Undergraduate Research Projects

As a center for new discoveries in the liberal arts, Georgia Tech's Ivan Allen College offers a wealth of opportunities for undergraduate research. This is a substantial experience with the potential to advance knowledge in a field. The undergraduate research plan includes independent, faculty-guided research and a research-based senior thesis or design project. A highlight for many students is the one-to-one mentoring by faculty who are engaged in cutting-edge research in the social sciences and humanities.

From augmented reality to AI dancers to 1970s feminist science fiction and more, these are some of the wide-ranging research projects involving students and faculty in Ivan Allen College.

Research by School

School of Economics

  • Economics major John Graves worked on an undergraduate research paper with Associate Professor Shatakshee Dhongde in Fall 2022 titled “Impact of COVID-19 Deaths and Industries with High COVID-19 Health Risk on Unemployment.”
  • South Korean exchange student Heecue Kim worked with Dhongde on an undergraduate research project titled “Bridging the Digital Divide in Internet Connectivity: A Case Study in Atlanta’s Westside Neighborhood” in Spring 2022.
  • Economics major Carson Cole is working on an NSF project, “Edge Computing for Bringing Smart Services to Underserved Urban Communities,” with Dhongde.
  • Assistant Professor Dylan Brewer recently worked with economics major Conner Holt on “Pork or punishment: Close Gubernatorial Elections and the Flow of Intergovernmental Revenues” and with economics major Zachary Humphries on “Calls for Help: The Relationship Between Weather and Domestic Violence.”
  • Economics major Samantha Cameron researched and wrote "Habit Formation in Recycling" with Brewer, which is currently under review for publication.
  • Brewer is also working with economics major Sarah Goldgar on "High Temperatures and Evictions: Implications of Climate Change,” economics major Rylee Calhoun on "The Value of Information: Evidence From air Pollution Monitor Adoption and Disadoption," and economics major Graham Lewis on "Where Will People Live Under Work-from-home?"

Additional links, resources, and information in the School of Economics:

School of History and Sociology

  • History, technology, and society (HTS) major Gina Loo is working on “The Hong Kong Protest Across Mass Media in Australia and Canada” with Assistant Professor Kate Pride Brown.

  • HTS major Jacob Young is working on “The Cult of Edward the Martyr and the Authorship of the Passio and Miracula” with Lecturer Dana Viezure.

  • Milan Riddick, a recent graduate with a health, medicine, and society minor, is working on “Mistrust of the COVID-19 Vaccine Among Black Citizens of Georgia” with Associate Professor Jennifer Singh.

  • Sports, society, and technology minor Jenny Shen is working on a project that explores tennis icon Arthur Ashe and his relationship with and views about women. Her faculty advisor is Associate Professor Johnny Smith.

  • Computer science majors Marissa Gardner, Morris Wan, and Juntae Park are working with LMC Academic Professional Brad Rittenhouse and HSOC Assistant Professor Todd Michney on the Ivan Allen Digital Archive. Within the collection is the Mayoral Records Archive, a digital humanities project that collects the digitized mayoral records of former Atlanta Mayor Ivan Allen Jr. The archive includes material from one of the most historic decades in Atlanta’s history. It functions as the primary digital repository for the history of Allen’s role in the passage of the Civil Rights Act, the history of race relations in 1960s Atlanta, the construction of the Atlanta Stadium, massive changes in desegregation, infrastructure, housing, and transportation overseen by Allen’s administration, and much more. Originally digitized by a team of researchers and students with the support of the Digital Integrated Liberal Arts Center (DILAC) and funded by the Mellon Foundation, the team continues to develop this Omeka-based project as a pedagogical resource for use in the Writing and Communication Program at Georgia Tech.

