First-Year student research associateships

Jump-start your first year with real research

Every year, we invite 20–25 bright new students to work side by side with our professors on their research. At any given time, we may have active projects in psychology, communication, ancient studies, literature, religious studies, management, theatre, international business, biology and marine science. It’s a great way to get some research experience and see if what you think you’re interested in is really the major for you.

Students receive a one-year stipend of up to $1,000. Applications must be postmarked by February 1.

Associateships for the 2019-20 academic year

Beneficial Microbes of Corals and Sea Anemones

Field: Biology
Faculty: Dr. Cory Krediet

Apply Now: Biology First-Year Research

About the Project

Corals and other cnidarians face tremendous environmental stressors that threaten the success of the symbiosis between the animal hosts and their algal symbionts. Corals and sea anemones also possess a rich community of bacteria that may offer protection in the face of changing environmental conditions. We still have much to learn about the identify and the role of these microbes in cnidarian physiology. First-year research associates will help to isolate, identify, and characterize bacterial strains associated with corals and sea anemones. Most of the work will be in the laboratory but there is potential for field collections.

Coastal Management Research

Field: Economics
Faculty: Dr. Jeff Felardo

Apply Now: Economics First-Year Research

About the Project

Student researchers will have two primary tasks: 1) survey beach users about their recreation behavior and attitudes towards shoreline management and collection of basic data related to shoreline conditions and beach attributes, and 2) organizing and analyzing spreadsheet data regarding local users’ preferences toward coastal management policies. Field research–at local beaches–will be conducted several times a semester (a mix of weekdays and/or weekends). Other work will occur on campus.

College Student Mental Health and Well-Being

Field: Psychology
Faculty: Dr. Miranda Goodman-Wilson

Apply Now: Psychology First-Year Research

About the Project

College is a period of significant transition, for both students and their parents. College is also a period of particular vulnerability for the experience of psychological disorders and other psychological stressors. Eckerd provides many resources to support students in these transitions, including the unique opportunity to live in their dorm room with a family pet, and a strong emphasis on faculty mentorship.

First-Year Research Associates will have the opportunity to assist the professor with one of several projects related to the college student experience. Possibilities include a study of the role which emotional support animals play during academically stressful situations; of the parent-child relationship across the four years of college; and an examination of what predicts a good match between faculty mentor and student. The student would participate in a variety of study-related tasks including literature reviews and planning, participant recruitment, data collection and analysis and write-ups.

Dr. Miranda Goodman is an Assistant Professor of Psychology with interests in the parent-child relationship from infancy all the way through college and the impact of mental health issues on these relationships. She is also interested in conducting research to evaluate how colleges and universities can most effectively support their students. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of California-Los Angeles and her Ph.D. from the University of California-Davis. Her previous research has explored social referencing in infancy, the development of prosocial behavior in toddlers, and preschool-aged children’s memories for traumatic events. Since arriving at Eckerd, she has completed studies looking at the impact of living with a pet on a college student stress and evaluating the effectiveness of the mentor-student relationship.

Exploring Animal Perceptions of Art and Entertainment

Field: Theatre
Faculty: Dr. Antonia Krueger

Apply Now: Theatre First-Year Research

About the Project

As Animal Studies has developed as a field, the impacts of performing arts and visual arts on animal subjects has become an area of interest for many performing and visual artists, as well as others invested in fostering well-being for non-human animals who live in close proximity to humans. Video games, television, and music for pets, and dance and music for dairy cows, chickens, horses, and goats, are among areas where this is a growing field of investigation. The purpose of this project is to explore various aspects of animal responses to the arts. What is aesthetically appealing for members of nonhuman animal species? The first-year student associate will assist with exploratory research examining animal responses to artistic stimuli. Primary responsibilities would include exploring and analyzing literature in the field, recruiting pet participants, running non-invasive experiments, collating and analyzing data, and writing up findings.

