Engaged minds

Tutoring organic chemistry
Tutoring organic chemistry

RISE nurtures deep academic engagement

Adam Szymaniak

"All of the chem profs I’ve had have been awesome teachers. There are so many research opportunities . . . I got addicted to research."
— Adam Szymaniak
     April 2012

By blending liberal and applied learning, Oswego helps students see the world with new eyes and fosters their capacity for creative vision. The transformative moment comes for many as they join with a professor in a particular research or creative undertaking or design their own project guided by a faculty mentor.

In 2011-12, more than 800 Oswego students engaged in independent research or faculty-led scholarly or creative activities. More than 160 received college funding to engage in this kind of work with a faculty mentor. We moved to coordinate and increase the already substantial opportunities for these transformative moments at Oswego by establishing the new Office of Research and Individualized Student Experiences — RISE — in spring 2012.

RISE works on expanding financial support for students in these endeavors and in raising awareness among all students about their availability. "I think there are a lot of students on campus who would be keen to participate in research activities, but just aren’t aware that they can," said Diana Boyer, the geology faculty member named the first director of RISE. "They're available to all, not just honors students and seniors."

Perfecting piano technique
Perfecting piano technique
Samuel Hewitt was a junior meteorology major working on data simulation for global climate modeling when Distinguished Service Professor Al Stamm invited him to apply to attend the 2012 National Center for Atmospheric Research Undergraduate Leadership Workshop.
Launching a weather balloon on Lake Ontario
Launching a weather balloon
He received travel funding through RISE, one of many students who intensified their engagement in their discipline by attending professional conferences with college support.

Doubling down to teach scientific rigor for global progress

Discussing a collaborative study of Cepheid stars
Discussing a collaborative study of Cepheid stars
In keeping with a national push to graduate more students in the sciences, technology, engineering and math, the National Science Foundation awarded SUNY Oswego nearly $600,000 over five years to provide scholarships to recruit and retain talented students in these fields. Beginning in fall 2011, the project — "A Local-Global Engagement Model for STEM Workforce Development" — supports scholarships for 14 freshmen and 14 sophomores a year.

"Many of the leading global problems require STEM-based solutions," said Shashi Kanbur, a physics professor leading the project. "We need to interest students from all sorts of backgrounds in STEM in order to make progress."

Adam Szymaniak

"The faculty here work on unique projects that are changing the world. I never expected that it would be so easy to get involved in something so important."
Earl Bellinger
     Class of 2012

For students interested in science-related disciplines, a hurdle to success is often mastering mathematics skills. To address that challenge, Oswego piloted a three-week math camp for incoming freshmen in summer 2011. In 2012 the college received another major grant from the National Science Foundation to boost retention of freshmen and sophomores in the sciences, technology, engineering and math. The $873,000 grant will support a summer math camp in coming years, along with a range of additional support services and research opportunities for all STEM students.

"This will be one piece in the puzzle to streamline success for our students from high school to graduation," said Fehmi Damkaci, a chemistry faculty member and principal behind the new grant.

Tags: Intellectual rigor, Education Pipeline