Mentored Research Opportunities

Conducting research with a faculty member is an important opportunity. Not only do you develop a close mentoring relationship with a faculty member and dive deeply into a subject, you gain important skills that open doors for careers in a variety of disciplines. Summer research can be the springboard to honors, graduate school and meaningful careers. Some summer research students present their work at regional or national professional conferences; some even publish their work.

Summer research students spend part of their summer on campus working intensively with a faculty member. The amount of time and start date vary with the project and will be worked out in conjunction with the faculty mentor. Students receive housing on campus and a weekly stipend of $550. Each student is required to produce a short written summary of their research and present a poster at the Summer Research Symposium during Parent and Family Weekend.

How to Apply

  • Read project descriptions and identify the project(s) that interest you.
  • Contact potential faculty mentors to discuss the details of the planned projects. These initial conversations, while informal can be essential in identifying the best potential research partnerships.
  • Identify two HWS references.
  • Complete one application. You may apply to at most four projects through the application site. You will be able to apply for all four through one submission.
  • In order to apply, you must plan to be enrolled at HWS in the Fall of 2024.

Deadline for student applications: February 12, 2024 at 11 p.m.

Students will be notified of placement during the week of February 19.


Big Brother, Big Man: Continuing Research on China’s Impact in Zambia on Food Systems, Debt, and Democracy

This summer research considers what it means to be Chinese in Africa, and Zambian in a country increasingly transformed by the growing presence of China in economy, politics, food security, and cuisine. Does this make China a humanitarian donor or neocolonial power in Zambia? Furthermore, how do such governmental and sponsored corporate actions affect the lives of the more than one million Chinese citizens (and those originally from other Asian countries) living in Africa? Last summer’s scholars identified the following “chicken controversy” and other areas of China-Africa engagement that rarely receive popular or even academic acknowledgement.  They are listed as coauthors on a ASIANetwork Conference presentation in April! What will we learn this summer?

In 2017, Zambian legislators enacted a protectionist law banning Chinese nationals from rearing chickens for commercial sale (cf. Statutory Instrument No. 1 of 2017). It came on the heels of widespread frustration at the relative success of Chinese chicken farmers compared to their Zambia counterparts. While the stated reason for officially banning Chinese farmers from rearing and selling chickens in Zambia was economic, it quickly related to Zambia anxieties over their inferiority (Phiri 2018) compared to perceptions of Chinese work habits; the “everyday exclusivism” of Chinese expatriates in Zambia (Wu 2021; Hodzi 2020; Hairong et al. 2018); Chinese sponsored Western-style skills development centers (UNZA Twitter 2021; Olander 2020; Nalwimba et al. 2019); and international media portrayal of the Chinese government as an imperializing juggernaut (e.g., Xiaochen 2017; French 2015; Hairong & Sautmann 2010). China’s most recent encounter with Zambia (cf. 1970s era Tazara railway) has been the source of great speculation. The Chinese “Belt and Road Initiative” has transformed Zambia’s physical infrastructure over the past decade, building hospitals, paving roads, and reinvigorating moribund copper mines. It also now owns US$9 billion (one-third) of Zambia’s debt. Some Zambian academics have charged the Chinese government with diminishing its democratic institutions and there is a widespread American view that China is a neocolonializer. Appropriate for Rising Sophomores.
Mentor: Chris Annear
Minimum Qualifications: Strong work ethic. Capacity to research in a semi-structured environment on dynamic questions and findings. Above all, looking for curiosity and engagement
Preferred Qualifications: Anthropology (especially ANTH 273 Field Methods), International Relations, Africana and/or Asian Studies major/minor/courses.


Effects of Urbanization and Coat Color on Antipredator Behavior in Eastern Gray Squirrels

Cities are the fastest growing ecosystem on Earth and areas of extreme environmental change. Wildlife populations exhibit unique phenotypic traits in cities, but we often don’t know why. In this study students will examine how urbanization affects the ecology and evolution of coat color in eastern gray squirrels. Gray squirrels are generally gray or black (melanic). Melanic squirrels were once common in forested areas, but are now most prevalent in cities. We’ve previously shown that melanic squirrels are more conspicuous to predators than the gray morph, which raises interesting questions about how melanic squirrels minimize their predation risk. For this project, students will conduct behavioral trials in the field to compare antipredator behaviors between melanic and gray color morphs in different contexts of the urban environment. By completing their project, students will gain experience in wildlife biology, behavioral ecology, and learning best practices for data collection and analysis. Students will also have the opportunity to interact with other researchers working on this collaborative project. Appropriate for Rising Sophomores.
Mentor: Bradley Cosentino
Minimum Qualifications: Strong work ethic. Attention to detail. Interest in ecology, evolution, environmental science, or related fields. Ability to work collaboratively.
Preferred Qualifications: Pursuing a degree in biology or environmental studies.

