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 for the first time over the summer.



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

Top Row, L-R:

    Cody Boukather. Senior in Bienen studying Music Education and Musicology

    Christian BourdonSenior in Bienen and Weinberg studying Piano Performance and Neuroscience

    Jake Daniels & Max KlimanSeniors in Comm studying RTVF (co-mentors)

    Sarah DinegarSenior in Weinberg studying German and Biological Sciences

Second Row, L-R:

    Isaac Doppenberg. Senior in SESP studying Social Policy

    Ryan Franks. Senior in McCormick studying Materials Science and Applied Mathematics

    Rebecca FudgeSenior in Weinberg studying Biological Sciences

    Emily HarriottSenior in Weinberg and Comm studying Communication Science and Neuroscience

Third Row, L-R:

    Kimani Isaac. Junior in Comm studying Theatre

    Evan KaspiSenior in Weinberg studying Biological Sciences and Neuroscience

    Finote KelemuSenior in Weinberg studying Biological Sciences and Environmental Science

    Dylan Kennedy. Junior in McCormick studying Civil Engineering

Fourth Row, L-R:

    Claire Pak. Junior in Weinberg studying History

    Jordyn Ricard. Junior in SESP studying Human Development and Psychological Services

    Ricky Richter. Junior in Comm studying Communication Sciences and Disorders and Computer Science

    Jamilah Silver. Senior in SESP studying Human Development and Psychological Services

Fifth Row, L-R:

    Elaine Sobel. Junior in Weinberg studying Neuroscience

    Raven Watson. Senior in Weinberg studying Biological Sciences

    Yufan YangSenior in Weinberg studying Biological Sciences and Psychology

    Emily Zaniker. Senior in Weinberg studying Biological Sciences and Science in Human Culture


Getting to know them!

Name: Cody Boukather

Hometown: Mission Viejo, CA

Involvement on Campus: I am the lead-mentor for AMPED and a chair for NU’s NAfME chapter

Special Interests: I love motorcycling!

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

Research experience according to disciplinary field, methodology, and geographic region: My SURG involved a case-study which examined the musical experience of two Los Angeles bands and two Los Angeles high-school classes. These bands learned how to play their instruments in these high-school classes and through interviews, observations, and show participation, I documented how their life-long learning is realized; beginning inside the classroom and extending outside the classroom post-graduation. My AYURG involves a case-study which examines audience and fan participation at queer-punk shows. I attended shows and conducted interviews in Chicago, San Francisco, Portland, Los Angeles, and Washington D.C. under the purview of understanding how social media affects queer artists within the punk milieu.

Research description: Researching topics of interest in environments beyond the library and classroom has been the most intellectually and emotionally fulfilling experience in my undergraduate education. Funding provided by the SURG and the AYURG presented me a new gateway to learning - bridging inquiry to synthesis. Both of my research projects stemmed from inquiry questions that were postulated from my personal experiences. My SURG centered upon the question, 'What does a music making experience look like for students after they graduate high-school?', which was a response to the way my friends and I make music and a question in the efficacy of public school music education. My AYURG investigates, 'Does social media negatively effect LGBTQ+ members within punk?', which was a question I formed when I'd see said members facing adversity within the milieu. My personal investigations into both matters have provided me with an in-depth intellectual and emotional satisfaction that I never predicted.


Name: Christian Bourdon

Hometown: Chicago, IL

Involvement on Campus: I’ve played with several chamber music groups, and I teach piano lessons for kids!

Special Interests: I’m a pretty big poetry fan; I love playing soccer and tennis. I also speak French!

Research grants won: I received the OUR Academic Year Undergraduate Research Grant in 2018, and was just awarded OUR Summer Undergraduate Research Grant.

Research experience according to disciplinary field, methodology, and geographic region: My research experience so far has been with the Northwestern Auditory Research Lab on the Evanston Campus. I am studying differences between the hearing of musicians and non-musicians, specifically regarding the peripheral processing of complex tones. My work involves taking auditory tests of subject’s hearing abilities, and then using a coupled microphone+speaker earbud to take recordings of their cochlea. The subject will simultaneously participate in the experiment by giving feedback to sounds they hear.

Research description: I have been working in the Northwestern Auditory Research Lab under Dr. Sumitrajit Dhar since February of 2017. Much of my first few months was spent learning the basics and background of audiology research and methods. As of the summer of 2017, I have been working on developing, funding, and running my personal experiment (with help and guidance from other members of the lab). This has involved learning how to code in Matlab, learning how to effectively use the equipment in our soundproof booth, perform basic auditory tests, and write participant surveys.


Name: Jake Daniels

Hometown: Boston, MA

Involvement on Campus: The Blackout, Mee-Ow, No Fun Mud Piranhas, Titanic

Special Interests: Comedy, writing, VR, design, marine biology

Research grants won: OUR Summer Undergraduate Research Grant, Alumnae of Northwestern University Undergraduate Research Scholar, Finalist for Fletcher Prize for Undergraduate Research

Research experience according to disciplinary field, methodology, and geographic region: I have previously worked in a marine biology lab taking measurements in both the field and the lab and writing reports. For Northwestern research, however, we mostly interviewed any industry frontrunners (there aren't many in VR, but we identified and reached out to the ones that we could) and analyzed existing pieces from early days of new media, then just got hands on with experimenting as many different techniques as we could to then see what worked according to audiences who had never tried VR before. We were in Boston.

