A GRC Perspective: Religion and the Problem of Violence

Written by Matthew Dougherty, GRC and graduate student in the Department of Religious Studies

This semester, I had the pleasure of serving as a Graduate Research Consultant again, this time for a First Year Seminar RELI 077: “Martyrs and Warriors: Religion and the Problem of Violence” with Professor Bayne. A class on violence and religion is difficult at the best of times, but this semester was particularly so given the events both in our own community and abroad this year. I was happy to see that most of the students in RELI 077 approached the topic of religion and violence with a sense of immediacy and moral purpose.

My main role in the course was to help the students develop their final projects, which could take the form of papers, multimedia productions, or websites. The purpose of the final project was to help students think through the implications of the topics covered in the course for contemporary events, so many students chose to create websites to reflect their sense that a digital final product would better reflect the fluid state of affairs around many of their chosen topics.

Professor Bayne and I encouraged the students to base their websites around one incident or figure. About half of the students doing websites chose to look at issues in other countries, such as the religious motivation for Russia’s laws against “gay propaganda,” the role of Buddhist monks in encouraging violence against Myanmar’s Muslim minority, and the events surrounding the death of an American missionary in Ecuador. The other half chose to turn the analytic lenses they had learned to use on events in the United States, such as violence against abortion providers by extremist members of the Pro-Life movement, the August 2012 shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, and vandalism at a Muslim school in Rhode Island in response to the shootings in Chapel Hill that wounded our community so deeply.

In working with the students on their projects, a few themes emerged. First, most of them wanted to consider the role that the traditional news media and social media played in the presentation of violence. The vandalism in Rhode Island, for example, was explicitly meant to respond to national debates over whether and how the shootings in Chapel Hill constituted a hate crime. Web sites, because they allow for the integration of videos, sounds, and social media like Twitter feeds, were ideal for tackling that topic. Second, although many of the students wanted to begin their analysis of violent events from the scriptures central to the religions involved, as they thought more deeply about their projects they found that familial, local, economic and political causes were often as influential as religious beliefs on the way that events played out.

My main challenge was to get the students to narrow and deepen their analysis of their chosen topics. From the perspective of a first-year student, it can be difficult to see how one might deal with a given incident without discussing all the possible texts and histories that might have led up to it. Showing them how to pick and choose in order to craft a story that they could reasonably complete—and which would be more comprehensible to their audiences—became a major part of almost all the meetings I had with students. It was a pleasure to watch as students began to understand why I was asking them to cut down what they expected to discuss, and began to make their own editorial decisions.

To see Professor Bayne’s reflection on this class, click here.

RELI 77: Marytrs and Warriors: Religion and the Problem of Violence

Written by Brandon Bayne, Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies

Marytrs and Warriors: Religion and the Problem of Violence (RELI 77) was an experiment for everybody. It was my first time offering the course and my initial experience with a First Year Seminar (FYS). The breadth and sensitivity of the topic daunted us all, even as its pressing urgency and relevance became increasingly clear throughout the semester. For all of these reasons, I was thankful to have the support of an excellent GRC, Matthew Dougherty.

Before the semester began, Matt helped me strategize the most effective assignments as well as pedagogical techniques that would provide important context to the students and prepare them for original research. The course was structured in discrete units that were meant to scaffold together as components of their final project. By engaging contemporary accusations, scriptural citations, scholarly explanations and historical instantiations of religion and violence, I hoped to provide the broader context and intellectual resources for the students so that they could take on their own projects in the last third of the semester. Matt supported the initial instruction by organizing a “scavenger hunt” at Davis Library. Together with library specialists, Matt exposed students to the digital and material resources that would be crucial for their success, including specialized search engines, databases, technology, and yes, even books.

We then guided them through short papers based on close readings of a so-called “texts of terror,” scriptural passages that are typically cited as inspiring violent action. As they interpreted these textual representations of stories like the “Akedah,” Abraham’s binding and potential sacrifice of his son (Isaac or Ishmael, depending on the tradition), we encouraged students to move beyond mastery of content and to an investigation of context and possible consequences for the original audiences. Matt proved especially crucial in pushing them beyond the twin errors of simple summary or rushed anachronism and into critical evaluations that engaged these texts on their own terms.