Seabird Restoration Internship with the National Audubon Society

Audubon’s Seabird Institute operates 7 island seabird sanctuaries on the Maine coast to study nesting and foraging success, nestling survivorship, population dynamics, and climate impacts. Student Interns work with an Island Supervisor and 1-3 others, participating in seabird research, monitoring, and management on terns, puffins, or other seabirds depending on location. Work includes population censuses, monitoring productivity and chick growth; seabird diet studies; banding and resighting birds; invasive vegetation removal; educating island visitors; data management; maintaining field camp; and assisting with predator management. After a brief orientation period, interns will live on-island for approximately 12 weeks (May 30 to August 15). Appropriate for Rising Sophomores; Open to Current Seniors.
Mentor: Mark Deutschlander (liaison)
Minimum Qualifications: Introductory Biology or Environmental studies and a strong interest in a career in conservation or wildlife ecology.
Preferred Qualifications: Applicants should be comfortable living and working with others on remote islands with limited amenities, and be in excellent physical condition (capable of climbing over rugged terrain and slippery rocks and able to lift approximately 50 lbs.). Must be willing to get dirty while working and living outside (showers are a luxury, not a daily occurrence) and be capable of working long hours outdoors in variable weather conditions. Must be able to work independently and with others as part of a team, and get along with people of diverse backgrounds. Adaptability to ever-changing circumstances is a must, as daily schedules are weather dependent. Must be able to sit in a small blind for three hours and maintain focus on data collection; reading and listening to music while in the blind collecting data are not permitted. Willingness to learn, dedication to wildlife conservation, and interest in seabirds and isolated islands are basic requirements. Previous experience with bird banding, rowing, wilderness camping, and hunting/trapping are helpful.

Biology Research at Cornell AgriTech

Interested in an exciting research experience working with an international team of scientists, graduate students, and undergraduates while using a variety of cutting-edge techniques? You will gain invaluable research experience whether your goal is medicine, graduate school, a science job post college, or just to learn if you want to work in science. Projects will be completed in the laboratories of the Cornell AgriTech in Geneva, and students will live on the HWS campus. Projects may involve applied ecology, bioinformatics, disease control, food science, gene expression, genetics, horticulture, insect behavior, microbiology, molecular biology, or pathology (see - you only have to complete the HWS application form). We will place students according to their general interests and academic background. For previous HWS research student projects, see: and
Mentor: Patricia Mowery (liaison)
Minimum Qualifications: Introduction to Biology and at least one 200-level Biology course. Open to rising juniors and seniors.

Drug Development of Anti-Cancer Agents

Students will determine the effectiveness of small molecule as cancer inhibitors. Experiments may include tissue culture work, cell viability assays, enzymatic activity assays, fluorescent microscopy, and protein studies. Results will direct new compound development.
Mentor: Patricia Mowery
Minimum Qualifications: Completed or currently enrolled in Cell Biology, Genetics, or Microbiology. Completed or currently enrolled in Organic Chemistry I.

Aquatic Food Webs off the Finger Lakes

The Finger Lakes are well known for fish at the top of the food web, including the Lake Trout. In recent years, concern has been raised over fish populations in Seneca and Keuka Lakes. This summer, students will study the diet of predator and forage lake fish species to determine if prey quality is causing decline in fish stocks. Fieldwork may involve long days outside in the field with Prof. Cushman but will also require work in the laboratory using dissecting microscopes. Applicants will learn a variety of skills including benthic macroinvertebrate collection and identification, netting and identification of fish, and water quality monitoring techniques. Students will learn how to collect, organize, and analyze many types of data, calibrate equipment, and identify and process samples in the lab. Successful applicants will be team oriented but be to work independently when needed. Appropriate for Rising Sophomores.
Mentor: Susan Cushman
Minimum Qualifications: Ability to carry 30 lbs of field equipment, coursework in Biology 200 B category, and a passion for aquatic biology. The applicant must also have a willingness and tolerance for conducting fieldwork in potentially buggy, hot, and humid conditions. Student must be organized, responsible, motivated to work efficiently and pay attention to detail.
Preferred Qualifications: Coursework in aquatic biology, sophomore status, experience with dissecting microscopes and MS Excel, and a driver's license.


