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Innovative new program designed to introduce pre-freshmen to the sciences gets underway at Vassar College this summer.

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY-The Diving into Research program, a new initiative designed to introduce pre-freshmen to science at Vassar College, will offer six students a chance to participate in scientific research this summer alongside faculty and peers during the final four weeks of the ten week Undergraduate Research Summer Institute (URSI). This is the first summer that pre-matriculation freshman will participate in this intensive program, according to URSI program director Joseph Tanski, Associate Professor of Chemistry at Vassar College. 

The six students will begin the program on July 5, where they will take part in research alongside URSI faculty and student mentors. Nancy Pokrywka, the director of Diving Into Research, describes the program as a college-wide interdisciplinary science initiative, organized by faculty from Chemistry, Biology, and Physics, in collaboration with the Dean of Faculty and the Dean of Freshmen. She explains, "We wanted to create a program where the excitement of scientific discovery can be experienced firsthand by students just starting their college career." Teresa Garrett, assistant professor of chemistry and one of the organizers of the new program, adds, "Diving Into Research is designed to create new opportunities for students who may have little or no experience with doing scientific research. We believe this is particularly important to those students who may feel less prepared or uncertain of their abilities, and we are interested to see how the program impacts the retention of students in the sciences."

Each participant in the Diving into Research (DIR) Program will receive a stipend, and the Vassar will provide housing and meals for the student participants. The program will include informal lunch talks on acclimating to Vassar, choosing courses, using electronic library resources, and science writing. Current URSI students will serve as peer mentors - a continuing support system for DIR students throughout the summer and their freshman year at Vassar. 

Diving into Research is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute funded and Center for Collaborative Approaches to Science (CCAS) sponsored program designed to introduce pre-freshmen to science at Vassar. 

About the Undergraduate Research Summer Institute Program at Vassar College

Vassar's Undergraduate Research Summer Institute (URSI) is an intensive 10-week summer program in which Vassar students explore original hands-on scientific research under faculty direction. URSI participants are engaged in the entire research process: they learn to formulate hypotheses, review scientific literature, develop experimental protocols, handle major instrumentation, gather data, analyze results, and present their findings.
Since 1986, the Undergraduate Research Summer Institute has shown hundreds of students the wonders of scientific discovery through high-level research with faculty supervisors. Each summer, students and faculty collaborate in an intensive ten-week program, designing and shaping their views of the world with exciting explorations, rigorous experimentations, and critical analyses. 

Among the nation's oldest undergraduate scientific research programs, URSI continues to be powered by Vassar faculty and students. Every year, over one hundred individuals participate, and in so doing, a community of scientific scholars is created and nurtured. Weekly URSI events such as student presentations and social gatherings support the rigorous daily work of each group (

Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.

Posted by Office of Communications Friday, June 25, 2010