Tag Archives: Research


13 Feb
Aerial Dance at SSA

Aerial Dance at SSA

SSA, full name ‘Science, Society, and the Arts’ is our on-campus conference which allows students and faculty to share their various academic projects with the W&L community. this year it will be held March 7th and 8th and classes will be suspended on the 8th so that all students and faculty can attend.

From the SSA Website: Science, Society, and the Arts is a multi-disciplinary conference involving Washington and Lee undergraduates and law students in the presentation of their academic achievements before an audience of their peers and the faculty. Conference participants share their work via oral presentations, traditional academic-conference-style panels, poster sessions, artistic shows, or creative performances. Students, faculty, and staff may also choose to participate in colloquia organized around common readings proposed by interested Washington and Lee community members.

Tour Guide Spotlight: Annie Zhang ’13

6 Feb

Annie Zhang ’13

Hometown: Canton, MI

Major(s)/Minor(s): Economics/Philosophy

What clubs/activities are you involved in on campus? Washington and Lee Student Consulting, Honor Advocate for Executive Committee, University Lectures Committee, General Development Initiative, Model United Nations, Economic research with professor, work/study in Office of Special Programs, Student Recruitment Committee

How are you involved in the Lexington community? Through the Poverty Fieldwork Course, my placement was with a local lawyer in town who represents court appointed cases as part of his workload. My experience observing cases and various steps of the process has helped me develop an interest in the implications of poverty on the legal system. I have taken the initiative to speak with the director of the Department of Social Services located in Lexington to pursue a project that would better address the needs of the impoverished part of the community. In addition, through my experience in Washington and Lee Student Consulting, we often work with several local clients to improve their business and contribute to the local economy.

Favorite weekend activity? Get a full ten hours of sleep and enjoy the day with friends. There’s nothing that feels better than relaxing after a hard week of classes, meetings, and various extracurricular activities. The slow pace of the weekend is especially soothing. I also enjoy exploring the town and during spring term, go tubing and hiking.

Favorite thing about Lexington? I never expected to go to college in a rural area but Lexington is the best small town to live in because of its quaint appeal mixed with the active university. I love walking down the streets of Lexington and exploring the many shops. Before I graduate, I want to take a tour of the town by horse carriage that is offered on the weekends. Lexington is full of history and legends that is open to exploration.

What’s your favorite W&L memory? I frequently think of how fortunate I am to be at Washington and Lee because of the many great people I have met and the limitless opportunities that are available. It is really difficult to select a favorite W&L memory but orientation week is definitely a favorite. There is constant excitement and each time, you realize just how much you have become attached to the company and the environment.

What’s the best encounter you’ve had with a faculty or staff member? One of the reasons why I selected W&L is due to small class sizes and strong professor-student relationships. Although there are many favorable encounters, my very first experience was with my Economics 101 professor. During spring term of my freshmen year, I was applying to various internships in the hopes of finding something substantial to do that summer. I decided to email some of my professor sand express my interest in the topic that I had taken with them. I also emphasized that I wanted to apply what I had learned by helping them with any research projects that they are working on. My economics professor asked me to meet with him and during our conversation, we developed a research project that reflected my interests. He has spent so much time patiently teaching me the intricacies of economics research and topics that I have never encountered before.

Collaborate and listen!

14 Jan

Professor Eastwood (Sociology), myself, and Professor Dickovick (Politics) with the finished textbook!

A few of the greatest aspects about the Washington and Lee experience are the close relationships with professors, the endless opportunities to get involved on campus, and the liberal arts education that provides many ways to learn in order to make the most of your college experience.

This past fall I was able to participate in something that encapsulated all three of those great aspects. Following a summer of research funded by an R.E. Lee Grant, I worked with Professor’s Eastwood and Dickovick on supplementary materials to their recently published textbook. Having the opportunity to work directly with Professor’s who I admire was an invaluable experience that allowed me to really grow as a student. This kind of experience truly encapsulates the endless possibilities that students gain once they enroll at W&L. From Spring Term abroad to Summer Research to Individual Studies, students at W&L get to make their mark and will graduate having had unrivaled experiences.

Click here to read the article about the textbook on the W&L website!



