The annual Undergraduate Research Celebration at Hope College takes on added meaning this year as an opportunity to celebrate the college's new science center as well.

The annual Undergraduate Research Celebration at Hope College takes on added meaning this year as an opportunity to celebrate the college's new science center as well.

The event will take place on Friday, Oct. 17, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., and has been scheduled in conjunction with the college's Homecoming Weekend. It will include student poster presentations concerning joint student-faculty research projects as well as an open house for the new science center, which opened in August. There will also be a related lecture on Friday at 3 p.m., and an additional opportunity for self-guided tours of the new building on Saturday, Oct. 18, from 9 a.m. to noon.

The public is invited to all of the activities. Admission is free.

The research celebration, first presented in 2001, is designed to spotlight the quality and importance of student-faculty collaborative research at Hope, according to Dr. James Gentile, who is dean for the natural sciences at the college. And even though the newly opened science center is hosting the event, he noted that the celebration highlights the way in which research-based learning takes place college-wide.

"Undergraduate research is the purest form of teaching and the purest form of student learning that any institution has to offer," he said. "It happens throughout the college. The celebration will have students from the social sciences, students from the humanities and the arts as well as students from the sciences - natural sciences and physical sciences - presenting posters side-by-side."

At the same time, he appreciates the opportunity that the event presents for sharing the new building with others on campus.

"It's also going to re-emphasize the social space of the building," he said. "This building is meant to be used by the entire campus. And I think that's one of the significant points to this, that it will foster that kind of campus-wide community use."

The activities will begin on Friday, Oct. 17, at 3 p.m. with a seminar sponsored jointly by the departments of biology, chemistry and physics. Dr. Marsha Lester, who is the Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Professor in the Natural Sciences in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania, will present "Significant Radical Reactions in the Lower Atmosphere: A New View" in room 102 of neighboring VanderWerf Hall. Lester will be on campus for two days, during which her itinerary will also include guest lectures in two classes. Partial funding for her visit has been provided by the Division of Laser Science of the American Physical Society.

More than 100 students will be presenting the results of research during the 4-6 p.m. celebration. The mix of departments will represent all four of the college's academic divisions: arts, humanities, social sciences, and natural and physical sciences.

Gentile noted that Hope is consistently recognized as a leader nationally for its emphasis on such collaborative research. The 2003 edition of the "America's Best Colleges" guide published by "U.S. News & World Report" ranked Hope fourth in the nation out of all colleges and universities in its then-new "Academic Programs: Undergraduate research/Creative projects" category. The guide doesn't rank the schools this year, but Hope is again on the list. Among other indicators, Hope regularly holds more summer research grants through the National Science Foundation's "Research Experiences for Undergraduates" program than any other liberal arts college in the country. In 1998, Hope was one of only 10 liberal arts institutions nationally recognized for innovation and excellence in science instruction by the NSF with an "Award for the Integration of Research and Education" (AIRE).

The new building represents the first of two phases in the college's effort to enhance its science facilities. During the current 2003-04 school year, the college is also renovating the 30-year-old Peale Science Center, which is attached to the new facility. The total project cost is $36 million.

The science center effort is part of the college's "Legacies: A Vision of Hope" fundraising campaign. In addition to the science center project, the campaign's major components are: constructing the DeVos Fieldhouse; increasing the endowment; and general campus improvements, including the construction of the Martha Miller Center for communication, modern and classical languages, international education and multicultural life.