Thomas Thornton ’17 NSF Grant Recipient

Presidential Scholar Thomas Thornton ’17 and Zacamy Professor of English Peter Harris discuss their research project.

Presidential Scholar Thomas Thornton ’17 knew that he and his Colby Academic Research Assistant (CARA) mentor, Zacamy Professor of English Peter Harris, had at least one thing in common even before they met: an interest in meditation and contemplative practices. The two worked together on a contemplative studies research project that began with the design of a website, aggregating information about mindfulness and meditation at Colby and at other colleges around the nation.

That project led—thanks to a suggestion from Professor of Computer Science Bruce Maxwell—to a prestigious grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to take part in a 10-week program at the University of Oregon. Thomas will spend this summer in Oregon applying techniques from software engineering and network analysis to improve the Robot Operating System, a common set of software used to build applications and do research.

If the connections between Thomas’s seemingly disparate interests are not immediately obvious, stay tuned: they will connect at Colby next fall as the contemplative studies project enters phase two, the development of a mobile app for mindfulness and meditation at Colby.


Dylan Cincotta ’17 Coauthor on Paper Submitted for Publication

Presidential Scholar Dylan Cincotta ’17 and Associate Professor of Chemistry Kevin Rice conduct research in the lab.

When Presidential Scholar Dylan Cincotta ’17 arrived at Colby, he never dreamed that, before the end of his first year, he would be a coauthor on a paper submitted for publication by one of his professors. All he knew was that he was “not one of those scientists who wants to work with cute, fuzzy animals; I wanted to work at the molecular level.”

His CARA project with Associate Professor of Chemistry Kevin Rice allowed him to do just that. At Colby he joined a research team that showed how the experimental drug laromustine, used in clinical trials to treat leukemia and brain cancer, can inhibit the formation of new blood vessels to tumors.

Dylan says of his CARA experience, “Of course it was amazing to be designated as a coauthor in my first year of research, but just as important for me was the sense of community I got. I became friends with other students working in the lab, learned about their research, saw the techniques that they were using, and really felt that I had become a member of the scientific community.”