Future leaders in research start at WMU

Contact: Paula M. Davis

Read more stories about faculty-led, student-assisted research projects in the 2018 research edition of W Magazine.

Photo of student and faculty researchers at the College of Engineering looking at laptops.

Faculty and student researchers in WMU’s Human Performance Institute are hard at work. The lab specializes in ergonomics, as well as product design and innovation. Located in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the lab serves as part of the research arm for Haworth Inc., one of the world’s largest manufacturers and designers of office furniture and seating.

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—The word "research" in a university context may conjure images of lab-coated professors staring intently into microscopes while neophyte student lab assistants are consigned to washing beakers, uninvolved in the discovery process.

But research is as vast and diverse as the world itself, and WMU is a place where students, including undergraduates, are involved in this scholarly and creative activity. The W Magazine's research edition features some of this world-impacting scholarship.

Some WMU researchers study animal behavior and habitats to understand and reveal changes in the environment. Others go across seas to explore world cultures. Some may be found at bodies of water measuring the presence of contaminants. There are other faculty members whose focus is  on studying financial markets and international trade.

And many do spend hours scrutinizing slides under microscopes to answer any number of consequential scientific questions.

Photo of the cover of WMU Magazine with a woman looking through binoculars sitting in the grass.

Faculty take students into these various realms to learn and to contribute. In so doing, WMU professors are benefitting society through their investigations and findings, and they are developing the next leaders in research.

"We have really stellar faculty who have international reputations and are winning prizes for their work. But they are also very accessible," says Dr. Carla Koretsky, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

"They are student-focused. They wouldn't be working at Western if they weren't interested in teaching."

As a longtime geosciences researcher and someone who traces her own career back to a professor who invited her to join his lab, Koretsky, in turn, has always looked for the most curious, hard-working students to join her in research. She's not alone. Many faculty members involve students in their projects, and studies have found that these experiences enrich student learning.

"I really enjoyed working with graduate and undergraduate students. And we have strong, talented and motivated undergraduates," she says. "If you take the most-talented undergraduates at Western, I would put them up against the best undergraduates at Harvard any day of the week."

Read more about the great work being done by WMU students, faculty, staff and alumni in the W Magazine.

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit WMU News online.