Student Spotlights: Caitlin Garrabrant and Katerine Mamay

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Caitlin Garrabrant and Katerina Mamay

 How did you decide on the topic of your research?

Our professor was studying transparency and we were also interested in debt forgiveness.  We decided to study the relationship between the two variables as part of our freshman proseminar.

How did you become involved in research?

We were enrolled in Professor Vreeland’s research proseminar in the SFS.

What was your favorite part about the research process?

Our favorite part was engaging with others in our class to talk about different projects and give and receive feedback.

What was the most challenging part of the research process?

As freshmen, we had to learn how to use Stata to analyze our numerical data.  We also had absolutely no experience presenting research.

What was the most unexpected part of the research process?

We actually started studying the opposite effect (how transparency affects debt forgiveness) and realized that it would be more interesting to study the effect of conditionality in debt forgiveness on transparency.

How was Georgetown able to support you during the research process?

Professor Vreeland was our mentor during the class and has continued to support us after the semester ended.

The Georgetown University Undergraduate Research Symposium, and the university as a whole, is committed to fostering interdisciplinary, intellectual dialogue. What is one experience that you have had at Georgetown that reflects this commitment?

The class we were in combined economics, international relations, and statistics.  This was our first semester at Georgetown and the proseminar was a crash course in all of these subjects.  The small group setting allowed us to engage in discussion and learn from our peers as well as our professor.

Describe your research in one sentence.

Does conditional debt forgiveness incentivize increased government transparency?

What is your advice for other undergraduates who are interested in pursuing research at Georgetown?

Continue with research even when it doesn’t have results on the first try.  We worked throughout the semester to get significant findings and better analysis of our data.

Student Spotlight: Gianna Maita

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Gianna Maita

How did you decide on the topic of your research?

I knew that I wanted to do research in DC for my senior thesis so that I could learn more about where I’ve lived for four years and so that doing field research would be more feasable. At first, I wasn’t sure what to learn about. But then I remembered a short article that I read while studying abroad about how the place where I was staying was physically segregated by the transportation system of the town. As I read, I recall thinking about how similar this sounded to Washington, DC. So I decided to explore transit in DC with the same critical eye as the author of the article.

 How did you become involved in research?

I had the opportunity to do research first as an Education and Social Justice Fellow with the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs and the Center for Social Justice. For this specific project, I am required to do a senior thesis project for my major, Justice and Peace Studies. I’m glad to have the opportunity, though, because I would like to continue doing research!

What was your favorite part about the research process?

I love collecting qualitative data by speaking with people. I think it is really cool to meet new people and learn from them, and I think it makes people happy to know that what they think is valuable to what I am writing. It’s particularly fun because often someone will say something in an interview that gives me a good idea right then and there. It’s not the same kind of “brain blast” I can get from reading a book, because the person with all the information about what they think is right in front of me. I can ask more questions to clarify and sometimes the interview turns into a more casual but incredibly interesting conversation. That’s when it is the most fun, and I often walk out feeling like I have made a new friend and learned something new.

What was the most challenging part of the research process?

Recently, the most challenging part has been finding subjects. With interviews, it’s pretty easy, because you set an appointment with an individual; if they don’t show up they will clearly be missed. But focus groups are different. I just held a focus group where I spoke to all the participants over the phone, and called them a second time the day before the focus group to confirm that they could make it. Even then, only one person showed up.

What was the most unexpected part of the research process?

The amount of information there is about my topic that won’t even make it into my final paper is definitely unexpected! For example, although I am researching transit and social cohesion, a lot of my argument relies on substantive knowledge of gentrification. Even though it is only a small piece, I read extensively into the literature, and I’m going to have to cut lots of things about gentrification out of my first draft.

How was Georgetown able to support you during the research process?

