Undergraduate Research

At Luther, we challenge you to grow in how you confront the world, including the world of ideas. In order to help deepen your learning experience, we provide lots of opportunities for close study of a subject through undergraduate research.

Student-Faculty Collaboration

Luther students often collaborate with faculty on research projects, addressing challenging questions that can’t be confined to semester-long courses. Recent student-faculty collaborations include scoring a film, creating a language tutorial, analyzing the effect of stride length on running economy, and studying corn-based plastics and gene expression. These projects often result in papers that students and faculty jointly publish or present at conferences.

Grants and Other Funding

Summer student/faculty collaborative research grants and work-study positions are two Luther programs that make student-faculty collaborations possible. You can also undertake independent research or creative projects through student research grants.

External Funding

Recent grants from outside sources include:

  • Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources: "Survey of Fitchiella robertsoni, Fitch's Elephanthopper, a rare piglet bug found at Spirit Knoll State Preserve," Kirk Larsen, project director.
  • National Science Foundation: "Creating High-Completion CS Online Learning Using Educational Psychology Principles (collab. with Georgia Tech)," Brad Miller, project director.
  • Iowa Science Foundation: "Using Next Generation DNA to sequencing technologies to reveal relationships among perennial species of sunflowers," Eric Baack, project director.
  • Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture: "Body of Water," Jodi Enos-Berlage and Jane Hawley, project director.
  • ASIANetwork-Freeman Foundation: "Student-faculty fellows program for collaborative research in Asia," Stratis Giannakouros and Hongmei Yu, program directors.
  • Margaret A. Cargill Foundation--sustainability research (Jon Jensen, director)
  • Andrew W. Mellon Foundation--collaborative research opportunities in the humanities (Terry Sparkes and Jeff Wilkerson, co-directors).
  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute--science education summer research trios (Scott Carlson, director).
  • Monticello College Foundation--focus on women student researchers in the sciences (recent grants to Olga Rinco).
  • Living Roadways Trust Fund--biology research (recent awards to Kirk Larsen).
  • Iowa College Foundation/R.J. McElroy Trust--collaborative student/faculty research projects (recent awards to students working with Steph Fretham, Mike Johnson, and Kirk Larsen).

HHMI Science Research and Education Grant

Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) programs are part of a $1.6 million grant to promote science through research, workshops, and teaching. With a focus on elementary and secondary education teachers both in the field and at the undergraduate level, HHMI seeks to foster curiosity, strengthen leadership, and guide participants toward a deeper understanding of science.

Seminars such as the Summer Science Workshops bring Luther STEM faculty and local teachers together to perform laboratory work, discuss science, and create future lesson plans. Other programs such as the College Science Enrichment Program focus directly on undergraduate students, in this case immersing select first-year students in STEM skills needed for the college level. Luther College has a variety of HHMI programs, each uniquely providing science and education training to students and teachers alike.

Examples of Undergraduate Research Projects