 Research description: I partnered with my long time friend and film partner, Max Kliman. We took full advantage of the undergraduate research office's resources when settling on an idea and how to propose it. We set out to see how we could translate traditional  theater and film direction and production techniques to a brand new medium, 360 video, to begin to understand creation within virtual reality. We decided to write a story based on The Adventures of Pinocchio, the most translated non-religious text in the world, as we wanted a sure-fire narrative so that the main variable was the new medium. We then acquired the necessary gear and software while interviewing industry leaders and analyzing early film and theater. Finally, we shot and spent extensive time learning to edit the material into one cohesive short film, showing our work to uninitiated friends along the way to receive honest feedback.


Name: Max Kliman

Hometown: Needham, MA

Involvement on Campus: The Blackout, Northwestern’s Late Night Show (Executive Producer), Northwestern Sketch Television (Line Producer), The Northwestern Flipside (Writer), No Fun Mud Piranhas Improv (Player)

Special Interests: Late Night Television, Television and Film, Writing, Acting, Baseball/Basketball/Football, Comedy

Research grants won: OUR Summer Undergraduate Research Grant, Finalist for Fletcher Undergraduate Research Prize

Research experience according to disciplinary field, methodology, and geographic region: Jake Daniels and I were working in a combination of fields for our research. We were half working in technology, as we were researching virtual reality and its development, and half working in entertainment, as we were developing a script and story to put into production in a virtual reality film. We were working from our homes in Boston on this project. Every day, we would meet up at one of our houses to work on the script, talk through equipment, research new technology, plan for film shoots, etc. We also wrote in the script that our homes would be the locations used in the shoot. We then did all pre-production work at our homes, whether that was finding actors online or hanging up lights or testing the technology. We filmed in our homes, using our friends as our film crew, then worked together throughout the rest of the summer to put together a rough cut of the film. We finished the summer with a very rough cut and a ton of new knowledge about virtual reality filmmaking. Methodology included brainstorming an idea, writing a script, researching new technology, purchasing and budgeting for the equipment, testing the equipment, finding a cast and crew, filming, stitching 360 footage together and adding recorded audio, editing, adding sound effects and other post-production elements, and finalizing the film.

Research description: Jake and I had an incredible experience carrying out this research. Firstly, Peter Civetta could not have been more helpful. We worked with him throughout the grant application process to figure out what exactly we wanted to do and figure out a reasonable and interesting plan for the summer. Once given the grant, we set out to make this virtual reality film, and we had a great experience both writing a script together (Jake and I are writing partners) and figuring out all this new, cool technology that we were able to purchase with our funding. We certainly ran into roadblocks along the way both with tech issues and disagreements about the script, but we love working together and were determined to both learn and make the best possible product. We knew this was a very unique opportunity, so we took full advantage of it and dedicated ourselves to it all summer. We were able to learn so much and come out of the summer with a rough cut we were very proud of.


Name: Sarah Dinegar

Hometown: Golden, Colorado

Involvement on Campus: NLVS (pre-med volunteering), Young Life, Greekbuild, club tennis, Kappa Alpha Theta, volunteering at Lurie Children’s Hospital, Bible study

Special Interests: skiing, hiking, music (harp and piano), baking, running, tennis, learning languages

Research grants won: Just received an OUR Summer Undergraduate Research Grant, Previously received WCAS Summer Research Grant

For the research in the German Department, we received funding from Northwestern.

 Research experience according to disciplinary field, methodology, and geographic region: I carried out  undergraduate research through the German department. Winter quarter we learned background on the refugee crisis in German and developed our projects, over spring break we travelled to Berlin to interview refugees there, and spring quarter we spent turning our interviews into a project to present as a part of a website. My research partner and I, both being pre-med, decided to interview individuals who had been doctors in their home countries to ask them about the transition into the German medical system and what that has looked like for them. We conducted interviews in German and learned a great deal about the lives of the four individuals we interviewed (all from Syria), and then transcribed our interviews and wrote them out as stories to capture the unbelievable experiences through which these four men had gone, in both English and German. Our final project is entitled Fractured Paths and can be viewed at

 Research description: Besides this experience above, I also did research last summer at University of Colorado Boulder under a WCAS summer grant in their Department of Neuroscience and Psychology. I worked particularly on a project within a graduate student's masters thesis over the summer at a lab there called the Cognitive Development Center. My work included running participants (school-age children) on short-term memory and fluid reasoning tasks while tracking their eyes with eye-tracker to obtain pupillometry data and analyzing the pupillometry data for pupil dilation as a measure for heightened attention, mental effort, or allocation of cognitive resources. I also attended weekly lab meetings and read myriad research papers pertaining to recent research on the project I was working on specifically.


Name: Isaac Doppenberg

Hometown: Andover, Minnesota

Involvement on Campus: Project SOAR, Reformed University Fellowship

Special Interests: Racquetball, exploring Chicago, coffee

Research grants won: OUR Summer Undergraduate Research Grant, OUR Summer Undergrad Research Assistant Program, OUR Conference Travel Grant, Weinberg Summer Undergraduate Research Grant

 Research experience according to disciplinary field, methodology, and geographic region: Quantitative experience: Cleaning data and developing statistical and econometric models using SAS, Stata, and R. Qualitative experience: Developing in-depth interview guides, conducting in-depth interviews, and coding interview data using Nvivo and Atlas.Ti.

 Research description:

At Northwestern I have been involved in both qualitative and quantitative sociological research. The summer after my freshman year I did a qualitative case-study seeking to understand Somali adolescents academic experiences and last summer I did a project statistically analyzing the effectiveness of DOJ interventions at reducing racial bias in law enforcement.


