Student Research Actually Relevant to Students

GRINNELL – This weekend, the Grinnell Research Symposium was a resounding success. The majority of attendees were struck by how directly applicable the research was to real life, especially life as a college student in modern times.

Barry Criss and Jessica Moore ‘19 presented their research, entitled “How to Get Sloshed on the Cheap,” which compared low-budget vodkas to determine which was the most efficient at getting the user inebriated while tasting the best.

“So overall, we discovered that UV is the cheapest, but Svedka tastes better. If you want to get drunk the quickest, though, butt-chugging rubbing alcohol seems to be the most effective, in the context of our sample size” Moore explained.

When asked about their students’ MAP, advisor Professor Channing was most enthusiastic.

“I was really interested in tasting all of the alcohol! We would just throw a party and then mix the vodka with some Kool-Aid! Students have such fresh ideas,” Channing said.

Other student presentations included “How Much Sleep Is Too Little?” and “What’s the Cheapest Cent-Per-Calorie Kum & Go Snack?” These projects, however, were not funded by Grinnell; rather, they were funded through GoFundMe.

“Unfortunately, when we presented our proposals, the administration decided that they wouldn’t fund our research because it was too pedantic and not prestigious enough,” said Kelly Ashley ’20.

Despite lack of institutional support, these papers have gained many followers. A recent Buzzfeed article cited Ashly and her research group when publishing a “Top Ten Fun Foods” post. The Onion cited “How Much Sleep Is Too Little?” study, publicizing its groundbreaking conclusion that no one needs sleep anymore.

Of course, Grinnell students highly appreciate and value this research, which is all about them.

“At first, I thought that the best snack to buy was M&Ms because they’re so tasty. But now I know that if I really want a sugar rush, I should just buy a package of zebra cakes and an extra large slushie from Kum&Go,” Chase Graham ‘18 stated. “For years I’ve been consuming wrong!”

This particular study sprung from Grinnell’s Research For All Initiative, a pact made by professors to transfer some of their research obligations to students under the guise of sharing-is-caring. The initiative thus far has been used to encourage research from all different angles. For example, some students have served as test subjects for others.

“I drank some spiked Fanta and then took a test,” Mary Kate ‘21 stated, standing in front of the “Why Is Learning So Hard?” poster. “Then they paid me in the form of more Fanta and an extra wrist band for parties. Cool!”

Other students have actively participated in the Research For All Initiative by serving as proofreaders for the papers published by their peers in exchange for a footnote towards the end. Others have enrolled in the college’s new tutorial: How To Do Research. As a result, all of the students are allowed to perform some form of research.

The Research for All Initiative, while generally praised, is not without its critics, who believe that it dilutes the purpose of pure scientific research.

“At this point, they’re just doing research for the sake of research. Like, there’s serious research like mine and then there’s frivolities like everyone else’s,” Miley Cavendish ‘19 huffed as they presented, to empty air, their replicated research from Carnegie Mellon that had already been replicated by both Vanderbilt and Cornell University.