students in class

by Grace Heimerl

2018 has been a defining year for Roosevelt University’s development of initiatives and programs to assist students in becoming well-rounded, well-equipped scholars and citizens, regardless of their background.

In line with this mission, the Office of Student Research is excited to announce the inaugural cohort of the Research and Fellowship Program.

“Research shows that students gain tremendous benefits for participating in academic research, not only in terms of critical thinking and skills, but also in terms of confidence and self-efficacy,” said Dr. Mike Maly, associate provost of research. “Through paid research fellowships and programming, our program seeks to offer anticipatory socialization toward future careers.” This program fits within the broader tapestry of the other research programs at Roosevelt, such as the McNair Scholars Program, and ultimately helps bolster the strength and confidence of students wanting to explore their academic and personal interests to the fullest.

Open to all students who can meet the admission requirements, the new program will have approximately 12–15 research fellowships available each year, with faculty guiding said research. Anyone from a first-week freshman to early graduate students can participate, which allows for a broader range of participants and ideas to be present within the program — there is an early/exploratory and advanced leveling of the fellowships for this purpose. The program is designed to help students acquire and hone research and presentation skills, and generally help bridge the gap between classroom learning, the real world, and what’s going to happen down the road in a student’s future career.

Associate Director, Dr. Laura Nussbaum-Barberena,  says that all the requirements of the program, which includes participating in a research symposium and various workshops, help to create the facilitation necessary to bridge the gap between Roosevelt University coursework and future research and professional careers. “All students should be exposed to the ‘middle ground’ where they gain experience creating and carrying different kinds of projects, of their own design, outside of the classroom … our office provides the building blocks and puts resources in place, to support them during this process,” she said. “Beyond learning how to carry out research and engage in creative scholarship, it’s all about creating transferable skills and refining career goals throughout this process.” Planned activities include workshops on various aspects of the research process (e.g., research design, publication, presentation, and proposal-writing) as well as collaborating with colleges and departments to expose students to the work of Roosevelt University and external faculty research.

Maly said they are excited to incorporate different avenues of learning, such as building workshops and online modules, to bring students up to speed on key research projects and skills. Maly hopes that non-traditional avenues like this will help build upon existing student research efforts and contribute to a rich research community at Roosevelt University. “We’re trying to create research communities here at Roosevelt University, and in a few years, we’ll have a very robust and synergistic program here for students.”

Maly and Nussbaum-Barberena already have their fair share of long-term goals, which include creating a summer program, and working with Peggy Valdez in the McNair Scholars Program to create a graduate preparation academy. As Maly puts it, the Office of Student Research ultimately strives to act as a “clearing house for gaining research skills and opportunities, graduate school preparation, and awareness of external funding.” This will provide some exciting outcomes for the scholars involved with the program as they proceed forward, and some exciting outcomes for Roosevelt’s research program goals.

The first cohort of research fellows began exploring topics across the disciplines in January. The cohort includes a mix of undergraduate and graduate students from Psychology, Math and Actuarial Science, Computer Science, Biology, Music, and Social Justice Studies. Under the guidance of faculty, OSR fellows are working a variety of topics. In the STEM area, students will be conducting lab work on the effects of climate change on plants, examining genetic variation among flora and fauna as well as cancer treatments, and examining gaps in professional preparation in the actuarial field. In the social sciences, fellows will examine the origins of social movements from different sources and textual analysis of #MeToo twitter feeds and participant observation of queer migrant support organizations. Fellows in the humanities will be exploring equity in strategic planning for arts organizations as well as investigating the musical inspirations for Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture. Students in this cohort will be presenting their research at Roosevelt’s Annual Research Symposium on April 12th—we look forward to showcasing this exciting work, there.

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