Undergraduate Research Projects and Public Health Internships at Montana Technological University
Katie Hailer | Montana Technological University
This project is intended provide biomedical/biobehavioral research and public health internship projects involving undergraduate students, along with Café Scientifique gatherings in Butte on timely biomedical/biobehavioral topics for students, faculty, and the public.
Faculty-mentored research is an extraordinarily important component of the undergraduate experience at Montana Tech. Such projects give the students valuable experience actually doing important work under the mentorship of skilled professionals. For this task, we invite Montana Tech undergraduate students to apply for mentored biomedical/biobehavioral research projects or public health internships, guided either by Montana Tech faculty or practicing professionals in the community.
Café Scientifique events bring distinguished and well known biomedical/biobehavioral speakers to town for a public, usually evening, presentation, spiced with food, beverages, networking, and mingling. These public outreach events are usually held at a community venue off campus. Typically, the speakers spend time on campus meeting with and mentoring students and faculty.
Public Health Internships were initiated in academic year 2014-2015, as an additional option augmenting the longstanding undergraduate research programs at Montana Tech. Eleven PHI projects were conducted. With the addition of PHI, Montana Tech has four programs that support undergraduate research or public health internships: Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF), Research Assistant Mentorship Program (RAMP), the Undergraduate Research Program (URP), and Public Health Internships (PHI). The RAMP program takes place during the academic year, with projects proposed by faculty to involve a small team of students—primarily freshmen or sophomores—without prior research experience in a faculty-designed project. The URP involves student-proposed research projects conducted during the academic year. The SURF program is based on faculty proposals for a summer research project that would involve one or two undergraduates. The public health internships are available during the academic year and for the summer, with the projects proposed by the interested student, in collaboration with the prospective mentor—who could be a Montana Tech faculty member or a professional in the medical/health community. URP students present their projects in spring at the Montana Academy of Sciences annual meeting. PHI academic-year students present their projects orally at a public health symposium on campus in the spring. SURF and PHI summer students present their projects at the on-campus Summer Undergraduate Research Poster Symposium held in early August. Many students also submit their papers or posters to regional and national conferences and present them in these professional venues.
All projects are selected competitively and overseen by the faculty URP Committee, co-chaired by Katie Hailer (Chemistry) and Bill Spath (Occupational Safety and Health). Two faculty serving on the URP committee have public health expertise: a nursing faculty member and a health-care-informatics faculty member with an MPH degree. The committee calls for proposals, reviews them, provides feedback, and approves projects. These peer-reviewed, proposal-based programs enable faculty-mentored student research.