Name: Ryan Franks

Hometown: Highland Park Illinois

Involvement on Campus: Slivka Residential Hall (treasurer)

Special Interests:

Research grants won: OUR Summer Undergraduate Research Grant, Center for Hierarchical Materials Design, Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (Northwestern)

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

1. Northwestern (Evanston). Chemical engineering (catalysis design) labwork with Prof. Notestein.

2. Northwestern (Evanston) Materials engineering (simulations of course-grained molecular dynamics systems) with Prof. Luijten

 Research description: I've had a range of experiences with undergraduate research, starting out in High School with Prof. Notestein. I didn't know anyone at Northwestern then so I was lonely. The work was interesting albeit often repetitive and I was disappointed by my inability to get a positive result. Since the work was also quite complicated, I also felt out of my depth in building on my mentor's ideas for the project--even if I could understand them.

 Now, attending Northwestern, I'm much more connected with people who stay here over the summer and have had much more enjoyable out-of-research experiences. I've had mostly work-oriented relationships with mentors but I often just communicate directly with my PI in developing my own ideas. I've found this process of intellectual exploration very rewarding.


Name: Rebecca Fudge

Hometown: Newport Beach, CA

Involvement on Campus: This year I served as the Associate Director of TEDxNorthwesternU. I also sit on the Office of Undergraduate Research Advisory Board and am involved with Hillel. I recently designed a board game to teach students about the Sustainable Development Goals and received funding for it through ISEN.

Special Interests: Sustainability, mentoring, rock climbing, reading

Research grants won: OUR Academic Year Undergraduate Research Grant,OUR Summer Undergraduate Research Grant,Undergraduate Research & Arts Expo Presentation, Weinberg Summer Grant, ISEN Resnick Social Impact Grant

 Research experience according to disciplinary field, methodology, and geographic region: I have worked for the past 2 years as a researcher in the Mayo Lab, located on Northwestern's Evanston campus. I mostly perform benchwork, including PCR, western blots, protein assays, and proliferation assays. I analyze data using Prism and Excel.

 Research description: I began my independent research project in the Mayo Lab winter of my freshman year. I set out to answer a question about how certain proteins interact in a signaling pathway. I soon learned that in order to answer that question, I needed to optimize many protocols, which is what I have spent the majority of the past two years doing.

 I have performed western blots, qRT-PCR, and various assays in order to understand the nature of these protein interactions and have presented my findings at the Northwestern Undergraduate Research Expo and at CAURS. I have done research for class credit for 3 quarters, have received an AYURG, an SURG, and a Weinberg summer grant. Performing research at Northwestern has been one of my most meaningful academic experiences to date.


Name: Emily Harriott

Hometown: Berkeley Heights, NJ

Involvement on Campus: Northwestern Wildside, Delta Zeta, Northwestern to Benefit Special Olympics

Special Interests: Sports (especially Major League Baseball/NCAA basketball), reading, biking (often to Chicago), running, Irish Dancing

Research grants won: OUR Summer Undergraduate Research Grant (2017), OUR Summer Undergrad Research Assistant Program position (2016), OUR Conference Travel Grant (2016, 2018), and the Ralph B. Dennis Scholarship at the School of Communication awards ceremony (2017). I've also presented my research at the Psychonomics Society Annual Meeting in Boston, MA (November 2016) and will be presenting another project at the Symposium for Research on Child Language Disorders in Madison, WI (June 2018).

Research experience according to disciplinary field, methodology, and geographic region: I work in the LEARN (Language, Education, and Reading Neuroscience) Lab under PI Dr. Elizabeth Norton, in the CSD department on the Evanston campus. Broadly, I study child language development. Day to day, I collect and analyze a mix of qualitative and quantitative data, including behavioral data (i.e. “pen and paper” assessments of language), EEG data, data from mobile apps, and survey data (i.e. parents’ reporting various aspects of their children’s language). I typically work with children ages 18 months-10 years, from the Evanston/Chicago area.

Research description: I joined a lab as soon as I arrived on campus, but when I met my PI (Dr. Elizabeth Norton), I had no idea how much I would enjoy working in her lab/with her and to what degree these research experiences would alter my career aspirations. My first year on campus, I joined the LEARN Lab through the EREA (Early Research Experience Award) program, which matches first year CSD majors with labs and pays them to work there. I was lucky enough to be matched in a lab that had just been launched, as my PI had just moved from the Boston area to work at Northwestern in the fall of 2015. During winter/spring 2016, I developed and implemented a procedure to code audio files, marking the pause times between each word spoken in a rapid naming task. I trained 5 Research Assistants on that coding procedure, as well. I won a summer URAP in the summer of 2016, allowing me to continue working in the LEARN Lab over the summer, still coding audio files but also assessing children’s language and assisting in EEG-ing children, as part of a study on broader behavior and brain measures. I continued working on this brain/behavior measures project throughout the fall of 2016. During the winter and spring of 2017, I cleaned and analyzed EEG data both from this brain/behavior measures project and from another project my PI had been working on before she arrived at NU. In the summer of 2017, I played a key role in launching a project (RCT) assessing the efficacy of a mobile app language intervention. I personally looked at the relationship between parental language abilities and child language growth/development as my summer URG. I worked on this project throughout the fall of 2017 and winter of 2018, recruiting participant families, assessing parental language abilities, distributing surveys to parents, helping parents download the app, distributing payment, solving technological problems with the app or otherwise, training Research Assistants, overseeing videochats, etc. I’ve loved every minute of my time involved in research here at NU and I can’t wait to see where it will take me.