Their growing skill at combing empathetic understanding with critical inquiry served them well as they took on their final projects. We asked them to pick a contemporary moment of conflict or violence in which religion may have played a dominant role. Instead of taking the category of religion for granted as a discrete sphere of cultural production and direct cause, we encouraged students to imbed their research in local, historical, and social fields. They were asked to also evaluate how other factors contributed to the hostilities. As Matt pointed out in his blog, they found that these other elements proved crucial in understanding what is too often dismissed as “religious fanaticism.” He aided this process significantly as he met with students personally and helped them find the connections between our study and their own research.

Several students gravitated to moments when religion seemed to inspire conflict. At the same time, others charted hatred and fear against religious practitioners as its own source of violence. This reality hit particularly close to home in mid-February, when our class grappled with the brutal murders of Deah Barakat, Yusor and Razan Abu-Salha. Having chosen a topic almost ripped from the headlines, our class conversations had regularly circled around reports of terrorism – from the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, to the saints of the Mexican drug cartels, to the increasingly brutal theatrics of ISIS. However, none of us expected how our topic would touch our city and our campus in such a tragic and heartrending way. In the days after the deaths of Deah, Yusor and Razan, we simply created space to talk about both the murders as well as the campus response. Some knew the victims or were connected through the Muslim student community. They expressed how their faith sustained them as they grappled with its meaning.

As weeks went by, several other students were able to connect our academic study of martyrdom and persecution to the murders and trace the ripples of response that extended from our very campus to other parts of the country and the world in cycles of memorialization and recrimination. Two students, for instance linked vandalism at a New England school to the wider problem of Islamaphobia that may have contributed to murders, but certainly was one of the unfortunate reactions. Other students noted in their research that while Muslims are often presented as the principal perpetrators of terrorism in the media and popular imagination, they often find themselves the primary victims of ideological violence in Africa, Pakistan, Myanmar, and unfortunately even Chapel Hill.


The GRC Experience in Psyc 500: Developmental Psychopathology

Written by Tate Halverson, GRC and graduate student in the Department of Psychology

This semester I served as the Graduate Research Consultant for Professor Eric Youngstrom’s Psyc 500: Developmental Psychopathology class. Psyc 500 is an advanced level undergraduate course that provides an overview of behavioral and emotional disorders of childhood and adolescence. The course is geared towards students interested in attending graduate school in a psychology-related field. Undergraduate students in the class spend the semester writing a special topics paper focused on a behavioral or emotional disorder of their choice as well as a final presentation. My role as GRC this semester allowed students the additional opportunity to extend their interest in a specific disorder to a secondary data analysis project for presentation at an annual professional psychology conference.

I met with students on a weekly basis to discuss what they were learning in class as well as their specific research interests in order to develop hypotheses we were then able to test through secondary data analysis of a multimillion-dollar federally funded National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) study. Professor Youngstrom (instructor and principal investigator of aforementioned study), and other graduate students in my lab also attended the weekly meetings to collaborate on the analyses. At the end of the semester, the students integrated everything they learned (e.g., literature review, statistical analyses, R syntax to generate graphics) into posters for presentation at a professional conference. Topics included: (a) the relationship between sleep disturbance and diagnosis of bipolar disorder, (b) sensitivity to reward and inhibition in conduct disorder, and (c) an examination of the behavioral approach/behavioral inhibition system as a state vs. trait system. Students were able to present their posters to their fellow classmates in Psyc 500, the annual Celebration of Undergraduate Research, and the annual North Carolina Psychological Association Conference to masters and doctoral-level clinicians. Additionally, students have submitted their posters for presentation to the annual Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies Conference to be held in Chicago this fall, a national-level conference for both clinicians and researchers.

I firmly believe the GRC program is a great experience for everyone involved. I gained hands-on mentorship experience working with undergraduate students while concurrently seeking advice on mentorship from my current advisor, Professor Youngstrom. The students did an excellent job on their posters and, apart from this being a great learning experience for them, the opportunity to present at professional conferences will add considerable merit to the CVs of these students as they prepare to apply for post-baccalaureate research positions and graduate school.

Come to the Table: Undergraduate Research on Food and Feasting

Written by Sarah Morris, GRC and graduate student at the School of Information and Library Science

By fate or by fortune, this semester I served as the Graduate Research Consultant for CMPL255H: The Feast in Philosophy, Film, and Fiction. The class is beautiful: the students read, research, and write on the ways food and feasting intersect with identity, custom, ethics, and relationships. They examine what facets of the feast speak to cultural priorities, which ones probe at essential humanity.

