Beginning in 2004, the Departments of Applied Biology &
Biomedical Engineering and Chemistry implemented the IRCBC
(Interdisciplinary Research Collaborative in
Biology and Chemistry),
intended to support undergraduate student research in the
biological and chemical sciences. The IRCBC was originally funded
by an external grant from Merck and the AAAS awarded
to Richard Anthony and Mark Brandt and by Rose-Hulman.
A Faculty Success Grant, funded by the Lilly
Endowment, awarded to Peter Coppinger and Mark Brandt in
2006 allowed continuation of the program through 2009. A grant from
Edwards Lifesciences supported the program in 2010, and a second
grant from Edwards Lifesciences will be supporting the program in
But the program soon grew beyond the life sciences, as the
demand for departmental collaborations, both among students and out
in the career world, grew. An ever widening range of
disciplines became involved in the program. And in 2008, the
program was renamed IRC (Interdisciplinary Research
Collaborative) to reflect this broadening field base.
A major feature of the current IRC program has been the
annual undergraduate research symposium, held near the
end of Fall Quarter. The symposium serves as a forum for IRC
students to present their work to fellow students. And the
symposium itself has fanned out, attracting both attendees and
presenters from other local institutions.
This IRC sequence gives our top students opportunities it
would be difficult, if not impossible, to obtain elsewhere.
Both the research program and the symposium offer students
experience in effective scientific communication, written and oral.
Not only that, the program encourages faculty, at all
levels, to initiate and maintain active research endeavors.
Not only does this make the IRC an intrinsic part of
exceptional student education, but it challenges faculty to stay on
the leading edge while maintaining Rose-Hulman's core
commitment to students.
Four years of the IRC program have shown that
involvement in sponsored, full-time research allows interested
students to develop laboratory skills and understanding well beyond
what is possible during the academic year.