Special Academic Programs
Undergraduate Research Programs
Since 2004 Samford students have rolling up their sleeves to do original research in Samford’s Undergraduate research program. They’ve waded Alabama rivers to collect water samples and spent long nights decoding DNA strands. They’ve scoured old prison records for information about historic civil rights cases and conducted interviews with survivors of the civil war in Bosnia. They’ve climbed mountains in Ecuador for information about changing climate patterns and uncovered 2000-year-old civilizations in Israel. Many of them describe their research as the best educational experience they’ve had in college.
What is ASPIRE?
Arts & Sciences Program for Independent Research
The Arts & Sciences Program for Independent Research (ASPIRE) was created in the summer of 2004 as the Summer Undergraduate Research Program and remains a priority educational opportunity for students in Howard College of Arts and Sciences. ASPIRE is a one-on-one guided research experience where a student invests a summer working with a Samford professor on a mutually agreed upon research topic. The students who have participated in the program say that it increases independent thinking and problem solving skills and develops closer relationships with faculty.
How does undergraduate research contribute to a student's education?
The independent research projects represent the culmination of a Samford education. To succeed in these projects, students must draw upon all their educational experiences, from introductory courses in writing and mathematics to specialized knowledge in their major fields. Students learn to design their projects, to manage their time, and they learn flexibility when circumstances dictate a different tactic. Student research projects have helped Samford students win prestigious national awards, serve on panels alongside established scholars at regional and national meetings, and earn fellowships at outstanding graduate and professional schools. The emphasis on undergraduate research demonstrates that Samford is a place where students come first and where learning is the ultimate goal.
How is undergraduate research funded at Samford?
Funds for research come from several sources. Individual donors to ASPIRE provide most of the research funding. The amount needed to fund an individual summer research student is $3500, most of which goes directly to the student. This amount also compensates faculty mentors for their time and provides necessary supplies for the project.
Do departments have their own research funds?
Some departments have established endowed funds to pay for undergraduate student research within that department. Donors may contribute to these funds to provide even more opportunities for undergraduate research. Current research funds include the Chemistry Research Fund, the Nash Collier fund for research in physics and math, the Mike Howell fund and the Ron Jenkins fund for research in Biology. Donors may wish to establish funds in other departments as well.