Sophomore Scholars Program improves students inside, outside classroom

KENNESAW, Ga. | April 26, 2023

The Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) funds students who are interested in continuing their research through Sophomore Scholars Program, an extension of OUR’s First-Year Scholars Program

The Sophomore Scholars Program is available to students who have completed the First-Year Scholars Program, allowing students and faculty more time to work on projects. 

There are 25 available slots for the program, and eligibility depends on student participation in the First-Year Scholars Program, completed assessments, listing in the Spring Symposium of Student Scholars, and students’ academic standing. 

Accepted students will receive $1,000 stipends for their research during fall and spring semesters.

Juan Rodriguez-Cardenas, Faith Arends, and Isabel Alford are Sophomore Student Scholars. They gave advice for FYSP students applying for the program and testimonies about their experiences.

Alford, a psychology major from Green Bay, Wisc., said about applying that expressing excitement and passion about the research is important.

Alford’s project is “Women Writers of Film & Television (WWFTV),” and she is mentored by Anna Weinstein.

Arends, a biology major from Lawrenceville, said to stay close with your mentor and ask for their help with the application.

Arend’s project is “Predatory Myxobacteria of the Longleaf Pine Ecosystem,” and she is mentored by Ramya Rajagopalan.

Rodriguez-Cardenas, a cybersecurity major from Milton, said to apply to other research awards and conferences to improve your resume.

Rodriguez-Cardenas’ project is “Analysis and Defense of Ransomware,” and he is mentored by Hossain Shahriar.

“Be up to […] the challenge and be up to the work,” Cardenas said.

Students expressed the similarities and differences in the two programs.

Rodriguez-Cardenas said that the requirements were similar, but students have a choice to continue in their current research, or if the research is complete, start on a new project. He said that projects become more advanced and in turn that will advance your skills.  

Arends said the program is more rigorous and challenging, allowing you to dive deeper into your research. She said that you still have support that helps you grow during challenges. 

Students developed skills in numerous areas. 

Rodriguez-Cardenas said that the program helped him learn how to write a proper research paper. 

Alford said that the experience improved her public speaking skills without the pressure of being graded. 

“[The Sophomore Scholars Program] has taught me to problem solve and work collaboratively, but it also tells me to accept my failures,” Arends said. “You have to fail to succeed.”

— By Victoria Grace Tucker