Additional links, resources, and information for students in the School of History and Sociology:

School of Literature, Media, and Communication

  • Science fiction studies minors Josie Benner and Edeliz Zuleta and computational media majors Olivia Kiklica and Jessica Taetle are working with Regents Professor of Science Fiction Studies Lisa Yaszek on The Future is Female, Vol 2: The 1970s. The Sci Fi Lab research team helped Yaszek prepare her forthcoming anthology of 1970s feminist science fiction for publication by ranking stories and then researching and writing author biographies for the twenty-five authors included in the volume. To date, Yaszek and the team have presented their work at the annual CUNY City Tech Science Fiction Symposium and on the award-winning podcast The Outer Dark. They are currently preparing to present at the Science Fiction Research Association conference in Oslo, Norway, this summer.

  • Computer science major Daniel Carr is working with Associate Professor Michael Nitsche on Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) VR. For the project, they designed and prototyped a VR-based assistive technology for patients in a collaboration between Georgia Tech and Emory University. It focuses on two separate deliverables. The first is a VR-based interface for patients that optimizes their field of view for their particular AMD condition and the second is a desktop interface for experts to assess and optimize the digital mapping for such a VR visualization.

  • Ruby Hembree, a Literature, Media, and Communication major with threads in media and interactive design, is working with Associate Professor Gregory Zinman on her thesis “TikTok Aesthetics.” It covers the aesthetics of TikTok both in relation to older forms of the moving image as well as with regard to the ways platform video has created new genres of and visual grammar for the moving image.

  • Computational media major Amanda Wang and computer science majors Angela Dai and Joy Dang are working with Distinguished Professor Janet Murray on the Pickrick Site Civil Rights History Augmented Reality Project. Murray’s interdisciplinary team is creating an Augmented Reality application to document the site of a historic set of actions — now part of the Georgia Tech EcoCommons — that led to the enforcement of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

  • Computer science major May Lawver is working with Murray on the Story Structure Project, which involves creating two interconnected Virtual Reality games.

  • Computational media majors Jace Walden and Cassandra Naoimi are working with Professor Brian Magerko and Research Scientist Duri Long on LuminAI. Naoimi is a lead Unity developer and undergraduate researcher on the project and Walden does data analysis. LuminAI explores how to learn from dancers’ contemporary movement improvisation practices to develop an AI dancer that can improvise with a human partner.

Additional links, resources, and information for students in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication:

School of Modern Languages

  • Fuad Youssef, an applied languages and intercultural studies (ALIS) major with a concentration in Chinese, is working on “Fractality in Chinese Prose” with Associate Professor Jin Liu.

  • Sarah Eisenstadt, an ALIS major with a concentration in French, is working on “Colors, History and Autobiography in Chagall’s Paintings” with Associate Professor Stéphanie Boulard. The paper aims to examine Chagall’s usage of color in reference to its historical interpretation and Chagall’s autobiography and to analyze Rembrandt’s influence upon Chagall’s artwork.

  • Anna Gardner, a German minor, is researching “German Artists and Digital Art” with her faculty advisor Associate Professor Britta Kallin.

  • Samuel Weiss-Cowie, an ALIS major with a concentration in Korean and minor in linguistics, is researching “Korea-US-Japan Relations: The Postwar Era vs. the 2010s” with Associate Professor Yongtaek Kim.

  • Yasmeen Herb, an international affairs and modern languages (IAML) major with a concentration in Chinese, is working on “Examining China’s Sustainability: The Three Gorges Dam” with Assistant Professor Lu Liu. In it, Herb traces the discourse of “sustainable development” in China from the 1990s to the present and examines the promises, predicaments, and challenges of sustainability from the case study of the Three Gorges Dam.

  • Christina Leo, an ALIS major with a concentration in Chinese, is working with Liu on “Learning Medical Chinese from the Case Study of Alzheimer’s Disease.” The project is helping Leo build up medicine-related vocabulary and expressions for her future graduate study.

  • African studies minors Alyssa Tran and Esha Kashyap are working with Professor Chris Ippolito on independent study courses on “Climate Change in Kenya” and “African Food Security,” respectively. The latter explores the evolution of African food culture and different factors that affect food insecurity in African nations, with a special focus on Ethiopia.