Ancient and Traditional Art Materials

Many (maybe all) ancient cultures developed a wide variety of pigments (solids) and dyes (liquids) to add color to their world, but much of the fundamental chemistry has not been studied. How were the colors collected, extracted, processed, and applied? In my lab, we use a variety of techniques including replication (also called experimental archaeology) in which we try to reproduce the colors using only the technologies that would have been available to the artists. For example, for several years my students and I have studied the processing of ochre pigments in wood fires to make red pigments. Only recently have we begun to study natural dyes. For example, the wood of the Osage orange tree can produce a pretty yellow dye. Pigments require a different kind of analysis than dyes, so we will use a variety of chemical techniques in addition to replication to understand the secrets of ancient artists. Appropriate for Rising Sophomores.
Mentor: Walter Bowyer
Minimum Qualifications: CHEM 110 or 190
Preferred Qualifications: CHEM 130

Synthetic Methods for Masking and Accessing Biologically Relevant Functional Groups and Compounds

Students will develop methods for masking and revealing functional groups in potential pharmaceutical compounds. The goal is to generate molecules with reactivities that can be altered after they enter living cells. Students will also synthesize potential anticancer chemotherapeutics using synthetic methodology developed in the Miller laboratory. Research in the Miller group is performed collaboratively, with students and mentor working together in the lab. As training progresses and students learn the techniques involved, students gain confidence in themselves and each other while also becoming more independent. Appropriate for Rising Sophomores.
Mentor: Justin Miller
Minimum Qualifications: One year of college chemistry
Preferred Qualifications: One year of college chemistry

Understanding the Regulation and Kinetics of the Enzyme Malate Dehydrogenase

Malate dehydrogenase (MDH) is a critical enzyme in the citric acid cycle, which is central to our metabolism. As such, this enzyme is highly regulated (turned on and off under specific conditions). Under various conditions (fed, starved, etc), the body adds or removes chemical groups (such as phosphate) to MDH which acts as an ON/OFF switch to control this enzyme. Yet, this process is not well understood. In the Slade lab, we will purify MDH enzyme (wild type and mutants) so that we can study it’s kinetics under various conditions. Specifically, this project will entail making buffers, micropipetting (a lot!), using a microplate reader (UV/Vis spectroscopy) and analyzing data in two different software programs. However, no previous experience is necessary. I will mentor you to help learn and develop these skills. Prior knowledge of Microsoft Excel is preferred. This project will greatly improve one’s Excel proficiency. Appropriate for Rising Sophomores.
Mentor: Kristin Slade
Minimum Qualifications: Completed both CHEM 110 and 120, or CHEM 190 by June 2024
Preferred Qualifications: Completed Chem 130 by June 2024 and some experience with Excel

Synthesis of Anti-Cancer Heterocycles

The objective of this research is develop and implement new synthetic methods that can be utilized to prepare novel heterocycles. This work will contribute substrates for biological testing in anti-cancer cell assays by Professor Mowery and her research students. Students involved in this research will run reactions, purify synthetic intermediates, analyze products by NMR and by other methods, and help design new experiments. Students involved in this research tend to continue working on their projects during the following academic year and this is highly encouraged. Appropriate for Rising Sophomores.
Mentor: Erin Pelkey
Minimum Qualifications: 1 year of college chemistry
Preferred Qualifications: Organic Chemistry 1 and 2

Simulating Ultrafast Chemistry in Real Time

Some of the fastest chemical reactions are generally too quick or too difficult to measure in the lab. Though quantum theory is our most successful tool in studying the behavior of atoms and molecules, solving the equations of motion for any interesting chemical system is nearly impossible. In this project we develop state-of-the-art computational methods for simulating chemistry in real time - methods that exploit the efficiency and ease of doing classical Newtonian mechanics, but accurately capture quantum phenomena such as interference, tunneling, and energy quantization. Students in this project will learn (i) the fundamentals of quantum theory, (ii) mathematical tools used in physical chemistry, (iii) and the basics of computer programming. Students will be responsible for running chemical simulations, processing the data from chemical simulations, and contributing to scientific communications such as posters, papers, and presentations.