Since my project is a senior thesis, I have had lots of support in this process. All of the Justice and Peace majors in my class took a seminar last semester to help us get our feet on the ground. Now each of us has an individual thesis mentor who we meet with regularly; mine is Dr. Andria Wisler, and I could not have asked for a better mentor. The librarians in Lau are also amazingly helpful, as anyone at Georgetown who has done research should know. The cool thing about my research project is that it overlaps with urban planning, for which there is a Master’s program in Georgetown’s School of Continuing Studies (SCS). That means that I have been able to go to the SCS campus downtown for a few lectures and to meet with the urban planning faculty and the librarian in the SCS library. Even though I’m an undergrad from Main Campus, they have been very supportive of me there as well.

Describe your research in one sentence.

Through interviews and focus groups, I am testing what potential the DC Streetcar, as a form of transit that crosses gentrified areas and invisible borders between people of different races and classes of Washington, DC, has to foster social cohesion between Georgetown and Benning as it puts riders in contact with residents from neighborhoods, possibly forcing them to face new realities, break down prejudices, and increase empathy.

What is your advice for other undergraduates who are interested in pursuing research at Georgetown?

Think about things that are taken for granted in the world around you and question them. If you make that the starting point for your research, you are bound to immerse yourself in a topic worth exploring. And don’t be afraid to talk to others about what you are learning! Even if they are not “experts,” they will likely ask questions you have not thought of yet.

Student Spotlight: Emily Coccia

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Emily Coccia

How did you decide on the topic of your research?

I started working with my research topic during my Literary History I course with Mimi Yiu. While reading Beowulf, I kept thinking about the similarities between Grendel and Caliban from Shakespeare’s The Tempest. While the two works were written during very different historical moments, both include a “monster” whose villainy seems to have been transmitted through the matrilineal line. Both characters seem condemned through overly close connections to their mothers without a father figure to mitigate that influence. Obviously these readings work well within a psychoanalytic critical tradition, but I was more interested in their implications from a critical feminist perspective. Over the semesters, this developed into an interest in the depictions of sons of absent male fathers, the historical evolution of obstetric theory, and theoretical explorations of motherhood. Eventually, finding the term “memetic fertility” in Valerie Rohy’s queer theory essay, “On Homosexual Reproduction” finally provided me with the term for the concept of women’s threating ideological influence that I had been fixating on in so many of my essays. From this point, it was just a matter of picking which Shakespeare texts to use, so I decided to draw from one comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, to show what happens when the threat is subsumed, and two tragedies, Macbeth and Coriolanus, to consider the differences between wife and genetic mother.

How did you become involved in research?

I first became involved in research through the Carroll Fellows Initiative. During the Forum, all students undertake a two-semester independent research project. I investigated how the implementation of Eating Disorders Awareness Week programming on university campus affected rates of eating disorders, including formal diagnoses and self-reported diagnoses and behaviors, among 18-24 year old female students.

What was your favorite part about the research process?

As nerdy as this might sound, I’ve loved getting to throw myself into some of my favorite Shakespeare plays. I had already done quite a bit of work with Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but this was my first chance to engage in critical scholarship with Coriolanus in a meaningful way.

What was the most challenging part of the research process?

The most challenging part has been making sure that I’m not missing an existing work on the topic. Especially with an author as extensively studied as Shakespeare, I’m constantly running back to Lau to check out a new book or searching MLA and JSTOR with a new combination of subject terms to make sure that I haven’t missed an author who might have already written about my topic. It’s probably a bit of paranoia (and definitely a form of procrastination), but it’s been challenging nonetheless.

What was the most unexpected part of the research process?

I think I’ve been most surprised by the importance of attitude and other people on my productivity. When my to-do list just reads, “Write thesis,” it’s almost impossible to get into a productive mindset, but surrounding myself with people who are either writing theses themselves or are willing to do work next to me just to keep me accountable (and off Facebook) has been an immense help. Smaller research projects always seemed more doable, especially because they had shorter timelines, but writing a thesis has taught me how important it is to find manageable goals along the way, even if it’s just a day to proofread something I already wrote.

