Five students selected for 2022-23 undergraduate research scholarships


Recipients conducting research on film and television, culture, literature, science and theater

Left to right, Lindsey Co, Shamiya Ford, Emma Zinser, Evelyn McNelis and Emily Porter Siegel.

Five Rider undergraduate students have each been selected for a $5,000 Undergraduate Research Fellowship (URSA) to pursue a research project in an area of ​​interest under the guidance of Rider faculty advisors.

This year’s recipients are Lindsey Co, a major in popular music studies with a minor in film and media studies; Shamiya Ford, English major; Evelyn McNelis, Senior Major in Behavioral Neuroscience; Emily Porter Siegel, sophomore English student and double major film, television and theater actress; and Emma Zinser, Junior Health Sciences Major.

Dr. Kerrie Sendall, academic advisor for the URSA program, explains that the URSA committee selects the five winners each year based on their strong written proposals.

“In particular, these five proposals presented original and innovative ideas,” she says. “Having the ability to launch the career of any young researcher is one of the favorite parts of my job.”

Co will examine the portrayal of Asian Americans in 21st century film and television and its impact on Asian American identity. She will work with Rider faculty members Dr. Cynthia Lucia, director of the Film and Media Studies program, and lecturer Richard Zdan.

Co will attempt to reconcile the growing popularity of Asian American film and television projects with the persistence of anti-Asian sentiment in society.

“Asian American identity not only affects our social interactions, but also our treatment within institutions,” she says. “I hope, by understanding the conditions that contribute to the unprecedented success of Asian Americans in film and television, to determine what needs to be done to achieve representation that promotes equity.”

Ford will focus his research on slave narratives, examining themes of patriarchy, power, and religious coercion. His adviser will be Dr. Kelly Ross, associate professor of English.

Ford, who plans to study English literature in graduate school after graduating from Rider, is excited to take an interdisciplinary approach to her research, through the lenses of literature and religion.

“Religion is one of the most influential and important aspects of black life,” Ford says. “With recent studies showing that members of the black community show symptoms of generational trauma from the centuries our ancestors spent in slavery, I decided to dig deeper into the real-life accounts of those who experienced this trauma first-hand by analyzing the autobiographical accounts of slaves. ”

McNelis will study the potential anti-inflammatory actions of baicalin derivatives on behavior. She will work with Rider’s faculty advisors Dr. Jonathan Karp, professor in the Department of Biology, Behavioral Neurosciences, and Health Sciences, and Dr. Danielle Jacobs, associate professor of chemistry.

McNelis has worked with Karp and Jacobs before, and she looks forward to continuing her research with them as part of the URSA program.

“I would like to continue to grow as a student and improve my understanding of conducting research,” says McNelis. “I wanted to combine my passion for chemistry with my love of biology in order to conduct research in an interdisciplinary approach.

Siegel will research modern adaptations of Ovid Metamorphoses. Their adviser will be Dr. Laurel Harris, assistant professor of English.

For Siegel, this has been a research topic that has been in the works for years. “I found my passion for it in elementary school when I spent hours memorizing different myths, reading collections of them whenever I could,” they say. “When the URSA program came to my attention, I knew I had to apply because the chance to be rewarded for doing something I already love felt like a dream come true.”

Zinser will research Physarum polycephalum, a slime mold commonly known as “gout.” Dr. Julie Drawbridge, a professor in the Department of Biology, Behavioral Neurosciences and Health Sciences, will serve as her advisor.

“Physarum polycephalum are so understudied and so unknown to so many people,” says Zinser. “I really enjoyed working with these organisms and gained a great appreciation for how these organisms navigate their environment, and I want to share that with other people.”

The Undergraduate Research Scholar Awards program was established nearly 20 years ago to encourage and reward excellence in independent student research and scholarship, to enhance collaborative work between students and faculty, and to strengthen the intellectual on campus.

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