2016 Summer Research Initiative Scholars and Mentors

 The Summer Research Initiative (SRI) has been working to increase the number of underrepresented minorities pursuing graduate degrees in social, behavioral and economic studies since 1999. Since its founding, a diverse group of scholars have partnered with respected College of Behavioral and Social Sciences mentors annually to gain laboratory experience, knowledge and skills, in turn preparing its participating students for doctoral-level study in their academic field.


The College is proud to welcome 16 students into the Summer Research Initiative this year and looks forward to learning more about their research projects at the Summer Research Initiative Welcome Reception on Tuesday, May 31 from 12:00-1:30 p.m. at 1126 Taliaferro Hall. All are welcome to attend.


Oluwafunmilayo “Funmi” Ayeni

A senior psychology major at Morgan State University, Baltimore, Maryland, Aveni is interested in examining the sources of stress on first- generation college students. Aveni is also intrigued by a variety of other health research topics such as health disparities in underrepresented populations as well as cancer.  Aveni aims to someday obtain a doctoral degree in clinical psychology, conduct post-doctoral training in public health and eventually secure a tenured position in academia, become a NIH researcher and influence policy on human trafficking, domestic and sexual violence.

Aveni will work with Dr. Michael Dougherty, professor and associate chair in the Department of Psychology, during SRI.

Christina Bijou

This UMD senior psychology major with a concentration in stratification is interested in issues facing race and ethnicity, specifically colorism and multicultural identity alongside poverty, deviance and displacement within the African American community. Following her experience as an intern for Dr. Sophie Aiver with the African American Studies Department, Bijou plans to obtain her PhD in sociology and eventually become a professor.

During the SRI, Bijou will work with Dr. Kris Marsh, an associate professor in the Department of Sociology.


William Bishop

A senior at Michigan State University (MSU), Bishop is majoring in political science with interests concerning racial politics and public opinion as well as public attitudes towards political actors, policies and social movements. As a part of SRI, Bishop will examine the underlying emotions of the Black Lives Matter and anti-lynching movements and plans to someday pursue a doctoral degree in history or political science.

During the SRI, Bishop will work with Dr. Antoine Banks, an associate professor in the Department of Government and Politics.


Selena Chavez

As a senior environmental science and policy major with a concentration in marine and coastal management at the University of Maryland, Chavez is currently tracking current and past locations of the Arkansas River Shiner fish species through the Department of Biology. Chavez is a part of Beta Psi Omega, UMD’s professional biology fraternity, and hopes to obtain either a masters or doctoral degree in either environmental science or physical oceanography.

Chavez will work with Dr. Matthew Hansen, professor in the Department of Geographical Sciences.


Alec Fields

A rising junior at the University of Maryland, Fields is a double degree student in psychology and computer science with a minor in neuroscience and a strong interest in music. At SRI Fields’ research will focus on the mental processes and behavior of children in social situations, and as he eventually pursues a graduate degree in either psychology or neuroscience, Fields would like to study the neurological basis of how music affects the brain.

During the SRI, Fields will work with Dr. Jonathan Beier, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology.


Toria Hawkins

This UMD senior psychology major currently works as a research assistant in Dr. Slevc’s Language, Music and Cognition Lab and her research spans cross-cultural implications of psychological assessment such as differences in emotional manifestations relating to different genders, socio-economic status, race and sexual orientation. Hawkins is interested in the resistance factors of low-income groups and how this influences the way these people self-report symptoms of stress and mood disorders. Hawkins aims to receive a PhD in clinical psychology and eventually return to academia as a psychology professor.

During the SRI, Hawkins will work with Dr. Andres De Los Reyes, an associate professor in the Department of Psychology.



Kenneth James Jr.

As a Morgan State University psychology major, James is interested in the impact of psychologists on judicial cases, specifically factors that affect racial performance on intelligence tests and high incarceration rates for African Americans. Eventually, James will pursue a graduate degree in forensic psychology.

James will work with Dr. Farrah Madison, an assistant research professor in the Department of Psychology, during the SRI.




