Students Conduct Significant Research
We Place a High Value on Research
A hallmark of Westmont’s outstanding undergraduate liberal arts education is providing opportunities for students to conduct significant research with faculty.
Student Research Opportunities
Each summer, approximately 30 students from STEM fields work as full-time research assistants, collaborating closely with professors on cutting-edge projects. Many of these research projects extend into the school year. Some students even co-author scientific papers with their faculty.
Major Honors Projects
Students from any major may choose to replace their senior capstone experience with a Major Honors project. These year-long research opportunities take various forms, but they each involve extensive independent research into a topic of the student's choice.
Student Research Symposia
Every semester, students present their research to the Westmont community through posters and short presentations. The projects range from novels to psychology research to chemical bonding studies.
See examples of recent research in the 2021 Celebration of Summer Research Program.
When he enrolled at Dartmouth Medical School, Aaron Barnes ’12 wondered how he’d compare to classmates from Ivy League schools. “I soon realized I was more prepared than most of them,” he says. “The education in the sciences I got at Westmont was top-notch.” A double major in biology and chemistry, Aaron says the summer research he conducted with Professor Kristy Lazar Cantrell gave him an advantage few medical students could match. “I learned great scientific technique and how to assess a problem and come up with solutions and a logical approach. I also honed my research skills with scientific literature by reading dense research reports.
Heidi (Pullmann ’19) Lindsley chose Westmont for its success in placing students in medical school and planned to become a doctor or a college professor. But her college experience expanded her sense of vocation beyond medicine. When she joined a professor in a research project, she discovered a passion for working in the lab. “I love biology and want to be deeply invested in it,” she says. Heidi is pursuing her doctorate in cell, molecular, health, and disease biology and works in the Laboratory of Arthropod Sensory Biology and Neuroethology.
A collaborative project by Gregg Afman, Westmont professor of kinesiology, and researchers from the University of Bath sent shock waves through the world when they released their findings about the energy cost of sitting versus standing.
Premature infants face an increased risk for cerebral palsy (CP), and detecting the condition early can lead to better treatment and outcomes. Don Patterson, Westmont professor of computer science, has patented a limb-motion monitor that may identify preterm babies most likely to be diagnosed with CP.
Professor Enrico Manlapig and his students in Westmont’s Applied Management Science course offer their expertise in analytic decision-making to the local community. Recently, they acted as the Westmont Decision Lab and assisted the Santa Barbara Zoo in making some decisions about its future.