AAS 203rd Meeting, January 2004
Session 100 Research at Predominantly Undergraduate Institutions
Special Session, Wednesday, January 7, 2004, 10:00-11:30am, Regency V

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[100.05] The Exciting World of Search and Discovery: Research Experiences as part of the Undergraduate Astronomy Curriculum

E.F. Guinan (Villanova University)

The active participation of undergraduates in research has been one of the cornerstones of the Astronomy & Astrophysics program at Villanova University for over 30 years. When teamed with faculty researchers and involved with interesting projects that have the full attention and commitment of the faculty, the students not only greatly benefit and learn, but are able to make significant contributions to the research project. Every effort is made to attract the student's personal commitment to research projects, starting usually during the sophomore year. It has been found that once the student's interest is enkindled, the natural curiosity of the student usually sustains that interest. After this occurs, it is possible to move away from the traditional work for a grade mentality of a student to the more satisfying and fulfilling work for pleasure and the excitement of discovery that most successful researchers experience. This shift in attitude is important because it allows the students to tap into a block of time that they have mentally set aside as ``extra-curricular.'' Many students accompany faculty on external observing runs, attend professional meetings and present papers, and co-author papers and articles. When possible during the summer months, the students work as Research Assistants and are paid by the university or from NASA or NSF grants.

All of the faculty in the Astronomy Department participate in the research projects with the undergraduate students. This gives the students a choice of a wide range of research topics. Typically research projects are based on photoelectric photometry (mostly of pulsating, spotted, PMS, and eclipsing binary stars) obtained by student observations on campus or with a 0.8m APT located in Arizona. Many interesting and productive research programs on cataclysmic variables, symbiotic stars, and chromospherically active stars also utilize archival data available from IUE, HST, FUSE, RXTE and ROSAT. Since 1990 over 45 students have participated in research projects that have resulted in papers in journals or at professional meetings (such as the AAS).

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 35#5
© 2003. The American Astronomical Soceity.