The Page Cannot Be Found
The Center for Undergraduate Research
By Raanan Geberer

There was a time in the not so distant past when graduate school admission was based primarily on a student’s G.P.A. and performance on the GRE. As admission to higher education at all levels has become increasingly competitive, many graduate schools now require evidence of research skills.

To help students hone their critical thinking, build areas of expertise, and develop strong research skills, the College of Mount Saint Vincent established a Center for Undergraduate Research in 2010, according to Dean of the Undergraduate College Dr. Paul Douillard. The goal of the Center is to formalize and centralize research thatwas already underway at the Mount.

Last year, roughly 25 students presented original research at undergraduate research and professional conferences, and the numbers are steadily increasing. Although they work with faculty advisors, students get the primary credit for their work, says Director of the Center for Undergraduate Research and Assistant Professor of Sociology Dr. Omar Nagi.

At these conferences, students showcase their work according to the conventions of their disciplines. Some illustrate their research and findings visually on a poster and some deliver oral presentations, says Professor of Biology and Director of the Division of Natural Sciences Dr. Patricia Grove ’74.

Topics have ranged from the analysis of hip-hop lyrics and the examination of treatments for autism to the impact of the civil rights movement on NYC schools. Students frequently choose a worthwhile research project from a conversation with a faculty advisor, says Dr. Nagi.

Under Dr. Nagi’s direction, Mount seniors Sarah J.Roman ’12 and Nizarys Vargas ’12 recently wrote “Advertising What?,” a paper comparing advertising for Victoria’s Secret and breast cancer research. Using illustrations from ads, they found that both used sexy images of young women to get their messages across.

Nizarys says, “Breast cancer is not something that should be simply advertised. It is a serious condition, and not a ploy to be sexualized.”Sarah agrees, adding, “The study has made me more aware of how people perceive things in life, so I have a better understanding to teach others.”

Sophomore teacher education and sociology major Jane Holbrook ’14 is doing research on the Science Communicators Forum, an organization that utilizes active learning techniques in schools in rural India to transform education with limited resources.

“Doing this research has given me a platform to write my honors thesis,” she says.

As a result of her research and her travels to India, Jane is interested in joining the Peace Corps after graduation.

“Obviously I have much more research and work ahead of me, but the more research I have done, the more I have become interested in the subject,” Jane says. “The research has become a passion and motivated me in ways even I cannot believe.”

All three students praise Dr. Nagi for his help and support.

“Dr. Nagi has really been the catalyst to the research I am doing now,” Jane says. “He is always available to help me and has walked me through every part of the research process. I also appreciate that he has given me the space to think abstractly and produce my own ideas while being there to guide me in the right direction.”