The AEMES programs serve students interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and promote the success of students from social groups historically underrepresented in those fields. We seek to ensure access for all students interested in enrolling in STEM courses and in obtaining research experiences. AEMES facilitates success by focusing on three key areas: recruitment, gateway experiences and captone experiences. We aim to increase the number and retention of students from underrepresented groups, to ensure success in our introductory STEM courses, and to support students interested in completing honors and special studies projects.
About the Programs
Early Research pairs students who wish to participate in research with faculty mentors engaged in research on campus. Student involvement is typically a long-term commitment (one or two semesters) to a faculty research project. Contact between students and faculty outside of the classroom often leads to summer research opportunities and honors work. Early Research is a volunteer opportunity.
Early Research projects and applications are typically made available in the early days of each semester. If you are interested in applying for an Early Research project and you are not participating in the Peer Mentoring program, please contact the AEMES Team early in the fall semester.
The AEMES (Achieving Excellence in Mathematics, Engineering and Sciences) Scholars programs are dedicated to building a community of diverse students in those fields at Smith. Core components of AEMES Scholars include:
- Research with a member of the STEM faculty
- Enrollment in a seminar that enhances skills for achieving academic goals
- Participation in the Peer Mentoring Program
- Leadership opportunities
- Community building
Research With a Faculty Mentor
In the summer before orientation, all entering AEMES Scholars are matched with a faculty mentor with whom they will work on a project in a STEM field throughout the academic year. Examples of projects include:
- The Making of the Vertebrate Brain
- Water Chemistry and Environmental Monitoring
- Chemistry of Herbal Medicine
- Observing Transiting Exoplanets
- Media Portrayal of Women Scientists
- Psychology and Climate Change
- Engineering Education in K through 12
- Applications of Mathematics in Industry
The AEMES Seminar
All entering AEMES Scholars enroll in this two-credit course. It meets twice a week in the fall semester and focuses on skills, study groups and self-reflection. Taught by Valerie Joseph, an anthropologist who joined the AEMES program in 2015, the seminar is one of the earliest opportunities for community building within a cohort.
All first-year AEMES Scholars are assigned a peer mentor, a returning AEMES Scholar who usually majors in an academic discipline in which the mentee has expressed some interest. Mentors and mentees also participate in a range of networking, support and social activities throughout the academic year as part of the program. The full AEMES Peer Mentoring Program includes many students who are not AEMES Scholars.
Examples of leadership opportunities within the AEMES Programs include:
- Serving as a peer mentor
- Being a member of the AEMES Scholars Advisory Board
- Being a Mentor Leader
- Being a McKinley Honors Fellow
- Serving on the Science Center Committee on Diversity
- Ad hoc opportunities, such as speaking on panels or hosting incoming AEMES Scholars
The AEMES Advisory Board and the AEMES Team host several events throughout the year to help build the AEMES community. Some events are for all programs, while others focus more specifically on the AEMES Scholars or an individual AEMES Scholars cohort.
Prospective scholars are identified through the Smith College admission process and invited to apply.
Applications for Fall Pre-Honors and Honors McKinley Fellowships are due by the first Friday in April.
To encourage all eligible Smith students to undertake an honors thesis in science, technology, engineering or mathematics, the AEMES McKinley Fellowship Programs include the Honors Fellows and the Junior Pre-Honors Fellows for eligible seniors and juniors, respectively. Our goal in offering these fellowships is to enable qualified students to pursue independent research that leads to a successful honors thesis and fulfill their work-study obligation by working with their sponsoring faculty member. These fellowships provide leadership opportunities in the form of presentations and interaction with students who may pursue honors in the future.
These fellowships are meant for students with high potential for success in research, who want to devote time to research, but whose financial need might obligate them to engage in work-study positions instead. Therefore, work-study status and financial need are crucial considerations in the McKinley applicant selection process.
Program Selection Committee
- Lisa Mangiamele, Assistant Professor in Biology,Candice Price, Associate Professor in Math and Statistics
- Candice Price, Associate Professor in Math and Statistics
Independent Research in the Junior Year
An independent research project, working with a faculty member in the students’ junior year, may begin in the fall and/or spring semesters. The intent of the Junior Pre-Honors Fellowship Program is to support student research in the third year before a student commits to an honors thesis. Students are expected to enroll in Special Studies in order to receive academic credit for their research. Junior fellows typically undertake 4–6 credits of Special Studies throughout the year (2–3 credits per semester).
Honors Theses in the Senior Year
An honors thesis is usually a yearlong project completed by a student in senior year, working with a faculty member. Like all honors students, McKinley Fellows receive academic credit for their research by enrolling in a senior thesis course (8 or 12 credits).
If you are interested and eligible (eligibility is determined by department and program), this option should be considered seriously, as undertaking honors research is intense, rewarding and often becomes a highlight of an undergraduate career. It is common for thesis work to lead to a presented or published paper, and completing an honors thesis is viewed favorably by graduate and professional schools. All guidelines and details about the honors process are available on the class deans website.
