Christina Franks — When students need a little extra help with their work, they often turn to their professors. But who do professors turn to when they need help with their work? Sometimes, it’s those very same students.
Wabash College students are often called upon to help their own professors as they publish research. Many times students are asked to be editors, which can be a daunting task in itself. Other times, however, students are asked to take part in a professor’s research from beginning to end, which means that the College offers its students a chance to have their names on published work before they graduate.
“Having the opportunity to be published before graduation is a huge deal,” said Director of the Schroeder Center for Career Development Jacob Pactor ’04. “These experiences solidify the real-world applications of the learning and professional development we hope our students experience daily.”
In the summer of 2016, Assistant Professor of Rhetoric Jeff Drury had focused work on Robert F. Kennedy that he thought would make for a great summer project with a student. So he hired Cole
Crouch ’17 as an intern for eight weeks, hoping the experience would be beneficial for both of them.
“I knew I could benefit from the diligence of a Wabash man, and I thought the student could benefit from the experience of going through the research process,” Drury said. “Cole was a great fit for the internship. He is someone who is eager to learn and open to new experiences. Our work together was a true partnership. We both contributed to the writing and revising, and I had total trust in Cole’s work.”
Though the now-graduated rhetoric major had research experience in this particular field and had writing experience, having been the Editor-in-Chief of The Bachelor, this was a brand new challenge.
“Co-writing and publishing a paper is a lot of work,” Crouch said. “However, it prepared me for senior year and it will help me in law school with writing more extensive and critical pieces. I thought we balanced well and had fun working together all summer.”
Taner Kiral ’17 and Jonathan Murdock ’19 say they also had a lot of fun working with Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science Colin McKinney when they joined his mathematical history research and worked through its applications.
“Working with Dr. McKinney was a lot of fun, and it was convenient having someone passionate and experienced to guide Taner and me as we edited, checked, compiled, created, and presented,” Murdock said. “I find it hard to believe that I would have gotten an opportunity to work as closely as I did with Dr. McKinney at a larger institution. To think that, as a sophomore, I have submitted an academic paper for publication in conjunction with my professor is amazing to me.”
The benefits for students is obvious. As undergraduates, working so closely with a professor and having published research will help immensely as they work on résumés, apply for graduate schools, and try to make themselves stand out.
As someone who has been working with students through the Wabash 3D Printing and Fabrication Center since 2015, Associate Professor of Chemistry Lon Porter knows that the experience can have a great impact on the professors at the same time.
“To know that I had some small part in introducing the students to what I believe will be the thing that sets innovators apart in the future makes me feel like I’m giving them a leg up in achieving their goals and dreams,” Porter said. “And that’s the best thing you can ask for as an educator.”