Peer Research Mentor Program

The Office of Undergraduate Research Peer Research Mentor Program connects students undertaking research for the first time with a community of their peers and a mentor.


What do the Peer research mentors do?

Peer Research Mentors cultivate a sense of community among Northwestern's student researchers, by serving as an example of the high-quality research currently undertaken by Northwestern undergraduates. They also serve as peer mentors for recipients of OUR summer research grants who are undertaking independent research over the summer.



>>>Click on names for more information!<<

Top Row, L-R:

Amos Pomp, American Studies

Amy Song, Neuroscience & Global Health

Andrew Reed, History & String Instruments

Claire Hilburger, Biomedical Engineering

Daniel Brethauer, Physics & ISP


Second Row, L-R:

Ella Perrault, Neuroscience

Erik Rabin, Biology

Jade Davis, Sociology & Art Theory and Practice

Joe Cummings, Computer Science

Third Row, L-R:

 Mandy Davis, Psychology

 Olivia Pura, Biology & Slavic Languages and Literatures

 Regina Fricton, Biology & French

 Sophie Jenz, Neuroscience

Fourth Row, L-R:

Uma Jacobs, Neuroscience

Vicky Woodburn, Journalism

Yem Alharithi, Biological Sciences

Zoe Johnson, American Studies

Zoe Morfas, Music Comp & Earth and Planetary Sciences 


Getting to know them!

Name: Amos Pomp

Hometown: Chapel Hill, NC

Email: amospomp2020[at]

Year: 2020

Major(s): American Studies, Minor in Environmental Policy & Culture

Schools: Weinberg

Involvement on Campus: Real Food at NU, Peer Health Exchange, New Student Programs

Special Interests: Queer Studies, Environmental Education, Sociology of Education

Where will you be this summer? Minneapolis

Research grants won: Academic Year Undergraduate Research Grant (2018-2019), Summer Undergraduate Research Grant (2019)

Research experience according to disciplinary field, methodology, and geographic region:

  • AYURG - Trash Management in La Pista, Guatemala: an ethnographic case study and program evaluation. Surveys and informal interviews
  • Research Apprenticeship - Gendered Privilege at an Elite University: sociology, coding qualitative interviews, preparing lit reviews
  • SURG to do sociological ethnography at an outdoor adventure program in Minnesota this summer - participant observation, qualitative interviews, document review, surveys, etc.

Research description: I have done small-scale archival/literary research for classes that has helped me write literature reviews and preliminary analyses for proposals and projects since. I also worked as a research apprentice for the last two quarters on a study of how sorority women make meaning of their experiences during recruitment. I coded qualitative interviews and helped create a second codebook out of the same data for a new paper. I also discussed paper ideas, had input in the lit review for the projects, and was able to attend sociology of education workshops to see research in different stages.

I applied for the Circumnav grant, so I have extensive experience getting faculty feedback and working with field contacts for potential research, like for my current Summer URG proposal.

I won an AYURG with a partner to survey people in La Pista, Guatemala about a new trash collection system. I observed government meetings and a trash collection day, and we have submitted our reports to journals for potential publication.


Name: Amy Song

Hometown: Naperville, IL

Email: amysong2020[at]

Year: 2020

Major(s): Neuroscience, Global Health

Schools: Weinberg

Involvement on Campus: Books & Breakfast, Volunteer at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, AAIV

Special Interests: FOOD and eating, watching a lot of TV, puzzles, dogs, picnics

Where will you be this summer? Evanston, Naperville

Research grants won: Academic Year Undergraduate Research Grant (2018-2019), Summer Undergraduate Research Grant (2019)

Research experience according to disciplinary field, methodology, and geographic region: I began my undergraduate research career in a communication sciences and disorders lab on campus. I worked with human subject data – specifically audio files recorded from interviews. Although I enjoyed my time in this lab, I realized that I wanted to participate in molecular and cellular research. I now perform research in a neuroscience lab at the Feinberg School of Medicine under Dr. Peter Penzes. I work with cell cultures - mice neurons and microglia - and perform experimental trials that involve chemical transfections and cytokine treatments. I have also learned fixed and live-cell imaging to visualize our cell cultures. Our overall research goal is to understand the relationship between inflammation in the brain and neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's.

