John Stelter ’15, Plymouth, Minn., dove into research before he even set foot in his first class.
It was Orientation week of Stelter’s freshman year. The sociology department was holding a gathering for potential majors where they were asked to discuss poverty.
Dr. Andrew Lindner, assistant professor of sociology, took note of Stelter’s intelligent answers and asked him to join his research team. Stelter went to his first research meeting that week.
Stelter is double majoring in political science and sociology and is on track to graduate in three years. He has published a paper and presented on an international stage. He’s also the co-captain of the ultimate Frisbee team. And he’s only a sophomore.
A little more than a year after their first meeting, Stelter and Lindner presented their research at an international conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. They studied what factors were necessary for a climate of sustainability at small liberal arts colleges. Stelter was the only undergraduate presenter.
“With so many established scholars, it was intense, especially during the Q-and-A,” he says.
In spite of his undergraduate status, Stelter presented with poise, Lindner says. He entrusted the second-year student with a large chunk of the research, including disseminating the survey and putting together a literature review.
Lindner sees involving younger students as a wise investment. By the time first-year research students reach their senior year, they are true collaborators.
“By starting early, students learn to produce higher levels of research,” Lindner says, “and we can empower students with the tools they need to enter the job market at higher levels and be better citizens.”