In the first weeks of the project, I will assign for the students readings that are relevant to the project. We will devote some time each day to review and discuss those readings. Also in the first weeks will be a crash course on computer programming: from navigating the command line to submitting calculations on a HPC cluster. Prior programming experience is not required. Over time students will be given more responsibility concerning the running and processing of calculations. Throughout the project, and on a daily basis, students will be responsible for practicing and updating our group's scientific communications. Students will also brainstorm community service projects relevant to our research. Appropriate for Rising Sophomores.
Mentor: Matthew Church
Minimum Qualifications: Students should be familiar with introductory chemistry and have at least two semesters of calculus.
Preferred Qualifications: Passion for math, chemistry, and physics. An interest in computer programming.

Computer Science

Neural Modeling

There are two separate projects in this research involving computer simulations of the brain. One project is the development of software connecting brain simulations with a physics engine. The second project is the development of software and hardware techniques for integrating neural simulations with robots. Dr. Fietkiewicz will supervise all of the tasks. Appropriate for Rising Sophomores.
Mentor: Chris Fietkiewicz
Minimum Qualifications: Completed CPSC 124 with at least a A grade.
Preferred Qualifications: Completed CPSC 329 with at least a A grade or robotics experience.

Using Counterfactual Interpretation to Interpret Machine Learning Models

Counterfactual interpretation finds the decision boundary of a machine learning model, and explains it in plain English. For example, for a prediction model that predicts rain tomorrow, the counterfactual interpretation will explain the reason behind the prediction is such and such. Appropriate for Rising Sophomores.
Mentor: Hanqing Hu
Minimum Qualifications: Can code in Java and can learn to code in python in a short amount of time. Don't have or plan to have a second job besides summer research.
Preferred Qualifications: Fluent in python. Knows scikit-learn and pytorch library.

Data Analytics

Environmental Science/Environmental Justice: Air Quality in Geneva

Wards 5 and 6 in Geneva are designated “disadvantaged communities” by NY State. Some of these are so-called “fenceline” communities because they border potentially polluting industries. This project brings together HWS and local high school students, faculty, staff, and community leaders to answer two key questions: 1) Do fenceline communities experience worse air quality than surrounding neighborhoods? 2) What factors contribute to variable air quality in Geneva? HWS students will begin with a two-week “boot camp” in which they will learn a variety of data analytical and mapping tools. The remaining weeks will be spent on a diversity of activities including (but not limited to) deploying sensors, collecting samples and finding relevant data, analyzing preliminary data, working in the community to survey residents, and preparing materials to share with the community. There is potential to continue the project during the academic year and beyond. Appropriate for Rising Sophomores.
Mentor: Nan Crystal Arens, Rob Beutner, Blueprint Geneva
Minimum Qualifications: Growth mindset, can-do attitude, initiative, and the ability to complete tasks on time
Preferred Qualifications: Coursework in Data Analytics, Environmental Studies, natural science, and/or statistics

Finger Lakes Institute

Finger Lakes Water Quality Research and Education

Students will conduct research on water quality issues across the Finger Lakes addressing nutrient concentrations and loadings to lakes, dynamics of algae and harmful algal blooms, invasive species, and mercury cycling in invertebrates and fish. Positions will involve long days in the field from a variety of boats such as the R/V Scandling, Boston Whaler, kayaks and more, under all weather conditions. Significant time will be spent on laboratory preparation and analyses as well as data presentations and discussions. Research students are expected to read scientific papers and participate in weekly group activities focused on contextualizing their data and findings across the other aquatic ecosystems such as the Great Lakes. Certified scuba divers are especially encouraged to apply. Appropriate for Rising Sophomores.
Mentor: Lisa Cleckner
Minimum Qualifications: Passion for learning more about the Finger Lakes watersheds and threats to water quality. Willingness to contribute as an individual while being part of a team of students, staff and scientists to complete hands-on field and lab work.
Preferred Qualifications: Completion of science and environmental studies classes. Experience with Excel, data analysis, data presentations. Interest in working with broad stakeholder groups across the Finger Lakes region and New York State, including policy makers, community scientists, educators, watershed associations.

Gender, Sexuality, and Intersectional Justice

Feminist Stories, Exhibits, and Archives

This research team will be engaged in exhibits, the oral story project (Storybridge project) and programming with me at the National Women’s Hall of Fame located in Seneca Falls, NY. Students will also have the opportunity to work with Meghan Jordan, Visual Arts Curator, Davis Gallery, and members of the Museum Studies and Gender Studies program at RIT. This summer the Smithsonian traveling exhibit Votes and Voices will be installed at the Hall. Students will have the opportunity to work with Hall staff and museum experts to install the Smithsonian exhibit, to prepare a small local exhibit to coordinate with the Smithsonian main exhibit (in collaboration with other academic institutions), to work in the Hall archives, and to collect and record stories (short 5 minute stories) from people in the community. Stories will come from people in the area to develop an appreciation of the many different contributions to making a community – stories that help to build out the larger story of democracy and that would otherwise be lost.

