Hands-on opportunities for lab research is a particular strength for UWindsor science undergraduates, says chemistry professor John Trant.
He will discuss this point in the context of a pilot project he launched in October in a free public presentation Friday entitled “Vertical Peer Mentoring: Undergraduate Research as a Strategic Strength of the University of Windsor.”
Dr. Trant says UWindsor’s science faculty-to-student ratio of 1:15 can be leveraged by involving students in research early in their academic careers, which no other university in Ontario can offer.
“With the soft skills revolution, industry wants new graduates to have technical skills as well as a proven track record of problem-solving, thinking on the job and experience working in a real research lab,” he says. “Our students will be a step ahead compared to other students in the province because they will have had three to four years of research lab experience when they graduate, compared to simply having four years of experience mostly writing multiple-choice tests.”
Trant’s project is structured as vertical peer mentoring, which means he trains graduate students, the graduate students train senior undergraduates and, in turn, they train junior undergraduates. This lightens the administrative burden while also greatly increasing research productivity, all at a small cost in financial resources.
In addition to Trant, the initial pilot group consists of seven undergraduates, three graduate students and a post-doctoral fellow. After only four months as a group, they have already written and submitted a paper on nanotechnology.
“Not only does this allow me to do more research, but it gives all the students coming through the system real and meaningful supervisorial experience,” Trant says.
The lecture is part of the Promoters of Experiential and Active Research-based Learning (PEARL) series and will run 3 to 4 p.m. February 10 in room 237, Essex Hall. For more information visit the UWindsor PEARL website.