aculty members have conducted research at Ferris State
University for years, but now, around campus, the profile of
this activity is changing. In 2012, the Office of Academic
Research was created by Provost Fritz Erickson to build a
foundation of support for research activity at Ferris and assist with
the development of externally funded projects. Support for student
research is a central focus of OAR, as it directly complements the
Ferris mission to prepare our students “for successful careers,
responsible citizenship, and lifelong learning.” Research is all about
learning and contributing to the knowledge base we utilize.
Ferris prides itself on being an institution in which a dedicated and
talented faculty delivers high-quality instruction to our students.
Student research can be one of the hardest, most time-intensive forms
of teaching, and yet, it can be incredibly rewarding. Students learn
where all of that information in their textbooks came from, and they
learn about the levels of uncertainty that surround it. Faculty mentors,
in turn, learn just how talented our students are.
This talent was evident at this year’s Student Research Fellow
Symposium, held August 21 on the Big Rapids campus. Eleven
student research fellows made presentations to a crowd of more than
100 faculty, staff, students and administrators. Not only were these
talks professional, they reflected how much the students had learned
and their desire to keep going.
The Student Research Fellowship Program provides students with 10
weeks of full-time pay to work with a faculty member on a research
project over the summer. Faculty mentors receive a small stipend and
budget to support supply and travel expenses that may be incurred.
Now in its third year, the program has supported more than 27 student-
faculty research collaborations. Several of these students will have the
opportunity to continue their work by participating in the Student
Research Assistant Program, which allows faculty to hire students to
assist them with research projects during the academic year.
Supporting student researchers is an important focus of our work
at OAR. Students’ financial situations may limit their ability to take
part in research projects. Many students must work at least one part-
time job to meet their living expenses; if taking on a research project
limits the hours necessary to earn a paycheck, many could not afford
a research experience. The Student Research Fellowship Program
increases access to research opportunities by funding students to do
real-world research that builds their own knowledge and experience,
and has a positive impact on their fields of study and community.
Student Research Fellows Gain New Knowledge, Experiences
By Karen Barkel, Director of Academic Research and Grants