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November 17, 2018

NPRESS Student Experiences

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The North Park Research Experience for Summer Students (NPRESS) provides opportunities for North Park students to participate in directed undergraduate research with a North Park faculty mentor over a period of eight weeks during the summer. NPRESS is open to full-time faculty and undergraduate students of all disciplines.

The research projects are awarded by the Undergraduate Research Committee to students based on:

  • Merit: Is the project “an inquiry or investigation conducted by an undergraduate student that makes an original intellectual or creative contribution to the discipline”?
  • Outcome: Does the project have clearly defined goals and are the goals achievable during the summer?  Will the project engage the student for a period of 8 full weeks of 30-40 hours of research work per week?
  • Commitment: Is the student committed to the project and to full participation in the NPRESS program?

Previously, NPRESS has offered research projects to over 10 students for the duration of the summer. However, this year, NPRESS was limited to granting three students research opportunities because of a smaller pool of funding.

The three students who were chosen for NPRESS this year, Chanel Metti, Jacob Bretz, and Karen Weldler, are all seniors. Each student offered to share their experiences across the duration of the summer, giving their initial and final impressions of the research program.

Karen Weldler psychology major C’18 December used her summer experience as a pilot study for her senior project to test the methodology. Her project analyzed reactions to cognitive testing and her results and methodology need to remain confidential until her presentation at the end of her studies.

Jacob Bretz philosophy major C’18 December spent his research time to look into the concept of wilderness and the implementation of protected wilderness areas through a post-colonial framework.

Chanel Metti biology major C’19, along with her faculty adviser Dr. Brown, researched how cancer cells react with a dye.

Karen Weldler

NPRESS is a good way to kickstart the research that I want to do and to have the summer time devoted to my research is very helpful. My project is something that I have wondered about, developed theories on, and asked people about for a long time. When I decided I was going to do undergraduate research, I chose a study design accordingly.

Our little NPRESS team, we are each other’s support group, even though we are in different disciplines, we are all part of the same experience together.

I used my time at NPRESS for a pilot study as a precursor to my senior project in the fall. For a pilot study, we got the results we wanted. It was a smaller sample than we hoped for, but we really wanted to test our methodology, and for that, our purpose was definitely fulfilled. We know a larger sample will yield more significant results.

I anticipate that I will have more participants in the fall. Our trial will be a little longer than the 8 weeks in the summer. Others aspects of the research will be a shorter process because I’ve already practiced them.

This summer, I had an internship alongside my NPRESS research. I want to pursue a Ph.D. in psychology, and at my internship, I got to see a lot of the therapy side of psychology, while with NPRESS I got to see a lot of the research side of psychology. I knew I wanted to have more hands-on work, but I didn’t know what exactly that meant for me, and because of NPRESS, now I do.

I had the best faculty advisers for my project. Dr. Shirkey and Dr. O’Toole helped me come up with the design of the study together. Dr. O’Toole will be my direct communication adviser for the fall and I am excited because we work really well together.

Jacob Bretz

Through NPRESS I looked at the concept of wilderness and the implementation of protected wilderness areas through a post-colonial framework. Basically, our concept of wilderness is dependent on imperialist countries, and the only way we can implement the parks system is through colonialism.

Having spent my spring semester in Norway, I was not excited to return to Chicago for the summer. I had spent my previous summers in national parks as well. But coming back here for NPRESS, I thought this was awesome. I haven’t seen anyone make this argument explicitly, so I’m excited to do something that may be new in the field. I’m really excited to produce something interesting.

I wanted Dr. Greg Clark to work with me as my adviser because he knows so much about the idea of wilderness. I’m not as interested in the environmental argument, but the conservation argument. I’ve been in a lot of Greg’s classes, I’ve done the Writing Retreats with him, he’s been a mentor to me outside of NPRESS. If I could be half the professor Greg has been to me, that would be sweet.

I’ve never done anything close to this during the regular semester. Having two months to just bury yourself in research is amazing. And North Park isn’t a traditional research institution, so having something like this to show students the other side of what academics can be, I think is really important.

NPRESS is also for the students, which is different than other summer experiences because we’re not helping anyone else with their project; it’s our projects. The program allows students to say original things.

Chanel Metti

NPRESS is something I wanted to join since my freshman year. It has allowed me to focus on one project during the summer. You can’t do that in the regular semester. It has been especially helpful for me because what I’m working on is so time intensive that I need 10 hours in a day sometimes. This program has benefited me with finding more results.

My relationship with my advisor has been something that has grown over the summer as well. Dr. Brown has allowed me to grow in my research. This is a technique that most medical and graduate students use, so it was really cool that I got to use it because our University is dedicated to giving students summer research opportunities. I’ve worked with Dr. Brown for two years. I meet with him weekly to show him my experiments and find out new techniques or ways to improve my experiments.

I wish there were more people in the program this year because I don’t get to see what everyone else is working on. It beneficial to have people sharing their ideas and projects along the way. NPRESS offers an extension of coursework that you might especially be interested in, and offers more in-depth learning. I think that it reflects grad school work too.

I’m so glad that I was chosen. I would definitely recommend NPRESS for all majors because you get to focus on one area, and it is a smaller experience of grad schools, so you get prepared in that way.

If I had picked a bigger university, I don’t think I would have the same opportunities as we have at North Park. There might be those opportunities, but they would also likely be way more competitive.

At the conclusion of the NPRESS program, each student is required to share a presentation on their research findings as well as submit an academic essay to the Undergraduate research committee. The amount of students admitted into the summer research experience varies in relation to the total available funding. Students who are accepted into the program receive a stipend throughout the eight-week program as well as free housing for the entirety of the summer. North Park University, as well as the members of the Undergraduate Research Committee, are excited to welcome many more students into the research program next summer.

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