It rained the day that pharmacologist Allan Kalueff took neuroscience students for beignets and coffee in the French Quarter. The rain didn't matter, says Kalueff "After all, nothing can compete with talking science and drinking a good hot coffee."
Kalueff is just one of a number of faculty members who have taken advantage of the Provost's Undergraduate Activities Fund to get students out of the classroom for small-group events that are proving to be both popular and productive.
Faculty members have used the funds for a salsa dance lesson for a Spanish class, a swamp tour for an ecology class and a business class field trip to learn about competing ice cream and gelato shops on Magazine Street.
"Creativity is contagious," says Kalueff, "and some ideas, discussed during the field trips, may eventually lead to something very important for example, a new experiment."
An assistant professor in the pharmacology department, Kalueff took undergrads from TUNA, the Tulane University Neuroscience Association, on his field trip. Senior David Tien was among the group.
"We spent the afternoon talking about science, having fun, relaxing and getting to know each other better," Tien says. Along the way they talked about scientific discoveries and what was ahead after graduation.
For Kalueff, the outing was worth more than just encouraging faculty-student interaction. "Chances are that some students might find their future mentors."
The field trips "absolutely make a difference," adds Paula Morris, assistant professor in the Department of English. She takes classes out to dinner using the provost's fund, and finds that the informal get-togethers improve the atmosphere of her classes.
And that's exactly why the program is made available to faculty, says Mike Hogg, associate dean, who thinks students receive a richer educational experience when they can interact informally with peers and faculty members.