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Undergraduate Research Grants Open New Opportunities for Students
Ashanti Hunter and Michelle Ho, inclusive early childhood and special education seniors in the School of Education, are engaged in research with Professor George Theoharis on the pipeline to educational leadership positions for women of color for building and school administrators and district administrators, respectively.
Zachary Ginkel, a senior biology major in the College of Arts and Sciences, is studying acoustic detection of lameness in horses and mentored by Professor Susan Parks.
Isabelle Collins, a senior fashion design major in the College of Visual and Performing Arts working with Professor Todd Conover, is studying authentically sustainable fashion during a semester abroad at the University of the Arts in London.
All were spring 2021 recipients of undergraduate research grants from SOURCE, Syracuse University’s undergraduate research center that fosters and supports diverse undergraduate participation in faculty-guided scholarly research and creative inquiry.
Undergraduate research grants help breathe life into student participation in the research and discovery enterprise of the University and support students from all disciplines across campus. During the 2020-21 academic year, SOURCE and the Renée Crown University Honors Program funded 167 awards for individual or team projects.
Students interested in research funding for the spring 2022 semester are invited to apply for SOURCE and Honors Program grants this fall. This cycle includes application to the Spinoza Grant, which supports undergraduate research that explores philosophical aspects of issues within the sciences or other professional disciplines.
The SOURCE and Honors Program grants are for student-designed projects, guided by a faculty mentor, with a timeline that could include spring 2022 only, or spring and/or summer 2022. Awards will be up to $5,000 for spring projects or up to $7,500 for spring and summer projects, and budgets may include supplies, participant compensation, essential research travel, conference fees, student payroll or summer stipend. Applications must include a research proposal, timeline, budget, transcript, resume and recommendation from the faculty mentor.
A required Intent to Apply form is due by Thursday, Sept. 30, and the complete application is due Thursday, Oct. 14. Learn more here.
SOURCE and the Honors Program will offer multiple proposal-writing workshops and drop-in hours to review and give feedback on draft application materials. The schedule can be found on the University Events Calendar.
Another application cycle will be held in February/March 2022 for SOURCE and Honors Program grants.
Within their research, Hunter and Ho are exploring and documenting the experiences of women of color who are K-12 school principals and district administrators. They hope their findings can help promote diversity in these roles and break down barriers.
“My research project is going well. I’ve been exposed to conversations that I probably wouldn’t have engaged in if it wasn’t for this research project,” says Hunter. “As a woman of color and future educator, I think it’s extremely important for me to understand these perspectives so that when I am in the field, I can create some expectations and prepare for what I may encounter.”
Regarding their research, Hunter says slow and steady wins the race. “The progress of the research isn’t moving too fast, however, I think it’s perfect because it allows me time to work effectively, to become more creative and to work on becoming a better listener. “
Ho says that she and Hunter have made progress toward creating portraits for some of their participants. “Our portraits will be used for our University Council for Educational Administration conference this fall and hopefully a School of Education event in the spring where we can highlight our participants and their incredible stories.”
The SOURCE grant has helped Hunter and Ho fund technological supplies and to reach out to more participants. “Since there is such limited literature on women of color as district leaders, having the ability to have more participants involved has enriched our findings,” Ho says. “Ashanti and I are so grateful to Kate and Odette at SOURCE for believing in our project.”
Ginkel, a pre-veterinary student, is studying equine lameness, a broad term used to describe a deviation in a horse’s gait. “Detecting lameness can prove difficult since horses are herd-prey animals and they hide their injuries well,” Ginkel says. “Veterinarians are always searching for new diagnosis methods.” Ginkel worked at an equine hospital in Wisconsin this summer. There, he recorded footfalls to determine if an asymmetric gait is a viable classification method for lameness.
“The funding I received from SOURCE gave me that opportunity. Being involved in undergraduate research so closely aligned with my postgraduate plans has been such a gift. Not only does my application to veterinary school have an edge, but I also got clinical research experience,” he says. “It is hard to understate how lucky I am to have that. Thanks to the support from everyone in the Bioacoustics and Behavioral Ecology Lab and the funding Syracuse has given me, I have the resources to succeed as a pre-veterinary student that I would not have otherwise gotten.”
Collins is working to bring awareness to the importance of sustainability in the fashion industry. She is exploring the process of zero waste and circular design production and using sustainable materials to create a fashion collection with environmental inspiration. She has visited numerous museums and galleries in London to aid in her research and understanding of art and fashion history.
“So far, I have chosen an inspiration for my collection based on environmental influence and developed initial fashion illustrations for it,” she says. “I have also made samples using cotton and hemp fabrics that I would like to use in the final garments. Right now, I am working on a new series of illustrations based on a sample I made overlaying some sustainable cotton fabrics.
“The SOURCE grant has been an amazing resource for my research. I have been able to purchase and fully explore materials that I have been interested in working with.
The grant has also helped me to travel to conduct research,” Collins says. “And when I start constructing the whole collection in the spring semester back at Syracuse, the SOURCE grant will help me to buy all the supplies needed to put it all together, creating a fully sustainable and ethically made collection.”