Finding research opportunities can be a challenge for undergraduates. Some may not know where to look, how to apply, or may even be intimidated to approach faculty about the opportunities.
Arizona State University Undergraduate research experience in sustainability (SURE) helps undergraduates in the School of sustainability overcome these obstacles so that they can engage in research and gain valuable work experience.
Sustainability student Hailey Campbell presents her research at a student showcase in spring 2019.
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“Arizona State University is a knowledge-producing organization, and a good part of what we do as a professor is to conduct research and advance the frontiers of knowledge,” said Kelli Larson, director of SURE and professor in the School of Sustainability at the College of Global Futures. “We think it’s fundamentally important for students to understand how knowledge is produced through the research process.
Larson led the development of the SURE program a few years ago in order to organize and facilitate undergraduate student participation in faculty-supervised research projects. It offers a multi-level approach where students can participate at three different levels: apprentice researcher, research assistant and associate researcher.
At the apprentice level, students register for a 1 credit course, “SOS 294: Explore research on sustainable developmentIn the fall semester, where they learn more about the research process and current opportunities.
As research assistants, students can also spend the spring semester participating in a faculty-supervised project to earn course credit.
If students want to get even more involved, they can become research fellows by taking “SOS 394: Design and practice of research on sustainable developmentin the spring. In this course, students learn how to develop and answer a research question and creatively and effectively present their research findings and suggestions for advancing sustainability at a graduation celebration. year.
“Connecting to a faculty-supervised project is a great way for students to gain a deep understanding of complex issues and get a feel for what it would be like to research a particular topic,” said the coordinator of SURE, Abigail Graves. “Our faculty provides structured advice for the analysis, collection and synthesis of information, our students bring ideas and efforts to research teams to move their projects forward, so it is useful for everyone involved. Each year I have been impressed by the level of intelligence and professionalism of these students.
Apart from the research experience, the program also helps students become more confident in navigating opportunities and working with others.
“It’s an empowering process,” Larson said. “Students learn to ask questions and share their perspectives. It is a shift from passive learning to active learning; they really become team players.
At the end of the academic year, students who participate in SURE can present their results at the annual conference student showcase. Several students are also recognized for their presentations and overall work in the program. Here are the winning students of the SURE 2021 award:
SURE Student of the Year: Madelynne Greathouse
The concert economy is growing. Workers in these flexible, temporary or self-employed jobs can often set their own schedules and work using an online platform. This flexibility has made these types of jobs attractive, especially for women.
“Gender norms play a role in who has the capacity to work and what type of work is socially acceptable for them,” said Madelynne Greathouse, BSc student in sustainability. “Women often do not have the same opportunities as men to work and feel empowered by contributing income to the household. The concert economy offers them opportunities that did not exist before. ”
As part of the SURE program, Greathouse studied the economies of odd jobs in Southeast Asia and the impact of gender roles on this type of work under the supervision of Hue-Tam Jamme, assistant professor at the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning. Based on this research, she conducted a pilot study in the United States and interviewed several women to find out how COVID-19 affected their work in the odd-job economy. She found that the odd-job economy had created a new generation of entrepreneurs. Online platforms like websites, apps and social media are creating more opportunities for women to start their own businesses or side concerts, but their dependence on these platforms has increased during the pandemic .
“These workers depend heavily on these platforms for their income,” Greathouse said. “This creates a responsibility for platforms to be aware of their content, as well as a responsibility for users to seize the opportunity presented to them. This is an area that can be explored at the policy level to ensure that both parties are able to use and deliver in a safe manner. ”
Watch Greathouse’s presentation: “Women Mean Business – Gender and the Gig Economy in the Context of COVID: An Exploratory Study. ”
Exceptional presentation: Adam Costello and Alyson Hulet
Collisions with pedestrians are all too common a problem. Arizona recorded the sixth highest number of fatal pedestrian accidents in the United States from January 2020 to June 2020, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. Despite efforts to improve pedestrian safety, including adding crosswalks for pedestrians and by improving lighting, some intersections are more prone to accidents. . This is something sustainability students Adam Costello and Alyson Hulet wanted to delve into, so they connected with Associate Professor Deborah Salon, sustainability scientist and planning professor, to find out more.
“These are deaths,” Costello said. “If the proposition is that this is preventable, I think there is no excuse for not taking all possible measures to avoid the deaths. We need to get as much information as possible to understand what is happening on the streets. Without really knowing what the problem is, you can’t begin to solve it.
With the help of Chelsey Aubol Srnsky, a student at the School of Geographic Sciences and Urban Planning, Costello and Hulet investigated whether land use played a role in the number of accidents. Using accident data from the City of Phoenix, they looked at nearby infrastructure and buildings with a high number of pedestrian accidents. They found a correlation between land use and the presence of pedestrian accidents and a higher frequency of pedestrian accidents near land uses that served alcohol. By determining where these crashes occur, more can be done to prioritize pedestrian safety.
“Pedestrian accidents are often presented as accidents, but they are not,” Hulet said. “You can almost predict accidents because of the built environment. So when we are looking to improve pedestrian safety when building cities, we should look at the built environment and the kind of infrastructure we put in place.
Watch Costello and Hulet’s presentation: “Pedestrian Safety Research. “
Students interested in participating in SURE can register for the Fall 2021 course “SOS 294: Explore research on sustainable development“or contact Kelli larson Where Abigail Graves. Scholarships are available.