The BSI is currently accepting applications from students looking to develop research skills next summer.
The Butler Summer Institute is a research opportunity that allows students to spend part of their summer researching in their field of interest through close work with a faculty member.
“Its primary purpose is to provide students an opportunity to become researchers, to move from the classroom where you’re thinking about how research is done to actually making that leap to becoming someone who creates scholarship research,” BSI Director Mariangela Maguire said.
Maguire said she believes that many students consider research as something that only scientists do, but Butler encourages students in all fields to get involved in the BSI.
“One of our goals is to make it clear that research, creative work and scholarship happen in all academic disciplines,” Maguire said.
Senior Casey Brege participated in this past summer’s program, focusing on the field of musicology and researching the critical reception over time of the opera “Nixon” in China.
“It’s a good learning experience,” Brege said.
Maguire stressed that by working on real research problems, students are given a preview of the kind of research that is done in their field and gives them the opportunity to work closely with a faculty member.
Brege said what she liked about the project was that it allowed her to take charge of the research, with the faculty member serving only as an adviser.
Senior Alissa Fritz was also a BSI student this summer.
Her research was in the field of psychology, examining how different contexts affect people’s memory.
“It was one of the best experiences I’ve had at Butler,” Fritz said. “It’s helped me prepare for graduate school.”
Luanne McNulty, chair of the Holcomb Undergraduate Grants Committee, said the process of submitting a proposal to the BSI includes formulating a research proposal that is then evaluated by the committee before they are accepted into the program.
“The BSI Committee is responsible for evaluating the proposals. We use a rubric to rank [them],” McNulty said.
For example, the committee evaluates how the project would fit into the field of study.
She said the program has a budget and must carefully consider each proposal to make sure it raises an important research question.
About 30 students are accepted into the program each year.
At the end of the research period, students present their research findings.
“The presentations are wonderful examples of what the students can do,” McNulty said.
BSI can be very helpful to honors students in particular, Fritz said.
“[The BSI] served as the foundation for what I’m going to write my honors thesis about,” she said.
Both Brege and Fritz said BSI brought together students from various fields, as there are activities for all the students to participate in as a community.
“It was a really good experience to get to know students in different fields,” Fritz said.
Both students and faculty said they agree that a program like the BSI has a major impact on a student’s education.
The result is often a “tremendous growth in confidence in a student’s ability to identify important questions and take responsibility for producing results every day,” Maguire said.
Both Brege and Fritz said that the BSI experience was a stepping stone that prepared them for future.
“I would definitely encourage it, especially if you are looking to go to graduate school,” Brege said.
Students also get the opportunity to pursue their interests outside of normal study during the academic school year, McNulty said.
“The students seem to benefit a lot in terms of expanding their knowledge base,” McNulty said.
There will be an informational meeting for interested students on Oct. 26.