First Year Students explore research opportunities through LTS 5x10s

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students and staff working in a computer lab on the transcribathon effort

During the fall 2015 semester, LTS hosted three 5x10 sessions for first year students as part of the 5x10 program series sponsored by the Student Affairs Office of the First Year Experience. Each fall, incoming students attend five learning/experiential sessions in ten weeks to engage with the Lehigh community and its resources. LTS staff offered three sessions including "What's So Special About Special Collections?", : From hands-off to hands-on, digitizing history", and "How to Win a Research Prize".

“What’s So Special About Special Collections?"
On Friday, August 21st, over one hundred students visited the Bayer Galleria over the course of three hours to explore a selection of Special Collections material drawn from Lehigh history, literature, science and technology, and travel and exploration. Highlights included a first edition of Jane Eyre, cuneiform tablets, a pin from the Brooklyn Bridge, and an eighteenth-century map of Pennsylvania. The 5x10 Campus Resource Track, entitled "Creative Curiosity", was designed to introduce students to some of Lehigh's undiscovered resources. As one student observed, “I enjoyed the discussion of how cataloging our lives via digital technology may not hold up as well as printed books.”

Transcribe-a-thon: From hands-off to hands-on, digitizing history
CLIR Fellow Annie Johnson and Special Collections staff Lois Black and Ilhan Citak held a Transcribathon at Linderman Library, where students got up close and personal with letters written by famous historical figures like Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, Alexander Hamilton, John Quincy Adams, and more. Students worked in groups to transcribe letters from the Library’s Special Collections and discussed the differences between a digital copy and the real thing. View a video highlight of this popular Transcribathon, produced by University Communications and Public Affairs at

How to Win a Research Prize
In a reprisal of a similar session held last year, Education Librarian Jasmine Woodson and Engineering professor Rick Weisman co-hosted a panel discussion featuring five Lehigh students who have been recognized for undergraduate research. Each student summarized their undergraduate research experience and recognition they received, and in the process first year students learned about Lehigh grant, scholarship, internship, and award opportunities available at Lehigh. Themes running through their experiences included these observations:
- They emphasized the importance of the communication component in the research process. It was not enough to produce research, it’s also important to effectively and clearly communicate the results of research, whether through oral presentations or visual posters.
- They found they had to be creative in exploring resources, whether through use of the libraries and librarian specialists, contacting scholarly societies and disciplinary experts, or engaging with faculty and graduate students on their work.
- They suggested starting early in identifying the type of research you are interested in, the opportunities for research and funding at Lehigh, and the faculty you hope to work with. Reach out to faculty who are doing work you’re interested in.
- They all agreed -- don’t be intimidated by the grant/scholarship application process! While the forms are intimidating the number of applicants is often small.

Each student brought a unique perspective to the talk...

Hannah Maret ‘16, Materials Science and Engineering (photo left, at research symposium), received the Claire Booth Luce Scholarship and competitor in the Engineering Undergraduate Research symposium, did research on ALD alumina thin film crystallization with Dr. Strandwitz. She emphasized the benefits of research as getting more familiar with instrumentation and equipment, notably the scanning electron microscopes, and the ability to work closely with graduate students. Hannah has presented her research in poster sessions on campus and at the Materials Research Society conference in Boston. She plans to attend graduate school in part as a result of her undergraduate research experience.

Tyler Sloan ‘15, Integrated Business and Engineering and Brandyn W. Bok ‘15, Mechanical Engineering spoke of their experience as Martindale Associates, traveling to Portugal for ten days as part of an immersive experience culminating in a research project. Through the Martindale program they had the opportunity to meet and interact with experts in the U.S. State Department and policymakers in Portugal as they studied immigration policy (Bok) and economic regulations impacting the Portugese banks (Sloan). As part of the Martindale experience both students presented their findings to colleagues and in a final presentation to alums and supporters at the Harmony Club in NYC.

Madeleine Smith BA ‘15 Cognitive Science and Science and Environmental Writing and now an MS student in Health Systems Engineering Masters program, prepared two senior theses for her double major. She secured a Strohl Grant to run her research projects -- one on big data in the media and computerized health records, the other on patient reaction to using computers at different levels of the diagnostic process. She presented her findings at a poster session the BioIT World Conference in Boston in 2014. She also won the Library Research Prize for a research paper on Gene Therapy. Madeleine advised first year students to use smaller course projects and papers to build knowledge on topics that might be relevant to a capstone project or senior thesis.

Robert Dunleavy ‘16 Chemical Engineering/Chemistry worked with several professors to study the intersection of inorganic chemistry and biology -- specifically the use of bacteria and enzymes to make useful particles for solar panels batteries. He presented his findings at an Undergraduate Research Symposium, and he observed that the experience will help him as he pursues a doctoral degree in chemical engineering.

Selected Lehigh Resources for undergraduate research include:

Both the Transcribathon and the Research Prize sessions were well attended and popular. Some students stayed well-after the end of the session to speak with student researchers and LTS staff.