SISRM Alumni

Read more about the 2021 SISRM RA program in the summer 2021 issue of Dialogo.

About Our Students

Since its pilot in 2018, SISRM has grown from just one course and a handful of students to a robust program of 8 courses, daily workshops, and 125+ student participants.

Our students come from diverse backgrounds and possess a variety of academic and professional skills and goals. In our most recent cohort the student body included UChicago undergraduates participating in the RA fellows program, visiting undergraduate students in the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Summer Research Training Program (MMUF SRTP), and pre-college students from the Laboratory Schools and the Center for Data and Computing (CDAC) Summer Lab program.

SISRM fellows complete the program well-positioned for future academic and research pursuits. Throughout the program, fellows are exposed to programming and career resources that focus on thinking critically and creatively about skills and their applications.

2019 SISRM Cohort

SISRM RA Fellows

A core component of the Summer Institute is the Research Assistant program. The fellows who participate in this program work as part-time assistants on ongoing faculty projects throughout the University. For many students, this experience is the first introduction to a large academic research project.

Our alumni build on the skills gained during the RA program to pursue additional research opportunities, both on and off campus. Many view the RA program as a building block for their own academic pursuits and use the skills developed and relationships made to complete a BA thesis.

 

62 undergraduates and 45 faculty members participated in the RA fellows program in Summer 2021.

 

As a rising second-year it was challenging to find summer opportunities that didn’t require prior experience in research. SISRM actually gave me the opportunity to build that research experience from scratch.

Michael G.
SISRM 2021

RA Majors

Anthropology
Art History
Biological Sciences
Classics
Comparative Human Development
Computational and Applied Mathematics
Computer Science
Creative Writing
Critical Race and Ethnic Studies
Data Science
Digital Studies
East Asian Languages & Civilizations
Economics
English
Environmental and Urban Studies
Environmental Science
Gender and Sexuality Studies
Geographical Sciences
Geophysical Sciences
Global Studies
History
History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Science
Latin American and Caribbean Studies
Law, Letters, and Society
Linguistics
Mathematics
Music
Neuroscience
Philosophy
Political Science
Psychology
Public Policy Studies
Russian and Eastern European Studies
Sociology
Statistics

RA Minors

Arabic
Architectural Studies
Biological Sciences
Computer Science
Creative Writing
Digital Studies
Education and Society
French
Geographic Information Science
Health and Society
History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Science
History
Human Rights
Inequality, Social Problems, and Change
Mathematics
Quantitative Social Analysis
Romance Languages and Literatures
Statistics
Visual Arts

SISRM fellows listen to a workshop presenter (2019)

Featured SISRM Alumni

Teddy S. (Class of 2023)

Teddy Sandler is a third-year student in the College pursuing a double major in art history and anthropology. In Summer 2021, Teddy participated in SISRM and enrolled in Virtual Ethnographic Field Research Methods. After taking a leave of absence during the previous academic year, she wanted to find something that would get her back into the rhythm of schoolwork while also ensuring that she got research experience. When asked about her participation in the program, Teddy said that SISRM was the perfect intersection for jumping back into an academic routine while simultaneously getting practice conducting research.

Over the summer, Teddy worked with faculty mentor Orianna Cacchione from the department of Art History. Teddy’s research focused primarily on data visualization. She worked on finding quantitative connections in the art world between artists in the Transpacific region and analyzed how their art impacted movements, fellow collaborators, and future artists. Therefore, Teddy’s research assistantship effectively combined her interests in art, anthropology, and ethnography.

When Teddy was asked about how the skills and tools that she gained by participating in SISRM are related to her future academic and professional interests, she replied by emphasizing that both the ethnography course and her research assistantship have played large roles in shaping her current research, which centers around design.

“Design leeches into every part of our lives and changes the ways in which we approach the world and how we create futures. Studying their histories and societal impacts lets us design for different causes and make change and ingrain them in the legacy of the things we leave behind.”

As Teddy reflected on her experience with SISRM, she observed how the program created an environment that allowed her to develop skills related to her current and future work. Teddy also commented that taking a class during the summer was particularly beneficial to her; she said that the lack of additional classes to worry about permitted her to focus much more time and energy into her classwork and RAship.

Teddy expressed that she had a wonderful experience with her faculty mentor. She was rehired as a research assistant for the academic year, which has allowed her relationship with Dr. Cacchione to continue blossoming as she expands her research skills. Teddy also mentioned that, even though classes were virtual in Summer 2021 due to the pandemic, she found that there were certainly benefits to online learning. She noted that having access to recorded classes was useful because it allowed her to go back and re-watch the lectures, which helped her to better retain the information.

Lastly, in thinking about why other students should participate in SISRM, Teddy described how the program fosters an atmosphere where students are easily connected to a large network of coworkers and friends. Access to a network of fellow researchers who can help expand, challenge, and encourage your ideas is invaluable!

(Student Spotlight from Summer 2021)

Maggie R. (Class of 2024)

Maggie Rivera, a second-year in the College, is majoring in Public Policy Studies with a minor in Creative Writing. Maggie chose to enroll in SISRM because she wanted to expose herself to a variety of academic and professional opportunities while at the University of Chicago, but she also wanted some solid experience specifically with research. As Maggie sought research opportunities, she realized that it was challenging for a rising second-year student to obtain a research assistant position, because she did not yet have ample background experience. SISRM was the perfect fit for her. Maggie was able to gain valuable quantitative skills by taking Computing for the Social Sciences; she learned how to use the basics of data analysis, which proved quite useful for her RAship with faculty mentor Eve Ewing at the Crown School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice. As Maggie reflected on her experience with SISRM, she noted that the program is “very accessible” to students. Maggie enjoyed how the structure of the program enables students to first develop necessary research skills in a classroom setting, which then allows them to confidently carry out their research and engage with faculty members.