How was Georgetown able to support you during the research process?

I’ve had absolutely wonderful faculty mentors in the English department. From my official advisor, Professor Kaplan, who has read and critiqued too many drafts to count, to my numerous unofficial mentors who have helped by talking to me during office hours and sending me helpful readings, I could not have gotten where I am without their help.

The Georgetown University Undergraduate Research Symposium, and the university as a whole, is committed to fostering interdisciplinary, intellectual dialogue. What is one experience that you have had at Georgetown that reflects this commitment?

While I’ve certainly seen professors encourage these sorts of conversations in the classroom, I have been most impressed by the sort of attitude that this environment has inspired in students. As a member of Philodemic Society, I’ve seen students from across the disciplines come together every Thursday night to bring their own intellectual perspective to the resolution up for debate. I’m consistently impressed by the members of the Society and the passion that we all have for what we study. While the night’s individual topic often lends itself more easily to certain disciplines, I’ve been impressed by watching students introduce paradigms from fields like history, economics, and international relations into philosophical and even literary debates.

Describe your research in one sentence.

I’m exploring Shakespeare’s depictions of three powerful female characters—Volumnia, Lady Macbeth, and Titania—exerting (or threatening to exert, in Titania’s case) memetic fertility, or ideological influence, over the men in their lives and how that could be seen as both working within and subverting existing paradigms for controlling women in early modern England.

What is your advice for other undergraduates who are interested in pursuing research at Georgetown?

While this advice is hard to remember in the moment, don’t get discouraged by dead ends. When it looks like someone has already written the essay you wanted to write or done the lab that you designed, try to recognize it a jumping off point where you can build on existing research either by taking it a step further or complicating a conclusion.

Student Spotlight: Caleb Morrel

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Caleb Morrel

How did you decide on the topic of your research?

My freshman seminar in the School of Foreign Service dealt with the question of the history of American church-state relations and I guess you could say I have been on that track ever since. The Baptists stand out in the history of American church-state relations for their commitment to the separation of church and state. Today, however, many Baptists seem concerned or at least distrustful of the idea of separation of church and state. As a Baptist myself, I have been interested in understanding historic teaching of Baptists on church and state to see what Baptists in our present time can learn from their doctrine and their example.

How did you become involved in research?

I became involved in research through the Carroll Fellows Initiative where I conducted a research project during my Freshman and Sophomore year on the original meaning of “Separation of Church and State” according to primary sources written between 1770-1790. I presented this research at the Research Conference last year. This year I wanted to build off of the research I began last year by expanding my study to understand the particularly religious arguments for the separation of church and state.

What was your favorite part about the research process?

Digging up primary sources that I feel no one has explored or taken seriously and trying to make sense of them for myself. I feel like a detective when researching: I’m trying to find clues to make sense of historical developments.

What was the most challenging part of the research process?

When I realize that I’ve gone down a dead end or that I’ve been wrong about something and need to shift my focus or change my conclusions. It’s humbling, difficult, and often discouraging, but it’s important to follow the “evidence” wherever it leads.

What was the most unexpected part of the research process?

Finding the evidence to support my theory in Roger Williams. He’s such a famous Baptist that I had overlooked him in my initial research, instead focusing on more obscure authors. Instead, I found that he had already articulated the argument I was trying to make: the right way for Christians to read the Old Testament (their “hermeneutic”) precludes the possibility of an established state religion and instead warrants religious toleration.

How was Georgetown able to support you during the research process?

I received support and advice from relevant Georgetown professors in the field as well as suggestions for where to look for sources.

The Georgetown University Undergraduate Research Symposium, and the university as a whole, is committed to fostering interdisciplinary, intellectual dialogue. What is one experience that you have had at Georgetown that reflects this commitment?

I was able to draw from several disciplines to make this research project happen, including History, Theology, and Political Science. The research would have been profoundly lacking if any of these disciplines had been lacking.

