How to get Involved in Undergraduate Research in Ivan Allen College

Are you interested in undergraduate research opportunities in the Ivan Allen College? Are you curious about how to get involved or what liberal arts research looks like?  

This guide to undergraduate research in Ivan Allen College answers all these questions and more.  

Keep reading to discover an extensive list of research opportunities in IAC, as well as funding sources, conferences, and advice from undergraduate students in the same place as you. Finally, we’ll highlight current undergraduate research projects with students and faculty in each of the six Schools in Ivan Allen College to inspire you to get involved! 

This article aims to pull together the most relevant resources from the School, College, Institute and external websites into one place. If there’s something you think we should add, please email us at communications@iac.gatech.edu. 

Now, let’s dive in! 

 

LMC Associate Professor Yanni Loukasis and students explore data around Atlanta through his guided Map Room research. Yanni encourages students to focus less on the norms and look to the extremes. His research informed his book, "All Data Are Local" which describes data's sense of place.
LMC Associate Professor Yanni Loukasis and students explore data around Atlanta through his guided Map Room research. Yanni encourages students to focus less on the norms and look to the extremes. His research informed his book, "All Data Are Local" which describes data's sense of place.

 

Undergraduate Research in IAC: An Overview 

First, let’s begin with some research tips from Jacob Aguirre in the School of Economics. Jacob is an undergraduate research ambassador and has presented his work on youth and adult e‐cigarette use at the ACC Meeting of the Minds Conference — all on top of completing dual degrees in economics and mathematics in only two years! He writes:

1. What is research?

This is quite a common question to be asked. What is research, and why is it important? Who would ever want to read such a long, boring academic paper? These are some common themes I hear when presenting to classes about opportunities here at Georgia Tech.

Oxford Dictionary defines research as the “systematic investigation or inquiry aimed at contributing to knowledge of a theory, topic, etc., by careful consideration, observation, or study of a subject.” In fact, research often isn’t ever over, even when you’ve published a paper on something. It’s something that is always continuing and developing.

To some, this can be tedious as it will take a lot of time to reach your goals and determine if a solution even exists to your question. Others — hopefully including you — see this as an exciting and challenging situation. Maybe no one has answered your question before, or perhaps someone has, but you think a different method will lead to more favorable outcomes?

Whether you assist your professor or lead your own project, you’ll receive guidance, support, and the benefit of their expertise. Students can also receive funding from many sources. Additionally, many faculty members across academic departments hire students directly to serve as research assistants. The Presidential Undergraduate Research Award (PURA) can provide hourly wages for research work as well.

2. Why do research? 

If you’re considering graduate school, undergraduate research can be a fantastic way to build your CV and demonstrate to the admissions committee that you’re ready for graduate school. Research also allows you to learn to effectively communicate your ideas and how to analyze and critique the work of others. You could have the greatest idea for a paper, but if you can’t effectively communicate your research, you have nothing.

Even if you aren’t considering graduate school, you should still consider doing undergraduate research. You can create a well-rounded resume showing “hands-on” experience and demonstrate that you know how to produce results and can work well in a team environment. More and more, academic papers are often written with another author or a team. These are all qualities and traits that an employer would love to see.

Further, you’ll build a strong working relationship with a faculty mentor and be able to ask for a letter of recommendation when applying for a job. By completing a research course with a professor and developing a project, you have a tangible piece of evidence of your hard work that you can show to potential employers.

3. Opportunities at Georgia Tech 

The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) at Georgia Tech offers immense resources and can help you find the research experience you’re looking for.

Furthermore, Georgia Tech also has the Undergraduate Research Ambassadors. This is a group of around 30 students from all colleges and majors. They primarily help students interested in getting a first research opportunity and discovering potential openings.

In their list of ten steps to get involved in research, UROP suggests that students should identify four or five faculty members whose interests mirror their own. Stay after class, talk to them! They’re likely more than happy to share how they got into their career path and the research they pursue and can share valuable advice with you.

Then, “decide on the time commitment you can make to your research. Determine how many hours per week, weeks per semester, and semesters per year you can dedicate to your project,” UROP suggests. A single credit hour of research often relates to around three hours of commitment. So, for a three-credit course, you’re expected to commit around nine hours a week. Is this feasible for you? If it isn’t, perhaps try another semester. You need to be honest with yourself and how much you’re willing to put in.

Also, understand your expectations and those of your faculty mentor. This is extremely important, especially if you’ll be doing research for credit! After your first initial semester of work, determine for yourself if you’d like to continue. Perhaps you’d like to try a different lab or a new area of interest.