Name: Kimani Isaac

Involvement on Campus: Textbook Affordability Petition, Hillel, FMO, Sustained Dialogue

Special Interests: Archery, French, Ancient Greek (and mythology), Spanish, getting university money to pay for my travel

Where will you be this summer? Studying French in Rabat, Morocco

Research grants won: OUR Summer Undergraduate Research Grant, Undergraduate Language Grant

Research experience according to disciplinary field, methodology, and geographic region: I did a self planned research project on synesthesia. It was a painting project that sought to raise awareness of the condition and also create a sense of empathy in those without the condition. The process involved a series of qualitative interviews, and I was working in NJ. My project drew on neuropsychological research and art history.

Research description: Undergraduate research taught me about my work ethic and my own commitment to the things I find interesting. I learned about how I hold myself accountable when working on a project that has very little oversight. I think that if I were to do my project again I would probably be more ambitious and try to finish the summer with more paintings under my belt. I would also blog more! I think that because I was new to the work, I didn't throw myself into it. Instead I kind of tip-toed into it. If I could give someone advice to combat this I would tell them to dive in.


Name: Evan Kaspi

Hometown: Glencoe, IL

Involvement on Campus: Northwestern Emergency Medical Organization, Peer-Guided Study Groups

Special Interests: Board games, soccer, bad sci-fi movies, good non-fiction

Research grants won: OUR Summer Undergraduate Research Grant

Research experience according to disciplinary field, methodology, and geographic region: For the past two and a half years, I have worked in the Gallio lab, a neurogenetics wet lab located on campus, investigating sensory systems in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster.  My research involves the mating, dissection and imaging of flies, in addition to a range of other behavioral and molecular techniques.

Research description: I have had a truly enjoyable and enriching experience conducting my own research as part of the Gallio lab.  Since I joined in June 2016, I have worked continuously (through the school year and summer) to build my own project and contribute to other work around the lab.  During my first summer, I started out doing some basic data processing while learning how to work with flies, construct experiments and troubleshoot equipment.  During this time, I was also able to build solid relationships with my post-doc mentor and other lab members, and really integrate into the group.   At the beginning of this school year, I was one of five students selected by neurobiology faculty to be a member of the Northwestern Education & Undergraduate Research on Neuroscience (NEURON) program based upon my work in circadian biology .


Name: Finote Gijsman

Hometown: Nairobi, Kenya

Involvement on Campus: Undergraduate Biology Lab Teaching Assistant

Special Interests: Travel, watching Ellen

Research grants won: OUR Academic Year Undergraduate Research Grant,OUR Summer Undergraduate Research Grant, OUR Summer Undergraduate Research Grant Advanced, Undergraduate Research & Arts Expo Presentation,Weinberg Academic Year Research Grant, Weinberg Summer Research Grant/Lane Environmental Sciences Grant,  

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

  • Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe, Illinois - currently work in the lab of Dr. Pati Vitt and have conducted fieldwork in Door County, Wisconsin.
  • Organization for Tropical Studies, Costa Rica - fieldwork-based study abroad program. Worked on various ecology research projects around the country as well as at the Institute of Tropical Ecology and Conservation in Bocas del Toro, Panama
  • World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF), Nairobi, Kenya - Worked in the Tree Diversity, Domestication and Delivery section of the African Orphan Crop Consortium lab in Nairobi, Kenya where I conducted a variety of DNA extractions and analyses for different tree species.

 Research description: My most recent research experiences are at the Chicago Botanic Garden (CBG) and the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS). I have been working at the CBG for the past 3 years investigating the reproductive fitness of a federally-threatened thistle, Cirsium pitcheri, at two study sites in Door County, Wisconsin. My projects include a demography study, a pollinator network study, and a reproductive fitness (seed output and germination) study. At OTS, I participated in a fieldwork-based study abroad program that focused on a new research project every 2 weeks in a different environment/region of Costa Rica/Panama. I worked on projects investigating prey habitat selection, group-size effects on flee-distance, memory-based learning of prey unpalatability, and conducted an independent research project investigating the desiccation rates of leaf fragments harvested by leaf cutter ants.


Name: Dylan Kennedy

Research grants won: OUR Summer Undergraduate Research Grant

Research experience according to disciplinary field, methodology, and geographic region: I was working in politics, particularly with American historical elections. I was looking at state by state voting records and the text of party platforms. Most of my work was done on my laptop by myself with weekly check-ins with my faculty sponsor.

Research description: It was a completely different experience from class work. In class there are good questions handed to you, but with research there was no guarantee. And in class there are a finite number of resources to consult and know but previous literature is near infinite, making it so much harder. I had to struggle through numerous rounds of discovering what I was doing had been done before before finally finding the value I had to offer.

In addition, since I was doing all the work myself it required a great deal of individual accountability. Though I would email my professor, I could have easily dragged my feet and made excuses but it was my own personal ownership of the process that powered me through.

Name: Claire Pak

Hometown: Somewhere between Maryland and South Korea. Or something like that.

Involvement on Campus: I’m an assistant editor at arts and cultural magazine Scene+Heard.

Research grants won: OUR Summer Undergraduate Research Grant, Awarded Emerson Prize for history research paper published in the Concord Review.

Research experience according to disciplinary field, methodology, and geographic region: In the 2016-2017 school year, I received a summer undergraduate research grant to research early modern Korean literature. For my research, I reviewed scholarly literature written on modern Korean literature in general as well as scholarly literature focusing specifically on the work of three authors who are credited for writing the first modern poems, short stories and novels. Additionally, I read through several poems, novels and short stories from the authors I was researching, as well as essays that they wrote.