Benefits of AEMES McKinley Program
Fellowships of $3,000 will be awarded in biweekly installments throughout the academic year in which the Senior fellow is supported. Junior Fellows are ordinarily funded for a year at $3,000 but may opt to be funded for a semester at $1,500.
Finding a Faculty Adviser
To apply for an AEMES McKinley Fellowship, you must first find a faculty adviser for your research. In some limited cases, the student comes up with a topic first and then finds a faculty member who agrees to supervise the work. More commonly, the student approaches one or more faculty members and asks about topic options. The student then chooses one topic to pursue.
Requirements of the Fellowship
- Conduct research for an honors thesis in a STEM field, or for Pre-Honors, enroll in Special Studies.
- Meet at least once, at the start of the fellowship, with the AEMES program coordinator to discuss plans and expectations for the year.
- Participate in at least two events during the year at which the fellow will speak with other students about pursuing independent research or honors (these may be classes, lunchtime seminars or workshops).
- Mentor individual students who are considering or interested in pursuing research.
- To continue receiving support, each McKinley Fellow is required to provide evidence of thesis or special studies research in the form of an unofficial transcript. The transcript must be submitted to the AEMES Mentoring Team McKinley liaison and the Mentoring Coordinator by the first day of spring semester.
- At the end of the fellowship period, each fellow must submit an end-of-project product (such as a paper, poster from Celebrating Collaborations, or abstract). These products are particularly important to the program in justifying the McKinley Fellowship and ensuring its continuation for future fellows.
How to Apply for a Pre-Honors Fellowship
Pre-Honors applications are due by the first Friday in April. The following documents should be submitted via the Google Form link below:
- A one-page description of your proposed research that includes what you wish to study, why and what your expected outcomes may be.
- A copy of your transcript.
- A brief statement explaining: (1) how a fellowship through the McKinley Pre-Honors Fellowship Program will support success for your project; and (2) why you believe you will be a good role model for students who are considering conducting independent research.
- A brief, informal statement of recommendation from your research adviser, submitted on this Faculty Recommendation Form.
How to Apply for an Honors Fellowship
Honors applications are due by the first Friday in April. The following documents should be submitted via the Google Form link below:
- A copy of your honors proposal.
- A copy of your transcript.
- A brief statement explaining: (1) how a fellowship through the McKinley Honors Fellowship Program will support success for your project; (2) why you believe you will be a good role model for students who are considering honors for their senior year.
- A brief, informal statement of recommendation from your research adviser submitted on this Faculty Recommendation Form.
The Peer Mentoring Program seeks to ensure access for students interested in STEM subjects, including those from social groups historically underrepresented in these fields (such as students of color and students who are first in their families to attend college). Incoming students who intend to major in math, computer science, engineering or science are paired with a returning student who usually majors in the same field. Mentors and mentees participate in networking, support and social activities throughout the academic year.
History of the Program
Established in 1995, this program has been funded continuously by a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and a gift from Janet McKinley ’76.
Mentors and mentees collaborate on goals for the year that they outline in a contract submitted to the Mentoring Program. Please fill out the Contract Form.
An effort is made to pair mentors and mentees by academic interests, and each mentor is responsible for no more than two mentees.
Mentors check in with their mentees once a week and meet face-to-face at least once a month. Mentors also complete an online mentoring report once a month that is shared with only the mentoring support team. These reports help to document the progress and goals of each mentor/mentee relationship.
The mentoring program hosts teas in the Clark Science Center and organizes other social events (ice cream socials, bowling, pizza dinners) a few times a semester. These gatherings are important for strengthening and maintaining ongoing mentoring contacts, bringing together students and mentors with diverse backgrounds for a common purpose.
In 2007, faculty members Laura Katz (biology) and Kate Queeney (chemistry) launched the AEMES Programs to enhance support for diverse students interested in STEM at Smith College. The programs have been supported by a generous gift from Janet McKinley ’76 with additional funding from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Dreyfus Foundation and Smith College. The AEMES Programs build in part on a long-running Peer Mentoring Program that was established in 1995 by Program Coordinator Casey Clark, Professor of Psychology Brenda Allen and several other science faculty members.
The AEMES Programs are led through a team-based approach involving students, faculty and staff. Working together, our groups offer programming and build community within AEMES and among the greater Science Center community at Smith.
Posse STEM Initiative
The Posse Foundation
The Posse Foundation was founded in 1989 by MacArthur Fellow Deborah Bial. Posse recruits 10 student leaders from public high schools for each “posse,” sending them to colleges across the country with full-tuition scholarships. The Posse STEM Initiative was launched in 2008 and is partnered with Brandeis, Bryn Mawr, Davidson, Franklin & Marshall, Georgetown, Middlebury, Pomona, Texas A&M and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Smith joined this partnership in 2015 when it enrolled its first STEM Posse.
More information on the Posse Foundation and the STEM Initiative can be found on the Posse Foundation’s website. For more information about Smith’s involvement with The Posse STEM Initiative, see the Grécourt Gate article.