Ashley Donovan

Day 6: York to Lancaster

Blog Post created by Ashley Donovan on Aug 12, 2016

As many of you on the east coast know, the heat and humidity have been increasing throughout the week. I began running at 06:15 today, and it was already somewhat unpleasant. It took me longer than normal to run 24 miles because I knew I needed to stay safe, which meant taking breaks in the shade, reapplying sunscreen, and keeping hydrated and fueled as best I could (I tend to not eat enough when it's this hot--it's a fairly common runner problem and I'm still working on the most effective way to get the calories I need). I can't remember ever being so thankful for the occasional roadside tree!

Despite the trying conditions, I finally made it to the campus of Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster. The chemistry department is housed in the Hackman Physical Science building (Hackman was in fact a chemistry major at the College many years ago). I met with the new department chair and active Instagrammer Prof. Edward Fenlon, who first told me about the College's undergraduate research program. Over 40 students, mainly chemistry and biochemistry majors, are able to perform summer research thanks to a variety of internal and external grants and funding opportunities. Students attend ACS National Meetings as well as other conferences, and the chemistry department typically has about 15 senior majors each year. A unique opportunity for a small number of incoming freshmen is the Moore-Schaeffer Mentorship Award for performing an abbreviated summer research program between the end of high school and beginning of college.

General chemistry and organic chemistry class sections are capped around 25 students, and the same students participate in both lecture and lab.

Over the past couple of years, the College's Quantitative and Science Center has held group peer-led tutoring and study skill development sessions for general and organic chemistry. This reminded me of my time spent coordinating a similarly-flavored program at Princeton's McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning. It also led to an interesting discussion about professional development and career advancement for faculty; I was encouraged to hear a department chair speak enthusiastically about potential new approaches to evaluating undergraduate teaching.

I am hoping to continue my 'higher than planned mileage' tomorrow. This will make it easier to visit schools in the densely populated 'main line' area outside of Philadelphia. I just hope it's possible to catch a cab or an uber in the more rural areas to backtrack to the hotel....