Research description: I joined the Penzes Lab in the winter of my sophomore year. My mentor is a postdoctoral scholar in the lab, and I started out assisting her with basic lab techniques - maintaining cell cultures and microscopy. For around 2 quarters, I was able to observe more advanced procedures, such as mouse brain dissections, cell fixation, and transfections. Over the summer, I worked in the lab full time as a temporary employee. My research focuses on membrane nanotube projections from microglia in the brain, and studying their interactions with neurons in disease and normal states. During my summer, I was trained in more techniques - transfections, cell fixations, and live cell imaging - and was able to carry out experiments for my project with supervision. My project studied the effect of pro and anti inflammatory cytokines on neuron and microglia interaction, and I was able to carry out both laboratory and imaging procedures. I also attended weekly lab meetings where I learned about other lab members’ research projects. While not in lab, I performed data analysis with the results I collected. Because I did not finish my research when the summer ended, I’m continuing it this school year with an Academic Year URG, and over this summer as well.


Name: Andrew Reed

Hometown: Naperville, Illinois

Email: andrewreed2020[at]

Year: 2020

Major(s): History, String Instruments

Schools: Bienen and Weinberg

Involvement on Campus: I am a member of the Political Union and perform in a lot of student recitals!

Special Interests: I love politics and running. I am running my second marathon this October! 

Where will you be this summer? Washington, DC

Research grants won: Academic Year Undergraduate Research Grant (2018-2019)

Research experience according to disciplinary field, methodology, and geographic region: I performed archival research in London in December of 2018. My research was focused on the records of the East India Company among other written sources from the 1790s. I performed this research at the British Library and the National Archives.

Research description: My research was focused on the Doji Bara Famine, which occurred across India in the 1790s. In particular, I studied records from the Madras Presidency as it was under the control of the East India Company at the time of the famine. The objective of my project was to determine whether the response by the East India Company to the famine was the result of new liberal economic principles which gained popularity in Britain following the publication of The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith. I spent a week in London this past December, where I studied East India Company records in the British Library and National Archives. The records I examined came from a variety of sources from the Company archives, including personal correspondence, Court of Directors minutes, and military accounts.


Name: Claire Hilburger

Hometown: Naperville, IL

Email: clairehilburger2019[at]

Year: 2019

Major(s): Biomedical Engineering

Schools: McCormick

Involvement on Campus: Club soccer, research

Special Interests: Dogs, coffee, exploring new places

Where will you be this summer? Completing a co-op program in the Analytics department at Northwestern Medicine

Research grants won: Undergraduate Research Assistant Program, Summer Undergraduate Research Grant (2018), Conference Travel Grants, Expo Presentation

Research experience according to disciplinary field, methodology, and geographic region: Biomedical Engineering (synthetic biology & biomaterials research)  in a BME lab on campus - designing and running experiments using vesicles and membrane-protein interactions. 

Laboratory Skills -  Experimental design, FRET techniques, Vesicle Preparation (liposomes & polymersomes), Fluorescence and Phase Contrast Microscopy, Spectrophotometry, DNA Amplification Techniques, Protein Preparation, Cell-Free Protein Synthesis, Western Blotting, Paper Writing

Research description: Undergraduate research has been the most worthwhile and rewarding experience I have undertaken at NU. I started off knowing little about the work I was pursuing and had no real lab experience, but 2+ years later I am publishing a paper. At first, I found the work very challenging because it was all methods and topics that I was unfamiliar with. I didn’t feel comfortable in lab until working full time for a summer when I finally felt like I got the hang of things & began to understand the field. As I spent more time in lab each quarter, I continued to grow my research tool kit and progressed in my understanding of experimental design. I also had the pleasure of making invaluable connections with grad students in my lab, who are not only mentors to me now, but close friends too.  Overall, my experience has been full of experimental ups and downs, mentorship from others and relationship building, mounds of journal articles & a discovery of the path I desire to take post-grad.


Name: Daniel Brethauer

Hometown: Downers Grove, IL

Email: danielbrethauer2021[at]

Year: 2021

Major(s): Integrated Science Program, Physics

Schools: Weinberg

Involvement on Campus: Marching Band, Basketball Band, Purple Band, Chapin D&D Club

Special Interests: Astronomy/Astrophysics, Music, D&D

Where will you be this summer? TBD; CA, MD, AL or Evanston

Research grants won: Summer Undergraduate Research Grant (2018)

Research experience according to disciplinary field, methodology, and geographic region: I conducted Observational Astronomy research, specifically using the x-ray portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. I analyzed data from x-ray telescopes (Chandra, NuSTAR, and Swift) using software developed by NASA on a supernova to figure out its explosion parameters (like temperature, velocity, amount of mass ejected, etc.) as my main project. I was also able to help my professor that I worked with in studying mysterious transient event known as AT2018cow. From this research, I am currently writing a scientific paper about the findings.