Describe your research in one sentence.

Studying the early English Baptists reveals a powerful and internally coherent religious justification for an institutional separation between church and state based on the distinctly Baptist doctrine of believers baptism.

What is your advice for other undergraduates who are interested in pursuing research at Georgetown?

Follow the evidence where it leads and don’t be afraid to admit that you’re wrong and start over again.

Student Spotlight: Julia Butz

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Julia Butz                                                                                     

 How did you decide on the topic of your research?

I first became interested in American slavery in high school English when we read works like Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and Crèvecœur’s Letters from an American Farmer. My fascination with psychological aspects of American slavery, particularly how slave owners attempted to justify and reconcile human ownership, continued into college. During the spring of my sophomore year I took Professor Rothman’s North American Slavery course. For our final paper, we were asked to analyze interviews that were conducted with former slaves in the 1930s. I found that many of the subjects referenced having grown up in the ‘big house’ and was sincerely puzzled by this arrangement. I was motivated by the mystery I found here. 

How did you become involved in research?

After taking his course, I was a research assistant for Professor Rothman through the GUROP during my junior year. The primary sources I considered were relevant both to Professor Rothman’s research questions and to my own.

What was your favorite part about the research process?

One of the great cruelties of American slavery was that it limited people in individuality. Whether by the overarching denial of freedom, disregard for names and birthdates, lack of education, or otherwise, enslaved people were robbed of self-realization and often of expression. However insignificant in the grand scheme of justice, I enjoyed recognizing some of their individual voices through the interview archive, these 150 years later.

What was the most challenging part of the research process?

Perhaps the most challenging part of the research process was identifying where to look next. Given the volume of available information and the many angles from which to approach the subject, it was hard to determine a research path. The expertise of an advisor was particularly helpful in this regard.

What was the most unexpected part of the research process?

Thinking my topic was narrow and obscure, I was surprised to find that several scholars had already written on this subject. This was helpful, and at times frustrating, and taught me the value of pulling sources together in a new way to answer an existing question.

How was Georgetown able to support you during the research process?

Georgetown supported my research process through the American Studies Program, through GUROP, and through engaged teachers like Professor Rothman, Professor Seamon, and Professor Chatelain.

The Georgetown University Undergraduate Research Symposium, and the university as a whole, is committed to fostering interdisciplinary, intellectual dialogue. What is one experience that you have had at Georgetown that reflects this commitment?

One of the most remarkable experiences I have had in college was attending a workshop in which we considered the abolition of slavery as a moral innovation. The seminar was held by Georgetown’s Berkley Center as part of the Normative Orders Collaborative. Using Professor Rothman’s book Beyond Freedom’s Reach as a platform, academics from numerous disciplines sat around a conference table and discussed why and how abolition occurred. A humbled observer, I was amazed by the interdisciplinary discourse, and also by my ability to keep up with the conversation. The workshop made me feel inspired and empowered as a student and seemed to epitomize the purpose of academia.

Describe your research in one sentence.

My research attempts to explain why American slave owners sometimes assigned select slave children to live in the white household, rather than in the slave quarters, in the years leading up the Civil War.

What is your advice for other undergraduates who are interested in pursuing research at Georgetown?

It has been rewarding for me to have ownership of my own research questions, even as I have worked with Professor Rothman. If you find yourself with specific curiosity in class, I would encourage you to approach your professor about collaboration. Hopefully that professor will be able to guide you, but you will be driven by your own questioning.

STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: Meet JiaYi Xiao

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JiaYi Xiao

How did you decide on the topic of your research?

 I am a student-athlete on Georgetown Women’s Golf Team, and therefore have always wanted to do research on sports-related topics. I was initially going to look at the differences in community sports development between China and US, but gave up on that topic since I found out later that community sport was in its very preliminary status in China.

