What does State stand for? Research

Indiana State’s story is best told through its graduates and faculty. Here is one of a dozen people who exemplifies the university’s key qualities.

Growing up in a small town in Iowa and as the son of a college professor and an elementary school teacher, Eric Glendening always knew he wanted to teach. But he was also fascinated with research.

Luckily for Glendening and for Indiana State University, the two made an ideal partnership. “I came to ISU in 1995 after graduate school and two postdoctoral appointments,” he said. “I enjoyed research but appreciated teaching even more. ISU offered an ideal balance of teaching and research with a focus on undergraduates.”

As professor and chair of the chemistry and physics department, Glendening is instrumental in giving undergraduates research opportunities through the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE). The program is now celebrating its 10th summer with a goal of introducing students to the world of research and preparing them for graduate studies.

“We started with 18 students, only in chemistry, in 2006. The program has now grown to 53 students across the natural sciences and math,” Glendening said. “Over 250 students have participated in the SURE program.”

Under the program, students work with faculty mentors for 10 weeks and give weekly presentations on their progress. Each student receives a scholarship to support his or her work during the summer.

Indiana State is a great supporter of research as it has shown through financial aid and other means, Glendening said. “ISU supports research in a number of ways. Most of the SURE scholarship monies that support our students this summer come from ISU, and students will have the opportunity to present their research at national and regional meetings this coming year using ISU travel funds,” he said. “Also, ISU has renovated, in recent years, nearly all of the research space in the Science Building.”

Laboratory experience is essential for learning science, Glendening said. “But most of the experiments that students encounter in a teaching laboratory are contrived; the procedures and outcomes are known, at least by the instructor, before the students begin their work.”

Research, on the other hand, “allows a student to explore new areas of science, using techniques learned in the teaching labs to study problems for which the outcomes are unknown,” Glendening said. “The experience can be a challenging and painstaking, but also quite rewarding.”

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