I also conducted archival research for my final paper in the history 393 course Microhistory. Specifically, I searched through the digital newspaper archives, and also used the resources at the University archives to find information on individuals, and to find letters or newspaper clippings that exist on those individuals that have been collected by the archives.

Research description: I ended up going in a different direction with my research than I had originally intended. While I had originally planned on analyzing how modernity was constructed in early modern Korean literature, I ended up diving into texts that discussed the importance of translations in defining the literary style of modern literature. This change in approach to the topic I was researching largely stemmed from me gaining through research a greater, more specific understanding of what elements I am interested in further exploring. From the experience, I learned that even if you set out a particular schedule for yourself, things will most likely have to be shifted around, whether because of unexpected circumstances or because you have a better idea of what direction you want to go, now that you've done more research. After all, even the most well thought out plans are subject to change.


Name: Jordyn Ricard

Hometown: St. Paul, MN

Involvement on Campus: YMCA SOAR Mentor, Supplies for Dreams Mentor, NU Bioscientist Research Mentor

Special Interests: Mentoring, advocacy for underrepresented students in research

Where will you be this summer? Researching at Harvard through the Summer Research Opportunities at Harvard (SROH) Program

Research grants won: OUR Academic Year Undergraduate Research Grant, OUR Summer Undergraduate Research Grant, OUR Academic Year Undergrad Research Assistant Program position, Undergraduate Research & Arts Expo Oral Presentation, Leadership Alliance/Harvard Summer Research Opportunities at Harvard (SROH) - $5000

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

1. Dr. Claudia Haase's Life-Span Development Lab - (Developmental Psychology) Working in a lab in Evanston, running and observing participants, collecting and analyzing data, facial coding using Facial Action Coding System (FACS) and Specific Affect Coding System (SPAFF), studying communication and behavior, working with children through older adults alongside undergrads, grad students, and the PI

2. Dr. Vijay Mittal's ADAPT Lab - (Clinical Psychology) Working in a lab in Evanston, running participants, facial coding, working with undergrads, grad students, and the PI

3. Dr. Miriam Sherin's Research Lab - (Education) Working in a lab in Evanston, analyzing computational data in Evanston, often just me and the PI

 Research description:

The first lab I joined was beneficial in my introduction to research by offering me the opportunity to understand emotional behavior and communication. It was also beneficial as an aspiring clinical psychologist/researcher because understanding and communicating with others is an essential part of being a clinician and implementing mental-health interventions. Soon after, I joined Dr. Mittal’s ADAPT Lab and Dr. Sherin’s research lab to expand on my interests in mental health/psychosis and education. When I initially joined research, I worried that it may not be the right fit for me, but I now encourage others to allow the research process to take its time. Research can be a long and time-consuming journey that can lead to insignificant results (like it did for me), but it can also be a heavily rewarding experience.  After graduating, I will pursue a PhD in clinical psychology with an emphasis on emotions, psychosis, and advocacy.


Name: Ricky Richter

Hometown: West Covina, California

Involvement on Campus: Resident Assistant

Research grants won: OUR Summer Undergraduate Research Grant, For this summer, I received the Parkinson's Foundation-APDA Summer Student Fellowship.

Research experience according to disciplinary field, methodology, and geographic region: For the past two years, I have worked in the Language and Communication in Aging and Neurodegeneration Research Group. I began my work in the lab, transcribing and analyzing spoken audio files already gathered by my PI. Once I gained enough experience in the lab, I began to help a PhD candidate work on their QRP. First by making the code for their experiment, going through the iterative process of creating a detailed experiment, then I observed as she took on participants and ran them through a psych battery,  audio-metric assessment and finally through the experiment. As of now I have ran a few participants through the psych battery and in the summer I will begin my own research which will involve conducting a interview and guiding participants through another experiment. Overall, I have spent the last two years learning in detail, the experimental process, assisting others in their research, and starting this summer I will start conducting my own research.

Research description: My URG project went actually quite smoothly, I was able to finish my project without having to change my original hypothesis. There is a lot of work to be done and it was very important for me to know how to manage my time efficiently. I think when you have taken up a research project it is very important to be able to set time for yourself to enjoy yourself. If you dedicate all your time to your research you could burn out. I know over the summer last year, I spent my weekends out of my apartment traveling around the city, and I think it was very important for me to get out of the academic mindset when I could. Overall, I definitely enjoyed the 8-5 weekly work schedule, the work itself never felt like busy work just because the project itself was very important to me, I really enjoyed my research experience.


Name: Jamilah Silver

Involvement on Campus: President of Undergraduate Psychology Association, Peer Academic Coach, Northwestern University Cheerleader

Special Interests: Traveling

Research grants won: OUR Academic Year Undergraduate Research Grant, OUR Conference Travel Grant, Undergraduate Research & Arts Expo Presentation, G. Alfred Hess Jr. Undergraduate Research Fellowship Fund

-NCUR 2018 Diversity and Inclusion Stipend

-National Institutes of Mental Health Intramural Research Training Award Fellowship

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

1. Development Early Education & Policy Lab: working in lab (education/policy); virtually coded neighborhoods in Chicago, analyzed existing data (using SPSS) to determine correlates of preschool depression

2. Child and Adolescent Mood Lab: working in a lab (clinical psychology); analyzed existing data (using SPSS) to investigate socioeconomic differences in treatment response, conducted questionnaire for Head Start parents in Chicago

