The Summer Research Initiative is a program dedicated to increasing the number of underrepresented minorities pursuing graduate degrees in social, behavioral and economic studies. Since its founding in 1999, a diverse group of scholars travels to College Park annually to partner with respected faculty members and mentors from the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences to gain laboratory experience, knowledge and skills in an effort to prepare participants for doctoral-level study in their academic fields.
BSOS is proud to welcome 14 new scholars to the Summer Research Initiative this year. Learn more about their academic interests and accomplishments:
Dylan Compton is a senior at Colorado College, located in Colorado Springs, Colorado, but is originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma. He is a religion and international affairs major and has completed his minor in Chinese. Dylan has spent two semesters abroad – one in China and the other in Germany. He is interested in how political and religious narratives interact with one another. His future research plans also include exploring secularization in 20thcentury China and its effects on traditional Chinese qigong. After graduation, he hopes to pursue a doctoral degree and to become a professor.
Dylan will be mentored by Dr. Andrew Schonebaum, Associate Professor of Chinese Literature, in the School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures in the College of Arts and Humanities.
Shelton Daal is a rising junior at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is a sociology major and international development/conflict management minor. Shelton is currently an ambassador for the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, a facilitator for the Maryland Leadership Education and Development Program, and a member of College Park Scholars’ Global Public Health program. Additionally, he is a research assistant in the sociology department’s Group Processes Lab where he is examining high and low status identities among biracial individuals. His research interests include race, mental health, and how different policies impact those issues. Ultimately, Shelton intends to pursue a master’s degree in either public policy or sociology.
Shelton will be mentored by Dr. Kris Marsh and Dr. Rashawn Ray, Associate Professors in the Department of Sociology.
Pamela Dominguez attends the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland. She is a senior majoring in hearing and speech sciences. Recently, Pamela worked at Upper Chesapeake Medical Center as a nursing assistant in the pediatric department, as well as a personal support coach at the Arc Northern Chesapeake. Pamela recently joined Dr. Nany Ratner's lab in the Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences as a research assistant and she will continue in this role through the SRI. One of the major projects on which she has worked examines atypical disfluencies of speech in teens and young adults with high functioning autism. Her personal research interests include characteristics of speech, language processing, and pragmatic functioning of individuals on the autism spectrum. She hopes the SRI will provide her with the knowledge and fundamental research skills necessary to pursue a master’s and doctoral degree in communication sciences and disorders.
Ms. Dominguez will be mentored by Dr. Ratner, Professor in the Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences.
Fatou Gaye attends the University of Maryland, College Park. She is a psychology major and neuroscience minor. Her current research interests include understanding the neuronal basis of decision making, learning, and memory. In the past, Fatou worked as a research assistant in the lab for early social cognition. While there, she conducted an eye tracking study with infants that measured how children interpret social behavior and predict future events. During the spring semester, Fatou began her research experience in the neuroscience laboratory of Dr. Matthew Roesch and will continue with this experience, but more intensely, during the SRI. In Dr. Roesch's lab, she conducts single unit electrophysiological brain recordings that measure the neural connections involved in decision making in rodents. Fatou looks forward to gaining experience presenting scientific research and preparing for graduate school. Her ultimate goal is to pursue a doctoral degree in clinical neuropsychology.
Fatou will be mentored by Dr. Roesch, Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology.
Kayla Griffin is a senior at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland where she majors in psychology. Her current research interests include the effects of childhood trauma and social functioning in adolescents. She is currently an ASCEND scholar (A Student-Centered, Entrepreneurship Development) at Morgan State University, where she is developing her own research project. She hopes that her experience in the Summer Research Initiative will prepare her for graduate school as well as provide her with research skills that she can apply to her specific areas of interest. Ultimately, Kayla aspires to earn a doctoral degree in clinical psychology. She currently envisions herself specializing in adolescents, with a focus on trauma, with hopes of opening her own private practice.
Kayla will be mentored by Dr. Jessica Magidson, Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology.
Elijah Ikhumhen is a recent graduate from Marquette University. He will be attending Rutgers University in the fall pursing a master’s in biomedical sciences in preparation for medical school. He is a McNair Scholar and a CDC Undergraduate Public Health Scholar. His ultimate goal is to become a public health physician who advocates for eliminating health disparities. His research interests include exploring the links between childhood trauma, toxic stress and illness as well as behavioral epigenetics. Elijah is originally from Lagos, Nigeria before having immigrated to Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Elijah will be mentored by Dr. Caryn Bell, Assistant Professor in the Department of African American Studies.
Sagen Kidane is a senior at the University of Maryland, College Park, double majoring in sociology and criminology & criminal justice and a minor in public leadership. Sagen is also a Ronald E. McNair scholar here at the University of Maryland. She is currently working as a research assistant in the Group Processes Lab of the Sociology Department, and will continue this position into the summer as both a McNair Scholar and a BSOS SRI Scholar. Her field of research interest is in social policy, and she is specifically concerned with the types of adverse impacts that racial minorities encounter from certain policies. Sagen plans to pursue a doctoral degree in either public policy or sociology and work for a policy think-tank as a researcher.