Research description: A truly unforgettable experience that bolstered my interest in observational astronomy. The professor I worked with was incredibly helpful and always willing to answer questions. Previously, I had strongly considered theoretical work but now I feel like I enjoy observational more. I started by reading many different scientific papers written about supernovae similar to the one I was working with along with lectures my professor provided to build a foundation. Then, I started using the software mentioned above to figure out different parameters through different types of modeling, restrictions, and data sets. Once that was complete, I began looking at aspects of interest in the data like emission lines or luminosity. I then turned that information into graphs and the beginnings of my own scientific paper.


Name: Ella Perrault

Hometown: Duluth, MN

Email: ellaperrault2020[at]

Year: 2020

Major(s): Neuroscience

Schools: Weinberg

Involvement on Campus: Triathlon Club, Neuro Club, Phi Alpha Delta International Law Fraternity

Special Interests: Cooking & baking, hiking, traveling, blogging

Where will you be this summer? Evanston

Research grants won: Summer Undergraduate Research Grant (2018)

Research experience according to disciplinary field, methodology, and geographic region: For the past year, I have worked in the Rosenfeld Lab at Northwestern University, contributing to research within the field of applied psychophysiology. I recruit paid participants and Northwestern students seeking study participation credit. I have completed three independent projects and have been part of several joint projects. Each experiment requires a fundamental understanding in research and data analysis using EEGs, statistical reasoning skills, and problem solving approaches.

Also, I studied abroad in Morocco in the fall. I took classes focusing on multiculturalism and human rights. I completed weekly fieldwork assignments. These assignments included interviewing Moroccan students, NGOs, formal and informal workers, and Sub-Saharan migrants. I then conducted my Independent Study Project. These projects were meant to be exploratory research. I did an extensive literature review, interviewed more individuals, and ran focus group discussions with Moroccan university students.

Research description: The majority of my research has been with the Rosenfeld Lab. I have done research for credit through Neuro-399 as well as an independent research project funded through SURG. Undergraduate research has been an eye-opening look into the world of academia. From developing experiment protocols, to extensive and thoughtful literature review, to the mundane tasks critical for day-to-day operation, I have learned about specific research methods in the field of applied psychophysiology and general knowledge important for any research.

Wonderfully, the work I do doesn't go unnoticed, and I have co-authored two papers, one in publication, and one in the revision stage. I've learned about the steps needed to conduct a successful experiment, but have also learned about the publishing process too. One aspect to my experience is that concepts in this field, and the research that supports them, are not taught in any of my academic year classes, so it's been through my research that I've learned.


Name: Erik Rabin

Hometown: St. Charles, IL

Email: erikrabin2020[at]

Year: 2020

Major(s): Biology, concentration in Biochemistry and Biophysics

Schools: Weinberg

Involvement on Campus: Academic Support and Learning Advancement: Peer Guided Study Groups, Northwestern American Red Cross Chapter, Club Baseball

Special Interests: Regenerative and rehabilitative medicine. Outside of academics: movie lover, would give Endgame 10/10 

Where will you be this summer? Evanston/Chicago

Research grants won: Summer Undergraduate Research Grant (2018)  

Research experience according to disciplinary field, methodology, and geographic region: Conducting cell biology and genetic research on a novel adhesion protein involved in an asthmatic pathway. Cara Gottardi Lab (Feinberg Pulmonary Department) for summer of 2017, 2018 and 2019.  

Research description: The undergraduate research experience, for me, has been very rewarding and inspiring. At Northwestern, I still am in awe at the brilliant professors, doctors, and extensive research opportunities at this institution. My research studies a recently characterized adhesion protein, alpha-T catenin, integral in the development in mammalian cardiac, pulmonary, and sexual organs. Because of its recent discovery, much of my research has been on characterizing cellular performance when the protein is disrupted as well as the behavior of a mutant version of the protein. Additionally, my lab is working on alpha-T catenin’s role in a new model for a neuro-morphology asthma pathway. 


