The Marion T. Clark Research Fund was established in 1978 by the Board of Trustees, family and friends as a memorial to Marion T. Clark, the William Rand Kenan Jr. Professor of Chemistry and chairman of the department, in recognition of his 18 years of service to Agnes Scott College. The income is to be used to assist the student research program.
In 2011, The Chemistry Department initiated a new summer program supported with resources from this fund. Six students, all rising sophomores who had indicated an interest in pursuing chemistry or biochemistry as potential majors, along with three faculty members were involved in a four week program. Students were introduced to a variety of research activities including molecular modeling of chemical structures, chemical instrumentation (FT-IR, NMR, UV-vis spectroscopy and flame absorption spectroscopy), computer-based literature searches and even ethical issues associated with research. In between these classroom activities the students were given lab research projects (students chose projects based on faculty descriptions of projects in analytical chemistry, bioinorganic chemistry and biochemistry) that culminated in oral presentations (complete with Power Point slides of the work) given to audiences in the Bullock Science Center.
The hope is that the program will help attract and motivate students toward the core research activities that play a major role in the chemistry program, and two of these students have continued conducting research with chemistry faculty members during the academic year. One in particular was able to secure a summer 2012 research position in her home country of Vietnam working on infectious disease research. With an introduction to research earlier in their undergraduate career these students will have more opportunities for involvement in experimental research which remains at the core of the chemistry curriculum. We are trying to move away from the traditional model in which students are involved in research only near the end of the undergraduate experience.