Learning to Research
“We have a robust science program, which many small schools don’t have,” says Thom Espinola, Guilford College’s Glaxo Wellcome Professor of Physics. “We have all the one-on-one, small group interactions, which Guilford has in all its majors, but is more unusual in the sciences. The main thing that’s different is that everybody does undergraduate research. We teach science as something you do, not something you memorize.”
The Frank Family Science Center, with its 54,000 square feet, 21 laboratories, 28 spacious classrooms, comfortable student spaces and convenient faculty offices, represents Guilford at its best. It’s a space where the world of teaching and learning become one. The science faculty designed this building themselves, from the inside out. They wanted to be close to their students and have a space that encouraged collaboration and a sense of community.
The Science Center also enhances the student-centered research and hands-on learning, which makes Guilford so unique among both small colleges and large universities. Every science student at Guilford is involved in hands-on field study and nearly all seniors and juniors do their own original research. Also, students often present their findings at national conferences.
Chemistry professor Anne Glenn adds, “At some schools, you might be doing a research project as an extension of your professor’s research project, but with the theses that I’ve directed, almost all have been ideas that the students developed themselves. They’re much more excited about it, much more involved in it, and they do a much better job with it. I’m just helping them, guiding them, and making suggestions.”
Guilford’s chemistry program features Integrated Lab, an innovative approach to teaching chemistry. The lab involves students at all levels working in small research teams on problems and projects they have chosen. Because Integrated Lab exposes students to diverse areas of chemistry and develops teamwork and problem-solving skills, Guilford chemistry grads are well prepared for advanced study or jobs in the field.
In the physics major, each student designs and carries out a senior research project, often choosing to present findings at conferences or publish in a journal. Because of their ability to identify and solve interesting problems, Guilford physics graduates excel not only in physics and astronomy graduate programs, but also pursue successful careers in medicine, law, teaching, and of course, the sciences. The department’s famous Data Reduction Lab, a student space for research, study and interaction, helps build a strong sense of community in the program. And, not surprisingly, Guilford’s physics program ranks among the best among colleges of its size.
Learn more about the sciences at Guilford.