Exploring Dog Behavior & Cognition

Field: Animal Studies
Faculty: Dr. Lauren Highfill

Apply Now: Animal Studies First-Year Research

About the Project

Throughout the history of psychology, the behavior of animals has been studied in an effort to better understand human behavior. However, over the past few decades, comparative psychologists have begun to test principles of human behavior and cognition on other species. Comparative psychologists now study a wide range of subjects such as personality, concept-formation, and problem-solving with many different species.   The purpose of this project is to explore various aspects of animal behavior and cognition with dogs. The student associate would assist the professor with on-going and new research projects. Primary responsibilities would include investigating literature, conducting non-invasive, behavioral experiments, analyzing data, and writing up results.

Dr. Lauren Highfill is Professor of Psychology and Animal Studies and a comparative psychologist with interests in animal personality and animal cognition. Through her research, she has studied a number of species including dolphins, elephants, lemurs, and dogs.

Green Chemistry: Hydrogen Fuel

Field: Chemistry
Faculty: Dr. Greg Felton

Apply Now: Chemistry First-Year Research

About the Project

Hydrogen is a promising clean fuel as its implementation would eliminate carbon entirely from energy cycles. Current energy cycles (coal-powered electricity stations, gasoline in cars, etc.) are carbon-based and produce large amounts of carbon dioxide, a potent global warming gas. Large-scale production of molecular hydrogen requires catalysts that facilitate the “splitting of water” into molecular hydrogen and oxygen. We will synthesize entirely new compounds that contain a metal center and then test these new compounds to see if they act as catalysts for water splitting. Molecular hydrogen is a completely clean fuel; the only products of hydrogen’s use as a fuel are energy and water.

Information Literacy Research Associate

Field: Information Literacy
Faculty: Prof. Kim Copenhaver

Apply Now: Information Literacy First-Year Research

About the Project

The 21st-century academic library plays a critical role in improving the academic success of first-year college students. Despite the documented importance of becoming an avid library user, many first-year students face anxiety about seeking the assistance of librarians or using library services, often resulting in barriers to academic achievement. The aim of this project is to provide peer-to-peer support for the information literacy needs of first-year students. Student associates will serve as library ambassadors, assisting with reference and instruction; creating, participating, and reflecting on library programs and services and assessing outreach initiatives to first-year students. Research Associates will collaborate with library faculty to support their peers’ research and information literacy needs and gain responsibility for leading programs as they gain skills and knowledge about the Library, its collections, and services. Associates will enhance their own knowledge of the research process contributing to the development of skills critical to future academic success.

Associate Professor Kim Copenhaver is the Reference, Instruction and Access Services Librarian at Eckerd College. Her current research interests include leadership development in libraries and the use of gamification to increase employee motivation. Kim is an active member of the American Library Association, Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), Library Instruction Round Table, Florida Association of College and Research Libraries and the Florida Library Association. In 2017, Kim was awarded the ACRL Mid-career Career Librarian Scholarship to attend the ACRL Annual Conference and was selected to attend the ALA Leadership Institute in August 2018. Kim earned her M.A. in Library and Information Science from the University of South Florida.

Interfaith Eckerd, Interfaith St. Petersburg

Field: Religious Studies
Faculty: Dr. Davina Lopez

Apply Now: Religious Studies First-Year Research

About the Project

What kinds of religious communities are represented at Eckerd College and in St. Petersburg? How do these individuals and communities interact with one another, participate in civil society, and enrich the cultural diversity of the College and the Tampa Bay area? What are local stereotypes about religions? What are the possibilities for interfaith cooperation at Eckerd and in our neighborhood? How might students foster meaningful dialogues across differences?

This research associate will work with Professor Davina Lopez (Religious Studies) and Chaplain Doug McMahon (Center for Spiritual Life) to understand the religious landscape and possibilities for interfaith cooperation at Eckerd College and in St. Petersburg. Drawing on guidelines developed by the Interfaith Youth Core and Harvard University’s Pluralism Project, the associate will learn how to plan and conduct programs on religious identity and interfaith issues for the Eckerd College student body and learn how to converse with religious leaders and community members from a variety of backgrounds.

