Wilson Fellows showcase research accomplishments

By CLAIRE FOX | April 28, 2016

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Kareem Osman/Photography Editor Senior Wilson Fellows presented diverse research projects at this year’s poster session.

The annual Woodrow Wilson Poster Session, featuring the culmination of research that senior Wilson Fellows completed over the past four years, took place Thursday, April 21, in the Glass Pavilion.

All 20 graduating Fellows displayed the results of their research during a poster session walkthrough, after which Director of the Woodrow Wilson Program Steven David and Dean of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences (KSAS) Beverly Wendland gave welcome speeches. Following the introduction, three selected seniors presented their research projects.

The Woodrow Wilson Undergraduate Research Fellowship offers a select group of KSAS students funding to work closely with a faculty mentor and to pursue a research project of their choice throughout their undergraduate years at Hopkins.

In his introductory welcome, David detailed the importance of the program by refuting claims that undergraduates cannot do independent research.

“Every year, I see these posters, and they are great counter-arguments to those who cast skepticism on the Woodrow Wilson Program,” he said. “Those who said the program would never work essentially made two arguments: One, undergraduates can’t do research... and secondly, if they can do research, maybe the scientists can do it but not the humanists and social scientists, and both of these arguments are dramatically confuted by [the students’ research].”

Echoing David’s sentiment about the significance of the Fellowship, Wendland noted that those in the small pool of students who receive this university-funded experience will be a part of a prestigious network.

“The Woodrow Wilson Program really is a hallmark of the Hopkins experience,” she said. “It really highlights the strengths that Hopkins brings to the educational opportunities for students here... and it’s always exciting to see the senior Wilsons mentor the incoming students and hopefully continue to extend these connections beyond to the graduated students.”

In the past, Wilson Fellows have gone on to receive Truman, Rhodes and Marshall Scholarships. This year, Arielle Kaden was awarded a Fulbright Arts Grant to continue her research in Berlin.

Kaden, a Writing Seminars major minoring in Jewish Studies, designed a project titled “Building a Jewish Future: The Resurgence of Jewish Life in Europe, Post World War II.” This project included trips to Poland, Germany and France to conduct research on the modern political, social and religious dialogues in the Jewish communities in those countries.

Kaden attributed the origins of her research to her own lack of knowledge about contemporary Jewish history.

“Coming into college, I only thought of Jewish history in Europe as being the story of the Holocaust, and I never really considered the question of what happened to the Jews who stayed in Europe after the war,” she said. “So I decided I was going to travel to Europe and interview as many people as would speak to me.”

Kaden is also the recipient of one of five Fulbright Young Professional Journalist Program grants and will be studying at the University of Potsdam to continue her research and write a memoir about her experiences and findings.

Other research projects ranged from Rachel McCoy’s “The Digital Revolution: How The Democratic Party has leveraged Email and Online Fundraising to Target Grassroots Donors,” to Yi Shao’s “Targeting Hippocampal Dysfunction Improves Cognition in a Schizophrenia Model,” to Henry Bernstein’s “The Films of ‘The Now’: A Cinematic Exploration of Technology’s Effect on Society.”

Kenneth Co, a mathematics major, used his funding for in-depth research on the probabilistic framework of shooting optimal shots in soccer, analyzing where players should aim for any given game situation. He stated that his passion for the sport served as his driving inspiration.

“I chose this research mainly because I was looking for a project I was personally interested in,” Co said. “I love soccer, and I was pretty good in statistics, so why not?”

Based on his experience working with Professor John Wierman of the Department of Applied Mathematics and Statistics, Co explained how the educational benefits of the program went beyond just the research.

“I learned so much from just working closely with my mentor, like how to build a statistical model, and knowing that research and technical writing is something that takes time and that you have to revise a lot to make sure it’s very clear,” he said.

Similarly, Kaden praised the university’s investment in its students’ ambitions.

“I think it’s so cool to go to a school that believes in your dreams as much as you do,” she said. “The Wilson Program really supports that — not only financially investing in their students, but also giving them the community of Wilson Fellows that they need to inspire them.”

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