Research, Partnerships and Internships

Central Michigan University students graduate career-ready.

At CMU, students are more than learners and faculty are more than teachers. Through mentorship and collaboration, CMU students and faculty are working together to identify and solve problems with worldwide impact, lead groundbreaking research, gain hands-on experience, and graduate career-ready.

There are experiential learning opportunities across all of CMU’s more than 200 undergraduate academic programs.

Students have access to the 227 laboratory facilities starting their freshman year on campus.

In those labs, students are examining antioxidants to find more effective ways to prevent cancer, studying the effects of stress and aging on reproduction to help to solve fertility problems, determining how to cut off energy to a cell’s mitochondrial DNA to stop the spread of diseases, and researching how to deliver DNA to cells affected by brain disorders to treat diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

“Being able to do cancer research at only 19 years old is amazing. I get to make a big difference,” said Gretchen Holtgrefe, a biochemistry major who started researching at CMU during her freshman year.

While researching with faculty, students are developing their critical thinking and problem-solving skills. They also are able to translate the concepts they learn in class to the real-world examples in front of them.

At CMU’s Biological Station on Beaver Island, students are working on Great Lakes preservation and conservation. Students are able to spend their summers researching ways to clean up potential environmental damage that might be caused by an accidental oil spill, conduct wetlands research through a grant from the EPA, and investigate what is causing the disappearance of Great Lakes whitefish in hopes of restoring their population.

CMU students have been cataloging and excavating a site at the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse in Port Huron, Michigan, since 2016. Students are able to engage with park visitors, sharing their findings and answering questions, providing career training for those hoping to pursue jobs in cultural resource management. Their work also helps preserve local heritage sites and creates a greater public appreciation for them.

CMU’s student-driven research also includes a mobile weather observation vehicle outfitted with computers and meteorological instruments to measure temperature, wind speed and direction, humidity, and more. This allows students to follow weather-related cold fronts and collect data about storms. CMU is the only Michigan university to have such a vehicle.

Students across campus are working collaboratively to help educators position themselves to help children cope with traumatic experiences called Adverse Childhood Experiences. Research has shown that children who have a high number of ACEs are more likely to struggle in school and have lifelong health effects. CMU students are working to empower people across the country with tools to not only understand the effects of ACEs but also counteract the negative experiences. CMU’s future educators are taking a trauma-informed approach to consider the root cause of student behavior and create safe learning spaces. Additionally, students participate in a workshop series where they learn about how stress and trauma affect brain development, what it can look like in their classrooms, and how to help children understand and cope with ACEs.

As a Creative Action Partner, CMU collaborates with the Traverse City Film Festival and provides students with on-site learning experiences and resume-building opportunities. CMU students earn internships with the festival, which is fully run by college students and volunteers. From keeping things running smoothly to producing real, meaningful pieces used throughout the event, students showcase the skills they’ve learned and walk away with film credit on their resumes. Not only does this take learning outside the lecture hall, it helps lay the foundation for a future career in film with finished, professional pieces that can be sent to potential employers.

With countless opportunities and hands-on experiences, it’s easy to see why more than 18,000 employers recruit CMU students. Their future starts at CMU. Fire Up Chips!

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