I am a graduate student in the department of library sciences. Working with Dr. Inger Brodey as a GRC was a dream, because we were able to scaffold original research into the class, each assignment building on the prior one. The first was primarily a close reading, using supporting texts from the class; the second included research on visual media and artistry along with thematic research in the fields of literature and philosophy; the final assignment was an in-depth, comparative research paper of the student’s choice, where the student linked concepts and texts from the course. As a librarian, I have a vested interest in ensuring that students know where and how to find resources that support their ideas, but as a GRC I was able to also help students see that research should always support and shape one’s argument, not be supplementary or tangential. Original research is where students can contribute to the conversation on ideas that interest them, on texts that inspire them.

Study Gallery at the Ackland

Study Gallery at the Ackland

To emphasize their creative and critical contributions, Dr. Brodey and I created several public platforms for the students to publish their work. We created a virtual site, virtualfeast.net, to publish the student work from all of the sections of this course. Not only do the students see that their work lives in a beautiful place, but they can see how their work contributes to the larger body of ideas from students of this class past and future. We also collaborated with the Ackland Art Museum to create a student-gallery with student-led explanations of the artwork that is on public display. And lastly, the students are urged and prepped to submit their papers to the food issue of the literary journal of Transverse.

Final Feast

Final Feast

My favorite part of class, the aspect that set it apart for me, is that each class was hosted by a student, who did background research for the reading, prepared questions, and brought in food. The term “hosting” assumes an offering, a welcoming, a relationship. It establishes a generosity of spirit that was carried throughout discussion and reflection. Moreover, students exercised important skills that are often left out of academic spheres: how to value and acknowledge the contributions of others (offering gifts to speakers), and how to connect the world of ideas with the world of the living (feeding others with questions and breakfast). Good research not only supports a paper, but strengthens the arguments and ideas as they move beyond the classroom into the lives of the researchers. Through these elements, the class not only researched the feast, but embodied it.

I am grateful to have been the GRC for this course; I am happy to have had a seat at the table.

The Ackland Art Museum, First Year Seminars, and Undergraduate Research

Written by Donna M. Bickford, Associate Director in the Office for Undergraduate Research

On April 29, I had the opportunity to attend part of the Ackland Art Museum’s Spring 2015 Student Showcase. The showcase highlighted work done by students in classes that used the Ackland’s collections as well as presentations from Ackland undergraduate interns.

One of the classes was a research-exposure GRC-supported First Year Seminar: ARTH 89.001 Islamic Art and Science taught by Dr. Glaire D. Anderson in the Art Department.

pocketwatchTwo students from the class presented. Claire Drysdale was interested in the relationship between magic and medicine in the modern era. She looked at a particular pocket watch in the Ackland’s collection. The Swiss-made watch is decorated with Koranic text and symbols. According to Drysdale, the protective qualities of the watch, which served as a talisman, derive from the Koranic scriptures inscribed on the watch. The owner of this watch was a wealthy, educated 19th century Indian man, leading Drysdale to hypothesize that traditional practices of magic coexisted with Western scientific practices at the time.

Allen Tirado looked at North African devotional book. The book is a Guide to Blessings and a collection of prayers todevotional book Muhammad. Interestingly enough, he discovered that there are two very similar books at UNC – one in the Ackland’s collection (circa 1769) and one in the rare books collection at Wilson Library (circa 1853). He examined at the differences and similarities between these handmade books, noting the extensive use of gold leaf in the illustrated manuscripts.

It was very exciting to see students in this first-year seminar present the results of their original research projects.

Wikiversity, World War I, and Undergraduate Research

Written by Ben Mangrum, GRC and graduate student in the Department of English & Comparative Literature

I had the pleasure of serving as Professor Jane Danielewicz’s Graduate Research Consultant for her first-year writing course (ENGL 105i), which used the centennial anniversary of WWI as an opportunity for students to conduct original scholarly research. In particular, Prof. Danielewicz’s students conducted archival research on North Carolinians who fought or somehow participated in the Great War. They worked with the North Carolina holdings in Wilson Library, and their projects were both fascinating and impressive. Through this archival material, students created individual research pages on Wikiversity, which was then compiled into a digital archive on North Carolina in the War. This course Wikiversity page features both extensive research on individuals as well as contextual-historical information. For instance, one student wrote about the racial inequality of the U.S. army through the eyes of a white North Carolinian who observed African American soldiers fighting in Europe. Using individual letters, brochures, diary entries, or other artifacts sent home by soldiers provided a rich texture for historically situating the war.

