Shubhra Gangopadhyay is the one of the few female faculty at MU’s Center for Micro/Nano Systems and Nanotechnology. She’s also the one in charge of developing the center. In the Electrical and Computer Engineering department, of which Gangopadhyay is the LaPierre Endowed Chair Professor, she is one of three women. “There is a shortage of female scientists and female professors, in general,” Gangopadhyay says. “And in engineering, it is really not good.”
The fact that Nancy M. West finds herself focusing so heavily on the visual in her research and teaching may at first seem to be “a sort of a curious thing,” but for the associate professor of English this fascination for the visual extends all the way back to a childhood devoid of photographs. “I love thinking about what photography means to people. Having grown up with very few photographs in my household, I’ve always been drawn to them,” she admits. It was no surprise, therefore, that West stumbled upon her first book project while scrounging through the bargain bin of an antique store: “I came across all of these old Kodak ads from the turn of the century, and I thought they were amazing. The images were just breathtakingly beautiful. The captions were unlike those we see now in ads. They were much more elaborate, much more descriptive. They addressed the consumer in very interesting, clever ways, and I just fell in love with them.” And at that serendipitous moment, the idea for Kodak and the Lens of Nostalgia (2000) was conceived.
Great celestial bodies populate the solar system. For an untrained eye staring at the heavens, the starlight spectacles and endless seas of blackness are nothing short of a miracle. Researchers, however, have developed mathematical equations that may help us understand such mysteries of the universe. From Isaac Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation to Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, the scientific community has paved the way for a greater understanding of the great beyond.
Gangopadhyay teaches classes for both graduate and undergraduate students. She also does outreach to local public schools, and many junior high and high school students visit her lab and work as summer interns. Nanotechnology is the science of the future, she explains, so it is important to get young people exposed early.
Wu teaches a number of classes, at both the undergraduate and graduate level, in the area of industrial systems analysis and design.
West teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses in the English Department on subjects bridging—like her research—the literary with the visual. She offers courses, for example, on British literature, film history, crime films, film adaptation of novels, novel illustration, and photography.
As a researcher at MU, Chicone spends a large portion of his time working with students. As an instructor involved with both graduate and undergraduate students, Chicone says that he learns a great deal from those he teaches.
Even though the student researchers are usually not going to get their studies published in an academic journal, these researchers have an opportunity to make a difference with their findings. For example, every summer approximately twenty researchers go to Jefferson City to present their finding to lawmakers. “We work with the students to take their posters, turn those posters into something that very accessible to the public and elected officials,” Blockus explains. “This is our way of reminding the state officials of some of the things we do, and the special ways we are adding value to student experiences here at MU.”
Graduate students are often required to spend a good portion of their education as researchers. The Undergraduate Research program at MU offers students a preview of what graduate school is all about. Blockus explains that the summer research program is helpful to students considering graduate education: “Students who do research in the summer get a real taste of that so they can confirm that that’s what they want to do.” The undergraduate students regularly work with professors, scholars, and post-doctorate fellows during the course of their research.
Some of the images that people have about research include laboratories, as well as boring and solitary confinement. Well, Blockus tries to dispel some of these misconceptions. These undergraduate researchers have an opportunity to work one-on-one with researchers from a variety of countries (including Pakistan, South Korea, Australia, England, and Israel). “It really helps broaden their understanding of how science is a global experience” says Blockus. “The students are really working in a team environment, learning how to interact with other people on projects.”
Student researchers have an opportunity to present their research at academic conferences across the country. Not only do they get to expose their work to a new audience, but they can also observe other projects outside of MU. “There are plenty of opportunities for students to see what’s happening not only in their own research group, but also in other research groups,” Blockus says. In the past, undergraduate researchers have traveled to major cities including Chicago, San Francisco, and New York City. “That’s a really neat experience,” she explains, “whether it is interacting with other scholars on campus or with scholars across the country or world.”
The undergraduate research experience is a unique opportunity. Blockus reports that aside from preparing students for graduate school, research is a growth experience in which students will be “perhaps encountering some of the same frustrations, challenges, and problems as well as some of the same successes and accomplishments.” She observes that students “learn from each other, feed off of each other, and hopefully form friendships as well.” Blockus herself is living proof of the power of research on a young mind. As a college student she spent a summer working for the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, OARDC, a “very valuable experience.”