NU students take advantage of summer research opportunities

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Sophomore Communications student Samantha Miheve found inspiration in the set of unique characters from the TV show “Parks and Recreation.” This summer, Miheve is scripting his own political sitcom, which follows college students navigating local politics.

Miheve is one of 211 participants in this year’s Summer Undergraduate Fellowship. SURG is a way for students to invest time and energy in research projects that interest them while school is out of session.

Through the Office of Undergraduate Research, SURG students received a $4,000 stipend to cover living expenses as they pursued independent projects for eight weeks. The grant is awarded through an application process that involves a two-page project proposal.

Our Associate Director, Megan Wood, said research allows students to further explore their academic interests. SURG gives students the opportunity to oversee all stages of their research methodology, she said.

“Fundamentally, a lot of research rarely goes as planned,” Wood said. “The beauty of research is what you learn along the way and how you have to adapt.”

About half of the awards fund STEM-related projects, and the rest go to projects in the social sciences, journalism, humanities and performance, Wood said. Research takes different forms depending on the field, she added. This year’s submissions included an opera adaptation, a measure of genetic diversity and more.

For Miheve’s project, she plans to write a television series centered on college students campaigning for mayor of a small town. Miheve said she first pitched her idea for a TV series to her Theater 340: Comedy/Culture class, later developing it into her SURG proposal.

Frustrated with the current state of politics, Miheve said she wanted to create a TV series featuring characters in their twenties that her generation could relate to.

“There haven’t been any super recent (political sitcoms) that really speak to our generation,” Miheve said. “What I want to bring to this is a younger voice, a fresher perspective.”

Weinberg’s second student, Kenny Ryu, another SURG recipient, uses game theory to analyze student behavior in the college admissions system. Ryu said his research was inspired by the college admissions process in South Korea, where he attended high school.

In South Korea, applicants can only apply to three colleges and admissions are based solely on college entrance exam results, Ryu said. Because of these limitations, applicants tend to avoid risk and apply to schools where they believe they have a good chance of being accepted, Ryu said.

Ryu recalled seeing his high school friends struggling to decide where to apply to college. He said he hopes his research can lead to policy interventions for a better admissions system.

“Instead of applying to schools where (my peers) wanted to go and wanted to study, I saw them making sacrifices and compromises,” Ryu said. “The goal of all college admissions should be to maximize student welfare rather than disadvantage them.”

In the fall of 2021, Ryu took a class with economics professor Eddie Dekel. The class taught Ryu how to model everyday human behavior through math.

Ryu said Dekel’s class helped him achieve his academic interests. For his project, Ryu plans to create a mathematical model that reflects current issues such as college admissions.

SURG is just one of many resources students can use to find research opportunities. While OUR operates through the Provost’s Office, the schools also offer summer scholarships, such as the Leopold Scholarship at the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and the McCormick School of Engineering and Science Summer Fellowships. Applied Science.

Evan Burleigh, a freshman at Weinberg, was awarded the Weinberg Summer Fellowship to continue working as a research assistant for a sixth-year Ph.D. candidate Clayton Rische at the Scott Lab, studying mast cells in the treatment of cancer. To apply for the award, Burleigh wrote a two-page proposal and found a faculty sponsor, he said.

Burleigh said summer research takes longer than research during the rest of the academic year because he doesn’t have classes. During the year, Burleigh was involved in a project, helping to maintain cell cultures in the laboratory. But with more free time over the summer, Burleigh became involved in the other research his mentor was working on, he said.

Burleigh, who studies biology and data science, said his research assistance complements what he learns in the classroom. He said his experience in the lab gives him insight into what research is all about, helping him assess whether he wants to pursue it in the future.

“Biology is such a broad field that there are so many different things you can explore,” Burleigh said. “Having the opportunity to focus on what I think is cool is an incredible opportunity.”

E-mail: [email protected]

Twitter: @JessicaMa2025

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