Additional links, resources, and information for students in the School of Modern Languages:

School of Public Policy

  • Public policy major Rena Marrotta is working with Professor Julia Melkers on “Evaluation of the Climate and Student Experience in Civil and Environmental Engineering.”

  • Lydia Weiderholt, a public policy major, and Katie Marchese, a double major in public policy and history, technology, and society, are working with Melkers on “Evaluating the Student Experience in the OMSCS and Traditional Masters in Computing Programs at Georgia Tech: Gender and Other Factors.” The project includes a faculty collaborator in the School of Psychology.

  • Public policy major Riley Majeske is working with Visiting Assistant Professor Cale Reeves on “Information Exchanges Among Green-tech Firms on a Dancing Fitness Landscape.”

  • Michael Landon, a public policy minor, is working with Reeves on “Evolution of Communication Strategies in Agent-Based Model Publications.”

  • Emma Menardi, a double major in public policy and history, technology, and society, is working with Professor Mary Frank Fox on “Work-Family Policies at Universities; Study of Published Knowledge about Women, Science, and Engineering.” Menardi is also working with Assistant Professor Lindsey Bullinger on “The Effect of Pharmacy Access to Contraceptives and Women’s Preventive Care Use.”

  • B.S. in Public Policy students Amara Rangwala and Sonia Doshi are working with Professor and School Chair Cassidy Sugimoto on “How Institutions Reinforce or Mitigate Intersectional Disparities in Science.” The research is funded by the Georgia Tech Center for the Study of Women, Science, and Technology.

  • Public policy major Iman Emdad is working with Bullinger on “The Effect of Evictions on Birth Outcomes” and public policy majors Isabel Knofczynski and Lily Mason are working with Bullinger on “Uber and Family Violence.”

Additional links, resources, and information for students in the School of Public Policy:

Sam Nunn School of International Affairs

  • Associate Professor Mariel Borowitz and Professor Brian Woodall are leading a research project called Sustainable Megacities with international affairs majors Angela Howard and Michelle Lee, global development minor Daisy Zhou, and international affairs minor Jessica Zhang. The interdisciplinary research group also includes computer science major Gavin Rolls, aerospace engineering major Yuji Takubo, civil engineering major Maria Costa, and Associate Professor Shatakshee Dhongde in the School of Economics.
  • Global development minor Simrill Smith and International affairs majors Samyuthka Sundararajan and Adrian Medina are working with Woodall on “Building Institutional Resilience to 'Black Swan' Events.”
  • In addition to the Sustainable Cities project, Borowitz is working with international affairs minor Reem El Ghazal and aerospace engineering major Althea Noonan on “Strategic Rationale for Cislunar Activities.” She is also working with international affairs and modern languages (IAML) major Reed Walker on “Space Diplomacy: Comparing China’s Digital Belt and Road Program and the NASA SERVIR Program” and with international affairs major Isabelle-Yara Nassar on “Estimating the Value of Satellite Data in Halting the Transmission of Polio in Nigeria.”
  • Tony Xu, an economics and international affairs (EIA) major, is working with Professor Michael Best on “Innovation Spaces in Shenzhen.” Ankit Meta, a computer science major, is working with Professor Best on “Community-Based COVID-19 Social Media Monitoring and Response” and Cuong (Johnny) Nguyen, also a computer science major, is working with Professor Best on “Digital Threats to Democracy.”
  • Varun Roy, an international affairs minor, and Vignesh Sreedhar, a computer science major, are working with Vicki Birchfield, professor and co-director for the Center for European and Transatlantic Studies, on “The European Union’s Capacity to Lead in Ethical and Secure Artificial Intelligence.”
  • EIA major Pooja Patel helped Professor Fei-Ling Wang research North Korean nuclear issues.
  • IAML major Kaylin Nolan is helping Wang prepare to publish book manuscript on China.
  • International affairs majors Ainsley Brown, Madison Jubin, and Anokhi Patel, along with dual INTA and public policy major Kate Cullen, are working with Assistant Professor Rachel Whitlark on “The Role of Leaders in Nuclear Politics.”

Additional links, resources, and information for students in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs: