Richter Fellows Conducting Research Around the World

Several SMU Honors students this summer are conducting independent research projects around the world, from the state of nonprofit organizations in Kenya to archaeology and art studies at SMU-in-Taos. They are among 40 undergraduates who were granted Richter Research Fellowships during the 2009-10 school year through the University Honors Program.

“The Richters allow students to travel anywhere they want, with SMU’s support, so it’s an incredible world experience,” says David Doyle, director of the University Honors Program and assistant dean of Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. “The students learn how to communicate and organize their work, and how to turn their collected data into research papers.”

Rachel-Louvre.jpg During 2009-10, nine students received fellowships to conduct research in countries of their choosing during the winter and summer terms, and five are carrying out projects in Taos, N.M., in June. (In photo: Rachel Simpson received a Richter fellowship to investigate a new form of French slang, called “Verlan.”)

In addition, students in two courses received Richter fellowships to do research in Europe during spring break. The Cultural Formations class “Sex in America: The World of Henry James” visited England to study the history of gender and sexuality during the 19th century, while an Honors seminar visited Venice and Florence to examine the Italian city during the Renaissance.

SMU is one of a limited number of private colleges and universities nationwide that offer the fellowships, which are supported by the Paul K. and Evalyn E. Cook Richter Memorial Funds. Honors students interested in applying must formulate their own research ideas and find a professor to sponsor their projects.

This year’s winners:

Ana Pia Lara Carrillo is a senior majoring in business management and French with a minor in advertising. She is spending a month in Cannes, France, this summer to investigate the relationship between the wealthy city and its local, national and international charities.

Catherine Myers is a senior majoring in anthropology and biology. This summer, she is traveling to Madrid, Spain, to learn about the integration of people with disabilities into Spanish society.

Kate Kirk, a senior finance major, is analyzing nonprofit organizations in Kenya this summer to determine their effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability.

Sarah Camodeca graduated in December 2009 with a business major and a Spanish minor. She traveled to Kenya in February to investigate how women in the Maasai tribe benefit from microfinance projects.

Daniel Urrutia is a senior majoring in French and finance with a specialization in alternative asset management. He traveled to El Salvador to study the country’s first left-wing ruling party and says he discovered that the country’s government is not as far left as it seems.

Kate Hawks, who graduated in December 2009 with degrees in history and English, spent two months in London investigating the role that religion plays in English political life.

Cristina Sanders is a junior majoring in biochemistry, and Amrita Vir is a junior majoring in finance with minors in Chinese and mechanical engineering. The students traveled to Australia and New Zealand to observe inequalities in educational opportunities for indigenous peoples – primarily the Aboriginals and Maori.

Rachel Simpson graduated in May with degrees in political science and foreign languages. She traveled to the Paris suburbs to investigate a new form of slang, called “Verlan.” She incorporated her work into her Honors thesis in linguistics. Read Rachel’s blog on SMU Adventures.

Richter fellows studying at SMU-in-Taos in June:

Savannah Cravens, a senior majoring in accounting with a French minor, is studying the Taos Pueblo and the Pueblo Indians who live there.

Elizabeth Fulton, a junior majoring in anthropology and environmental studies, is working on an archaeology project.

Jessica Hawks, a junior majoring in English and history, is focusing her research on the Taos Pueblo and Tanoan language groups in Native American folklore tradition.

Kyle Hobratschk, a senior majoring in art, is studying American art – with a focus on the Indian – that was produced in Taos and surrounding artist colonies during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Andoni Vossos, a senior majoring in finance and anthropology, is investigating how Taos’ different cultures affect the region’s business model and success.

– Katie Simon ’11