Name: Jade Davis

Hometown: Sheldon, IL

Email: jadedavis2020[at]

Year: 2020

Major(s): Sociology, Art Theory & Practice

Schools: Weinberg

Involvement on Campus: Work-study at the Evanston Art Center

Special Interests: Learning about art and music therapy!

Where will you be this summer? Evanston

Research grants won: Posner Fellowship, Undergraduate Research Assistant Program, Summer Undergraduate Research Grant

Research experience according to disciplinary field, methodology, and geographic region:

In the summer of 2017 through the Posner Fellowship Program and the 2017-2018 academic year with URAP I was a research assistant to Professor Anthony Chen. I conducted sociological archival research and for part of my work I traveled to the archives at the University of Chicago, the University of Wisconsin in Madison, and the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. In the summer of 2018 with a SURG, I used sociological archival research again for an independent research project, working in archives, libraries, and museums and surveying murals in the Chicago area.

Research description:

As a research assistant, I collected archival data to aid my professor’s research in the origins of race-conscious affirmative action programs in undergraduate institutions. This work involved traveling to a variety of university archives to record correspondences between university administrators and analyze their decisions regarding affirmative action policy. Through my independent research, I studied muralists' action against gentrification in Pilsen, mapping the neighborhood’s artist networks and murals throughout the years of Mexican-American public artist activism. I plan on continuing my research this summer and next year by interviewing the artists I’ve identified in my research and synthesizing my data for my senior thesis project in Sociology.


Name: Joe Cummings

Hometown: Indianapolis, IN

Email: jcummings[at]

Year: 2020

Major(s): Computer Science

Schools: McCormick

Involvement on Campus: EECS Peer Mentor, volunteer at the Evanston Animal Shelter, previous PR Chair for McCormick Student Advisory Board

Special Interests: Programming languages, affective computing, startups, soccer, climbing, sound design

Where will you be this summer? San Francisco, California

Research grants won: Academic Year Undergraduate Research Grant, Conference Travel Grant

Research experience according to disciplinary field, methodology, and geographic region: I was working with a professor on the Northwestern Campus collecting data from an online survey and building computational models of emotion based on that survey.

Research description: My research has been a two year process. It started in winter 2018 in a meeting with my professor to talk about his work. We stayed in contact and eventually in September of 2018, I began fleshing out exactly what I wanted to work on within the overall context of his lab.

From there, I met weekly with him and the lab to discuss progress and goals. Every quarter is building upon my previous accomplishments. When I realized I needed better data, I was generously supported by the OUR in getting a grant. Now, I have one paper accepted for publication and am finishing up a second on my research.


Name: Mandy Davis

Hometown: Phoenix, AZ

Email: amandadavis2021[at]

Year: 2021

Major(s): Psychology

Schools: Weinberg

Involvement on Campus: Varsity cross country, Northwestern Undergraduate Research Journal

Special Interests: running, being in the mountains, French

Where will you be this summer? TBD: Phoenix, Boulder, or France

Research grants won: Academic Year Undergraduate Research Grant, Undergraduate Research Expo 2019

Research experience according to disciplinary field, methodology, and geographic region: I have been a research assistant in the Social Media Lab since the summer after my freshman year (summer 2018). In fall 2018, thanks to an AYURG, I started working on my own research project under the guidance of my lab and with Professor Jeremy Birnholtz as my advisor. For this project, I designed and conducted an online experiment that was distributed via a Qualtrics survey. Like most of the work done in my lab, my research falls at the intersection of a variety of fields. In my case, I investigated my topic through the lenses of communication studies, human-computer interaction, and psychology.

Research description:

My study explored some potential influences of the inclusion of a female initiator requirement in a dating app (between two heterosexual users, the female must send the first message). Saying I learned a lot while working on this project would be an understatement. To name a lessons learned: how to program in R, data management, what an extended abstract is and how to write one about my preliminary results. I then spent a quarter writing up my results in the form of a full-length research paper. I will be giving an oral presentation on my research at the 2019 Undergraduate Research Expo and also plan to submit a poster to an upcoming human-computer interaction conference. Overall, this project has been one of the best things I've been involved in; I am so proud to call it my own. At the same time, there were definite low-points throughout the process. This journey has arguably been my biggest learning experience of college.