4. Tips and Tricks 

The biggest tip I would give anyone considering research is to talk to students of the professor you’re interested in working with. Figure out the atmosphere of the lab.

How well does the professor treat their students? Are the expectations reasonable? You do not want to be doing research with a professor only to find out later that their personality doesn’t mesh well with yours.

If you’re considering graduate school, you’ll likely need a good letter of recommendation. Ask yourself, is this a professor from whom I can probably get a good letter of recommendation? Are they someone who would go to bat for you and is willing to vouch for your research expertise? These are some of the questions you need to consider!

Now that you know how to get started, here are some links to help you do so.

 

Undergraduate student researchers in the School of Public Policy started their summer in style — by traveling around Europe to research and present alongside graduate students from three countries. Professor Julia Melkers, director of the Research on Careers in Science Lab in the School of Public Policy, organized the trip, which included stops in Vienna, Austria; Bristol, England; and Leiden, The Netherlands.
Undergraduate student researchers in the School of Public Policy started their summer in style — by traveling around Europe to research and present alongside graduate students from three countries. Professor Julia Melkers, director of the Research on Careers in Science Lab in the School of Public Policy, organized the trip, which included stops in Vienna, Austria; Bristol, England; and Leiden, The Netherlands.

 

Undergraduate research opportunities in Ivan Allen College 

Did you know that the Ivan Allen College has 20 research centers and labs? Many of them hire undergraduate and graduate researchers to work on projects and even co-author published papers! There are many other campus and external resources to draw on as well:

  • Georgia Tech Interdisciplinary Research Institutes (IRIs)– GT has ten interdisciplinary research institutes where faculty, students, and researchers work to solve pressing challenges. Ivan Allen College faculty are particularly active in the Energy and Sustainable Systems IRIs.

  • Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) — Use the “student” filter to find open positions on the careers page.

  • GT 1000 class — GT 1000 is a one-credit hour seminar for first-year students interested in pursuing research at Georgia Tech

  • The GVU Center - The GVU center currently supports 250 projects across 80 labs and 23 interdisciplinary research areas.

  • PairMe — PairMe is a virtual platform where faculty and researchers post open research positions for students.

  • The Research Option — The Research Option is a multi-course research track at Georgia Tech. It is open to all undergraduate students, but specifically geared toward those planning to attend graduate school or pursue a career in research and development. Find the research option undergraduate coordinator for your school.

  • Undergraduate Research Ambassador (URA) Office Hours — Undergraduate research ambassadors provide one-on-one support to students, helping you explore your interests, contact faculty members, and find open research positions on campus.

  • Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) — VIPs are faculty-led interdisciplinary teams of undergraduate and graduate students. You can receive academic credit or pay for working on a VIP research team.

In addition, you can keep up with research news across campus through the research website, newsletter, and monthly bulletin (all of which can be found on the Institute Research Communications & Outreach page), meet researchers across campus through the Faces of Research Q&As, and find more external Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) through the National Science Foundation

Most importantly, don’t forget to talk to your professors! UROP has some helpful tips on how to contact them. Here are the faculty members in each school — browse through their profiles to learn more about each professor’s field of study.

Consider your favorite classes and interests - which one do you want to pursue further? Remember, you don’t only have to pursue research related to your major — if a class in your minor sparks your interest, reach out to the professor to see if there’s anything they’re working on that you can help out with! Experience across fields and disciplines is a great strength to develop during your time in Ivan Allen College and beyond it.

 

Aerial view of Savant Building on Cherry Street, home of Georgia Tech's Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts
The Savant Building on Cherry Street, home of Georgia Tech's Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts

 

Undergraduate research funding, awards, and scholarships in Ivan Allen College

  • Prestigious Fellowship Advising from the Office of Undergraduate Education - Prestigious Fellowships Advising provides guidance for students and alumni considering application for nationally and internationally competitive fellowship opportunities.

  • Presidential Undergraduate Research Award (PURA) — PURA awards fund student salaries to conduct undergraduate research with Georgia Tech faculty and offset travel expenses for undergraduates to present their research at professional conferences.

  • PURA Travel Award — Undergraduate students whose research has been accepted for presentation at a professional or academic conference may apply for up to $1,000 in PURA Travel Award funding.

  • Stamps President’s Scholars Program – Four-year full-ride scholarship that includes $12,000 enrichment funding for pillar-based international experiences, unpaid internships, unpaid research, and conferences.

 

Students work on their projects during a session of PUBP 4020, the senior-level capstone for students in Georgia Tech's School of Public Policy. During the course, also known as Policy Task Force, students apply the knowledge and skills from their undergraduate studies, internships and other experiences to address a current policy problem.
Students work on their projects during a session of PUBP 4020, the senior-level capstone for students in Georgia Tech's School of Public Policy. During the course, also known as Policy Task Force, students apply the knowledge and skills from their undergraduate studies, internships and other experiences to address a current policy problem.