Students will work closely with me over the summer, learning how to gather stories, think about telling a story through an exhibit, exploring local archives, and connecting with the community through programming. This draws on my expertise in oral history and interviewing techniques.

The Storybridge Project is overseen by museum experts who have developed the technology to collect people’s stories and to have them exhibited in museums. Stories will be accompanied by photographs from the storytellers and/or gathered from local archives. The purpose of this part of the Votes and Voices exhibit is to make visible the many different parts of a community and to build community appreciation of local history.

The local exhibit will also draw on the National Women’s Hall of Fame’s archives and materials from local sites to showcase how the Hall tells the larger story of democracy, from suffrage and civil rights through to the now century’s long struggle for the Equal Rights Amendment.

Students will prepare their own portfolio to showcase their participation in this project. Appropriate for Rising Sophomores.
Mentor: Betty Bayer
Minimum Qualifications: Interest in Gender and People's Life Stories
Preferred Qualifications: Some background in GSIJ and/or ARTS and/or History and/or English


Early Eocene Climate Reconstruction Using Fossil Leaves from the Hatchetigbee Formation of Alabama

The Early Eocene (55 million years ago) began a period of very warm climate that lasted about nine million years. Greenhouse gasses released into Earth’s atmosphere drove this warming, so understanding it provides context for current climate change. Students will work with Prof. Arens and a team from Syracuse University to reconstruct climate using fossil leaves. The project begins with a field trip to collect fossil leaves from the Hatchetigbee Bluff locality in southwestern Alabama (access involves a boat and requires students to work outside in a variety of conditions—there will be mud, humidity and bugs). Returning to the lab, we will clean and prepare fossils (requires patience, ability to work alone and focus for extended periods, good hand-eye coordination, and attention to detail) and identify them using previously published literature (requires good observation skills). We will then use three approaches—leaf-margin analysis, leaf area analysis, and Climate Leaf Analysis Multivariate Program—to reconstruct mean annual temperature, precipitation, and seasonality. Appropriate for Rising Sophomores.
Mentor: Nan Crystal Arens
Minimum Qualifications: Awareness of plants, ability to work outside in potentially uncomfortable conditions, patience, focus, attention to detail, good observation skills.
Preferred Qualifications: GEO 184 and/or BIOL 167

Using the Sediment Record of Lakes to Explore Past Climate and Environmental Changes

Lake sediments provide important archives of climate and environmental change. The goal of this project is to use the geological, geochemical (stable isotopes, elements), and biological (fossils) evidence preserved in sediment cores collected from lakes, ponds and bogs in upstate New York to identify periods of past droughts and anthropogenic disturbance within these watersheds since ~12,000 years ago. Project participants will conduct field and lab work as part of a collaborative team to tackle these questions: (1) What drove ecological succession in a local wetland, the natural in-filling of a lake or abrupt climate change? (2) How did the Finger Lakes respond to shifts in temperature, precipitation, and anthropogenic disturbances over the last ~13,000 years? Students will gain hands-on experience collecting and analyzing sediment cores, managing large datasets, and conducting preliminary interpretations Students will work in close collaboration with Tara and other undergraduate students. Appropriate for Rising Sophomores.
Mentor: Tara Curtin
Minimum Qualifications: GEO 186 or GEO 184; interest in geoscience or aquatic science; comfortable working outside (rain or shine).
Preferred Qualifications: GEO 186 or GEO 184 and an upper-level geoscience course; interest in geoscience or aquatic science; comfortable working outside (rain or shine).

Historic Harmful Algal Blooms in the NY Finger Lakes

Although harmful algal blooms (HABs) have been reported in the New York Finger Lakes for more than a century, recent monitoring suggests toxic blooms are increasing in frequency. Using the biological, geochemical, and physical evidence preserved in the sediment record of several lakes, we propose to answer these three questions: Are recent HABs in the Finger Lakes unprecedented over the past century? Are blooms increasing in frequency and magnitude? What environmental drivers are associated with these blooms? Project participants will use lake sediment cores in combination with long-term nutrient (nitrogen, phosphorous) and climate datasets to determine the environmental drivers associated with the variability in algal abundance and composition. Students will work in close collaboration with Tara and other undergraduate students. Appropriate for Rising Sophomores.
Mentor: Tara Curtin
Minimum Qualifications: GEO 186 or GEO 184; interest in geoscience or aquatic science
Preferred Qualifications: GEO 186 or GEO 184 and an upper-level geoscience course; interest in geoscience or aquatic science; familiar with ArcGIS, QGIS or R.

