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Research Opportunities Expose Students to New Career Paths

By Savannah Tranchell

Associate Professor Dalia Biswas understands the value of undergraduate research.

As a researcher and instructor in the Department of Chemistry at Whitman College, Biswas has worked with more than a dozen undergraduate students on different aspects of her research molybdenum-catalyzed transformation of CO. She’s seen how much the exposure to research helps students connect what they learn in the classroom to a real career.

“Getting so much exposure to research shifts them in the direction they want to go,” Biswas said. “It gives them a sampling of how research is done in a particular area of chemistry. It provides a lot of self-confidence, also, to be able to work more independently.”

Since coming to Whitman in 2009, Biswas has had between two to four students working with her every summer.

Laurinda Nyarko ’19 graduated in May with her degree in chemistry. She worked in Biswas lab since her sophomore year, and the experience helped her solidify her interest in studying applied chemistry in graduate school and learning more about water treatment. 

“I came to college thinking I was going to go to medical school. I was sort of on a pre-med track,” Nyarko said “I took general chemistry, organic chemistry. I actually really developed an interest with chemistry, just the problem solving that came with the classes, the challenges working in lab. So then I talked to the Professor Biswas, and got involved in her research project, and that was how I really developed an interest in chemistry and decided to pursue that as a major.”

Biswas did her undergraduate work in Bangladesh and didn't have the opportunity to do research at that level. 

“Once I started here, and seeing how the research and the teaching really integrate, I felt like it was important for undergraduates to be involved in research and working with faculty,” she said. “I saw the big impact on how students are learning and how they're processing information, and how research can enhance that.”

Faculty-Student Research Partnerships

Published on May 31, 2019
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