Dr. Kelly Lambert Spearheads Initiative to Connect Summer Research Communities

August 2, 2019
Professor of Psychology Kelly Lambert recently led an initiative to connect the 2019 summer research communities and further emphasize the importance of undergraduate research. 


Professor of Psychology Kelly Lambert spearheaded an initiative to connect the 2019 summer research communities and further emphasize the importance of undergraduate research.

Professor Lambert is a psychologist who studies brain behavior and stress, through the use of rats. She is also the Chair of the Undergraduate Research Committee in A&S, where students apply for summer research, including the Richmond Guarantee.

“I have always been passionate about undergraduate research and how it’s a transformative experience,” said Dr. Lambert. “I see more pride and ownership and accomplishment when students are in the lab and owning their own research.”

In the past, student researchers worked in their individual faculty members’ labs and research areas, whether they be in the Gottwald Science Center, or even in the Boatwright Memorial Library for the Race & Racism Project. “There are so many students doing research – which is great – but they also tend to be tucked away in their own labs or libraries or in the field,” Dr. Lambert said.

In the summer of 2019, for the first time, Professor Lambert spearheaded an initiative to build community among nearly all 300 students doing summer research. It started with a kick-off involving Pearls Cupcakes, and has included ice-cream socials, leadership seminars, and some early discussion of this year’s one-read, What the Eyes Don’t See, as well as the Gottwald Games.

“Everyone is like minded and motivated,” said Dr. Lambert. “They’re here in the summer instead of at the beach, and they get to have a little fun, too.”

When this pilot program was proposed, Dr. Lambert said the only program she knew about was the Gottwald Games, which was hosted by the Chemistry Department. “In the past, that has just been for people in Gottwald,” she said. But this year, “we opened it up to everyone.”

At the end of the summer, the program concluded with an Undergrad Alumnus Keynote Address featuring Dr. Aaron Jasnow (UR ’97) and Dr. Martha Carpenter (UR ’51), and a final event, that brought the Gelati Celesti Ice Cream Truck to campus.

At the Undergrad Alumnus Keynote Address, research student Khaela Sanchez (UR ’19) commented, “The research I started two years ago was funded by Martha Carpenter, so that’s why I’m here. I wanted to say thank you in person.” She went on to say that her research experience, “definitely sparked my passion for ecology and conservation science.”

Because of Professor Lambert’s efforts, Dean Rankine called it the “most exciting summer of UR summer research in A&S”. It has focused on developing the student experience, and using the research experience as a tool to enhance not only accomplishment, but friendship and community, as well.