I mentioned in an earlier post that I had participated in the Butler Summer Institute, a chance for those particularly academic minded students to work closely with a professor on research for 9 weeks in the summer.
The program is fantastic because it is open not only to scientific research (about 20 students are involved in the sciences) but also to the humanities (10 spots total). This keeps the options nearly limitless–projects range from psychology to comparative literature analysis to the study of C. elegans (a worm, I think).
My project was peculiar: being a Creative Writing Major, I engaged in a creative project. For nine weeks I developed and wrote a science fiction novel. This may seem like a frivolous use of the program, but I was engaging in the literary discussion that exists through several works of science fiction, including the work of Mary Shelly, Phillip K. Dick, and H.G. Wells. I ended up with an 80 page draft of the first half of the novel. What this should tell you is that the program gives all sorts of students with ambitious ideas an avenue to pursue them.