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Celebrating the Scholarly Work of Smith Students

By Jessie Fredlund ’07

Few undergraduates can say they have made a contribution to the search for a cure for cancer. Hope Stansfield ’07 is one of them.

Stansfield works as a research assistant to Elizabeth Jamieson ’94, assistant professor of chemistry. They are investigating the cancer-causing mechanism of chromium (VI), a substance used for chrome plating in stainless steel production and as an anti-rust agent. Workers in industries that use chromium (VI) suffer from high levels of cancer, particularly in the lungs.

Understanding this deadly carcinogen has been a longtime research interest for Jamieson. Stansfield, who joined the project as a research assistant last summer, decided to continue her work as a special studies project during the school year. That way she can earn credit for her research.

On April 21, Stansfield will present her special studies project to the Smith community at the annual campus conference “Celebrating Collaborations: Students and Faculty Working Together.”

Now in its sixth year, this year’s Celebrating Collaborations features 122 presentations and performances by 209 Smith students who collaborated with 83 faculty mentors. The presentations will take place during four concurrent sessions throughout the day.

Michaela LeBlanc ’07 with her adviser Professor of Government Howard Gold, wanted to explore the declining influence of moderates in the Republican Party since 1950 in her senior thesis.

The event gives students a chance to share the results of the projects they have worked on in the past year. Though presentations include both faculty-initiated projects and more independent student projects, students are always responsible for presenting the research.

In addition to providing presentation experience, Celebrating Collaborations also helps students find out about research opportunities available at Smith and to learn about dozens of topics from fellow students.

Presenters come from a variety of fields beyond the natural sciences—the event is open to all students, and topics vary from the humanities to math to the fine arts.

This year, government major Michaela LeBlanc ’07 will present her senior thesis, which documents and explains the declining influence of moderates in the Republican Party since 1950.

With guidance from her adviser, Professor of Government Howard Gold, who has expertise on voting patterns and partisanship, LeBlanc has charted and analyzed the party’s ideological movements to determine the underlying causes.

The Faculty Perspective

Passionate about her work, Jamieson considers working with students on research to be an integral part of her job as a teacher.

“In biochemistry, it’s important [for students] to get hands-on experience,” she says.

A Smith alumna herself, Jamieson appreciates the extensive opportunities for research available to undergraduate students at Smith. As a student, Jamieson spent three summers working with Robert Linck, professor of chemistry, and credits that experience with inspiring her to pursue a career in chemistry.

Now that the roles have switched, Jamieson can see the benefits of research collaboration from a faculty viewpoint as well.

Meanwhile, LeBlanc and Stansfield hope that their presentations will encourage other students to take interest in their areas of study and to consider research projects of their own. LeBlanc, who also serves on the committee in charge of promoting the event, hopes she can encourage other students to write senior theses.

After joining an investigation of the cancer-causing mechanism of chromium (VI) as a summer research assistant, Hope Stansfield ’07, above right, decided to continue the work as a special studies project during the academic year. She is an assistant to Elizabeth Jamieson ’94, assistant professor of chemistry, left.

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