This research associate will make a significant contribution to ongoing national efforts to document the religious diversity of the United States and to nurture strategies for interfaith cooperation. Students from any or no religious background or affiliation will be welcome. What we seek is an open-minded associate who is ready to learn about different people and different worldviews from multiple perspectives. This project will enhance the learning of those interested in peace and justice issues, interracial relations, politics and international relations, urban studies, identity and cultural diversity, and education.

Investigation of a Cancer-Implicated Enzyme

Field: Chemistry
Faculty: Dr. Crystal Young-Erdos

Apply Now: Chemistry First-Year Research

About the Project

One way to control cancer cell growth is to inhibit its production of proteins. To this effect, understanding how ribosomes, the cellular machinery responsible for protein synthesis in all cells, are properly assembled is a current research interest. First-Year Research Associates will work directly with Dr. Young-Erdos and her team of students to use biochemistry and molecular biology approaches to investigate an essential enzyme in the ribosome assembly pathway. In addition to helping with experimental design, collection of results, and data analysis, students will also gain experience with Baker’s yeast, the organism used for baking bread and brewing beer that is regularly used as a model system.

Dr. Crystal Young-Erdos is an Assistant Professor of Chemistry and teaches the general chemistry, organic chemistry, and biochemistry curriculum here at Eckerd College. She received her B.A. in Chemistry from Washington & Jefferson College and her Ph.D. in Chemistry (focus on Chemical Biology) from the University of Michigan. Dr. Young-Erdos’s primary research interests include elucidating the molecular roles of key players in the ribosome assembly pathway.

Marine Science First-Year Research

Field: Marine Science
Faculty: TBD

Apply Now: Marine Science First-Year Research

About the Project

The entire course will be an active learning opportunity where students will be working closely with a faculty member on research projects. Students will be engaged in research throughout the course of their freshman year collecting data, analyzing and interpreting their results and eventually presenting their findings. Thus, this course will focus primarily on students doing science compared to more traditional courses that teach about science. Once a week all students in program will meet as a group with the faculty for discussions and updates on research projects. These meetings will give the entire research group a chance to exchange and develop ideas.

Previous Marine Science projects have included:

  • Application of laboratory culturing techniques to study the microbial ecology of ooids and microbial mats (field collecting and lab work)
  • Barb regeneration following predatory attack in the Atlantic stingray Dasyatis sabina (field collecting and a laboratory experiment)
  • Behavioral ecology of a sex-role reversed species: brood size variation in the Gulf pipefish Syngnathus scovelli (project involved field collecting and laboratory work)
  • Field studies and use of a catalog of dorsal fin markings to investigate social patterns in the bottlenose dolphin (field surveys and lab work with dolphin fin catalog)
  • Genetic markers for studies of family relationships among wild marine mammals (work in genetics lab)
  • Hermit crab shell selection behavior: do crabs prefer shells that have been thickened by snails exposed to predators? (field surveys and laboratory experiments)
  • Lactate excretion in marine crustaceans during activity and exposure to low environmental oxygen (work in physiology lab)
  • Mitochondrial DNA study of population structure in Gulf and Atlantic populations of the Gulf pipefish, Syngnathus scovelli (field collecting and work in genetics lab)
  • Physiological consequence of malaria infection in the brown anole Anolis sagrei (field collecting and work in physiology lab)
  • Trace metal concentrations in Gulf of Mexico sediments following the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill
  • Microplastics in Tampa Bay: spatial and temporal variability (field collecting and lab work)

Neighborhood Change in the Sunshine City

Field: Sociology
Faculty: Dr. Nicholas Dempsey

Apply Now: Sociology First-Year Research

About the Project

We will be researching how neighborhoods change in St. Petersburg. In particular, we are looking at how many people move out of neighborhoods in a given year, why they move, and where they end up going.

