Monday, Sep 15, 2014
Five students received Undergraduate Research Scholar Awards worth $5,000
by Adam Grybowski
Tuition scholarships worth $5,000 each will help five students pursue research in the arts, sciences, economics and psychology this year. Announced in May, the recipients of the Undergraduate Research Scholar Awards will work directly with faculty as they pursue projects that go beyond ordinary coursework, such as sophomore Jessica Stanislawczyk’s research of Westminster’s role in U.S. Cold War foreign policy and senior Derek Lake’s examination of the impact of automation on the U.S. labor market.
In a letter to students, faculty and family members, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs DonnaJean Fredeen called receiving the scholarship a “monumental accomplishment.”
During the Cold War, the U.S. State Department sponsored tours for musicians — often jazz and avant-garde performers — to travel abroad, says Stanislawczyk ’17, a voice performance major in the Westminster College of the Arts (Westminster Choir College). In 1956 and ’57, the Westminster Choir traveled to 22 countries on a six-month State Department tour.
“This tour has not received much scholarly attention,” says Stanislawczyk, who is being advised by Associate Professor of Music History Eric Hung. “This research project will explore how the tour fit into Westminster’s mission, examine the experiences of faculty, administration, and students on that tour, and investigate how Westminster could have aided U.S. foreign policy.”
She plans to study primary sources in the Westminster archives, as well as secondary sources and oral histories.
Senior Brandon Enalls ’15, a biochemistry major in the College of Liberal Arts, Education and Sciences, is being advised by biology professor Kelly Bidle. Enalls will study enzymes that initiate programmed cell death, which is critical to the development of humans and other multi-cellular organisms. He will investigate these enzymes, called caspases, in single-celled organisms in the hopes of clarifying their biological roles and how they evolved.
Senior Derek Lake ’15, a finance and accounting major in the College of Business Administration, will research the impact of automation on the U.S. labor market. Lake, who’s being advised by economics professor Kelly Noonan, says that self-driving cars, automated equipment and sophisticated algorithms are some of the technology that threatens American jobs.
“There is as much incentive as ever for companies to automate business processes to maximize profits, therefore automation is inevitable,” Lake says. “How will the government deal with impending layoffs? What niches can displaced American workers fill to find employment? And will rapid automation of jobs in the United States ultimately drive down demand for products due to an impoverished class? Each of these questions will be addressed in my research.”
Senior Kelsey Carroll ’15, a theatre performance major in the Westminster College of the Arts (School of Fine and Performing Arts), is devising a one-woman show that will address the mistreatment of women and enacting social change through the arts.
“I will create this piece through collecting first-person interviews from women of all walks of life and then compiling a narrative of change, forgiveness and growth,” Carroll says. “I will also use movement and visual arts to help aid in the storytelling process.”
Carroll’s study will produce a final performance, script and article detailing her process.
Junior Nicolette Mateescu ’16, a psychology major in the College of Liberal Arts, Education, and Sciences, will conduct research on how well individuals with intellectual disabilities perform in the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test and two novel card sets. Mateescu will assess the accuracy and speed of sorting each card set by color, form and numerosity to determine the effects of familiarity and valence on sorting in children with intellectual disabilities.
“Results will advance understanding of the effects of environmental supports on performances of individuals with intellectual disabilities and will have implications for valid assessment of executive skills in this population,” says Mateescu, whose faculty advisor is Michael Carlin, associate professor of psychology.
The Undergraduate Research Scholar Awards program (URSA) was established during the 2003-04 academic year to encourage and reward excellence in independent student research and scholarship, to enhance collaborative work between students and faculty, and to heighten the intellectual atmosphere on campus.
Students interested in applying for an award should start planning early by discussing potential projects with a faculty sponsor. Applications are accepted in late March each year. More information on URSA is available at www.rider.edu/ursa.