Colonel James E. Turner ’65, Professor of Biology and Chemistry, and Director for Undergraduate Research, was an invited speaker at a half-day symposium titled “Creating Programs to Support Intensive Undergraduate Research”, sponsored by the Division of Chemical Education of the American Chemical Society at its national meeting at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta on 26-30 March 2006.

The topic of Colonel Turner’s presentation was “The Institutionalization of Undergraduate Research at the Virginia Military Institute” during which he highlighted the remarkable five-year history of this post-wide initiative during which “VMI has become a national leader in undergraduate research and has become a role model for many other institutions…” according to Michael E. Nelson, Ph.D., Dean of the College of Science and Allied Health at the University of Wisconsin, LA CROSSE.

The theme of Colonel Turner’s talk centered on the creation of a formula for success. Specifically, he made the following points during his presentation:

1) that institutionalization of undergraduate research at the Virginia Military Institute began five years ago after a team was sent to a CUR workshop dealing with this topic;

2) the Undergraduate Research Initiative, or URI as it is referred to, has been embraced as an academic program by the administration and the faculty;

3) the URI is funded at approximately $250,000 per year by the administration through an alumni endowment provided by the Jackson-Hope Fund with additional support from the VMIRL;

4) the URI is administered by a faculty Director, Associate Director, and a part time administrative assistant;

5) policies are formulated by a URI faculty committee;

6) the URI Director reports directly to the Dean's office; and

7) that national visibility of the program has been exceptional to the point that we were in a position to host NCUR 2005.

Also, Colonel Turner discussed that the URI program components consist of:

1) a summer research institute;

2) a spring symposium;

3) student travel monies;

4) student research monies;

5) academic year capstone courses; and

6) an in house research journal called New Horizons.


In his closing remarks Colonel Turner emphasized that this unique academic program now flourishes because the administration, faculty, and students have enthusiastically embraced it with great energy and purpose.

Also presenting in the same program were representatives or faculty from NSF, Research Corporation, University of South Dakota, Purdue University, University of Illinois at Chicago, Northeastern Illinois University, Furman University, and Case Western Reserve University.

In addition to participation in this symposium, Colonel Turner also presented, along with Cadet Jessica Fulton ’06, Biology major, and Major Daniel McCain, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, a research poster in the Division of Medicinal Chemistry titled “Estrogen’s Role in Retina Neuroprotection and Optic Nerve Regeneration in the Adult Zebrafish (Danio rerio)”.  This work represented Cadet Fultons’s Institute Honors Thesis research.

The 231st American Chemical Society meeting was held from 26-30 March 2006 at the Georgia World Congress Center. This is the world’s largest professional science society, and this year hosted over 13,000 registrants presenting approximately 8,000 papers from all over the world.  The American Chemical Society provides a multitude of information, educational, financial, technical and professional opportunities for its members.

The Society's 33 technical divisions cover the entire spectrum of the chemical world and the 189 Local Sections allows one to participate in local events and meetings throughout the year.