     Playing golf has greatly changed who I am and how I tackle with daily matters, so I thought it might be a good alternative to focus on the psychological influence of sports instead of its community aspect. That was how I came up with the idea of conducting research on how sport participation affects people’s mental health in China.

How did you become involved in research? 

I applied for 2014 McDonough Undergraduate Research Fellowship.

What was your favorite part about the research process?

My favorite part of the research was conducting the focus group in Foshan, China. Since I had not taken any Marketing class at that point, setting up a focus group and being a moderator was a great challenge for me. I did a lot of research on how to effectively prepare for and lead a group of people, and I remember how nervous I was that day. Fortunately the focus group turned out to be great and I collected many valuable insights on the topic that I focused on.

What was the most challenging part of the research process?

Like I mentioned above, using marketing research methods that I haven’t tried or learned before was quite challenging. What’s more, at the beginning of the research I needed to distribute some paper questionnaires to students from a local university. It was hard to break the social and psychological barriers to talk to those people that I didn’t know and to encourage them to answer the survey. Throughout the process I needed to talk to different people and deal with emergencies. I have learned a lot on how to interact with others.

What was the most unexpected part of the research process?

I didn’t expect to learn so much through the research process.

How was Georgetown able to support you during the research process?

I have received a lot of support from Georgetown, especially from MSB. I was required to find a faculty mentor to assist me throughout the process, and he was very helpful in recommending research methods. I also received research grant from MSB, and with this grant I was able to reach out to a larger population and to validate my data.

The Georgetown University Undergraduate Research Symposium, and the university as a whole, is committed to fostering interdisciplinary, intellectual dialogue. What is one experience that you have had at Georgetown that reflects this commitment?

My research itself has reflected this commitment. Even though it was supported by MSB, my research wasn’t entirely focused on the business industry. However, my mentor and other MSB faculty were very supportive and helpful along the way. What they were really looking for was the process and experience of conducting a research.

Describe your research in one sentence.

My research was about how sport participation affects people’s mental health in China.

What is your advice for other undergraduates who are interested in pursuing research at Georgetown?

It might sound intimidating and challenging to come up with a research idea on your own and actually conduct a research, but it is much easier if you break it down into smaller steps and really committed to each of them. Conducting a research is a really good way to apply what you have learned in school as well as to learn outside of the classrooms.

Student Spotlight: Brittany Neihardt

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Brittany Neihardt

How did you decide on the topic of your research?

My research topic was inspired by my position as a Doyle Engaging Difference Fellow with the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs. In addition, I love reading and believe that works of fiction can be very powerful. Thus, I combined the two interests into a project that would examine the ability of fiction to influence the reader’s perception of a religion.

How did you become involved in research?

I did research in high school and I am currently in a political data class. Independent and original research is also a required component of my fellowship.

What was your favorite part about the research process?

This may sound odd but I like crunching the numbers. I think one of the most fascinating processes in research is coming up with original ways to look at the data, different tests to run, and new statistics to apply. Your conclusions will come directly from your data analysis but the most creative element (other than topic development) is deciding how you want to use the data you’ve just collected.

What was the most challenging part of the research process?

My particular project includes surveys. By far, the most challenging aspect of my project was creating those surveys. Crafting the questions asked in a survey requires precision and care. A small change in phrasing will change how the subject interprets and responds to the question. I had to be careful with my word choice so that all the survey respondents would interpret the question in the same way (and in the way I had intended the question to be asked).

What was the most unexpected part of the research process?

Since my project asks many personal and controversial questions, I was concerned about the sincerity of the subjects’ responses. I wanted to be sure that students answered truthfully, even if that answer is not necessarily considered a popular opinion. Of course, I cannot know how many students were sincere in their answers. However, after looking at the preliminary responses, it seems like students were open and honest about their opinions. I was pleasantly surprised (and grateful) to see such candid answers to difficult questions.

How was Georgetown able to support you during the research process?