Dr. Nicholas Dempsey is Associate Professor and Discipline Coordinator of Sociology. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago. His teaching and research interests include sociological theory, culture and the arts, urban sociology, and social stratification.

New Frontiers in the Humanities: Race, Gender and Hip Hop

Field: Humanities
Faculty: Dr. Adam Guerin

Apply Now: Humanities First-Year Research

About the Project

As part of the College’s “New Frontiers in the Humanities” initiative we are offering a series of innovative courses, available only for first-year students interested in studying the humanities. The courses are meant to introduce students to interdisciplinary research methods in the humanities.

This year’s course, entitled Race, Gender and Hip Hop explores the origins, developments and divergences of modern hip hop culture through the lens of gender, race and social violence. Beginning in the shantytowns of Jamaica we follow a thematic and chronological arc through the Bronx, NY, to Los Angeles, CA as we investigate the complex relationship among art, politics and social life.

Students selected for the first year research program will have the opportunity to work closely with their instructor, Prof. Adam Guerin, as they hone their ideas in an original research paper on a specific topic of their own choosing.

Osprey Nest Monitoring and Conservation

Field: Environmental Studies
Faculty: Dr. Beth Forys

Apply Now: Environmental Studies First-Year Research

About the Project

Ospreys are high adaptable fish-eating birds of prey that nest on Eckerd College’s bay-front campus and the surrounding coastal areas. Join a team of students who are monitoring Ospreys in our area to determine nest choice, timing of nesting, nesting success and potential hazards to Ospreys. First-Year Research Associates will be responsible for the 12 osprey nests on campus and will visit nests weekly to determine the health of our local Osprey population as well as answer additional questions about Osprey behavior and population dynamics.

Dr. Beth Forys teaches courses in Environmental Studies and Biology, including Environmental Biology, Conservation Biology, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and Field Ornithology. She received her PhD in Wildlife Conservation & Ecology from the University of Florida and her M.S. and B.A. in Environmental Science from the University of Virginia. She is primarily interested in determining which methods work best for helping endangered species. Much of her current research focuses on monitoring and recovery of coastal bird populations.

Politics of Car Theft

Field: Political Science
Faculty: Dr. Michael Burch

Apply Now: Political Science First-Year Research

About the Project

How and why do individuals decide to steal cars? Can we understand why some neighborhoods and cities are more vulnerable to this crime than others? St. Petersburg has experienced an increase of car thefts in recent years, with journalists and politicians unable to explain why. In this research project, we will answer these questions as we create a comprehensive dataset of grand theft auto in St. Petersburg. First-year research associates will get the opportunity to study individual car theft incidents, learn about the neighborhoods where the crime most frequently occurs, and participate in local governance by visiting local meetings on the topic.

Tluszcz First-Year Research Associateship in History

Field: History
Faculty: TBD

Apply Now: History First-Year Research

About the Project

The Tluszcz First-Year Research Associateship in History is available due to the generosity of Mark Tluszcz.  He graduated from Eckerd College with a major in history and went on to develop an impressive career as an entrepreneur and investor. He is the co-founder and CEO of Mangrove Capital Partners, and serves as the chairperson of Wix IPO. His company was an early investor of Skype and other world changing companies. He honors Elie Wiesel with his gift.

Applicants must be planning to major or minor in the field of history. Those chosen for the program will have exciting opportunities to work closely with faculty members on various research projects during their first year at Eckerd. They will be awarded a $1,000 scholarship, and join an outstanding group of history research associates. This fall they will take a designated history course together and conduct a research project, and in the spring they will enroll in a history course of their choice, which also will involve research.

Students receive a one-year stipend of up to $1,000.
Applications must be postmarked by February 1.
First-year students on a boat, handling a ray

Studying marine life in Boca Ciega Bay

Marine science students studying core samples

Studying sediment layers extracted from the Gulf of Mexico

Male student in tie-dye shirt looking through binoculars