the summer, 3 years later my professor is publishing that research with 3 students as co-authors. The following year I joined an inorganic chemistry lab and did two independent studies looking into a fundamental mechanism to explain Alzheimer’s Disease (which I’ve adopted as my senior thesis). This past summer I did an internship at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor in their nanoengineering facility. We don’t have engineering – or nanotechnology – at Middlebury but I was still extremely prepared due to the endless opportunities of labwork experience I received back here in Vermont. This summer internship provided another opportunity to do research the following summer, but in an international research facility. I applied and was accepted to work at the National Institute for Material Science in Tsukuba, Japan. To prove that this is Middlebury and not “just  me” – two other Middlebury students have done this program. One student did her first summer at Stanford, the other at the University of Minnesota. Each of us applied and went on to do the Japan internship, an incredible opportunity that we can attribute back to the research skills we acquired at Middlebury.

These opportunities and important research skills are not only found in the chemistry department, but in all departments in BiHall (and across all disciplines on campus). For those of you interested in the sciences, but hesitant to pursue them at a liberal arts school like Middlebury, I highly encourage you to give Middlebury a chance. Middlebury has been the perfect place to pursue the sciences and I’m looking forward to applying to chemistry PhD programs this summer.

 

If you have any further questions about Middlebury and the sciences, please do not hesitate to contact me: stacih@middlebury.edu 

 

Senior Project-Studio Art

Since the fall I have been working hard preparing for my Senior show, in May, which will be culmination of my Studio Art career here at Middlebury.  Its been quite the experience.  I spent a lot of fall semester with “painter’s block”.  Most people are more acquainted with “writer’s block” but both are equally frustrating especially when faced with deadlines.  However, my professors were amazing.  Just as friends comfort a friend who is stuck or feeling like they’ve lost their talent, the art department continued to lift my spirits and told me to keep pushing through.  “Soon, I would find my groove” they assured.  Finally, I got out of the rut during J-term and am in full swing.  Man I feel good.

Let me tell you, nothing feels better than whipping out a painting with ease and satisfaction.  My main focus had been graffiti which has shifted somewhat to compositions that focus on graphic art and lots of bold color–one of the two characteristics of graffiti I’m most drawn to.

This is just the beginning and I am excited to see else I come up with.  I also cannot wait for the rest of the seniors final shows as well.  We have all been working so hard and are all like a little family, living in Johnson together in our studios.

I was also asked to do a mural in Stewart Hall for Brainerd Commons.  Crossing my fingers that project will begin soon too!  Last year I worked with four other students to make a mural in Proctor Dining hall.  Here’s the section I worked on…

This is the first mural to go up in a public place created solely by students.  I, along with the rest of the art community hope that this mural is just the beginning of more student art around campus.  Let the creative juices flow!

Viva el arte!

Becky

Anticipating J-term

Christmas was an amazing time this year.  I spent tons of time with my family talking, eating, laughing, watching movies, and just hanging out.  With less than a week before we return for J-term the anticipation is in the air.  My Midd friends and I have already begun planning what we are going to do over what we call Yay-term.  Not only is J-term a time where you only take one class for the month of January, but it is also a time to explore, to use the extra time to do things you’ve never done before and have fun.

I didn’t go abroad and after this J-term will have taken four J-term classes.  All of them were courses I was interested in from art classes to writing classes. Click here –>J-term Courses This year I am working on my Independent Project preparing for my show in the spring.  I get to come and go as I please to my studio aka I will be there the majority of the time doing what I love most, art.  But when my artistic juices stop flowing or I’m beyond frustrated with my work (all part of the process) I know that I can take the day off and watch all three of the Lord of the Rings trilogy (already marked in my suites calendar).  I also will be filming the Men’s Basketball team’s home games, gotta get my bball fix.  Can’t wait for Pepin Gym to be packed with cheering, screaming, Midd students while Midd wins…of course.

As a suite we have declared Thursdays as game night, Fridays as dance party night, Saturdays as movie night where we are going to take out a projector from the library and screen a movie on our huge white walls.  I’m beyond psyched!! Atwater dining hall is opening up every Monday to host dinner for the first 200 people that respond to an email, the first dinner is Greek themed.  There are tons of workshops being offered with a wide range of topics/subjects/activities.  There is pottery, all types of cooking, learning basics f Hindi, knitting, dancing, log rolling, learning how to DJ, and SO much more click here –> J-term Workshops (Just sounded like an info-mmercial there oops) Plus, usual student organizations host parties, panels, and other activities.  For example, the Martin Luther King Jr. week always promises exciting speakers, panels, read-ins. etc.  This year Dr. Antwi Akom,Professor of Urban Sociology and Africana Studies at San Francisco State University, is coming to give the keynote address MLK Jr. Celebration.  More on Dr. Akom

All of that might have seemed overwhelming, but for me it is just so exciting.  There is no way I’m going to try and do all of that, it is actually impossible, but my plan is , go crazy with my friends especially my suite mates, to have plain ole good fun, and work on my art  during my last Yay-term at Middlebury.  This time next year I am sure I’ll be dreaming about J-term and how amazing it was and all the memories.

Happy New Year to everyone and for all you Midd Students Yay-term here we come!!! :-)