Sagen will be mentored by Dr. Rashawn Ray and Krish Marsh, Associate Professors in the Department of Sociology.
Zoe Meyer-Thomas attends Monmouth College in Monmouth, Illinois, but she is originally from Woodstock, Illinois. She is a junior and majors in political science and international studies. Zoe is a member of Pi Sigma Alpha, the Political Science Honors Society and has recently returned from studying abroad in Amsterdam. Her current, primary research interest is how gender affects international political conflict. Zoe also recently conducted a study on rapes in Berlin in 1945 by the Soviet military. She hopes the Summer Research Initiative will help her to continue her studies and pursue a doctoral degree in political science.
Zoe will be mentored by Dr. John McCauley, Associate Professor in the Department of Government and Politics.
Valeria Morales is a senior at the University of Maryland, College Park, majoring in geospatial information sciences (GIS) and minoring in statistics. She is from Beltsville, Maryland and grew up in the College Park area near the University of Maryland. She is Salvadoran and Nicaraguan, and is currently the president of her sorority’s Chi Chapter of Hermandad de Sigma Iota Alpha, Incorporada, which is a Latina-based, but not Latina exclusive, sorority. Valeria became interested in remote sensing through her courses and she hopes the SRI will enable her to explore it more intensely. After earning her bachelors degree, she hopes to be admitted into the Master of Professional Studies program in Geospatial Information Science here at the University of Maryland.
Valeria will be mentored by Dr. Matthew Hansen, Professor in the Department of Geographical Sciences.
Jordan Mosby is a rising senior at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a UNCF Mellon-Mays Fellow and a sociology major. In a past summer, Jordan participated in research at the University of California, San Diego with Dr. Lane Kenworthy, where he conducted a comparative analysis of K-12 education systems of different Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. Jordan’s research interests and current project relate broadly to racial stratification, cultural sociology and education. He is specifically interested in the unique culture of the Black middle class. Jordan is from Largo, Maryland and was recently accepted into Alpha Kappa Delta, an international honor society for the field of sociology. He hopes that his experience in the Summer Research Initiative will prepare him for the rigors of graduate school. Jordan plans to pursue a doctorate degree in sociology and to produce research that will inform education policy.
Jordan will be mentored by Dr. Kris Marsh and Dr. Rashawn Ray, Associate Professors in the Department of Sociology.
Originally, from Norfolk, Virginia, Pyar Seth is a junior attending Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas and he is a member of the TU track & field team. He is a double major studying political science and human rights with minors in education and anthropology. His major in human rights is an interdisciplinary major that he created specifically to meet his own unique educational interests. His research interests include forms of formal theory — specifically social choice and game theory—the philosophy of law, citizenship, identity, the nation-state, and race. After graduating from Trinity, Pyar plans to pursue a doctoral degree in political science, with a concentration in political theory. He would also like to complete a post-doctoral research fellowship to round out his formal education.
Pyar will be mentored by Dr. Antoine Banks, Associate Professor in the Department of Government and Politics.
Lindsay Smith is a rising senior at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois. She is an anthropology major with minors in biology and art history and has strong interests in ethnoecology, ethnobotany, historical archaeology, and political ecology. Recently, she interned at the St. Louis Art Museum in St. Louis, Missouri, where she did provenance work. She also recently completed a semester abroad in Tanzania, where she conducted research relating to the political ecology of indigenous pastoralists in areas surrounding Tanzania's national parks; at present, she is expanding this research into an honors thesis. She plans to pursue a doctoral degree in anthropology, and hopes that her experience in the Summer Research Initiative will provide her with valuable and comprehensive research skills related to her fields of interest. Ultimately, she intends to return to an institution of higher learning as a faculty member and researcher.
Lindsay will be mentored by Dr. Barnet Pavao-Zuckerman, Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Anthropology.
Amber Williams is a rising junior in the University Honors program here at the University of Maryland, College Park. She is a psychology major and is interested in disparities in mental healthcare for African American children, as well as general child psychopathology. She received a travel award to present her recent research on smoking cessation and weight gain at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABCRMS) in Phoenix, Arizona in November of 2017. She hopes the SRI will help her develop more research skills and explore a different area of research in order for her to narrow her focus on research topics in preparation for graduate school. Her goal is to obtain a doctoral degree in clinical psychology, and ultimately, establish her own clinic that provides services to families impacted by mental disorders.
Amber will be mentored by Dr. Cecily Hardaway, Assistant Professor in the Department of African American Studies.
Yesenia A. Yanez is a senior at the University of Texas, San Antonio. She is a McNair Scholar and Mellon Fellow and is a double major in statistics and psychology, with a minor in criminal justice. For the past three years, Yesenia has worked on research related to identity conflict on social media. Over the summer, however, she hopes to transition to work that focuses more specifically on the field of criminology and criminal justice. In particular, Yesenia is interested in studying violent crime offenders through the life-course approach. She plans to pursue a doctoral degree in either criminal justice or psychology. Ultimately, Yesenia hopes to either become a professor and researcher or gain employment with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Yesenia will be co-mentored Dr. Sarah Tahamont and Dr. Lauren Porter, Assistant Professors in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice.