August 17, 2006
Vol. 25 No. 20

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    College deans hope grants can be expanded to assist more students with research

    By Julia Morse
    News Office

    Thanks to a grant program created in the College this year, Chicago undergraduates have several new research opportunities in their fields of study.

    The program is providing grants worth several thousand dollars each to facilitate research projects for College students in the summer between their third and fourth years. Thus far, grants have been awarded to students in the departments of Psychology, Comparative Human Development, History and Physics.

    “We hope that this is just the beginning,” said Michael Jones, Associate Dean of the College. “It would be wonderful if we could offer these grants in every College major, to inspire creativity, competition and research at the undergraduate level; particularly because it is something more typically encouraged at the graduate level.”

    Jones noted that College administrators are currently in discussion with donors to create similar grant programs in three or four additional departments in the coming years.

    “It is my strong hope that the College will be able to create endowments to support such competitive research opportunities in each of our departments and interdisciplinary majors, “ said John Boyer, Dean of the College. “This goal is a high priority for the College in our fund-raising efforts over the next several years. “

    Both the departments of History and Psychology awarded research grants this spring for students entering their fourth year in the fall and are embarking on projects this summer.

    Kendra Clark was selected as the winner of the Department of Psychology’s competition for the Earl R. Franklin Research Fellowship.

    Clark’s research project is focusing on the problem of racial bias in police shootings, a topic on which she plans to focus her honors thesis next year. She also plans to attend graduate school for Forensic Psychology, said Howard Nusbaum, Chair of the Department of Psychology.

    “This award provides a tremendous opportunity for a student to learn about research by doing research,” Nusbaum said. “We view this as helping to prepare the next generation of scholars and scientists for advanced graduate study in Psychology and we are deeply grateful to Mr. Franklin for providing our students with this opportunity.”

    Earl Franklin, who is providing the grants for the departments of Psychology and Comparative Human Development, said he was pleased to be the first sponsor of this kind of undergraduate research at the University.

    “This program provides a way to recognize excellence in students’ chosen fields, unrelated to financial need, which is very meaningful to the student for many years into the future,” Franklin said.

    In the Department of History, three students received awards for this summer through two different grants: The James M. Sack Summer Research Fellowship in History and The Philip E. Montag Research Fellowship.

    Robin Wolfe Scheffler was awarded the Sack Fellowship for his project, “Political Radicalism and Scientific Discovery: the Cambridge Biotheoretical Gathering.”

    Scheffler is spending this summer at Cambridge University working on his research, which is focused on a group of scientists at Cambridge. Between World War I and World War II, these scientists “were politically engaged, and intent on advancing a view of science that broke down some of the narrowly disciplinary views of science that were current to them,” said Edward Cook, Associate Professor in History and the College.

    The Montag Fellowships went to Michael Pareles for his project on minority nationalities in the People’s Republic of China, and to Daniel Worthen for his project on the theoretical context of mathematical productions in the World War II era.

    Pareles’ academic interests in international studies have particularly centered on human rights and East Asia, explained Cook. He added that Pareles already has visited China twice, and he is extremely interested in “how internal minority populations were conceptualized.”

    Cook said of Worthen, “His interest is in intellectual history, meaning the way large intellectual movements have affected historical development.” Cook explained that Worthen’s summer research project focuses on “the mathematical and scientific pattern of thought that emerged during World War II.”

    The family of Philip Montag donated the grant money in honor of Montag, who graduated from and was a longtime professor in History as well as Dean of the Laboratory Schools.

    Cook called the Department of History’s grant recipients, “superb students.”

    The departments of Comparative Human Development and Physics will award their research grants in the Spring 2007.