First-Year Scholars Program offers students cross-disciplinary research opportunities

KENNESAW, Ga. | April 26, 2023

The Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) promotes student scholarship through the First-Year Scholars Program, an initiative designed to match KSU freshmen with faculty researchers and jump start their research careers.

Students in the First-Year Scholars Program receive a $1,000 stipend for the Fall and Spring semesters, and those who complete the program are eligible for the Sophomore Scholarship program, which includes the same funding.

The program affords undergraduate student the opportunity to gain hands-on research experience in various fields of study, including those unrelated to their major.

"We definitely encourage these cross-disciplinary collaborations,” said Dr. Amy Buddie, director of Undergraduate Research.

Amber Solana, Jess Maillet, Shamitha John, Siam Sarower, and Jadesola Bamidele are currently participating in the First-Year Scholars Program and chose research projects vastly different than their majors. Doing so helped them learn valuable lessons that they hope to carry into their academic careers and rest of their lives.

Siam Sarower
Siam Sarower

Sarower, whose project is titled ‘Design of a Compact High-Vacuum System with a Semi-Confocal Fabry-Perot Cavity for Fourier Transform Microwave Spectrometer,’ described the program as an opportunity for students to explore their passions and find what they like in the world. He said that college is about finding yourself and trying new things. 

Sarower is a native of Norcross and is researching under the guidance of associate professor of chemistry Dr. Lu Kang.

John’s project is called ‘Using Mindfulness Training as an Intervention Tool to Reduce the Essentialist Bias.’

“You’re off the pathway that you are [majoring] in,” said John, a computer science major researching in psychology. “I think it definitely gives you an open mindset [to] other opportunities.”

John, who is from Cumming, is working in the lab of assistant professor of psychology Yian Xu.

These first-year scholars have also learned skills that they can apply to other areas in university life.

Bamidele, a biology major researching in industrial and systems engineering, said that being part of the program allowed her to learn more about communicating with her professors, mentors, and other students. Bamidele’s project is ‘Planned Behavior and Blood Donation Intention Study.’

Bamidele, a Lawrenceville native, is researching in the lab of associate professor of industrial engineering Robert Keyser.

Solana, a double major in marketing and dance from Norcross who is researching in geography and anthropology, said that researching is a great deal of trial and error. While that can be challenging, those challenges can ultimately help her imagine creative solutions to complex problems. 

Solana is researching with geospatial sciences lab manager and senior lecturer of geospatial sciences Uli Ingram on a project titled ‘Scan and 3D Print Outdoor Works of Art around the KSU Kennesaw Campus.’

Students also voiced how they’re happy to contribute to academic knowledge and apply their skills as freshmen.

Maillet is a psychology major and first-generation adult learner researching in theater and performing arts who said she enjoys being able to contribute to a bigger body of knowledge as a freshman. Maillet’s project is ‘Alone Together: Composing Personal Narrative Performance.’

Maillet, a Marietta native, is working alongside associate professor of theatre and performance studies Dr. Charles Parrott.

Sarower said he is grateful for the opportunity to already be apply what he’s learned as a physics major toward a project. Through his research in chemistry and biochemistry, he’s learning skills that he will take into his future career. 

The students also mentioned how they have enjoyed learning for the sake of learning without the pressure of a grade, with Bamidele describing research as a deeper learning with the freedom to pursue knowledge out of curiosity.

The Office of Undergraduate Research encourages students of all class levels to participate in research across a wide range of disciplines.

Through the First-Year Scholars Program, students can experience being part of the research process as soon as they step on campus. Students also have opportunities to present their work at events such as the Spring Symposium of Student Scholars and the National Conference of Undergraduate Research.

— By Victoria Grace Tucker