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Skidmore College

Students who ask “Why?” “How?” and “What if?”

July 18, 2018
by Julia Marco

If you’ve ever found yourself captivated by “how it’s made” videos or contemplating your world after a mind-boggling, perspective-changing podcast, film or book, then this is for you. 

Because at the center of each of these magnetic stories are people. Certain kinds of people. The kind who are willing to ask “Why?” “How?” or “What if?” The people who are destined to go out into the world and change minds, shift cultures, boost economies, discover new technologies and more. 

These are the ones who come to Skidmore College and choose to spend their summer exploring the world as part of Skidmore’s Faculty Student Summer Collaborative Research Program.

Collaborative Research gives students the opportunity to spend up to 10 weeks working side-by-side with faculty experts on original research across virtually all disciplines, from biology to English, physics to dance and more. 

Each outcome is as individual as the student: 

  • A by-line in a national or international academic journal
  • A film, performance or exhibition of their own creation
  • A foundation of research to support future theses or capstones
  • A personal toolkit of skills from interview techniques to mastering sophisticated laboratory technology
  • An experience that crystalizes a permanent state of curiosity in their lives 

And the projects are as interdisciplinary as Skidmore's special blend of the liberal arts. Here is a sample of summer research projects students are working on with our faculty. 

Making “A Mess of Things,” A documentary artist’s book

Senior Atlan Arceo-Witzl is working with Adam Tinkle, visiting assistant professor of media and film studies and director of the John B. Moore Documentary Studies Collaboartive (MDOCs), to see if a single documentary story can be retold through multiple formats and experiences (film, performance, audio, books) and still have an impact.

Why? Because the more ways a story can be told, the more people it can reach. 

A preliminary study of the effects of maternal and paternal methamphetamine use on offspring circadian rhythm in fruit flies

Junior Emily Cross and first-year student Arianna McDaniels are working with Christopher Vecsey, assistant professor of neuroscience, to determine the effects of maternal and paternal use of methamphetamine on offspring.

Why? Although many studies have examined the post-partum effects of methamphetamine use by mothers, very few have considered the impact of use by would-be fathers. 

Junior Emily Cross and first-year student Arianna McDaniels are working with Christopher Vecsey, assistant professor of neuroscience, to determine the effects of maternal and paternal use of methamphetamine on offspring.

Junior Emily Cross (right) and first-year student Arianna McDaniels discuss how their research will support Cross' upcoming senior thesis project. 

Superstar effect and consumer tipping behavior: Evidence from the NBA

Junior Chenyu Zhou and Qi Ge, assistant professor of economics, are wondering if taxi passengers tip their drivers differently after a basketball game when a superstar plays (such as Lebron James, Kevin Durant or Stephen Curry). 

Why? Because they’d like to find out if the “superstar effect” extends beyond sporting events. For example, might bringing celebrities to philanthropy events increase fundraising? 

Parents’ concerns with smart device use in the home

Senior Ruben Ruiz is working with Aarathi Prasad, assistant professor of computer science, to shine a light on the concerns parents have regarding children using smart devices. 

Why? Because as the influence of technology rises in society, family life is being affected, and this group sees an opportunity to help uncover exactly what the concerns are.

Monitoring performances of student-athletes: Ethnography and wearable technology

Sophomore David Rivera and Bernardo Ramirez Rios, assistant professor of anthropology, are working to understand how elements of daily life, such as sleep and nutrition, affect the performance of student-athletes.

Why? Because big data and analytics are driving major sports industry decisions from recruiting to revenue. And one of the major topics is athlete performance. But what defines “performance?” Rivera and Rios believe that if they can put meaning to the numbers, they’ll be able to tell a deeper, more human story than shots made or games won. 

Mental health apps for college campuses

First-year student Asia Quinones is working with Aarathi Prasad, assistant professor of computer science, to understand the applicability and availability of smartphone and wearable apps that help college students manage anxiety and depression.

Why? Because a 2012 study found that, across the country, nearly 62 percent of college students who withdraw cite mental health reasons. And Quinones and Prasad plan to work with Skidmore’s Counseling Center to see if new technology can make a difference for Skidmore students.

 

Want more Skidmore research?

Watch previous Collaborative Research participants talk about their summer examining galaxies.

 

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