Summer is for School

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Celebrating the Awardees of Pacific’s Summer Research Grants

As summer approaches, Pacific University has announced its undergraduate research grant recipients. This year, Pacific has bestowed ten students the honor, including Mason Carvalho, Maya Deferme, Kristine Dillon, Sarah Hon, Lane Johnson, Kailani Ibanez, Sofia Mazzola, Valery Sarceno, Justyce Schilz, and Cole Weber—in an array of summertime research, from studying baseball and surfing to foreign policy and social change.

   The grants offer students an supported opportunity to continue academic pursuits over the summer, work alongside Pacific faculty, and, all the while, get paid for it. They are funded primarily by Pacific’s College of Arts and Sciences and various endowment funds dedicated to summer undergraduate research.

   Maya Deferme is one of the grant recipients. She is a psychology major and will work remotely from her home in Aurora, Colorado. Her project, “Play for Social Change: A Wise Intervention Project,” aims to support Dr. Erica Kleinknecht, a psychology professor at Pacific, in her research. It delves into the role of games in educating children about social change and justice. 

   One of Deferme’s significant roles is aiding Dr. Kleinknecht with developing game-design kit prototypes. Deferme and Dr. Kleinknecht hope their summer research will help prepare for and facilitate the senior psychology capstone class next fall. 

   Cole Weber, a quick-witted Sports Communications major, is also receiving Pacific’s undergraduate summer research grant, and will analyze baseball play-by-play announcing by comparing the announcing styles of regional broadcasters. Over the summer, he will visit baseball teams and their stadiums across the Pacific Northwest. The Seattle Mariners, Portland Pickles, and Hillsboro Hops are among his selections. Despite being a Giants fan, he is eager to experience the electric atmosphere of T-Mobile Park, the home of the Seattle Mariners, sometimes considered the most vibrant team, venue, and city in all baseball. 

   Weber will also receive guidance from Professor Phil Busse, a member of the Media Arts Department. is enthusiastic about working with Busse because “[He] is a man who wears many hats and has done almost everything you can do in the journalism field.” Weber expects his research to form the foundation for his Capstone next semester and will be used for study materials in Pacific’s Winter Term “Sports Reporting” class.

   From the Politics and International Studies departments, Kristine Dillon is working on her project with Dr. Jim Moore titled “How and Why They Work: Analysis of International Organizations and the Roles They Play.” Her work will examine how international organizations incite change domestically and internationally. Dillon is undertaking an internship this year in Washington, DC, to inform her research.

   Dillon’s inspiration for her project stems from two things. First, she envisions her research as the building blocks for her Capstone project next year, which she aims to converge at the nexus between politics and international relations. Second, she believes her research could influence her career decisions. “After graduation, I’d like to work in foreign policy,” she states, “This research will help me decide which organizations I’d like to work for.”

   Deferme, Weber, Dillon, and the other seven grant recipients will participate in Pacific’s Undergraduate Research Conference in early November 2024. Furthermore, most students from the Natural Sciences will also present their work at the Murdock Charitable Trust annual Undergraduate Research Conference in Vancouver, Washington, which will also be held in November. 

   Pacific also provides numerous faculty grants. Dr. Todd Duncan, a physics professor, was awarded funds to pursue a project titled “A Big-Picture View of the Dark Matter Problem: Reviewing the Clues,” jointly supported by NASA. Dr. Lorely French also received funding to further her research on Ceija Stojka, an Austrian Romani artist, activist, musician, and Holocaust survivor. The remaining recipients of Pacific’s summer faculty grants include Dr. Dijana Ihas, Dr. Lexie Jackson, Dr. Kara Lanning, Dr. Julie Layshock, Dr. Connor Principe, Dr. Jon Schnorr, and Dr. Györgyi Nyerges. 

   Contact Dr. Kevin Johnson, the Director of Pacific’s Undergraduate Research and Summer Learning programs, to learn more about this year’s undergraduate research, faculty research, or future summer research plans.


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