3. Bipolar Technology Lab: working in lab (clinical psychology); conducted qualitative analysis, recruitment and screening of adults with bipolar in Chicago

4. National Institutes of Mental Health: worked in a lab (clinical psychology), recruitment, screening, outpatient visits, and neuroimaging for study on depressed adolescents

5. Relationships and Motivation Lab: worked in a lab (clinical psychology), coded participant videos, ran study subjects

 Research description: My experience in carrying out research began in the DEEP Lab, where I coded virtual neighborhoods to examine how differing conditions affected childhood learning outcomes. This work deepened my interests in adolescents from different socioeconomic backgrounds. As a research fellow at NIMH, I investigated trajectories, and behavioral/neural correlates of major depressive disorder in adolescents. My desire to work with this population heightened, and became linked with depression research. Lastly, in the CAMS lab, I am conducting a project that examines the prevalence of depressive symptoms among a cohort of low-income preschool children, with a particular focus on the extent to which a child's personality, life experiences, and family environments influence the development of depressive symptoms. Through this research, I gained extensive knowledge about the procedures in developing and implementing a research project.


Name: Elaine Sobel

Hometown: Chicago, IL

Involvement on Campus: Northwestern Club Lacrosse Team, Science Research Workshop Peer Mentor, Greek Life

Special Interests: walking, camping, the Cubs, Stranger Things (and Riverdale, which I started watching ironically but now I’m really into)

Research grants won: OUR Summer Undergraduate Research Grant, Fletcher URG Prize

Research experience according to disciplinary field, methodology, and geographic region:  My research experience started at the Stanley Manne Research Institute in Chicago, where I worked in a cancer biology research lab with my PI Dr. Simone Sredni.  On campus I now work in Dr. Nusslock’s neuroscience lab studying emotional disorders. 

Research description:  

For the past three summers, I worked in a cancer biology research lab, working on multiple different projects focused on Atypical Teratoid Rhabdoid Tumors, an aggressive type of pediatric brain tumor.  The first project I worked on involved screening mutated tumor cell lines to find potential new therapeutic targets that would slow tumor cell growth.  I received a Summer URG for a second project, where I worked with zebrafish to help model the disease and to try to better understand the role of two different genes in its development.  Starting in the winter of my sophomore year, I joined Dr. Nusslock’s Clinical and Affective Neuroscience lab on campus.  The focus of the lab is to gain more insight into the neuroscience behind the mechanisms of emotional disorders.  There I work as a research assistant, where I help run EEG study participants.


Name: Raven Watson

Hometown: Cary, NC

Involvement on Campus: A&O Productions (Producer), Alice Millar Chapel Choir

Special Interests: music of all genres, snack food, reading, Netflix Originals, and cool socks

Research grants won: OUR Summer Undergraduate Research Grant (Summer 2017), Posner Fellowship (Summer 2016), PBS Grant (Summer 2017)

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

Disciplinary Field: Molecular Biology, Genomics

Methodology: Microscopy, Western Blotting, and other common methods within the field

Geographic Location: Northwestern Campus, Pancoe Life Sciences Pavilion

Research description: I think I have had an excellent experience thus far with research. When I joined as a freshman, I was very excited but felt I had so much to learn. Although I still have a lot of room for improvement, I'm proud of how far I've come as a scientist. This has much to do with my own work ethic, but also the support of my PI, Dr. Jason Brickner, and my mentor. Both of them have been fundamental to my experience. Their guidance has taught me so many skills and directed me when I've felt lost.

This is not to say that I have not had some struggles. I still have many questions to ask, lots of techniques I'm unfamiliar with, and problems with poor data sometimes. However, I have practiced taking it in stride and learning to grow from the experience. I am hoping to continue working on honing these different skills in order to prepare for a graduate program. My hope is to pursue a career in research. I absolutely believe that this desire is due to my positive experience with research thus far.


Name: Yufan Yang

Hometown: Naperville, IL

Involvement on Campus: Previous Worship Leader for AAIV, Previous VP of Recruitment for Phi Delta Epsilon Medical Fraternity, Club Boxing Team, Family Life Center Volunteer at Lurie Children’s Hospital,

Special Interests: Singing and Guitar Playing(huge Ed Sheeran Fan), Beginner Recreational Chef, Love the NBA playoffs(and playing pickup basketball), was a Summer English teacher in rural Taiwan, Mainstream movie enthusiast(Marvel, Disney Pixar etc. etc)

Research grants won: OUR Academic Year Undergraduate Research Grant, OUR Summer Undergraduate Research Grant, Undergraduate Research Expo 2018, Summer 2018 grant decisions still pending

Research experience according to disciplinary field, methodology, and geographic region: I conduct research in the Scott Lab, which has research interests in polymer chemistry, immunobiology, and biomedical engineering. Much of the methodology I have learned, such as the chemical synthesis of polymer-based nanoparticles and cell fluorescent imaging technique used in cell biology,  reflects this interdisciplinary research environment. Specifically, I have background in the synthesis of organic-based polymers, spectroscopic techniques like 1H NMR spectroscopy, dynamic light scattering,  and gel-permeation chromatography, as well as techniques used in cell biology such flow cytometry, confocal microscopy, and MTT assays.  My  personal research goal is to  develop nanoparticles for immunotherapeutic and vaccination purposes. Additionally, I conducted a metaphysics research project on object recognition(specifically, mereology) in humans for a psychology research course, and the corresponding research paper I wrote will be published in compos Mentis: Undergraduate Journal of Cognition and Neuroethics. In my paper, I designed a scenario-based study and recruited participants to perform my study.

