I believe research is the best way to learn things. It is one
thing to learn established material, concepts and skills within a
particular discipline. It is entirely another to learn how to
formulate interesting questions, develop plans for answering those
questions, execute those plans, analize what was learned in the
process, and communicate your findings. When you conduct
research, you're exploring questions for which you may not be sure
answers even exist. For these and other
reasons, research can be daunting but also very exciting and rewarding.
Doing research as an undergraduate is one of the unique opportunities
that you have as a Westmont student. If you check around, you
will find that undergrads at research universities very rarely get to
work with faculty members on research. To publish a paper with a
professor is even more unusual.
Because I value research so highly as a part of your education, I am
willing to invest considerable amounts of my time in working with
you. However, because I am investing considerable time training
you in research, I naturally want you to bear fruit of some kind.
Thus, I expect certain things from you before we
begin and as we proceed. I have created this page as a way of
expectations. View these as general guidelines and not as hard
and fast rules.
Before we begin:
- You should prepare a well-thought proposal describing what you
accomplish during your research effort and why. You might
consider working with me on one of my interests, but it is also
acceptable for you to propose your own project (and I encourage you to
do so -- even if I do not end up agreeing to work with you on it).
- You should make a commitment to follow through on the research --
writing up results, revising,
etc., even if this means some effort after the project
is officially over. This is especially important when you are a
co-author on paper submitted for publication.
During a basic semester research project:
- For a four-unit semester long research project, you should
anticipate meeting with me for one to two hours every week and spending
eight to ten hours per week outside of those meetings on the research.
- The nature of your work will be varied and unpredictable.
You'll use the library and web at times, write programs and run
experiments at other times, and certainly write descriptions of work
and results. Naturally, your topic will strongly influence the
relative distribution of activities.
- During our weekly meetings together, we will establish milestones
for the coming week. Your timeliness and thoroughness in
completing these agreed-upon units of work will serve as the basis for
There are times when funding is available -- either from Westmont
or external sources -- to support paid student participation in
research. This typically takes the form of summer research which
traditionally been ten weeks of stipend plus free housing in Ocean
View. When such funding is available,
I expect more of a
commitment on the part of students pursuing such support.
In addition to what is expected before we begin as described above:
- You should agree to complete two semesters of (unpaid) research;
3-4 units immediately prior to the paid summer work and 2-3 units of
research afterwards. The expectations for these two semesters are
the same as for a basic semester research project. The amount of
time you spend will depend on the number of units you elect.
- You should already be thinking about graduate school.
For many students, graduate school is not even on their radar. At
Westmont, we expect that all students will come to understand their
options with respect to graduate school and many will indeed choose
that path. I would be happy to discuss these matters with you.
If you are interested in working with me on summer research under the
above conditions, you should submit your proposal and meet with me as
early as possible -- preferably by the end of the calendar year.
If we agree on a project, then you should sign up for research units
during the Spring semester. By the end of Spring Recess, I will
select summer research assistants from among those doing research for
credit. After the summer, you will register for additional units
to continue the research and write submission(s) for publication.