On Tuesday, September 26th, Concord Academy students presented the highlights of their summer science research at the first annual Summer Science Poster Presentation. The thirteen participants included those who pursued the Concord Academy’s Interested Students Pursuing Internship Research Experiences (InSPIRE) Program as well as those who independently secured internships at un-affiliated university programs.

I  had the privilege of being one of the nine seniors who participated in the InSPIRE Program. Coordinated by Science Department Head Amy Kumpel, InSPIRE matches CA students with mentors throughout the greater Boston area for unpaid summer internships. The students are required to make a minimum commitment to the program for five days a week for five weeks.

I spent seven weeks at the Boston University Social Learning Lab, an applied human development laboratory led by Dr. Kathleen Corriveau. First, I was introduced to the multitude of ongoing projects and research conducted at the lab by my mentor, Ian Campbell. He assigned readings of previous studies to shorten my learning curve. Once I was more accustomed to the lab’s studies and methodologies, I was conferred the task of organizing data and trained on how to explain scientific studies in a more accessible and approachable manner to non-researchers.

The Social Learning Lab has had a running partnership with the Museum of Science through the National Living Laboratory, a collaboration that allows researchers to recruit and test participants at museum exhibits. This advantage of this agreement is being able to observe research in real settings rather than behind closed doors of a laboratory. After completing the CITI (Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative) training for Human Subjects Research and Child Research as well as miscellaneous trainings offered by the Museum, I was given the incredible opportunity to conduct tests and record observations on children. I also attended joint lab meetings with the museum staff and Social Learning Lab members to discuss findings, logistics, administrative matters, and everything in between. Undoubtedly, I am very grateful for this  incredible experiential opportunity that would not have been possible without the InSPIRE Program and its network of mentors.

CA students who did participate offered plenty gleaming feedback on the event.

Anmol Goraya ’18, an InSPIRE scholar, interned at the Tufts University Social Cognition Lab where she was able to join Dr. Keith Maddox in conducting research on implicit bias, specifically involving the discrimination between “white names” and “non-white names.” Goraya remarked that the opportunity to explore implicit bias, an increasingly relevant topic in the polarized sociopolitical atmosphere, was “both fascinating and challenging to engage with from a scientific, social, and cultural standpoint.”

Casey Chertavian ’18, who also presented at the event, described the venue as an “art gallery with posters and students lining the walls.” Goraya and Chertavian both expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to present their summer research experiences with others. Goraya especially liked that she got “to present [her] work in an authentic and genuine way.” Chertavian added that her summer research “was pretty intense and took up a huge chunk of [her] summer, so [she] really enjoyed having the opportunity to share [her] experience with others.”

Chertavian saw the Poster Presentation as a unique opportunity for intellectual exchange and a “really interesting [chance] to talk to my friends and mentors.” Because of this, she wished that the event allowed for more time, in the beginning, to collaborate with other participants in sharing their varied experiences.          

The InSPIRE program and its newly added feature of the Poster Presentations is an incredible opportunity for Concord Academy students because it awards access to authentic research opportunities as well as the experience of attending such topically-driven conferences in general.