 

What is liberal arts research? Explore recent student projects in IAC

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:

Undergraduate research projects in the 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:

 

Georgia Tech Econ Club members at the Fall 2021 Org Fair
GT Econ Club members at the Fall Student Organizations Fair.

 

Undergraduate research projects in the School of History and Sociology (HSOC)

  • 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: 

 

Undergraduate student Jacob Young presents his work at the HSOC Spring 2022 Undergraduate Research Symposium
Undergraduate student Jacob Young presents his work at the HSOC Spring 2022 Undergraduate Research Symposium.

 

Undergraduate research projects in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication (LMC)

  • 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 a specialization 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:

 

A team of students led by Janet Murray, distinguished professor in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication, and Todd Michney, assistant professor in the School of History and Sociology, created an augmented reality project bringing the history of the Pickrick Restaurant, which once stood on what is now part of the Georgia Tech campus, to life. 
A team of students led by Janet Murray, distinguished professor in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication, and Todd Michney, assistant professor in the School of History and Sociology, created an augmented reality project bringing the history of the Pickrick Restaurant, which once stood on what is now part of the Georgia Tech campus, to life.

 

Undergraduate research projects in the 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:

 

Students and faculty in the Japanese Program of the School of Modern Languages celebrate Japan Day on Nov. 16, 2021, during International Education Week.
Students and faculty in the Japanese Program of the School of Modern Languages celebrate Japan Day on Nov. 16, 2021, during International Education Week.

 

Undergraduate research projects in the 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 Edad 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:

 

Undergraduate public policy seniors presented their task force projects at the Spring 2022 Capstone Design Expo in McCamish Pavilion.
Undergraduate public policy seniors presented their task force projects at the Spring 2022 Capstone Design Expo in McCamish Pavilion.

 

Undergraduate research projects in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs (INTA)

  • 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:

 

Students in the Study Abroad Program at United Nations University Institute on Computing and Society with INTA professors Fei-Ling Wang and Mike Best (third and second from right respectively)
Students in the Study Abroad Program at United Nations University Institute on Computing and Society with INTA professors Fei-Ling Wang and Mike Best (third and second from right respectively).

 

Undergraduate research conferences and symposiums

Now that you’ve completed your research project, it’s time to share it with the world. Conferences and symposiums are a great opportunity to present your work and network with students, faculty, and the public. There are conferences here at Georgia Tech and all around the country and the world. You may be interested in presenting at these events (descriptions quoted from linked websites):

  • Undergraduate Research Symposium — Georgia Tech’s largest undergraduate research colloquium and a great opportunity to share your research with students and faculty from all over campus and gain valuable skills and presentation experience.

  • ACC Meeting of the Minds Conference — If you are an undergraduate student currently enrolled in classes on the Georgia Tech Atlanta campus, you are eligible to apply to represent Georgia Tech at the ACC Meeting of the Minds Conference. Georgia Tech will be sending five outstanding undergraduate researchers as delegates to present at this conference along with a faculty representative.

  • National Collegiate Research Conference - The largest undergraduate-run conference that bringings undergraduate researchers from across the nation and across numerous disciplines to Harvard every January.

  • National Conferences on Undergraduate Research — This gathering of student scholars welcomes presenters from all institutions of higher learning and all corners of the academic curriculum. Through this annual conference, NCUR creates a unique environment for the celebration and promotion of undergraduate student achievement; provides models of exemplary research, scholarship, and creative activity; and helps to improve the state of undergraduate education.

  • Posters on the Hill — It is more important than ever that the voices of undergraduate researchers and their mentors are heard on Capitol Hill. This prestigious event celebrates the impressive work of the accepted students and supports the messages about theof the importance of undergraduate research at the federal level.

  • Sigma Xi Student Research Showcase — The Student Research Showcase is an online science communication competition in which students compete for awards and recognition of outstanding virtual research presentations. The competition is open to high school, undergraduate, and graduate students, and most worldwide research disciplines are represented across thirteen categories.

  • The World Congress on Undergraduate Research - The World Congress on Undergraduate Research (WorldCUR) brings together the world's best undergraduate researchers to focus on some of the most significant challenges facing the global community. Students across the world are invited to share their research, discuss global issues, and create or strengthen international research partnerships.

Finally, when you’re ready to present your work, these poster and presentation tips and resources can help. Good luck on your undergraduate research journey at Ivan Allen College!