Research description: My undergrad research journey began in the spring 2017 after I joined the Scott Lab. Right around the time I joined the lab, I applied for and received a summer URG, allowing me to receive the funding necessary to start my first project. The goal of this project was to achieve enhanced cellular targeting--the ability to more efficiently target specific cells--with nanoparticles. Much of the day-to-day work focused on the chemical synthesis of nanoparticles with unique properties, such as surface charge and morphology, and biology based imaging techniques, such as confocal imaging,  to visualize where these nanoparticles were going--and how much of them reached a given  location--once injected into a biological system. I did not finish the project last summer, and I have been working on finishing it during this academic year through funding from an Academic Year URG.  I plan on finishing this year long project with support from  hopefully either the CLP Summer Scholars Grant or the Weinberg Summer Grant.  The mentorship  I've received and the friendship I’ve made along the way both in my lab and at the OUR, have further made my research experience an awesome ride.


Name: Emily Zaniker

Research grants won: OUR Summer Undergraduate Research Grant, Undergraduate Research & Arts Expo Presentation, Beckman Scholarship

Research experience according to disciplinary field, methodology, and geographic region: I have worked in two different biology labs (Miller Lab and Woodruff lab) since my freshman year. I have conducted summer research two years with a summer URG and this past year as a Beckman Scholar.

Research description: I have spent nearly all of my time at northwestern involved in biology research. I have worked in two different biology labs since freshman year and have conducted independent research over the past two summers. I was a part of the NU Bioscientist program, which helped me get connected with a lab very early on. I have had very positive experiences doing research and it has shaped my future career goals. I have also participated in poster presentations and am currently in the process of publishing my first paper.

As a Beckman Scholar, I have attended a national research conference and will be presenting my research this summer. I have thoroughly enjoyed my research experience.


Peer Research Mentors, 2017-2018


Amanda Leung. My name is Amanda Leung, and I am a junior studying biology and Chinese language. I have been working in Dr. Tiffany Schmidt's neurobiology lab for the past 2.5 years studying intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (ipRGCs), its relationship with other retinal cell types and its behavioral influences.

Amy Lieberman. My name is Amy, and I am a junior double-majoring in human development and psychological services (HDPS) and psychology. My research focuses on the patterns associated with the onset of schizophrenia, and I am excited to learn more about my peers' research! I also love any form of coffee, running, and watching The Office!

Caroline Spikner. Caroline Spikner is a third year studying Radio-Television-Film and Dance. She spends her free time filming spontaneous dance videos and reading to preschooler and is a proud member of Jumpstart Americorps, New Movement Project, Delta Zeta Sorority, and a founding member of Flux Dance Project.

Christine Junhui Liu. I’m a dual degree junior in Weinberg and Bienen majoring in neuroscience and music theory. I work in Prof. Nina Kraus’s Auditory Neuroscience Lab studying how the sound of our lives influence the way our auditory brainstem process sound. In my “free" time, you can find me procrastinating in Pancoe Einstein’s reading non-class related research articles and performing in/attending concerts and recitals (for the free reception food obviously).

Christine Schlaug. I am a Weinberg junior studying Linguistics and Psychology with a minor in Communication Sciences and Disorders. My research experiences have ranged from pre-linguistic, cognitive development in infants, to looking at how background noises in our environment affect the way in which we understand and learn language. Outside of my research, I enjoy being an NU tour guide, playing in the marching band, and discovering new coffee shops in Evanston and Chicago!

Emily Comstock. My name is Emily Comstock and I am a junior in the School of Education and Social Policy. I am a double major in Social Policy and Gender and Sexuality Studies. This summer, I'll be working on my practicum while mentoring with the Office of Undergraduate Research. I am excited to create meaningful connections through coffee and doughnut excursions while exploring our various worlds of interest!

Emily Vogt. I'm a junior majoring in Neuroscience and Economics. I've been part of Dr. Fred Turek's lab for the past year conducting research in how aspects of the microbiome influence sleep and circadian alignment in mice. This summer, I'll be doing business development for a healthcare tech firm focused on increasing accessibility of mental healthcare resources.

Finote Aster Gijsman Kelemu. I'm a sophomore double majoring in Plant Biology and Environmental Sciences. I received a summer URG in 2016 and an academic year URG in 2017 to conduct research at the Chicago Botanic Garden on a threatened thistle species endemic to the Great Lakes region.

Gavin O'Toole Brehm. I am currently pursuing a dual degree in trumpet performance and human-centered design. My research has focused on human cognition and processing of artistic language through both industrial design and music.

Imane Ridouh. I’m a sophomore studying Neuroscience and Middle East/North African studies, and my research work has been looking at straital cholinergic neuronal signaling. When I’m not in lab, I’m at McSA events, reading reddit’s ELI5, or watching Suits. 

Jake Rothstein. My name is Jake Rothstein. I'm a political science, legal studies double major from Ft. Lauderdale Florida. My project was on comedic performance as socio-political speech.

Jiayi Lu. I am a Weinberg sophomore majoring in Integrated Science Program, Linguistics and Neuroscience. My research interests are on neurolinguistics and psycholinguistics (how people process language and generate speech from thoughts).  

Kenin Qian. I am a junior majoring in Biological Science as well as Integrated Science, and I am interested in pursuing a career in medicine after graduating from Northwestern. I work in the Horvath Lab where I have conducted research in gene tagging and in drug pathways. When I am free time I love to make food, listen to music, and swim.

