Summer undergraduate research experience draws record number of participants back to in-person program


A record number of undergraduates immersed themselves in intense research this summer through Emory, examining everything from the dubious story of an American doctor who helped create modern medical ethics to clarifying definitions of Aristotle of justice and their implications today.

More than 120 Emory undergraduate students, along with two dozen nearby partner institutions, have conducted research and built their professional networks with world-renowned researchers and peers from all disciplines through the Summer Undergraduate Research program Experience (SURE).

Based at Emory College, the 10-week program, held in person for the first time since 2019, typically attracts around 95 student researchers. In addition to conducting independent research with faculty mentors, students live on campus and participate in weekly professional development workshops. Many then publish their research and extend it to larger projects such as honors theses.

“I’m thrilled with all the opportunities I’ve had through this research, because I see bioethics in action,” says Lucy Amirani, a rising junior student and double major in biology and philosophy, politics and law, who spent the been digging through the digital archives and in person for information on Dr. Andrew C. Ivy.

Ivy’s testimony was instrumental in prosecuting Nazi doctors for their deadly medical experiments on concentration camp prisoners – which in turn influenced the creation of the strict rules of medical ethics known as the Code. Nuremberg – despite his own questionable research on American prisoners.

Amirani’s faculty mentor, Emory School of Medicine professor Jonathan K. Crane, works with her to create a narrative of Ivy’s work. Crane will use the narrative in an updated college-wide bioethics course next spring, with Amirani as a teaching assistant.

Lucy has been an amazing research assistant in organizing what we collected and filling in the gaps we identified,” says Crane, who is also a Raymond F. Schinazi Fellow in Bioethics and Jewish Thought at the Emory Center for Ethics. “She has been invaluable as a researcher and as a creative partner.”

“Property of Discovery”

SURE is an outgrowth of an Emory initiative launched more than 30 years ago to enable students to conduct full-time research in the natural sciences.

By including research in the social sciences and humanities, the program has helped imbue students with the ability to craft an argument, solve problems, and think critically – all hallmarks of excellence in liberal arts d ‘Emory, says Cora MacBeth, associate dean in the University’s Office for Undergraduate Studies.

“SURE is an opportunity to take ownership of the discovery process and hone those foundational skills that they will take with them as skills that are directly translatable into any career,” says MacBeth. “We know that undergraduate research truly empowers students. »

With a major in anthropology and human biology and a minor in global development, rising elder Tommy Davis was looking to do research in the field of global health. Having volunteered with the nonprofit Global Health Brigades in Panama, he also knew he wanted to focus on developing countries.

Davis found it as part of a larger study looking at non-publication of abstracts, led by Chris Rees, an emergency physician at Children’s Healthcare in Atlanta and a pediatric researcher with the Child Health and Mortality Prevention Surveillance (CHAMPS) network. .

Davis’ project was to see if summaries or summaries of ongoing or completed research, reporting on work in low- and middle-income countries, end up in peer-reviewed publications.

He found that around half of the summaries go unpublished, meaning the countries most in need are left without the official findings to help them get help, information or action plans. ‘assistance.

Rees says he plans to review these results for further study, to see what sets the work that has been published apart. For Davis, the research confirmed her intention to pursue a dual master’s degree in public health and medical assistant studies for possible international work.

“With all this work not being shared in the publications, it means that at the end of the day a lot of people are not getting the care they need,” says Davis, who started a online campaign to raise funds for the World Food Program after reading more about the lack of famine health programs in Somalia. “It’s the kind of research that can create that awareness.”

Search “Stand Out”

Research can also continue conversations started thousands of years ago. At least that’s what Bethany Williams learned from her analysis of Aristotle’s concept of justice – and hopes others will too.

Williams, a rising senior with a double major in political science and psychology, first identified each individual form of justice presented by Aristotle and showed how they connect to each other. Then she focused on modern issues that raise questions of corrective, distributive and reciprocal justice.

Distributive justice, for example, is granted on the basis of merit. But disputes rage with no agreement on what merit is, as if being human is enough to justify health care.

“I came to college wanting to work in politics, but realized what I was really interested in was helping people get justice,” says Williams, who now plans to become a social worker . “My project is to make an old concept more accessible because the questions are still relevant.”

The work is a continuation of Williams’ directed study with Judd Owen, associate professor of political science who is working on a book linking Aristotle’s ethics and politics to his natural sciences.

A political theorist by training, with a background in Aristotle’s politics and ethics, Owen was initially reluctant to have his first SURE undergraduate researcher tackle the philosopher’s more complicated writings.

Now he says Williams was his first SURE researcher, but won’t be his last.

“His project stands out as a kind of research that you don’t often see, but I wish we did,” says Owen. “Bethany has created a visual breakdown of these types of justice and problem areas, which means anyone can review and discuss it.”


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