Fruit Pizza, Presentations, and S’mores: Student researchers forge connections outside of the lab

Posted on August 16th, 2011 by

Alex Pederson '12, Tuan Tran '13, and Elliot Larson '14 take a break from working in Professor Dwight Stoll's lab to enjoy puppy chow. Every Friday morning, a student researcher brought snacks funded by a grant from the Kendall Center.

Research students spend eight to twelve hours during the week tucked away in their labs working on experiments during the summer in Nobel. Often, researchers work long after the sun sets, and even check on experiments during the weekend.

It may be hard to imagine fitting social time in when working such long hours, however, campus life during the summer is anything but dull. Every Wednesday, students and faculty gather in Nobel 221 during the noon hour to eat lunch while listing to presentations given by fellow researchers on campus. Professors and students present formally, including scientific data, diagrams, and acknowledgments in their slides. The question and answer session following each presentation is laid back, however, and often results in professors telling stories or students cracking jokes.

Friday mornings, researchers have the opportunity to interact in a more informal setting. Students

Research students gather at Partick's On Third, a bar and grill in St. Peter, to compete for trivia night. Patrick's holds a trivia night every Tuesday.

sign up to bring snacks, which are paid for by a grant from the Kendall Center, and appear to compete with one another for the best snack idea. As a result, students arrive Friday mornings armed with increasingly creative concoctions to share, including a yogurt parfait bar, chocolate caramel cake topped with whipped cream and crumbled Butterfinger candy bars, and fruit pizza piled high with strawberries and blueberries. Friday socials are about more than just good food, however, they also give students the chance to connect with one another. Maja Johnson, a junior biology major who assembled a yogurt parfait bar with her lab partner their week, said, “Friday mornings give students the chance to get to know one another other by engaging in conversation, checking in with one another’s research, and finding out what is going on over the weekend. They give researchers the chance to build a community.”

Students have many opportunities outside of the workday to interact as well.  Karla Marz invited students over for s’mores at her home one evening, and, despite the intense heat and humidity, more than a dozen researchers showed up.  Other events include: movie showings in Wallenberg auditorium (the largest lecture hall in Nobel), trivia night at Patrick’s Bar and Grill, and a canoe trip down the Blue Earth River.


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