Kotaro Tsutsumi. I am a junior working towards majors in Biological Sciences and Violin Performance and a minor in Computer Science. I have been conducting research on protein conformational diseases, and am currently investigating the cause of lysosomal dysfunction observed in Parkinson's Disease cells. 

Lucia Brunel. I am a junior from Austin, Texas pursing a joint BS/MS in Chemical and Biological Engineering. My area of research interest is polymer science and engineering, and I have conducted research in this field both in the US and abroad. I currently work in Professor John Torkelson's research laboratory.

Rebecca Fudge. My name is Rebecca Fudge, and I am a sophomore originally from Orange County, California. I am a biology major doing reproductive science research.

Shane H Choi. I am a dual-degree student studying mechanical engineering and trumpet performance. I am passionate about energy and sustainability and intend on receiving my master's degree in this field. Research I have done include energy topics on electric vehicles, solar panel integration, and psychoacoustic relationships within music. 

Sophie Brauer. I'm a junior majoring in Chemistry and minoring in Philosophy. My research is in the Gray group in Environmental Engineering, where I am looking at ways to make industrial chemicals out of biomass. I co-founded the Association for Undergraduate Women in Science and I unironically enjoy the music of Rick Astley.

Victoria Wee. I'm a junior studying psychology with special interests in social and clinical psychology. During my free time I like to bake, take pictures of the sky, and draw elaborate doodles on snapchat.


Peer Research Mentors, 2016-2017

Camille Calvin. I am a McCormick senior from Maryland. My major is biomedical engineering and I conduct biomechanics research at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. I am a co-op student and work as a engineer in medical device R&D. I am also very passionate about STEM education and volunteer with the National Society of Black Engineers and other STEM outreach groups

Sarah Rappaport. I'm a dual-degree junior in Materials Science and Engineering and French Horn Performance. I work in the lab of Prof. Lincoln Lauhon, studying two-dimensional material growth for energy production.

Tiffany Fang. I am a junior studying psychology and creative writing. Since freshman year, I've been involved in research and aspire to go on to graduate school for clinical psychology and conduct therapy one day. Broadly speaking, my research interests center on the factors that influence mental illness development. In my free time, I love going to shows in Chicago and discovering new music.

Rachel Ng. I’m a junior majoring in Biology and Political Science. I received a summer URG in 2015, and my current research at the Wignall Lab focuses on the role of a mid-bivalent ring complex in regulating meiosis in C.elegans.

Joseph Nicolas. I am a junior premedical student, majoring in Economics and minoring in Global Health. With an Academic Year URG I was awarded in 2015, I investigated the potential protective effect of probiotic species against intestinal cell apoptosis. 

Jordan Todes. I’m a sophomore majoring in Earth and Planetary Sciences and Integrated Science. My research interests span from geobiology – where I examine the membrane composition of extremophile microbes – to seismology, in which I investigate the relation between frequency and magnitude in deep earthquakes.

Aislinn McMillan. I am a junior chemistry major and global health minor.  Since my freshman year, I have been conducting biochemical research.  Last summer, I conducted public health field research in Arusha, Tanzania.

Emily Comstock. I'm double majoring in Social Policy and Gender and Sexuality studies. Outside of class, you can find me working with friends on meaningful projects (like Cranes for Courage) or working on a pint of ice cream. I guzzle coffee by the espresso shots and cups just to keep up with life's amazing journey!

Gustavo Berrizbeitia. I am a junior/rising senior majoring in both political science and philosophy. I have done extensive research into voter ID laws and race, the influence of the ultra-wealthy in American democracy, and neoliberalism and immigration law. Outside of the classroom I am active in student theater, and this summer you can find me on one of the beaches and/or working on my thesis.

Sarah Johnson. I'm a junior majoring in psychology and cognitive science. Working in three psychology labs on campus, my research involves body image and the thin-ideal, infant cognition and language development, and personality development during childhood.

Yilan Wang. I'm a sophomore majoring in Biology and ISP. When I'm free, I watch performances with friends, play badminton, and do music with my sorority. My current research is on protein interactions in mitochondrial tethering structures in budding yeast.

Jessica Hua. I am a junior majoring in Biology and minoring in Global Health. I currently work in a neurobiology lab and research temperature sensation in fruit flies.


Peer Research MentorS, 2015-2016

Danica (Nikki) Rosengren. I'm a Junior theatre and psychology double major with a concentration in Theatre for Young Audiences. I'm from lil' old Glen Rock, New Jersey. Last summer, I received a URG to travel to the UK and study Spectacle and Engagement in theatre for young people.

Jack Cavanaugh. I am a junior studying materials engineering. For two years, I have researched bone growth from a materials science perspective in Derk Joester’s biominerals engineering lab.

Kristen Scotti. I'm a biology major with a focus on materials science. My current research focuses on utilizing a freeze-casting technique to improve solar cell electrodes and as a potential route for space-based manufacturing.

Sarah Rappaport. I'm a dual-degree junior in Materials Science and Engineering and French Horn Performance. When not in class, I'm also heavily involved in materials research, Greek life, and Habitat for Humanity.

Margaret Shavlik. I'm a junior majoring in Psychology and Cognitive Science. Working in two psychology labs on campus, my research involves Body Image and the Media (social psychology), and Infant Cognition and Language Learning (developmental psychology).

Kenny Mok. I am a junior majoring in Political Science and Economics. I received a Summer URG in 2014 which allowed me to travel to Dakar, Senegal (West Africa) where I conducted political science surveys of 90 young people. I learned a lot about the unexpected challenges that come up with research and international research in particular.



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