In addition to gaining insight on working with archival material, this project was especially interesting because it gave students the opportunity to write for a non-specialist audience while still using scholarly skills. Wikiversity is, of course, tailored to an educated general readership. Students therefore had to be attuned to where their research would be published, paying close attention to the clarity of their prose and content. The opportunity to conduct such research through both digital media and archival material afforded these first-year students a unique skillset as they begin their college career.

The GRC Experience in FREN 285

Written by Emma Monroy, GRC and graduate student in the Department of Romance Studies

This semester I served as a Graduate Research Consultant for French 285: Sex, Philosophy and Politics: Revolutions in French Literature, 1721-1834. I gained valuable experience that will be very useful when the time comes to construct my own courses. Even though it has not been too long since I was an undergrad—and I teach beginner and intermediate-level language courses at UNC—it was eye opening to sit in on this class and see how it unfolded from another perspective. Dr. Jessica Tanner provided an excellent model that combined useful contextual information with engaging student-propelled discussion; judging from how students’ comments and questions have evolved over the course of the semester, it is clear how much they have learned and are able to apply to their own analyses and interpretations.

One skill the GRC position allowed me to hone was how to communicate clear strategies for writing a research paper. I have a process that I seem to follow very naturally, but I had never tried to “teach” it to anyone else. Taking the time to construct a handout on how to brainstorm topics, where and how to start researching, as well as a detailed PowerPoint on points to remember while writing (overall organization, how to effectively incorporate secondary sources and avoid plagiarism in its many forms, etc.) helped me to formalize the steps I already had in my head and hopefully helped to guide the students through the process. I’m sure I will reuse these materials in my future teaching.

It was a great experience to follow students’ research topics as they developed from initial interests to more advanced pointed arguments. Dr. Tanner had structured the final paper in a way that made sure students started early on their research topics. I met with them individually around the 6th week of classes to discuss their initial thoughts and suggest potential avenues to pursue and then I got to see how they implemented these first ideas into their first drafts a little over a month later.

Perhaps the most valuable moment for me was being able to teach a course on the Haitian Revolution. The Caribbean is central to my dissertation research, so getting to prepare a lesson on a topic that really interested me was a good glimpse into what my future career may look like. Of course like anything one is passionate about, one finds there is an overabundance of material that would never fit into a 50-minute period! The great challenge then was to give the students a comprehensive overview of the topic so they could have the right tools to analyze the primary source documents I selected for them to read. They were able to apply knowledge of the complicated events and factions involved in the Revolution to examine and unpack the primary texts, identifying reasons why they were written and what goals the author may have hoped to achieve. Throughout the semester, we have had a very enthusiastic and engaged group of students, but it was rewarding to see that same level of interest in their questions and participation when I was teaching.

The GRC position seems to benefit everyone involved. It helps the professor manage a larger class with a research component, as well as gives the students a chance to have more one-on-one interaction and more opportunities to have their work critiqued in a low-stress environment. And of course, it has given me more experience outside of language instruction and broadened my understanding of what my teaching experience will be like once I graduate.

Note: You can read Dr. Tanner’s reflections about the course here.

Undergraduate Research in FREN 285 (Sex, Philosophy, and Politics: Revolutions in French Literature, 1721-1834)

Written by Jessica Tanner, Assistant Professor in the Department of Romance Studies

This semester in FREN 285 (Sex, Philosophy, and Politics: Revolutions in French Literature, 1721-1834), my students were fortunate to work with Graduate Research Consultant Emma Monroy on a semester-length research project related to course themes. As the semester comes to an end and I am starting to work through the final drafts of the research papers that resulted from these projects, I am struck by the degree to which working with a GRC and incorporating original undergraduate research has enriched the course, and thought I would share a few impressions about the experience.