In describing the skills that she developed by participating in the methodologies course, Maggie said that learning the ins and outs of basic R coding in the classroom allowed her to complete her assigned lab work effectively. Maggie also received funding to continue working on the same research project throughout the academic year, so she is still putting those R skills she honed over the summer to good use.

Maggie works at the Beyond Schools Lab, a small research group focused on understanding how seemingly non-educational structures of social inequality shape the everyday lives of young people and their experiences with school. Maggie’s project in the summer focused on providing a content analysis of how Christopher Columbus is portrayed in school curriculum. This work is contributing to Professor Ewing’s book on history curriculum and critical social studies curriculum. Maggie presently is working on a project designed to extend her analysis from the summer.

As she reflected on her relationship with Professor Ewing and the other supervisors, Maggie highlighted how much she appreciated the understanding and compassion that they showed her. As a student with a busy schedule, Maggie was grateful that Professor Ewing was respectful of her time constraints. Additionally, she said that her supervisors were consistently supportive and attentive. Not only did Professor Ewing and members of the lab check in on Maggie’s progress with her research, but they also made sure that Maggie was carving out time for herself. Thus, Maggie suggested that her supervisors prioritized her mental and emotional health, which allowed her to confidently complete her work without feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. Maggie felt like her partnership with Professor Ewing allowed her research to flourish.

A key aspect of SISRM is participating in the Practice of Social Science Research Workshop. Maggie recalled a workshop where a member from the Center for Spatial Data Science presented on his work and outlined the technology that he incorporates into his research projects. Maggie said that this presentation sparked her interest in spatial data science; consequently, she is currently taking an introductory spatial data science course and plans to take more data science courses in coming years. Maggie is excited to continue strengthening her quantitative skills. The workshop series thus opened her eyes to new academic opportunities available to her at the University.

In Summer 2021, courses were offered virtually. Although remote learning certainly comes with some challenges, Maggie found that she preferred a virtual classroom setting for a few reasons. Since she did not need to spend time commuting, Maggie said that office hours were more easily accessible. Additionally, Maggie observed that, because she is a bit introverted, the virtual style of learning was something that helped her participate more – the raise hands feature and breakout rooms in Zoom encouraged her to ask questions more than she would have in an in-person setting. Interestingly, Maggie believes that the remote instruction improved her overall engagement.

When thinking about why other students should apply for SISRM, Maggie stated,

“[SISRM] is something that is a really good starting place if you don’t have a lot of research experience or opportunities. It’s something that will really meet you where you’re at… [SISRM] is not something that will burn you out. It provides a good mix of different experiences that all contribute to creating the foundation for you to be a good researcher in the future.”

 

(Student Spotlight from Summer 2021)

Jessica S. (Class of 2023)

Jessica Stinson, a third-year in the College, is pursuing a double major in Comparative Human Development and Sociology. Jessica participated in SISRM in Summer 2021 and took Psychological Research Methods. She said that she decided to apply for the program because it seemed like the best option to get involved in research. Furthermore, Jessica wanted to get connected to different resources available to her both at the University of Chicago and beyond. Prior to the program, Jessica felt like she did not have a good grasp on the resources available to her as an undergraduate student. Yet, as she reflected on her experience with the program, Jessica described how SISRM opened her eyes to the variety of resources that she could access, including those available in the library and through the College Center for Research and Fellowships.

During the workshop series and her research assistantship, Jessica learned about the multitude of ways to conduct and engage with research. She said that SISRM gave her a solid foundation for understanding the different steps that go into completing a research project, which she believes will certainly help her in future projects. Jessica worked as a research assistant for Professor Julian Go in the department of Sociology. Jessica had previously taken one of Professor Go’s courses and she was excited to have the opportunity to conduct research alongside him. Jessica said that Professor Go was a fantastic mentor throughout her entire research assistantship. She noted how he frequently provided her with information and feedback not only relevant to the project she was working on, but also about sociological research more broadly. Jessica was grateful for Professor Go’s willingness to patiently work with her and the way he generously gave her advice that she can employ in the future. Jessica also reflected that, as someone new to the research process, Professor Go was understanding and lead her through the work step by step.

Even though she would have loved to complete the program in-person, Jessica found that the virtual environment in Summer 2021 did have advantages. Jessica emphasized that the ability to access recorded lectures at any time was particularly helpful for her, because it allowed her to re-listen at her own pace.

Jessica hopes to attend graduate school to further her sociological research. She indicated SISRM helped foster her interest in graduate-level research; therefore, by participating in the program, Jessica’s goals for her future academic and professional career were broadened.

When asked why other students should consider applying to SISRM, Jessica stressed that the program is a great way for students who have not yet completed any research to get experience. She also said that the professors and staff associated with SISRM are understanding. Jessica also emphasized that SISRM perfectly bridges the gap between students and professors. Some students might find establishing and building a relationship with professors overwhelming; however, SISRM makes the process easy. Jessica said that she would undoubtedly recommend the program to other students and faculty!

(Student Spotlight from Summer 2021)