Undergraduate research gets major boost from new program

July 13, 2017 | By Elizabeth Droge-Young

Syracuse’s Center for Fellowship & Scholarship Advising (CFSA) recently chose nine undergraduate researchers, including several students majoring in the social sciences at the Maxwell School, to participate in the newly created Young Research Fellows Program (YRFP). Funding for this University-wide program, including a two-year stipend, is made possible by a gift from Elliott Portnoy ’86 and his wife, Estee.

“An early start on independent research and creative inquiry allows students more time to navigate the inevitable twists and turns of the research experience,” says Jolynn Parker, CFSA director and assistant director of the Renée Crown University Honors Program.

Parker and Kate Hanson, former CFSA director and current deputy director of the Renée Crown University Honors Program, created the new fellowship program to both support individual research and give undergraduates an edge when applying for national scholarships.

“In advising talented students for nationally competitive awards, we both quickly noticed the importance of faculty-mentored undergraduate research to a student’s success,” says Parker.

The YRFP, inspired by similar programs at Johns Hopkins University and UCLA, recognizes five first- or second-year undergraduate students from across disciplines with outstanding potential for research or creative inquiry. Each fellow receives up to $4,000 of research funding, mentorship and supportive programming over the course of two years. Four students were selected as “honorable mentions;” they will receive up to $1,000 in research funding and will participate in the same programming as the fellows.  YRFP participants serve as student ambassadors by promoting research and creative inquiry on campus.

The inaugural fellows and honorable mentions, listed by area of research focus, are:

• Jett Cloud: English & textual studies; television, radio, film
• Shin Hyuk Bang: bioengineering, member of the Renée Crown University Honors Program
• James Lu: information management security, member of the Renée Crown University Honors Program
• Maizy Ludden: biology, geography, member of the Renée Crown University Honors Program
• Natalia Rice: English & textual studies, sociology, member of the Renée Crown University Honors Program
• Joshua Schiowitz: political science, film
• Nathan Shearn: anthropology, Russian, member of the Renée Crown University Honors Program
• Jacob Urban: finance, energy and its impacts, member of the Renée Crown University Honors Program
• Bethanie Viele: biology, member of the Renée Crown University Honors Program.

“As a first-year undergrad student, I never imagined I would have the opportunity to pursue my own research interests so early in my academic
The Buffalo, New York, native will be exploring racial identity in contemporary America from a sociological perspective. She is particularly interested in what she terms “casual segregation” in young millennials, a demographic group recognized for their more progressive views.

“I genuinely believe that the generous aid and guidance that the YRFP offers will allow me and the rest of my cohort to produce information with the potential to catalyze change,” Rice says.

Enthusiasm for the fellows’ proposed work is contagious: “Supporting the SU Young Research Fellows is a huge privilege, as these students demonstrate a degree of creativity, intellectual rigor and entrepreneurial zeal that is hugely compelling. Each of the fellows demonstrates the spirit and academic curiosity that makes me so excited to continue supporting these outstanding students through the Center for Fellowship & Scholarship Advising,” Portnoy says.

For more information about the program or to apply in the future, visit the YRFP website or contact Parker, 315.443.2759, jmpark02@syr.edu; or Hanson, 315.443.2759, khanso01@syr.edu at CFSA.