The Student Inquiry and Research Program History - Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

The Student Inquiry and Research Program History

"To the generous mind the heaviest debt is that of gratitude, when it is not in our power to repay it."

– Benjamin Franklin

"To the generous mind the heaviest debt is that of gratitude, when it is not in our power to repay it."

– Benjamin Franklin

The Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy expresses our sincere thanks and appreciation to all individuals and organizations that have supported IMSA students with Student Inquiry and Research. The program could not be successful without the extra time and energy they have devoted to working with students on their independent investigations. These extraordinary commitments to the next generation of scientists and scholars are truly remarkable.

Program History

Student Inquiry and Research, IMSA's formalized program for independent study, supports student investigations conducted either off-campus (formerly known as Mentorship) and on-campus (formerly known as Student Inquiry). This program began in 1989 with twenty-eight student participants who conducted investigations off-campus at local institutions. Participation grew steadily as the program matured. Although student participation now varies slightly each year, recent trends suggest that about 75% of all IMSA students will conduct at least one investigation during their enrollment at the academy.

Past Advisors

The first institutions to provide advisors and facilities to involve IMSA students in their research projects were:

  • 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

Over 150 institutions, in Illinois and beyond, have provided advisors and off-campus facilities to support IMSA students conducting their Student Inquiry and Research investigations. In addition, IMSA on-campus student investigations have been supported by many IMSA staff members who have also served as advisors. Together, these advisors volunteer about 50,000 hours per year to support IMSA students with their investigations, guiding students to greater depth and scope of research abilities and experiences.

Contributors to Program Development

The following people have been instrumental in the development of SIR program materials: David Abler, Peg Cain, Peggy Connolly, Don Dosch, Micah Fogel, Kirk Hallowell, Chris Kawa, Rob Kiely, Christopher Kuhl, Eric McLaren, Christian Nokkentved, Martha Regalis, Steve Rogg, Judith Scheppler, Clay Sewell, Gregg Sinner, Clay Skinner, John Stark, Sue Styer, Joe Traina, Nancy Todnem, and David Workman.

New Developments

Dr. Sanza Kazadi – class of 1990 and a participant in the first iteration of the mentorship program – returned to IMSA as Director of Student Inquiry and Research in 2016. Going forward, SIR is both building on existing strengths and developing new research initiatives. These include the establishment of an in-house journal and a Summer Research Training Program for non-IMSA students.