Beginning about a month into the semester, Emma and I began working with students to develop their projects. During class, we both talked a bit about our own research and then guided the students through the process of choosing a topic and formulating a research question. During this phase, they met individually with Emma to move from their broad topic toward a specific area of inquiry, to locate sources at Davis Library and in digital archives, and to develop an argument based on their initial research. In choosing their topics, students were encouraged to bring their own interests to bear on course themes: for instance, a student preparing to go to medical school decided to investigate the influence of Enlightenment thought on the development of understandings of mental illness in 18th-century French medicine, while a journalism major chose to explore the ethical implications of the unchecked freedom of the press implemented during the tumultuous years of the French revolution. While I originally planned to require that students incorporate an object from the UNC collections into their research (a work from the Ackland Art Museum, or a manuscript from the Wilson Library), I ultimately decided to impose fewer restrictions on the objects studied for the project, in light of the extraordinarily diverse disciplinary interests and background of my students this semester. We did visit the Ackland for a guided tour of the wonderful “Genius and Grace” exhibit, which was closely aligned with the themes and period of the course; students were encouraged to incorporate works and ideas from the exhibition into their projects, and a few did so. Looking back on the process now that the projects are complete, I do think that integrating campus collections in a more systematic way could have been successful with sufficient preparation on my part to lay the groundwork; the next time I teach the course, I want to revisit the possibility.

With their topic chosen, the next step was to draft a short abstract and outline of their paper, which allowed me to give them feedback on scope and on the construction of their argument before they began to write. At this point, Emma came back to class to talk to them about how to structure a research paper and incorporate both primary and secondary sources, using a powerpoint she had prepared with guidelines for the writing process. A few weeks later, students submitted a full draft of their paper, on which both Emma and I gave them feedback (a critical step that, with 25 students writing long seminar papers, would have been difficult to implement without a GRC). After submitting the final versions of their written papers last week, students are now presenting their research in two additional forms: first, they are presenting their work in class this week in a colloquium format, with students grouped into panels based on common themes in order to facilitate discussion; and second, they are contributing an entry to a public class blog (https://fren285.web.unc.edu/), which allows them to synthesize their research findings and present them in a more widely accessible forum.

Throughout the process, students have consistently reported that undertaking the research project – and particularly working with a GRC – was a rewarding experience. Beyond familiarizing my students more deeply with 18th-century France, my goals in incorporating undergraduate research into the course were to bring them closer to a period (and, for many of them, a discipline) that initially feels quite removed from their everyday lives and concerns and to model the interdisciplinary value of humanistic inquiry. Based on their enthusiastic response and the high quality of the work they produced, I believe the project was successful.

Finally, while working with Emma has been a very valuable experience for me and for the students, and I wanted to ensure that it was professionally beneficial for her, as well. To that end, I asked Emma to teach a class on the Haitian Revolution, which is closely related to her own research on the Francophone Caribbean; throughout the semester, she also developed a series of pedagogical materials for the students on research and writing processes that will, I hope, serve her well in her own courses in the future. In short, working with a Graduate Research Consultant has immeasurably enhanced the course for all involved, giving students access to the individual support that makes such an extensive and rewarding project feasible.

Note: You can read Emma’s reflections about the course here.

CHEM251: Introducing Scientific Research in the Large Classroom Setting

Written by Marsha D. Massey, GRC and graduate student in the Department of Chemistry

UNC strives to encourage students to engage in active learning, especially through application of knowledge to a research project when possible. However, opportunities for research are often limited, particularly in the sciences where laboratory application is a main component. I researched approaches for inspiring students towards scientific research early in their studies of chemistry. This goal motivated me to become a Graduate Research Consultant for an introductory inorganic chemistry course, CHEM251.

The biggest challenge in exposing students to research early in their undergraduate career is the large class sizes in introductory science courses. Having all of the students in a class of over 100 undergraduates conduct independent lab experiments and present a final project on their work is not feasible.

But, research is much more than experiments! Working with Professor Miller, I decided to introduce some internet- and library-based aspects of chemistry research. Instead of focusing on conducting or designing experiments, students were encouraged to learn more about particular topics related to inorganic chemistry.

Clicker questions frequently incorporated a real world application for the material being introduced or reviewed in class. For example, when talking about the acidity and solubility of transition metal complexes, we used the color of hydrangea blooms as an example. Students in CHEM 251 are now working on an extra-credit assignment that challenges them to write their own clicker questions to connect the content of introductory inorganic chemistry to a real world application.

