Sara Getz spent the last two years poring over journals, newspapers and any other information related to the Zapatistas, the fabled leftist group from Chiapas, Mexico.
She’s even traveled to Mexico to supplement her research. Getz’s workload is similar to any graduate student’s.But she’s an undergraduate.
Getz, a senior political science major, is one of an increasing number of undergrads who are not waiting for graduate school to do their graduate research. As a sophomore, she wrote a paper about female Zapatistas taking up arms as a feminist performance.
From there, she collaborated with Dr. Patricia Melzer of the women’s studies department. They met through the Temple Diamond Scholars Program, which, like the Honors Scholars program and the Undergraduate Research Incentive Fund, pairs promising undergraduates with faculty mentors.
“She taught a class I really enjoyed [Queer Theory] and I was interested in the work she did and [I] really valued her perspectives,” Getz said. We’re still working together this semester.”
But now, Getz will present her essay, entitled “Towards a Counter-Hegemonic Framework: Studying Women in the Zapatista Movement” at the Temple Undergraduate
Research Forum and Creative Works Symposium, which will be held next month. TURF-CreWS is one of several ways students can get a head start on research while they are still undergraduates.
For many, undergraduate research may seem like just another mark on the resume, but students must contribute a significant amount of time to their work.
“Because a lot of my research was conducted over the summer, and because of the grant I received,” Getz said, “I was able to really immerse myself in my work instead
of having to juggle research with other classes, an intense work schedule, and other commitments.”
Each research program offers the reward of grants, funding and research experience – but they also offer different opportunities to students of every discipline in the university.
TURF-CreWS began in 1994 as the Temple University Undergraduate Research Conference – a program started in the African American Studies department. Today,
it takes applicants from every school in the university.
Requirements for the TURF-CreWS prize vary, but they center around the submission of a research paper, poster, performance, or some other media. The program places a premium on works that have to do with significant social issues or social phenomena.
The Library Prize, on the other hand, is based more on purely academic research. According to the Library Prize Web site, winning projects usually show, “originality, depth, breadth, or sophistication in the use of library collections; exceptional ability to select, evaluate, synthesize, and utilize library resources in the creation of a project in any media; and evidence of personal growth through the acquisition of newfound knowledge.”
While TURF-CreWS and the Library Prize focus on rewarding students for their research, the Undergraduate
Research Incentive Fund allows undergraduates to request up to $2,000 in funding.
With application dates throughout the year, many students begin their research with faculty members through this program.For many participants, the research symposia are a way to further explore topics that may not be applicable in the undergraduate classroom.
For Getz, the Diamond Scholars Program, URIF and TURF-CreWS have presented
the opportunity to explore a topic that fascinates her, and get a start on research that will be vital to her continuing
education – but schoolwork comes first.
“I think it’s a challenge, but I think the Diamond Scholars program speaks to that – it’s a chance to focus
on research and get a “head start” on research in the summer before the burden of a semester and a full courseload sets in.”
Chris Reber can be reached at email@example.com.