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Opportunities are expanding for undergraduate researchers to participate in summer research, such as HIV/AIDS gene therapy, machine-learning methods and the science of walking (below).


HMC Strategic Vision in Action — Experiential and Interdisciplinary Learning $3.6-MILLION GRANT EXPANDS HMC SUMMER RESEARCH PROGRAM

Just as the 2011–12 academic year ended, Harvey Mudd College (together with the other undergraduate Clare- mont Colleges) learned it was to share $3.6 million from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to help the schools jointly offer more experiential and interdisciplinary learning opportunities. Among the intended plans for a portion of the grant is the

creation of a cross-campus, collaborative and interdisciplinary summer research program. With a shared academic schedule and a strong tradition of cross-registration, Te Claremont Colleges are building new, substantive and synergistic collaborations across their institutions. HMC’s own Summer Research Program— where students spend 10 weeks engaging in full-time, hands-on work—is seen as a primary building block in the endeavor. Established in 1960 with a handful of chemistry students,

HMC’s Summer Research Program now attracts more than 200 students and 45 faculty members. A sampling of recent HMC summer research projects demonstrates the substance and variety that will be offered through an integrated 5-C Summer Under- graduate Research Program: HIV/AIDS Gene Therapy. Students test the use of RNA in-

terference to genetically modify cells to combat HIV/AIDS. Teir research may lead to the development of a gene therapy that would suppress HIV replication by genetically altering the cells that HIV normally infects, making them resistant to the virus. The Science of Walking. Research is underway on the neural

control and mechanics of human locomotion. By measuring variables such as electrical activity in the muscles and force distribution in the feet, students gather data that might lead to advances in prosthetics, robotics and even footwear design.

FALL/WINTER 2012 Har vey Mudd College 35 Making Molecules. Green chemistry is being employed by stu-

dents to synthesize natural medicinal compounds from plants. Researchers also are developing fluorescent molecules that act as chemical probes, potential tools for biological studies and medical diagnosis. Helping Robots See. Computer science researchers are explor-

ing various computer-vision-based algorithms and machine- learning methods to help an ARDrone quad-rotor helicopter autonomously navigate its environment. Teir research could benefit robots used in search and rescue operations, transporta- tion and in helping the visually impaired. “Te creation of an integrated summer undergraduate research

program across the five Claremont Colleges is very significant, as it will build on the existing interactions between research groups on the different campuses,” said Robert Drewell, associate professor of biology at HMC, the lead institution for executing the grant. “Tis HHMI funding represents an exciting opportunity for Te Claremont Colleges to be at the very forefront of curricular innovation at the intersection of biology, computer science and mathematics.”

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