Stable Isotopic Analysis of Groundwater Discharge into Lakes and Ponds

Groundwater discharge into lakes and ponds can occur in diffuse zones along the edge as well as at depth in concentrated areas. Flow rates might be controlled by localized wet or dry climate conditions in the surrounding area and by different types of sediment. The stable isotopes of water (D/H and 18O/16O) record wet and dry conditions as well as the interactions of different groundwaters. The goal of this project is to characterize lake, pond and groundwaters to determine their unique chemical markers. In addition, we will measure flow rates of these features, document the sediments associated with this input. Terrestrial springs will be sampled in the Finger Lakes region to determine if groundwater discharge have terrestrial chemical analogs and to document flow rates. Project participants will work as a team to conduct field and lab work to address the following questions: (1) What types of water chemistries are represented in regional springs? (2) How do groundwater discharge chemistries impact the mass balance of ions and stable isotopes in lakes and ponds? (3) What are the characteristic chemistries and flow rates of sublacustrine flow in Seneca Lake? Appropriate for Rising Sophomores.
Mentor: Dave Finkelstein
Minimum Qualifications: GEO-184 or GEO-186, interest in geoscience or aquatic science, comfortable working outside regardless of the weather conditions.
Preferred Qualifications: GEO-184 or GEO-186, and an upper level geoscience course, interest in geoscience or aquatic science, comfortable working outside regardless of the weather conditions.

Air Mass Pathways for Lake-effect Snow Systems in the Great Lakes

Lake-effect snowstorms routinely result in high-impact weather in the Great Lakes region. A necessary ingredient for these storms includes a cold Polar or Arctic air mass that arrives in the Great Lakes region. The questions this research will strive to answer are: (a) Where do these air mass originate? (b) What pathways do they take to arrive in the Great Lakes Region and how long does it take? (c) What is the relation of the characteristics of these air mass to their origination location and pathway? and (d) What weather patterns are favorable for transport of these air masses? Using archived surface weather observations, parcel trajectory models, and gridded reanalysis model datasets, we will examine the development of the source of cold air, the evolution and movement of air masses, the tropospheric weather patterns responsible for movement of these air mass, and their influence on lake-effect storms over different portions of the Great Lakes region. Student participants will have an opportunity to work in a collaborative environment with other undergraduate students in the Weather & Climate Research Group, as well as present their work and travel to the Mt. Washington Observatory, Plymouth State University, and University at Albany to interact with other undergraduate researchers and mentors working on weather-related research projects. Appropriate for Rising Sophomores.
Mentor: Neil Laird
Minimum Qualifications: Completion of Introduction to Meteorology (GEO-182); familiarity with Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, and Excel; Organized; Willingness to learn; Ability to work in collaborative environment with group and independently
Preferred Qualifications: Completion of Introduction to Meteorology (GEO-182); familiarity with Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, and Excel; Organized; Willingness to learn; Ability to work in collaborative environment with group and independently

Atmospheric Rivers and Extreme Snowfall and Ice Jam Events

Atmospheric rivers are long, narrow corridors of enhanced water vapor in the atmosphere that can lead to extreme precipitation events. This project will explore the spectrum of impacts these atmospheric rivers have during the wintertime including contributions to extreme snowfall and ice-jam flooding. Student participants will have an opportunity to work in a collaborative environment with other undergraduate students in the Weather & Climate Research Group, as well as present their work and travel to the Mt. Washington Observatory, Plymouth State University, and University at Albany to interact with other undergraduate researchers and mentors working on weather-related research projects. Appropriate for Rising Sophomores.
Mentor: Nick Metz
Minimum Qualifications: Completion of Introduction to Meteorology (GEO-182); familiarity with Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, and Excel; Organized; Willingness to learn; Ability to work in collaborative environment with group and independently
Preferred Qualifications: Completion of Introduction to Meteorology (GEO-182); familiarity with Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, and Excel; Organized; Willingness to learn; Ability to work in collaborative environment with group and independently

International Relations

"Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story?" Narration and Knowledge-Production in Conflict-Affected Communities