Name: Olivia Pura

Hometown: Deer Park, IL

Email: oliviapura2020[at]

Year: 2020

Major(s): Biology (Biochemistry Concentration), Slavic Languages and Literatures

Schools: Weinberg

Involvement on Campus: Kappa Alpha Theta, NU|Tutors, Student Advisory Board (Slavic Department Representative)

Special Interests: Attending concerts and music festivals, baking, oil painting

Where will you be this summer? Evanston

Research grants won: Undergraduate Research Assistant Program (URAP), Summer Undergraduate Research Grant (SURG), Academic Year Research Grant (AYURG)

Research experience according to disciplinary field, methodology, and geographic region:

  • Meade Lab (AYURG, November 2018 - Present): Biochemistry, Evanston Lab, Northwestern
  • "Poland in Chicago" Project (URAP, January 2019 - Present): Polish History, Archival Research/Interviews/Photography, Chicagoland Area
  • Hauser Lab (SURG, October 2016 - December 2018): Immunology/Microbiology, Chicago Lab, Northwestern (Feinberg)

Research description: I began working with Dr. Hauser in October 2016, assisting an undergraduate with her thesis research. That summer, I developed an independent research project with Dr. Hauser. I investigated Pseudomonas aeruginosa in hospitals - collecting, growing, and analyzing isolates. I presented my initial work in September 2017, but continued my project until its completion in December 2018.

In the Meade lab, I began working with a grad student to familiarize myself with key techniques and prepare myself to develop an independent project for this summer. I investigate cobalt complexes as Hedgehog pathway inhibitors in embryonic mouse stem cells.

Although I love science, I am also passionate about my background as a Polish-American and work on Dr. Kosmala’s "Poland in Chicago" project under the URAP. Using online and literary sources, we are creating an interactive, online map that highlights the presence of Polish culture in Chicago. I will also be photographing key locations and conducting interviews for our map.


Name: Regina Fricton

Hometown: Edina, MN

Email: reginafricton2020[at]

Year: 2020

Major(s): Biology, French

Schools: Weinberg

Involvement on Campus: Northwestern Dance Marathon Executive Board, Pi Beta Phi Executive Board, Senior Connections

Special Interests: I absolutely love to read and travel! Also I am obsessed with music.

Where will you be this summer? Chicago working at Northwestern Medicine

Research grants won: Robert Louis Katz Scholarship through Lurie Children's, Weinberg Undergraduate Research Grant, Marcia Storch Award for Undergraduate Research, Academic Year Undergraduate Research Grant

Research experience according to disciplinary field, methodology, and geographic region:

I work in a lab at Northwestern’s Medical School Downtown Chicago led by Dr. Monica Laronda. Dr. Laronda is working to build a 3-D printed ovary that can be transplanted into patients that have compromised fertility and hormone production due to the radiation treatment used for cancer. My research specifically dealt with doing cell cultures with stromal cells and doing experiments to measure protein expression. Stromal cells are the cells of the ovary that secrete different extracellular matrix proteins that are very important to the structure of the ovary. When developing a 3D printed ovary, determining the protein expression between different compartments is crucial. Using experiments such as qPCR, Immuno-PCR and Immuno Cyto-Chemistry I measured relative protein expression between the compartments of the cortex and the medulla of the ovary.

Research description:

My undergrad research was one of the best experiences of my college career. I absolute love my fellow coworkers who have mentored me and become great friends. Additionally, my PI has been a huge role model for me as a strong female scientist. Her passion for her work and the way she carries herself has been an inspiration for me to pursue my passions. Additionally, I was the first undergraduate student working in the Laronda Lab. I loved this aspect of my experience because I think with some labs interacting with your PI is very rare. In my experience, I met with my PI every week to discuss my work and she made me feel as if I was an important member of the team.

Besides meeting some exceptional mentors in my life, I learned so much from my undergraduate research experience. Going into a field that had I had not ever learned in a classroom, I had to teach myself a lot about the field I was working in female reproductive system. Also, my presentation, organization and time management skills were developed immensely.


Name: Sophie Jenz

Hometown: Wheaton, IL

Email: sophiajenz2020[at]

Year: 2020

Major(s): Neuroscience

Schools: Weinberg

Involvement on Campus: Northwestern Football athletic training aide, New Life Volunteer Society

Special Interests: Rehab and movement science, boxing, skiing

Where will you be this summer? Chicago

Research grants won: Undergraduate Research Assistant Program (2017), Academic Year Undergraduate Research Grant (2017-2018), Summer Undergraduate Research Grant (2019, declined), Intern at Center for Bionic Medicine (2019)

Research experience according to disciplinary field, methodology, and geographic region:

Currently I am an undergraduate research assistant in the Redei Lab at Feinberg studying depression and stress in animal models and humans. This summer I am interning in the Center for Bionic Medicine at the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab in Chicago.

