Research and other forms of creative scholarship are integral parts of undergraduate education in all of Colby’s academic divisions. Major grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and other sources have expanded opportunities for students to engage in research in Colby’s laboratories and classrooms as well as in the field. Students in the natural sciences are encouraged to participate and present their research at national meetings of science organizations such as the American Chemical Society, American Physical Society, the Geological Society of America, and the Society for Neuroscience. Students in the social sciences have worked on national and international projects supported by the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Ford Foundation. Colby’s innovative Humanistic Laboratory courses provide a springboard for longer-term individual or collaborative projects, which often result in museum exhibitions, performances, and publications.
Colby Liberal Arts Symposium
The Colby Liberal Arts Symposium is held each spring for students to present their work to a broad audience. Begun in 2000 under a grant from the National Science Foundation, the symposium now encompasses departments and programs from across the curriculum. The symposium and associated sessions have grown steadily since their inception and most recently included more than 700 student authors.
Colby is one of 13 partner institutions in the Maine IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE). Since 2004 Maine INBRE has received ongoing funding of more than $40 million from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences and the National Institutes of Health to advance biomedical research in Maine. These funds provide extraordinary research and training opportunities for Colby students and faculty members on campus and at locations such as the Jackson Laboratory and the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory, INBRE’s host institution.
Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences
Established in 2010, a strategic partnership with Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences offers expanded educational and research opportunities in marine sciences for students and faculty. The partnership includes curricular innovations that combine scientific research with economic and social policy analysis, a fall semester-in-residence program, January Program courses taught by Bigelow’s senior research scientists, and dedicated summer research opportunities.
In the 1950s the Colby faculty created the Senior Scholars Program to give students an opportunity to devote significant time to a major project in their senior year. Students who want to explore a single topic in depth can earn eight credit hours for independent research under the guidance of a faculty tutor. Each senior scholar makes a presentation in the spring, and successful project reports become part of the Colby library’s permanent collection.
CAPS (Colby Achievement Program in the Sciences)
A summer program originally supported by a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute helps students from diverse backgrounds develop leadership skills in the sciences. Participants spend six weeks on campus prior to the start of their first year at Colby participating in a science-focused curriculum that combines course work with research in the laboratories of participating faculty mentors.
During the school year and in the summer, students may be retained as research assistants to work collaboratively with faculty members on projects. Opportunities include laboratory experiences, social science research, artistic production and performance, and academic research for publications or scholarly presentations in any discipline. The College has numerous endowed research fellowships for students, and members of the faculty receive competitive grants that include funding for research aides.
Summer Research Retreat
Each summer scores of students remain on campus as summer research assistants working with faculty members in many disciplines. The Colby Undergraduate Summer Research Retreat, begun in 2008, is a two-day retreat in The Forks, Maine, held in July and dedicated to student research. A prominent Colby graduate gives a keynote address, and participating students give short talks or present posters on the first day. The second day is dedicated to whitewater rafting or hiking.