In each problem set, we have included an open-ended research question. This contrasts with the typical quantitative, numerical responses students have come to expect from general chemistry training. For these questions students must conduct some independent research to answer appropriately. Again, questions focus on applying broad topics in the course to the real world. In the first problem set, for instance, we asked students to find an example of a transition metal element with widespread use in medical applications and describe its form.

Thus, in completing these assignments students have broadened their view of chemistry and connected recently learned knowledge to their lives.

An Oyster of Great Price? A Semester at the Institute of Marine Sciences

by Kathleen Onorevole, GRC and graduate student in the Department of Marine Sciences

What’s the first image that pops into your mind at the words “scientific research?” If you’re like most people, you just envisioned a lab, a white coat, and plenty of test tubes with mysterious bubbling liquid. An undergraduate student from UNC’s Institute for the Environment (IE) Morehead City Field Site, however, would probably respond with descriptions of coastal marshes, rugged field equipment, and enough mud to destroy an entire roomful of white lab coats. As the IE students learn, scientific research often defies expectations and crosses boundaries in exciting ways.

Every fall, a group of about twenty IE undergrads moves from Chapel Hill to the Southern Outer Banks to study at UNC’s Institute of Marine Sciences (IMS), located in Morehead City. Although s/he may be living at the beach, an IE student’s life at IMS is anything but a vacation. Students enroll in three courses, an independent research project, and a capstone seminar, all of which keep them busy in the classroom, lab, and field. During fall 2014, I served as a Graduate Research Consultant for the capstone course, a position that gave me the opportunity to get to know an outstanding group of undergrads. I was consistently impressed by the students’ dedication and enthusiasm, and found the group’s strong comradery particularly striking given that the students were strangers upon moving to Morehead City.

The 2014 IE Capstone Seminar (ENEC 698) was taught by my advisor, Dr. Michael Piehler, and focused on ecosystem services provided by oyster reefs. Since my research on nitrogen cycling in oyster reefs dovetails nicely with this topic, I was asked to serve as the GRC. The students were tasked with responding to a report issued by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Research Competitiveness Program, commissioned by the UNC General Administration. One of the recommendations in this report was for UNC to “commission studies on the economic valuation of coastal ecosystem services and natural capital.” Oyster reefs were the resource in question for the capstone, and over the course of the semester, students worked in small groups to quantify ecosystem services provided by these habitats. Ecosystem services refer to processes that are naturally facilitated by habitats and considered relevant to human interests. The physical presence of oyster reefs, for example, helps reduce wave energy, which could limit erosion and loss of coastal property. Ecosystem services are typically represented with dollar values, and the challenge for the IE students was to assess a range of services and convert the data into meaningful economic units.

The students chose to survey oyster reefs that were both closed and open to shellfishing. Working in small groups, they measured physical parameters of the reefs and analyzed water filtration, nitrogen cycling, and habitat provision. One group also measured fecal indicator bacteria in the reefs, which is typically used to guide safe shellfish harvesting. Students planned and executed the lab and field work, giving them ownership over their research that usually isn’t available until graduate school. Meanwhile, I learned to better facilitate group-based research, sometimes through trial and error: always double-check for all field equipment before leaving the dock! The Morehead City IE students also had the opportunity to meet with IE students from the Outer Banks Field Site, located at UNC’s Coastal Studies Institute in Manteo, who were studying oyster aquaculture. During their weekend retreat, the students compared their research methods and results, and brainstormed ways to combine their data in the future.

By the time the students shared their findings with a packed seminar room at the capstone final presentation, they were knowledgeable and articulate about many aspects of oyster reef ecology. After presenting their research, which indicated that the oyster reefs studied were valued between $22 and $32 per square meter, the students deftly answered challenging questions from the audience. They also compiled a written report that will help local coastal managers prioritize oyster reef restoration initiatives. As a grad student, research is my full-time job, and helping the IE students become researchers too gave my own work renewed clarity and meaning. Like anything else, scientific research includes ups and downs, but the IE semester helped both the undergrads and me understand research in ways that go far, far beyond expectations.

You can read more about IMS undergraduate research on oysters here, here, and here.