I have received a lot of support from the Georgetown community throughout my research process. First and foremost, my mentors at the Berkley Center (Melody Fox Ahmed and Sara Singha) helped me develop my research concept and asked me question that would encourage me to challenge my ideas and think critically. I also met with University professors that offered advice on how to best construct my surveys. Finally, my research is being conducted within the Georgetown community. Professors have graciously allowed me to come into their classrooms and use their class time to administer my surveys.

The Georgetown University Undergraduate Research Symposium, and the university as a whole, is committed to fostering interdisciplinary, intellectual dialogue. What is one experience that you have had at Georgetown that reflects this commitment?

As I mentioned above, professors have offered me a lot of helpful advice and recommendations for pursuing this research project. One particular example clearly demonstrates Georgetown’s commitment to interdisciplinary dialogue. I am currently in a political data class with Professor Wesley Joe from the Government Department. Professor Joe met with me outside of office hours to review the surveys I had created and to offer helpful tips for collecting and analyzing my data. While my project is not included in his area of study, he was extremely willing to assist me in my project and my data collection has become much more efficient as a result.

Describe your research in one sentence.

I am analyzing how reading fiction that includes religious themes and imagery can affect the reader’s perception of those religions by administering surveys to students before and after they read the text.

What is your advice for other undergraduates who are interested in pursuing research at Georgetown?

My first piece of advice is to 1) pursue your research interests and 2) start early. I think it is a shame when students choose not to pursue what can be very interesting and rewarding research experience. Secondly, if a student starts sooner rather than later, the student will be less stressed and the results will be more involved and in-depth.

Schedule of Events

SURG 2015 Tentative Schedule of Events

Thursday, April 16th
10:45AM – 11PM Check-in Fisher Colloquium
11AM – 12:30PM Posters Presentations Fisher Colloquium
12:45PM – 1:30PM Keynote Speaker Lohrfink Auditorium
1:30PM – 2PM Lunch Lohrfink Auditorium
2PM – 3:30PM Posters Presentations Fisher Colloquium
Friday, April 17th
11:00AM – 11:30AM Check-in HFSC Social Room
11:30AM – 12:00PM Lunch/Awards HFSC Social Room
12:00PM – 1:30PM Student Keynote Speakers HFSC Social Room
1:45PM – 2:45PM Panel Presentations ICC Classrooms
3PM – 4PM Panel Presentations ICC Classrooms

Student Spotlight: Caroline Seabolt

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Our ninth student spotlight features Caroline Seabolt, who is a member of the Georgetown College of Arts and Sciences Class of 2014 majoring in American Studies. Her research focuses on the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.
How did you become involved in research at Georgetown?

I became involved in research through the American Studies major. The program places a serious emphasis on the Senior Thesis as significant component of the major, so I knew I was going to get involved in research since my sophomore year. The American Studies department does a fabulous job helping you foster your own individual research interests, and helping you pursue those towards a Senior Thesis.

What was your favorite part about the research process?

In the fall I was able to travel to the museum in Bentonville, Arkansas and conduct first hand interviews with members of the museum staff.  Getting to see the museum that I was writing about and hear about it firsthand from the people who help run it was pretty amazing.  I even got to meet and have lunch with the founder of the museum, Alice Walton! It was a very special weekend that I will remember for a long time.

How was Georgetown able to support you during the research process?

All year I have been in a very structured thesis class dedicated to helping us research and write.  We have gone over everything step by step from shaping our initial research question, to our method of research, to the final product.  I have also had amazing support from my advisor, who has met with me every week since the fall. Special thanks also goes out to my TA and my American Studies classmates!

The Georgetown University Undergraduate Research Symposium, and the university as a whole, is committed to fostering interdisciplinary, intellectual dialogue. What is one experience that you have had at Georgetown that reflects this commitment?

