D’mitri Farthing ’17 operates a rotary evaporator in a chemistry lab, helping develop new organic reaction methods that can lead to synthesis of new compounds.

D’mitri Farthing ’17 finished his first year at Colby in May, and then he decided he liked it enough to stick around.

All summer.

Farthing is one of more than 100 students spending June and July engaged in full-time research at Colby. They live on campus, collaborate closely with faculty, and present the results of their work at the Colby Undergraduate Summer Research Retreat (CUSRR) July 24-25, an annual celebration of scholarship now in its seventh year.

Farthing, of San Pedro, Calif., opted to conduct summer research and to present at CUSRR to build his organic chemistry knowledge before taking a challenging course in the fall. He’s one of four students engaged in an organic chemistry synthesis project for Associate Professor of Chemistry Jeff Katz. A participant in the Colby Achievement Program in the Sciences who also spent last summer—before his freshman year began—in Colby labs, Farthing said he’s looking forward to sharing his work with other students.

“I think CUSRR will be great, because a lot of people don’t have a lot of knowledge about organic chemistry, so to present this project to that lay audience should be a lot of fun,” he said.

The first day of CUSRR, held in The Forks, Maine, is dedicated to a symposium featuring student talks, poster presentations, and a keynote lecture—this year by President David A. Greene. Participants spend the second day in recreational activities—primarily whitewater rafting on the Kennebec River. Associate Professor of Chemistry Kevin Rice ’96, who organizes CUSRR, said he’s impressed by the quality of the work students bring to the retreat.

“Not only are they doing real research, the students learn to present it very well,” he said. “And the best part isn’t even the retreat, but how it provides a window to the terrific scholarly work in which our students and faculty are engaged.”

Rice said that on a campus where faculty and students are performing specialized work at a high level, learning how to talk about one’s work with others, as CUSRR drives students to do, is valuable. “This is a chance for them to say, ‘This is what I’ve done and why it’s important. This is why it matters.’”