Nicholas John

John, a geographical sciences major with a specialization in geographic information science and computer cartography and a minor in remote sensing of environmental change, has conducted research on the distribution of the Hispanic population in Washington, D.C. by creating maps that reveal and compare settlement patterns over time. His most recent works focuses no the development of a database on national security-related content derived from an online source using web scraping techniques.

John will work with Dr. Matthew Hansen, professor in the Department of Geographical Sciences, during the SRI.


José Lima-Rosas

A UMD psychology major with a human development minor, Lima-Rosas is interested in the field of clinical and school psychology, specifically depression, anxiety and coping in younger populations as it relates to stress within schools. Lima-Rosas also hopes to learn how to make mental health education readily available to Latinos, a population that has shown resistance to such services. Lima-Rosas aims to obtain either a doctoral or masters degree.

During the SRI, Lima-Rosas will work with Dr. Jonathan Beier, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology.


Ebonie Massey

Massey is a senior UMD double major studying sociology (concentration in stratification) and criminology and criminal justice. Massey is a part of the University Honors program and is a member of Alpha Kappa Delta, an international honor society for the field of sociology. Massey’s primary research interests focus on interpersonal relationship and an analysis of crime, and Massey plans to earn a masters degree in sociology and then a law degree with a focus in criminal law.

Massey will work with Dr. Jeff Lucas, professor and associate chair in the Department of Sociology, during the SRI.


Bezankeng Njinju

Njinju is a Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) sophomore applied mathematics and economics double major who focuses her research on development and behavioral economics. Njinju plans to obtain a doctoral degree in economics to eventually become an economics professor.

During the SRI, Njinju will work with Dr. Jessica Goldberg, an assistant professor in the Department of Economics.


Edwin Rodriguez

Rodriguez, a UMD senior criminology and criminal justice major, recently received his associate’s degree from Montgomery College and intends to also obtain a master’s degree in criminology and criminal justice. Rodriguez is particularly interested in researching policing, victimization risk, gang violence and life-course criminology, which he will study via SRI and apply during his graduate studies.

Rodriguez will work with Dr. Jim Lynch, professor and chair, and Dr. Jean McGloin, professor and associate chair, in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, during the SRI.


Gabriela Rosa-Hernández

A senior sociology major at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras campus, Rosa- Hernandez is particularly interested in military sociology, history and strategy, evident by her current research on war propaganda- specifically, the depiction of the United States and Soviet Union during World War II and the Cold War. Rosa-Hernandez wishes to pursue a PhD in security studies and hopes to forge a career in the U.S. Department of Defense, State, Homeland Security or other federal agency.

During the SRI, Rosa-Hernandez will work with Dr. Meredith Kleykamp, professor, and Dr. Thomas Crosbie, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Sociology.


Keren Rosario-Ortiz

Rosario-Ortiz is a senior special education major with an emphasis in deaf studies and autism at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras campus. Rosario-Ortiz is currently conducting research on communication and its effect on social skills in adults with autism, but is also interested by educational linguistics, psycholinguistics and acquisition of language in the deaf community. Rosario-Ortiz plans to pursue a doctoral degree in speech-language pathology and then become a professor and researcher.

Rosario-Ortiz will work with Dr. Rochelle Newman, professor and chair, and Ms. Melissa Stockbridge, a master’s/doctoral student in the Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences, during the SRI.


Emily Sheffield

This University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill senior is double majoring in biology and African American and diaspora studies and has recently been conducting research on sexual violence during the Rwandan Genocide. Sheffield’s other research interests include studying the impacts of health disparity and disease on African and African diasporic communities, which she hopes to study further as she pursues a doctoral degree in either medical anthropology or African studies.

During the SRI, Sheffield will work with Dr. Thurka Sangaramoorthy, an assistant professor, and Ms. Emilia Guevara, a doctoral student in the Department of Anthropology.



Victoria Stackfield

Stackfield graduated from Spelman College this spring with cum laude honors, obtaining a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in anthropology. Stackfield has conducted research on stereotype maintenance and male restrictive emotionality, and is now interested in studying intergenerational crime and the intersection between the prevalence of anti-social behavior and delinquency among individuals of low socioeconomic status and disrupted familial bonds.

Stackfield will work with Dr. Jim Lynch, professor and chair, and Dr. Jean McGloin, professor and associate chair, in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, during the SRI.