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Undergraduates Celebrate Their Research and Creative Work Awards
“Euphoria” is how Cathryn Newton, senior advisor to the Chancellor and provost for faculty engagement, described the atmosphere at Bird Library last Thursday afternoon, when scores of undergraduate research and creative grant recipients gathered to celebrate their success. The 103 students whose projects were selected represent the first cohort of awardees funded by Syracuse University’s new Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Engagement, known as The SOURCE. An additional 23 students were funded through Renée Crown University Honors Program awards.
There were high fives, hugs and balloons as joyful students, faculty mentors and staff shared sentiments of gratitude and pride. “Their enthusiasm and energy is truly infectious,” said Kate Hanson, newly appointed director of The SOURCE, which was created through a collaboration of the Student Association, the University Senate Research Committee, the Renée Crown University Honors Program, the Center for Fellowship and Scholarship Advising, and University faculty.
Several distinguished alumni attended the event to congratulate the students and reinforce the value of undergraduate research. Among them was Dr. Sharon Brangman ’77, a trailblazing physician and renowned expert in the field of ethno-geriatrics who has been a member of the faculty at Upstate Medical University since 1989. “It is important that undergraduate Syracuse University researchers know that they are joining a wonderful lineage of successful pioneers who started their careers with research in college,” said Hanson.
Other notable guests highlighting the significance of undergraduate research were Jeffrey Mangram ’88, G’89, Ph.D.’06, professor of education and provost’s faculty fellow; Linda Ivany ’88, professor of earth sciences; Samuel Gorovitz, professor of philosophy and founding director of the Renée Crown University Honors Program; and Barry L. Wells, special assistant to the Chancellor.
“It’s an amazing feeling to have people not only believe in what I’m doing but invest in my future,” said Naiya Campbell, a junior communication and rhetorical studies major in the College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA). The Miami native received an academic-year grant to research the creative forces of her generation through the lens of race, media and storytelling.
Amelia Lefevre, a junior writing major in the College of Arts and Sciences, titled her grant proposal “Healing Place, Bringing Justice.” “As a single mom and nontraditional 30-year-old bachelor’s degree student, I’m very excited to be supported in this way,” Lefevre said. “This is important for my professional development, and I believe my work will produce significant contributions for creating social justice.”
Aadrien Thayaparan, a junior civil engineering majoring in the College of Engineering and Computer Science, received a summer grant to develop a digital sensor he will deploy in Skaneateles Lake to test water quality, algae presence and other issues.
Prentice Bufkin Jr., said: “It means a lot to me to be in the first cohort of SOURCE research scholars. It’s a culmination of hard work and personal growth that has been rewarded in a way that gives me an opportunity really embrace and demonstrate my abilities.” The junior studio arts/printmaking major in VPA will focus on the use of piezography, a process employed in photography to increase tonal range.
Each student will be working in partnership with a faculty mentor who will guide their research and original creative work to completion. The SOURCE office in Bird Library is staffed with student research mentors who will provide additional one-on-one assistance to students as their projects progress. This advocacy is especially meaningful in fulfilling the intent of the University’s Academic Strategic Plan, which is built on a strong commitment to multicultural support.
“Our mission of diversity and inclusion was beautifully shown,” said Newton, who led a team of faculty, administrators, students and staff in launching the program after years of planning and a $1 million annual commitment from the University. “Our team is excited about working with the students to refine their timetable and specific research needs,” she noted. “We envision a lively campus this summer!”