Research description:

In the Redei lab I am working to identify biomarkers in blood samples of Air Force cadets can be used to determine recovery from a period of chronic stress. I am also finishing a second project, studying the effect of varying the intensity of contextual fear conditioning in a rat model of posttramatic stress disorder. Throughout my time in my lab I have realized that research relies heavily on collaboration and that your lab can quickly become your second family. I have found that one of my favorite parts of research is learning something that can’t be taught in the classroom and becoming an expert in your unique project.


Name: Uma Jacobs

Hometown: Houston, Texas

Email: umajacobs2020[at]

Year: 2020

Major(s): Neuroscience

Schools: Weinberg

Involvement on Campus: I am involved in Camp Kesem, an organization that raises money to allow kids who have been affected by a guardian’s cancer to go to summer camp free for a week. I am also the communications liaison for Senior Connections, a program that matches seniors in the area with Northwestern students.  

Special Interests: I love to run and play piano when I have time

Where will you be this summer? Evanston

Research grants won: Summer Undergraduate Research Grant, Neuroscience Research Grant

Research experience according to disciplinary field, methodology, and geographic region: I have worked in the Schmidt Lab at the Evanston Northwestern campus from my freshman year to the present time. The Schmidt Lab is a Neurobiology lab that focuses on studying a recently discovered type of photoreceptor, the intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cell (ipRGC). My research uses a mouse model to determine if Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by aggravated ipRGC degeneration.  These mice are dissected and genotyped, and individual ipRGCs are counted with Photoshop software.

Research description: My experience working in the Schmidt Lab has been very positive. Initially, working with mice was not easy for me as it was hard to euthanize animals. While this process is still not easy, I thoroughly enjoy the work that I do in the lab. I image the retinas using a confocal microscope, and then I use Photoshop software to count individual cells. These cell counts are then analyzed for mice of different genotypes and different ages. This work is very rewarding for me, as the results that I get are all the product of my own work (with the help of my mentor). A misconception that I had about research was that I previously believed that the majority of research projects were successful. I now realize that many projects generate data that contradicts initial hypotheses and many projects don’t generate useful data immediately.


Name: Vicky Woodburn

Hometown: Akron, OH

Email: victoriawoodburn2021[at]

Year: 2021

Major(s): Journalism

Schools: Medill

Involvement on Campus: Global Project Hope, TEDxNorthwesternU, MUSAC, WNUR News

Special Interests: Photography, Journalism

Where will you be this summer? I will be working for NASA in Cleveland

Research grants won: Summer Undergraduate Research Grant (2018)

Research experience according to disciplinary field, methodology, and geographic region: My research has primarily been through event reporting, participant observation, qualitative interviews and some archival research.  I worked with a wide array of people, from young children to professors and board members. All of my research was done from Akron, Ohio or done over the phone.

Research description: Last summer, my project focused on the experience of female racers in the All-American Soap Box Derby and why female racers have been so successful as well as how their experiences reflect broader trends in experiences for women in STEM fields. I attended multiple Soap Box Derby events, including the championship race week and a camp that they put on for younger children. At the events, I spent time observing and interviewing persons as well as recording photo, video and audio. I conducted interviews with past female champions, current female racers, executive members of the Soap Box Derby board and officials working within the School of Engineering at the University of Akron and women working in STEM areas or studying STEM. I also looked through old Soap Box Derby materials to see how rules and wording has changed over the years based on gender.


Name: Yem Alharithi

Hometown: West Linn, Oregon

Email: yemalharithi2019[at]

Year: 2020

Major: Biological Sciences

School: Weinberg

Involvement on Campus: Biology Students Association, Club Golf, 64 Squares

Special Interests: Chess, piano, golf, tennis

Where will you be this summer? Evanston

Research grants won: Weinberg Summer Undergraduate Research Grant, Academic Year Undergraduate Research Grant, Summer Undergraduate Research Grant

Research experience according to disciplinary field, methodology, and geographic region: I have worked in a neurobiology lab here on campus, conducting my own experiments. My experiments have focused on neuroplasticity and proteomics of neurons. I have mainly worked with the graduate student with whom I was paired upon entering the lab.

