Science students will bring their hard work out of the lab and into the public eye this Friday afternoon, filling Morrell Gymnasium with presentations depicting their science research.
This event is part of the President’s Science Symposium, an annual celebration of the research conducted on and off campus by Bowdoin students. 

Three students are selected by the faculty to present their work at the symposium in front of their peers, and an outside keynote speaker is invited to share their work and note how it applies in life.

Lecturer in Chemistry Michael Danahy has helped coordinate the event for the past several years.

“The symposium is really meant to highlight the research that’s happening on campus,” said Danahy. “There’s always posters in Druck and in Searles about stuff that goes on here, but there isn’t always a time to see in one place and at one time everything that’s going on around campus.”

This year’s keynote speaker is Professor Chad Mirkin, director of the International Institute for Nanotechnology at Northwestern University. Mirkin’s talk is titled “Nanotechnology: A Small World with Big Potential.” The speech aims to address the various biological, chemical and medical applications of nanotechnology and how they relate to the outside world.  

After Mirkin’s talk, the faculty-nominated speakers will present their research. This year’s student speakers are Julia Maine ’16 of the Earth and Oceanographic Science Department, Cody Woods ’16 of the Biology Department and James Sullivan ’16 of the Chemistry Department.

“They are nominated by their departments as students who are doing good research, and also being able to convey that research to others,” said Danahy.

Maine is excited to present.“It’s a really fun challenge to make things that are pretty complicated more understandable to people,” she said. “Hopefully I achieved that. I really hate jargony talks where only experts can understand them. That’s the wrong way to do things.”

Maine’s research at the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in East Boothbay focused on the effects of ocean acidification on a type of phytoplankton, Emiliania huxleyi, and how these effects could influence the broader ocean ecosystem.

“Basically, what I want to do with my life is help fishermen and the fishing industry in the Gulf of Maine respond and adapt to climate change. I’m really interested in how the biology of the Gulf of Maine will respond,” said Maine.

Maine’s research is just one example of the roughly 200 student research projects conducted each year at Bowdoin across nearly every department. In addition to preparing students for graduate school and beyond, this research can supplement class work and lectures to give students a more complete perspective on science. 

“You really get to see what science is like when you actually do it,” said Danahy. 

“You go off read the literature, find a way to do it, and it ends up working. You’ve solved a problem that maybe no one else has ever done before. That’s something that’s kind of cool at a place like Bowdoin where it’s undergraduates who are running all the labs here.”

Student research at small liberal arts schools like Bowdoin is becoming increasingly popular among incoming students. The beauty of research at Bowdoin, according to Danahy, is the independence that’s associated with small, undergraduate-only labs.

“I know from my own experience that when you go to graduate school, coming out of a place like Bowdoin, you’ve got a leg up on a lot of students who might not have the independence of thought that you have, because you’re the one who’s driving that research project forward,” he said.

The schedule of events can be found here