“Who tells the story” is central to both academic and practical understanding of conflict. This project explores the proliferation of research generated within conflict-affected communities and seeks to assess the extent to which knowledge production by “experience-near” researchers differs qualitatively from more “experience-distant” conflict analysis in its content, dissemination, and political impact. What conflict-affected researchers see themselves doing and how others, including conflict actors, interpret their work jointly contribute to researchers' agency as civil actors. Over the summer, I will expand the literature review for this project and conduct remote interviews with researchers at local civil society organizations in different parts of the Middle East and North Africa. A well-trained student preparing for Honors-level work on a related subject would be helpful in collecting and reviewing literature and analyzing interview results.
Mentor: Stacey Philbrick Yadav
Minimum Qualifications: International Relations major who has completed the research methods requirement and has at least one class in the Global Security and Diplomacy thematic track.
Preferred Qualifications: Completion of INRL 371 or INRL 380


Understanding Extra-Solar Planets and the Stars they Orbit

This research involves using computer models to understand extra-solar planets and the stars they orbit. I have two possible computational research projects that involve running sophisticated computer simulation programs encoded with the physics of stars and planets. The student will implement and organize the running of many simulations from these existing programs, and then learn to write their own Python programs to synthesize and visualize the results that can be compared with real data.

Project 1 involves modeling the interior structure of planets that are more massive than Earth, but less massive than Neptune. We don't have any planets like this in our solar system, but they are very common around other stars. In this project, the student will explore how the temperature, density and pressure inside a planet changes when the planet's environment or other properties change. This research will result in a better understanding of the interior structure of these interesting planets. Project 2 involves modeling the brightness variations of stars with planets in order to identify and characterize surface starspots. Starspots on other stars are the equivalent of Sunspots on the Sun. They are dark features on the surface of a star where the interior magnetic field comes up through the surface. This research will result in measurements of the position and size of individual starspots on stars other than the Sun, which will lead to a better understanding of stellar magnetic fields and how these magnetic field affect orbiting extra-solar planets. Appropriate for Rising Sophomores.
Mentor: Leslie Hebb
Minimum Qualifications: Science majors or students with the intention to major in science. And students interested in learning how to do programming.
Preferred Qualifications: Physics majors or students intending to major in physics. Students with some programming experience already.

Religious Studies

Religious Extremism

The rising threats of religious extremism have affected communities—both religious and secular—at various places regardless of their faith traditions. Studies have been done to explain the complex phenomena of religious extremism, its causes, and ways to address it. This research project will study the relationship between frustrating social conditions and the emergence of religious extremism. It will particularly examine how the leaders of religious extremist movements frame their remedies for the social ailments with religious narratives, symbolism, ideals, and practices. The chosen candidate will search, read, analyze, and write synopses on book chapters and peer-reviewed articles on the research subject. The chosen candidate will discuss research findings with the faculty mentor daily. Appropriate for Rising Sophomores.
Mentor: Shalahudin Kafrawi
Minimum Qualifications: The candidate is expected to have commitment to work on the project and to have background in religious studies.
Preferred Qualifications: Preference is given to a candidate who is familiar with methods in religious studies, with a good command in finding books and peer-reviewed journals, and with writing synopses. The candidate is expected to have read (1) Christoph Günther’s Entrepreneurs of Identity, and (2) Diego Gambetta and Steffen Hertog’s Engineers of Jihad: The Curious Connection between Violent Extremism and Education.

Data Ethics in AI Art: Exploring Islamic and Western Encounters

Studies by Abubakar Abi et al. on natural language processing, called GPT-3, show strong stereotypical biases against Muslims by associating them with violence (Nat Mach Intell 3, 461 (2021). The question is where do data biases about Muslims as violent people come from? This research examines factors that shape the biased relationship between AI data and Islam. Students participating in this research will explore the correlation between the Western political and cultural biases and the algorithmic presets and explain how data about Islam and Muslims are collected and used. They will also benefit from the interdisciplinary approach to AI data ethics and its impact on Islam. Appropriate for Rising Sophomores.
Mentor: Etin Anwar
Minimum Qualifications: Students with research interest in AI, Islamic studies, ethics, philosophy, and art history and willingness to learn AI art and AI video platforms.
Preferred Qualifications: Students with research interest in AI, Islamic studies, ethics, philosophy, and art history and willingness to learn AI art and AI video platforms.


