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January 12, 2005

IMSA Mentorship Program

What materials most effectively reduce erosion in hip prostheses? What is the relationship between the development of scientific knowledge and the progression of artistic style? What cultural change took place in pueblo life in the Southwestern United States following the Spanish conquests? How does estrogen work to decrease scar tissue formation? What is the role of autoimmune disease in infertility? What do the chemical compositions of meteoritic inclusions tell us about the formation of the solar system? Research provides insights, and with meticulous work, answers to these questions.
The creation of knowledge and the discovery of innovation are the goals of research. Research requires the mind to move beyond assimilating what is known to the world to vigorously seeking what is unknown. Mentorship is an interactive research partnership which pairs students with master scholars and scientists in educational institutions, museums, corporations, laboratories, and in the field.
 
Under the guidance of scientists and scholars, and with increasing independence as skills and understanding develop, IMSA students discover answers to these and other questions as they participate in real-world research projects. IMSA Students make significant contributions to the professions through publication in professional journals, presentation at research conferences, creation of novel programs, and discovery of innovative techniques. This is possible through opportunities and counsel provided by mentors. Through the gifts of time, knowledge, and nurturing, mentors elevate the potential to learn to the power of discovery, and transform disciplined inspiration into substantive contribution.
 
Expectations
Becoming a scientist or scholar requires mastering the concepts of the discipline; demonstrating integrity and ethical professionalism; conducting research in a way that does not endanger persons or property; and offering the work for public scrutiny and response. Mentorship requirements are developmental, designed to nurture ethical researchers who have the experience, skills, expertise, and judgment to extend the limits of existing knowledge. Students summarize resources from the professional literature; address safety concerns; analyze ethical aspects of their research; and  complete a research proposal, progress report, and final research report with abstract. Students give oral and poster presentations of their work each year at a research forum at IMSA. Those who achieve significant results are encouraged to submit their work for presentation in professional conferences. For specific detail, see the SIR Handbook.
 
History
The IMSA Mentorship Program began in 1989 with twenty-eight students, and now involves about 150 students each year. Argonne National Laboratory, Brookfield Zoo, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, the Field Museum of Natural History, Illinois Institute of Technology, Loyola University Medical Center, and Northern Illinois University first included IMSA students in research projects. Since then, mentors from nearly 150 institutions have involved IMSA students in their research, guiding them to increase in depth and in scope their research abilities and experiences, and become participating members of the scientific and scholarly community.
 
Accomplishments
IMSA students have presented their research at numerous professional conferences and organizations including the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Ceramic Society, American Chemical Society, American Junior Academy of Science, American Pediatric Society/Society for Pediatric Research, American Society of Echocardiography, Aspen Conference on Perinatal Research, Association for Chemoreception Science, Association of Professional Sleep Societies, Beckman Symposium, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Chicago Academy of Sciences, Chicago Neuroscience Meeting, Great Lakes History Conference, IEEE Nuclear Science Symposium, Illinois Student Research Conference, International Seminar on Tropical Rainforest Plants and Their Utilization for Development, Midwest Conference on Microbiology, Midwest Drosophila Conference, National Conference on Undergraduate Research, National Museum of the American Indian, NATO-UNESCO Conference on Student Research, Nessett Research Forum, Rush University Research Forum, Sakharov Readings, Smithsonian Institution, Young Women in Science and Technology Conference, and the SPIE Conference on Smart Systems for Bridges, Structures, and Highways. IMSA students have co-authored publications in Biology of Reproduction, Ceramic Transactions, Ceramic Engineering and Science Proceedings, Nature, Neuroscience Research Communications, Proceedings of the Monaldi Conference, and other journals as well as chapters in publications including "Traditions, Transitions, and Technologies: Themes in Southwestern Archaeology" and "Science Education: Talent Recruitment and Public Understanding". Because of their research, IMSA students have won prestigious awards including Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation Award, Westinghouse Science Talent Search, special recognition by the Russian Academy of Sciences, and appointment to the Santa Fe Institute.
 
Mentorship leverages limited educational resources. Nearly 150 institutions, in Illinois and beyond, support the mentors who volunteer about 20,000 hours a year. Over the 15 years of the program’s existence, some of our greatest scientific and scholarly minds have contributed over a quarter of a million hours to IMSA students, nurturing the next generation of scientists and scholars.
 
Dr. Peggy Connolly
IMSA

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