This past week, 22 authors of different research projects were accepted by the National Conference for Undergraduate Research (NCUR). The conference will take place April 5-8 in Memphis, Tennessee.
NCUR receives about 4,000 applications from a wide range of majors and disciplines every year. Capital has been attending this conference since 1997 and has brought many students over the years.
These students spent at least one semester on their research projects, developing questions and perfecting their applications. Capital has tried to implement coaching for the students to make sure their projects are up to standard and are likely to be accepted.
Capital student Christian Phillips, a history and English literature major graduating in 2018, is among the accepted authors of this year, presenting on two different research projects.
The project involving his history major details the “women in red” from the detachment of the Chinese Communist Party in the 1930s. This is one of the most iconic stories for Communist China. Under the mentorship of Alexander Pantsov and Andy Carlson, he detailed the story of these historic women and their influence.
“It’s not something that most people in the U.S. have heard about, but it’s held dominance in art and tourism in China,” Phillips said. “There’s even a new form of dance that came out of this movement.”
For his English literature project, Phillips chose to focus on “Wigs on the Green” by Nancy Mitford. Published in 1935 and re-published in 2010, it was originally viewed as a satire of British fascism as exemplified by the author’s own sisters. Phillips viewed it as a shrewd combat against a fight for dominance in British society rather than a lighthearted satire.
In a time where Britain could have easily become an autocracy and joined the fascist Nazi movement, the ideas represented in Mitford’s work changed the course of history.
“I chose to focus on how she showed these ideas and ultimately predicted the outcome of the situation,” Phillips said.
Under the recommendation of Kelly Messinger and Reginald Dyck, he submitted this idea to the World Conference for Undergraduate Research (WCUR) and traveled to the Middle East to present his ideas this past summer.
Phillips recognizes the values of WCUR and NCUR in terms of prepping for graduate school and gaining confidence in presenting ideas on a national and international level.
“Showing research gives you a leg up in applying to graduate school,” said Phillips. “You can show them what you’ve done and confidently say you are right in your analysis.”
Phillips is the acting vice president of structure and planning and also coordinator of co-curricular activities for Capital’s honors program.
While some accepted students are in the honors program and are using projects that they will also present at the Honors Symposium, many are not honors students. Many of these projects are from the Summer Scholars program held at the university.
Angela Grate, a senior economics, political science and English literature triple major, completed her history research project through Summer Scholars under professor Nate Jackson. The project detailed killings in areas such as Yemen, Syria, Pakistan and other Middle Eastern countries.
She examined the reasoning of the United States in targeting certain terrorist agencies with drone strikes, as well as the civilian response in these areas. The reasoning was inconclusive, but she found that it had to do primarily with these areas having unstable governments and lack of civilian power in making changes.
Her English project under Reginald Dyck involved analyzing the text “Native Son,” set in Chicago in the 1930s.
“I looked at it through a legal lens,” Grate said. “It’s a fictional text, but I looked at how the protagonist’s constitutional rights had been violated.”
She is currently working on the second half of the project and will include more modern fictional and non-fictional portrayals of legal issues in relation to racial oppression.
Grate is presenting both of these research projects at NCUR and the Honors Symposium and may also be presenting at Posters on the Hill in Washington D.C. This convention involves presenting projects to senators and other officials on Capitol Hill. She is excited about the prestige of this convention and how it would be a great experience as she transitions into law school post-graduation.