Articulating FLX

Last summer, two students and I launched an exploratory project titled Articulating FLX. The project focuses on how a variety of local interests in the Finger Lakes region in upstate NY are pursuing economic activities of revitalization, and in the process, articulating a Finger Lakes "brand" that renders the region more visible and legible to tourists, consumers, visitors, and investors. We kept our focus wide, paying attention to seemingly discrete sectors such as winemaking, local agriculture innovations, bitcoin mining and related tech sector innovations in the region, as well as small city revitalization, among others. We are interested in how stakeholders envision their growth strategy, and particularly how they see their impact in shaping the environmental future of the region. In addition to literature review, our data collection crystallized around two foci. One was the remarkable growth and transformation of the wine industry in the region. We built a list of wineries around our three closest lakes, compiled a list of wine trails and the 43 wineries that comprised them, noted the variety of promotional organizations in the region, attended a winemakers conference, and interviewed one of those promoters. The second focus of our research was the Greenidge Power Plant that has been operating as a bitcoin mining facility for some time. We followed the trajectory of this site, as well as emerging opposition to it, led by an organization called Seneca Lake Guardian, interviewing its organizers and conducting participant observation during one its public events.

This exploratory research allowed us to uncover a central tension within the variety of growth strategies deployed by various actors. This tension concerns the deployment of discourses of nature in defining, (re-)articulating, and indeed branding the Finger Lakes as a distinct region with high tourism and consumption potential. With my student team, I plan to pursue this tension through a more targeted research question: how do wineries in the Finger Lakes utilize discourses of nature to articulate an authentic sense of place? What are the main contours of these discourses, and how to they dovetail, or clash, with alternative growth strategies that utilize natural resources in alternative ways, such as the bitcoin mining facility? The research plan includes identification of a sample of wineries surrounding Keuka, Seneca, and Cayuga Lakes; collection and content analysis of data such as promotional materials, wine description and other kinds of pamphlets and brochures, as well as websites; participant observation of relevant events, and interviews with select representatives and key stakeholders in the industry. The objective of this research is preparation and submission of a co-authored, peer-reviewed journal article by the end of the summer.

Students will work in close collaboration with the professor, starting with a morning session to chart the research day's activities. Research will students will get involved in collection and analysis of media representations of the places we will study, where "media" refers to a wide variety of documents including newspaper coverage, social media promoting, as well as a variety of public and private documentation, from government documents to event posters, etc. Research will also involve participant observation of a variety of meetings, from city council to industry-specific meetings. Finally, researchers will engage in semi-structured interviews with identified stakeholders. Students can expect daily training and mentoring from the faculty adviser on all the research activities mentioned above.
Mentor: Ervin Kosta
Minimum Qualifications: Any coursework in Sociology, American studies, Media and Society, or social science in Environmental Studies; a 3.0 GPA.
Preferred Qualifications: 200-level classes related to Urban Studies (such as SOC 210 or SOC 251 or SOC 353 or ENV 201 Urban Resilience or equivalent); coursework in research methods, preferably in Sociology (SOC 211); 3.5 GPA.

Spanish and Hispanic studies

Feminist Translation and Interdisciplinary Innovation

This research team will engage feminist approaches to literary translation from Spanish to English on early twentieth-century literature. The professor will select appropriate texts, guide students through the translation process, and engage students in discussions of approaches to feminist translation. Student researchers will write a series of translations and translator notes collaboratively. While members of the research team will primarily engage in collective writing, they may have the opportunity to produce single-author translations under the professor’s guidance. In addition, students may contribute to a series of literature reviews and service opportunities focused on interdisciplinary language acquisition research, including Spanish for biological inquiry, community service, and youth empowerment.
Mentor: May Farnsworth
Minimum Qualifications: Advanced-level Spanish and English
Preferred Qualifications: Bilingual students familiar with Latin American literature, culture, and nature

Animal Studies and Hispanic Pet Culture in Translation

This team of student researchers will explore Hispanic pet culture through the translation from Spanish to English focusing on twentieth-century Latin American literature. The professor will select texts originally written in Spanish (short stories with domestic animals as main protagonists) from SPN319 (Animals in the Hispanic World), guide students through the translation process, and engage them in discussions on pet culture and Animal Studies in the Hispanic world. Student researchers will prepare a series of translations and translator notes collaboratively. While the members of the team will primarily engage in collective writing, they may have the opportunity to produce single-author translations under the professor’s mentorship. In addition, students may participate in service opportunities focused on bilingual education, community service, and youth empowerment in Geneva.
Mentor: Fernando Rodriguez-Mansilla
Minimum Qualifications: Major or minor in Spanish or Latin American Studies
Preferred Qualifications: Advanced major/minor in Spanish or Latin American Studies, former student of SPN319 (Animals in the Hispanic World)