This summer, after a year and a half trying to grow a protein called OVCA2 that’s thought to suppress ovarian cancer tumors, senior Jessica Bun had a breakthrough.
On Wednesday, July 15, she got to share the news with students, faculty, staff, and visitors who came to see the results of research by participants in the Butler Summer Institute (BSI).
“It’s really exciting,” said Bun, whose project is called “Determination of the Biological Function of OVCA2, a Potential Ovarian Cancer-Related Enzyme.” “It’s great to do BSI – especially for the science kids – because it’s eight hours in the lab Monday through Friday, and you have more time to do work. A lot of the time when I’m doing research during the school year, it’s just four hours per week.”
Through BSI, 34 students worked one on one with a faculty member for eight weeks this summer. They delved into topics such as “Designing a Classroom Library for Lifelong Reader,” “Representing the Local Food Movement,” and “Analysis of Museum Construction Materials and Development of Related Curricular Materials.”
Bun was one of 18 students who presented their research during a morning poster session in the Reilly Room. Another 16 BSI participants gave oral presentations July 15 and 16.
BSI students earn a $2,500 stipend and are offered housing in University Terrace. The participating students and their faculty mentors also come together for evening events such as ballgames and movie nights at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.
The idea, said Associate Professor of Chemistry Jeremy Johnson, who oversaw BSI this year and also worked with Bun on her project, is “to create a community of scholars.”
Johnson noted that through BSI, he met faculty and students he never would have otherwise and learned about how research is conducted in other areas. Some BSI projects brought together faculty from psychology (Professor Tara Lineweaver) and music (Professor Tim Brimmer), who worked with junior Emily Farrer on whether music can be used to soothe dementia patients. (Farrer’s research is ongoing; so far, the results have been inconclusive.)
Many participants in BSI are at the beginning or perhaps middle of work they may be doing for years. Some – like Bun – will go on to present their findings at national research conferences and publish their findings.
Assistant Professor of Psychology Alison O’Malley, who worked with senior Lauren Murphy on a project called “Good Leaders Give Good Feedback: How Emotional Intelligence and Implicit Theories Enable Leaders to Develop Themselves and Others,” said the time in BSI is invaluable for students as well as faculty.
“During the academic year, there’s really no comparison in terms of the ability to have focused research time,” she said. “Your tasks are so divided up during the fall and spring terms, so in the summer, to really dig in to research and be side by side with the student as their ideas are taking form and playing out in the lab, that’s what BSI allows to happen. And it’s beautiful.”