There is a chapter in my thesis where I discuss the importance of the museum’s art collection that I feel is very interdisciplinary and also reflective of my experience at Georgetown as an American Studies major and Art History minor. For my analysis I used skills I developed in my Art History and American Studies courses, as well as previous internships to argue that Crystal Bridges displays one of the most comprehensive collections of American Art created in the past 50 years.  Being able to combine all three of these experiences to make an argument has been a really cool part of my research process.

Describe your research in one sentence.

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is big deal and everyone should know it.

What is your advice for other undergraduates who are interested in pursuing research at Georgetown?

Find something you truly are passionate about and go all in. After that, speak to as many Professors in the related field as you can. Once you get set on a topic or subject you love, everything else after becomes so much easier, and fun!

Student Spotlight: Allie Van Dine

Our eighth studHeadshotent spotlight features Allie Van Dine, who is a member of the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service Class of 2014 majoring in International Politics.  Her research focuses on nuclear proliferation.
How did you become involved in research at Georgetown?

I became involved in research at Georgetown through the IPOL Honors Thesis program.

What was your favorite part about the research process?

Regarding the research itself, it’s really exciting to be able to pinpoint an area of the discipline I’ve studied for the last four years that I believe needs more exploration and do that exploring myself.  As a result of my twin passions for international security and the performing arts, the role of the individual in international relations is particularly fascinating to me.  It weaves theory, narrative, and policy together in a challenging and exciting way that is not sufficiently explored in IR literature today.  So getting to explore that has been awesome.  Also, the cohort of the ten of us in the program has been really amazing–I can’t believe we haven’t all been best friends for our whole time at Georgetown.  Everyone is really supportive, looks out for one another, and are amazing people to hang out with and bounce ideas off of.

How was Georgetown able to support you during the research process?

The IPOL program is great because we get to have a class in the fall to set us on the right track before we’re set loose in the Spring, so that’s been very helpful.  Dean Arsenault and Dean Billingslea, the IPOL deans, have been amazing as well–they’re always willing to work with us and sit down, be it to look at a draft or talk through our concerns.

The Georgetown University Undergraduate Research Symposium, and the university as a whole, is committed to fostering interdisciplinary, intellectual dialogue. What is one experience that you have had at Georgetown that reflects this commitment?

A lot of what I do with Mask & Bauble, actually, has turned into some amazing interdisciplinary and intellectual dialogue.  The very nature of the arts makes it a means to understanding; yes, it’s a discipline unto itself, but it also holds this amazing power to humanize really abstract concepts or difficult conversations in a way that makes them accessible and relatable to a lot of people.  Last year, one of my friends, T. Chase Meacham (COL ‘14), had the opportunity to have a play he wrote, Polk Street, co-produced by M&B and nomadictheatre.  Polk Street was an adaptation of oral histories Chase had heard on NPR that addressed the gentrification of the Tenderloin district in San Francisco.  Seeing the Tenderloin and all of its stories come to life in the Walsh Blackbox theater gave audience members a glimpse at the darker side of gentrification, the people whose voices are taken away and whose struggles are muted by a society that doesn’t know enough to care.  It pressed audience members to think about everything from public policy to human sexuality to the AIDS crisis in a new way–because now you could put a face and a story to these larger, more abstract concepts.  And this show was completely put together by Georgetown students.  That’s pretty amazing that we can do that kind of thing here.

Describe your research in one sentence.

If you can have friends and influence people, you don’t have to use nuclear proliferation to get them.

What is your advice for other undergraduates who are interested in pursuing research at Georgetown?

Don’t feel like you’re not qualified to do it.  If you believe that something can and should be explored, take it upon yourself to do it.  There are plenty of faculty here that are willing to mentor and talk with you, even if you’ve never been in a class with them.  For example, I never took a class with my advisor, Professor Kroenig.  I sent him an email to ask if I could stop by and talk through some of my ideas with him, and a couple of weeks later he was officially my thesis advisor.  Even if you’re doing more informal personal research, professors are always willing to sit down and talk.