Summer Programs Keep Campus Buzzing

From the July 2013 Desktop News Summertime is not downtime at the Capstone as students come to campus for enriching programs. The Department of Chemistry, the School of Music, and the creative writing program in the Department of English are just a few of many departments offering summer opportunities for students in Alabama and across the country. Whether students are looking to get an edge on getting into college, or hoping to enhance their undergraduate experience, these programs provide hands-on experience to the next generation of artists, musicians, and scientists.

Undergraduate Research in Chemistry

chemistry camp
A student participating in the Department of Chemistry’s REU does experiments in the lab.

The Department of Chemistry annually hosts the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU), as part of a National Science Foundation grant awarded to Dr. John Vincent, the program’s director and a professor in the department. The program is designed to get undergraduate students interested in careers in chemistry. The REU enrolls students from across the Southeast, primarily from smaller colleges that are unable to provide the kind of research experiences available to undergraduates at The University of Alabama, and gives them an in-depth research experience.

“For ten weeks we treat these students as graduate students,” Vincent said. “They receive their own office space, their own research project, and their own housing. They are matched by preference with UA faculty in the department, and most students receive their first or second choice professor and project.”

REU is highly competitive with a five percent acceptance rate, receiving 200 applications for just 12 openings. In addition to their research, students attend a series of lectures and discussions on ethics, scientific procedure, and advice on applying to graduate school. Vincent notes that some students come into the program with no intention of studying chemistry any further, but they often change their minds. Of the students who participate in UA’s REU program, approximately 80 percent enter graduate school, 20 percent are accepted to medical school or pharmacy school, and many pursue secondary science education.

For more information on the Department of Chemistry’s Research Experience for Undergraduates program, visit or contact Dr. John Vincent at

Summer Music Camps for All Ages

For more than 50 years, the School of Music has offered summer programs an training camps for students in grades six through 12. Under the supervision of Dr. Randall Coleman, associate director of bands and program director for the last six years, the School of Music offers a series of musical training opportunities including classes in jazz, marching band, percussion, voice, opera, piano, and concert band training.

“Our students attend classes on music theory, the basics of conducting, and we offer professional advice for students applying to music schools and preparing for important auditions. Much of this training, especially the music theory work, greatly assists students transitioning into college-level music work,” said Coleman.

Additionally, many of the students work directly with UA faculty. “Many large and small universities offer programs like this, but our students get to work with trained professionals,” Coleman said. “More importantly, the entire faculty sees the importance of building the relationships with these students. Many become faces we see in the marching or symphonic band.”

The Community Music School, the community music program housed in the School of Music, also offers summer classes, private and group lessons, ensembles, and camps as part of its year-long outreach efforts. Under the direction of Dr. Jane Weigel, CMS is open year-round and is a non-degree granting program. Lessons are given to individuals at all ages and skill levels on any band and orchestra instruments. CMS offers training on piano, organ, voice, guitar, ukulele, drums, as well as in languages including Spanish, French, and Chinese.

“CMS is often  a ‘first point of contact’ to the University for many area residents and these age-specific music enrichment classes foster an awareness and interest in the foundations of music, including rhythm, different timbres of sound, and movement to music,” Weigel said.

Wiegel, who has served with the Community Music School for nearly 20 years, said participants come to the program with a variety of expectations and goals. “Some want to continue learning an instrument they put down long ago, some want the challenge of learning something new,” she said.

For more information on camps and lessons in the School of Music, visit or contact Randall Coleman at

For more information on offerings from the Community Music School, go to, call 205-348-6741, or visit Room 171 in the Moody Music building on the UA campus.

Workshop for Aspiring Young Writers

Creative Writing Camp
Sally Rodgers, an instructor for the summer creative writing camp and graduate student in the Department of English, works with two students on their writing.

In June, the Creative Writing Club hosted a Creative Writing Workshop for high school students ranging from ages 14 to18. Dr. Robin Behn, a professor in the Department of English, coordinated the free program with Ashley Chambers, a graduate student in the department. The curriculum this year focused on self-publication and book-arts creation.

“The students spent a great deal of their time in class, learning different forms and how to experiment with them. Then we worked with them on publishing their own work in a book of their own creation,” said Chambers.

According to Chambers, the workshop is especially important because not many high school students are offered the chance to write creatively. “We are hoping that our program taught them to think and write independently and sparked their interest in writing throughout their academic careers,” Chambers said.

The program averages 30-40 students each summer. The Creative Writing Workshop ended with a public reading where students showcased their book arts and performed their selected written pieces.

For more information on the Creative Writing Club visit or email