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Undergraduate research

Winter 2012

A Summer of Science

If the world of cutting-edge research has a glamorous side, it was lost on Laurel Graves this summer as she found herself digging trenches for soil probes on the Cook Agronomy Farm north of Pullman. In the high summer heat, Graves dug for two hours. Palouse soil covered her arms.

It was a hard-earned insight into the nature of science.

“You mean I’m not doing complex equations constantly?” she wondered. “Oh wait, I’ve got to be a farmer for a while.”

She was not alone in the grunt work department. Jeronda Hunt wrangled scores of petri dishes harboring white, smelly bacteria. Naeh Klages-Mundt spent three … » More …

Summer 2006

Learning what it is to do science

A few years ago, Tom Dickinson lifted the lid from his grande americano and started wondering about the water droplets that clung to its underside. Why were they that size? Why did some merge into bigger drops surrounded by little drops?

Coming from someone else, such questions might indicate that the asker has too much time on his hands. Coming from Dickinson, they launch serious research-and new careers.

Dickinson has an international reputation in the physics of surfaces and optics, and a lab that every summer brims with undergraduates doing research projects. In fact, his resume wouldn’t show nearly the breadth it does without his … » More …