Research description: I have had a great experience carrying out undergraduate research. My research so far has focused on exploring the mechanisms underlying neuroplasticity, in the hope that we can use this knowledge to develop more effective treatments for neurological diseases. As such, I have explored many fascinating areas of biology and have discovered that many of these new areas that I had not previously had a chance to study (such as neurobiology and molecular biology) are very interesting to me, and could represent a possible career interest. In the lab, I have had the opportunity to work closely with excellent graduate students who have helped me understand what research is all about, as well as how to come up with smart, effective project ideas and how to develop a research plan that can effectively and efficiently achieve its goals. Overall, it has been an overwhelmingly positive experience carrying out undergraduate research.


Name: Zoe Johnson

Hometown: Silver Spring, Maryland

Email: zoejohnson2020[at]

Year: 2020

Major(s): American Studies

Schools: Weinberg

Involvement on Campus: Artistic Director of Lipstick Theatre

Special Interests: Gender and Sexuality, Health and Medicine, Playwriting, Directing, Creative Nonfiction

Where will you be this summer? Evanston & Maryland

Research grants won: Summer Undergraduate Research Grant (2018)

Research experience according to disciplinary field, methodology, and geographic region: Last summer I received an Undergraduate Research Grant to study adolescent experiences of menstrual pain and write a play about my findings. I was working primarily in the fields of Gender Studies and Theatre. I conducted interviews with menstruators ages 19-22, researched menstruation and adolescent menstrual cramps (also known as dysmenorrhea) extensively through both academic books and articles and through more informal, educational and creative areas. I also spent a significant amount of time writing, editing and workshopping my play, which is entitled "The Blood Club."

Research description: I had a fantastic time conducting research on and writing a play about menstruation. It was extremely exciting to have the resources and support to learn about something I'm deeply interested in and which I believe is useful for others to learn about as well. However, in addition to being empowering in its freedom, it also taught me how to structure my time, pursue different research questions, take good notes, receive and respond to constructive criticism, and develop my personal academic and artistic compasses. I am a better student, researcher and artist because of it; and I feel deeply inspired to continue fueling my curiosity about the world around me, because I know that it leads to good places and good work. I particularly want to speak to the experience of conducting artistic work in a URG. It is essential that every artist learn how they work best: what routines are useful, how they like to create and refine, etc. Having the time to discover your process is invaluable.


Name: Zoe Morfas

Hometown: Los Angeles, California

Email: zoemorfas2021[at]

Year: 2021

Major(s): Music Composition, Earth and Planetary Sciences

Schools: Bienen

Involvement on Campus: Pioneers of Interactive Entertainment (Co-President, Publicity Chair)

Special Interests: Minecraft, hiking, lifting

Where will you be this summer? Los Angeles, California

Research grants won: Summer Undergraduate Research Grant (2018)

Research experience according to disciplinary field, methodology, and geographic region: I studied techno music in Berlin last summer, where as a part of my research I interviewed DJs & producers, attended electronic music performances, and produced my own original techno music. My main goals were to understand the musical relationship between producers, DJs, and live audiences and how this relationship impacts the composition of techno music.

Research description: My experience conducting research through the SURG was extremely positive. I learned insider information regarding the techno scene in Berlin that would otherwise be difficult to find.

Conducting these interviews and attending live performances gave me valuable information with respect to my personal and professional goals. As a producer of electronic music, I was very interested in understanding the technical and creative processes that motivate DJs when they perform a track that a producer has written. These interviews and performances helped me to create music that would be suitable to be performed in these types of venues and in a more appropriate style. Overall, I found the research to be extremely rewarding both in terms of personal enjoyment as well as advancing my knowledge in this particular area.


By invitation only; students can apply through a link.

If you recieved funding for an independent research grant and are interested in serving as a peer mentor, please let us know by emailing


The OUR funds all kinds of research, so we need Peer Research Mentors with all kinds of experience! Students from the Natural Sciences, Engineering, Social Sciences, Arts, Humanities, and Design; with experience in labs, archives, creative projects, interviews, quantitative and qualitative methods, and more; based abroad, in Evanston, elsewhere in the US, or online.


Eligible students will be sent an email inviting them to apply. To apply to be a Peer Research Mentor in 2019-2020 you a) must have received an Academic Year or Summer URG from the Office of Undergraduate Research; 2) preferably be on campus in Spring and Fall Quarter 2019; 3) be available to conduct online or in-person office hours during the summer. If you have not received an invitation to apply but believe you are eligible, please contact