O’Malley and Pasquinelli Named Honors Mentors

Graduate teaching fellows Donica O'Malley and Sydney Pasquinelli have been selected by the University Honors College (UHC) to serve as mentors in its new research fellowship program focusing on the humanities, arts, and social sciences.

In the 2016 Spring Term, O'Malley will be paired with undergraduate communication major Hannah Purkey, who will be developing a research proposal exploring the rhetoric of class in college recruitment materials. Pasquinelli will work with undergraduate communication major Madeleine Budny, who is cultivating a research program that analyzes common tropes used on anti-feminist websites.

Purkey and Budny are two of the 20 undergraduate students from across the university to win these prestigious fellowships, which provide $500 stipends for both undergraduate researcher and graduate mentor.

"I'm happy to see communication majors taking advantage of this opportunity,"says UHC Academic Advisor Jason Sepac, "and I'm absolutely thrilled with the incredible level of interest in these fellowships from departments across the humanities, arts, and social sciences."

Structural features of the natural sciences facilitate smooth integration of undergraduate students into the research enterprise. Principal Investigators in many laboratories work with post-doctoral fellows and graduate students who are well positioned to provide mentorship support for undergraduate students just getting started on research. In contrast, the apprenticeship model prevalent in the humanities and most social sciences tends to position faculty members as solo mentors.

The Honors College is investing into O'Malley and Pasquinelli to help bridge this gap, with confidence that their mentorship will enable Purkey and Budny to develop compelling and focused research proposals.

The Department of Communication is emerging as a key node in the UHC's strategy in this regard. In the Fall Term of 2015, neuroscience major Benjamin Zusman pioneered another UHC initiative that embeds undergraduate students in graduate seminars to support their development of focused research proposals in the humanities and social sciences. After enrolling in Associate Professor of Communication and UHC Assistant Dean Gordon Mitchell's fall 2015 graduate seminar in argumentation, Zusman drew from courswork to leverage a successful Spring Term 2016 Brackenridge Research Fellowship application.