Department Details: Biology

9 Jan
Science at W&L

Science at W&L

The biological sciences play a key role in human society from the conservation of biodiversity to medicine. The Department of Biology strives to cultivate an exciting academic environment to study, research, and contemplate the broad spectrum of the life sciences. Our teaching philosophy is founded on a belief in the value of a personal educational experience, achieved through small classes and laboratories, and opportunities for independent study and research. Faculty embrace the Teacher-Scholar model, and pursue varied research interests with student collaborators.

Our curriculum is designed to promote effective scientific communication, the understanding and use of the scientific method, the understanding of the major concepts in biology, the use of the tools and techniques of science, and an understanding of the scientific literature. An important aspect of science education at Washington & Lee is hands-on experience, including independent research experience. Many of our courses include laboratory and/or field work, often incorporating original research projects.

Our majors receive a broad education in the biosciences. Our graduates are competitive for entry to graduate programs, medical and other professional programs, and employment in all sectors of research, development and commerce.

We also provide opportunities for students in all academic programs to gain a greater appreciation for the nature of science and its impacts on society, in keeping with the liberal arts tradition of broadly educated individuals. The opportunities include individual study and research as well as the R.E. Lee Undergraduate Research Program, which enables students to spend the summer doing research full time with the faculty scientists of their choice. In addition to our in-house curriculum, students can take advantage of programs off campus, including our popular fall semester program at St. Andrews University in Scotland.

To find out more about the Biology department click here.


4 Nov

I spent this summer in Kauaii, Hawaii. I was in heaven. The beach filled with surfers, paddle boarders, snorkelers, of course tourists. After the initial shock of the immense possibilities of this tiny island, I remembered, I’m getting paid to be here by the university. I’m a geology and Spanish major and a geology professor has been doing research on this island and was looking for a student to help her and hopefully inspire thesis work. It’s a win-win situation all the way. I happily jumped on this opportunity to explore a part of the country I had only dreamt about and grab some data on a subject nobody had explored yet.
Our goal was to get our samples while enjoying the island. Part two of the mission was a piece of cake to complete, but getting the samples proved to be challenging. We never had a routine because you couldn’t possibly plan the adventures we ended up having. We had to tackle some major projects on our own, like camping in the Waimea Canyon. We found the campsite, just below the local boar roasting pit. Another phenomenal trip was our hike to Hanakapiai on the third day. As you are tromping through mud, slipping every which way, only a slight concern when you are walking on the side of the mountain, you catch glimpses through the lush tropical tress of the aqua, turquoise, and deep penetrating blue water 4,000 ft below you. One day we finished up early and headed to the Western most beach, Polihale beach to watch the sunset.
After about the fourth day I was trying to figure out how I could come back and live there. I have a few options in mind, but we will see how this turns out. Either way it was an incredible experience that I couldn’t have done without the help of the geology department. The opportunities available to geology students are immense and well varied. I can say that this is not the only department with great options for students to get a little taste of the experience outside the classroom. So who’s up for round two Kauaii? I know I am.

The Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth!

2 Mar

This Friday marks W&L’s 4th Science, Society, and the Arts (SSA) research conference here on campus. In lieu of regular Friday classes, students and faculty will give presentations, participate on panels, read essays, and perform their own musical compositions and choreographed dances. This full day of the snazziest “show and tell” I’ve ever heard of will run from 8:30am-5pm, and you can probably find just about anything that strikes your academic fancy on the schedule. I’m especially excited to see many of my peers present the material and research that inspired their capstones and senior theses since I will have to create my own sooner than I may realize! SSA is a testament to the Liberal Arts opportunities W&L provides, and how you have the ability to continue your love for dance through a dance minor for example, while majoring in Accounting, Romance Languages, or Psychology. I can’t wait to see how I will be inspired after witnessing my fellow students’ and professors’ hard work!

Today I was a lab rat…

26 Mar

For extra credit in my Psychology class (PSYCH 150: Psychoactive Drugs and Behavior), I took part in an experiment on “The Effects of Facial Symmetry on Familiarization”. Basically, I sat at a computer and said “male” or “female” when a picture popped up on the screen. And although the only risk involved was “possible boredom”, it is still fun to say that you were a test subject.

And did I mention that undergraduate students ran this experiment? At W&L, even first-years have the rare opportunity to perform hands-on undergraduate research in all subjects, from psych to physics to history.  When combined with small classes, state-of-the-art labs, and Professors who actually teach their own courses, it is no wonder that our pre-med students have over twice the national acceptance rate to their first choice medical schools. That can impress even a Politics major like me!