Student/Faculty Teams Conduct Summer Research Projects

Fifteen Meredith College students worked with faculty mentors on undergraduate research projects this summer, supported by the Undergraduate Research Program.

The following students were selected to participate in these undergraduate research partnerships:

  • Bailey Birtchet, ’21, “America’s Problem of Authenticity: A Material Culture Approach to Ethical Design and Consumption,” with Professor of Religious and Ethical Studies Steven A. Benko.
  • Paola Cira, ’21, and Olivia Slack, ’22, “How do political attitudes vary between generations and between genders within generations?,” with Associate Professor of Political Science Whitney Ross Manzo and Professor of Political Science David McLennan.
  • Elena Blackwelder, ’23, “We Don’t Need Know Education: Character Education as Political Education,” with Professor of Religious and Ethical Studies Steven A. Benko.
  • Safa Ahmed, ’23, “Not your typical neuroatypical experience: Changing portrayals of neuroatypical individuals in popular media,”  with Professor of Religious and Ethical Studies Steven A. Benko.
  • Scout Burch, ’23, “She blinded me with science: Making sense of the biological, cultural, and ethical elements of romantic love,” with Professor of Religious and Ethical Studies Steven A. Benko.
  • Raynor Dail, ’22, “Who Do You Love?: “Love” and Other Terms in Abortion Rhetoric,” with Professor of Religious and Ethical Studies Steven A. Benko.
  • Jenna Curia, ’22, “Attachment and Resilience among the Young Adult Children of Opioid-Dependent Mothers,” with Professor of Psychology Cynthia Edwards.
  • Amyia Gorham, ’22,  and Hannah Porter, ’22, “Research on dress code policies,” with Assistant Professor of Child Development Pamela Norcross.
  • Jessica Jacks, ’21, “How did Mainhood contextualize Christianity for the Thai people?,” with Assistant Professor of History Amy O’Keefe.
  • Inaya Rivera, ’22, “Beverly Perdue Collection & Exhibit Initiative,” with Professor of History Dan Fountain.
  • Shefali Srivastava, ’21, “Synthesizing oxymatrine derivatives as potential HIV protease inhibitors,” with Professor of Chemistry Walda Powell
  • Devon Totherow, ’22, and Katherine Polaski, ’23,  “Reacting To The Past (RTTP) Camp,” with Assistant Professor of History Amy O’Keefe.

Summer research projects were conducted remotely this year. COVID meant that some of the projects had to be adapted.

Devin Totherow, ’22, explained how her project had to be overhauled in order to adapt to remote learning.

“Our original plan was to conduct a one-week history summer camp on Meredith’s campus for high school students and see for ourselves in-person how the classroom community was formed in an RTTP game,” Totherow said.

Instead, the team worked with an online RTTP class to see the development of the classroom community.

“At first, I was a bit disappointed that we weren’t able to hold our summer camp, but we all feel that our research will be more relevant now since remote learning has become the norm. We hope to develop a detailed resource for teachers and professors alike to use to understand how to better engage their students online with or without RTTP games,” Totherow said.

Summer provides a time for students to explore research for the first time, and for others to gain additional experience. Monetary stipends for summer research projects are funded by the Shepard K. Halsch Endowment for undergraduate research, allowing more students to participate.

“While I plan on attending law school, I have also been interested in doing research,” said Olivia Slack, ’22. “I’m so thankful for the opportunity to work with Dr. Manzo and Dr. McLennan because they are both incredibly knowledgeable about their field and, as a newcomer to research, their guidance has been invaluable.”

Jenna Curia, ’22, has been a summer research grant recipient for two years.

“I was privileged to be able to expand my knowledge of qualitative and quantitative methodology, continue to explore my research interests, and work with Dr. Edwards and the MEALS Psychology Lab,” said Curia. “Working on a research project with a faculty member over the summer allows for one-on-one instruction and mentoring while giving extra focus to data collection, analyses, and preparations for presentations and publications throughout the academic year.”

Undergraduate research is an important part of the academic experience at Meredith College. Fifty-one percent of students participate in undergraduate research.

Melyssa Allen

News Director
316 Johnson Hall
(919) 760-8087
Fax: (919) 760-8330