Six Seniors Win Undergraduate Research Grants

Six Seniors Win Undergraduate Research Grants

Six School of Education and Social Policy seniors were awarded $1,000 Undergraduate Research Grants from the Northwestern University Office of the Provost during the 2015-16 academic year. The students are Spencer Carlson, Kevin Hardiman, Chris Harlow, Stacy Kim, Fortunato Medrano and Renee Wellman.

Spencer Carlson

Spencer Carlson

Learning and organizational change (LOC) major Spencer Carlson’s topic is “Supporting Interaction Between Learners and Coaches Using Online Learning Environments.” He says, “Learning communities are exciting because they engage learners in a social, collaborative process that mirrors how people develop knowledge in the real world.” He is looking at learning communities that are peer-led and trying to understand the problems that arise without a facilitator in order to design features to address them. His research adviser is SESP assistant professor Matt Easterday.


Kevin Hardiman

Kevin Hardiman

LOC major Kevin Hardiman is pursuing a research project entitled “Selfie Society.” He says, “My research looks into the recent concerns over government surveillance, specifically whether priming protection of personal data leads to risk-averse behavior in the real world. I think my topic is universally relevant in a time where sharing on social media is so commonplace while, paradoxically, concerns over personal privacy are peaking.” Hardiman’s adviser is SESP instructor Gail Berger.


Chris Harlow

Chris Harlow

For “Impact of International Service Learning,” LOC major Chris Harlow returned to Uganda to follow up on international service-learning projects initiated by Northwestern students. “While a plethora of research exists showing how college students benefit from spending a summer abroad doing international service, very little research has evaluated the impact of service learning on community members,” he notes. “There is also a lot of room to improve upon and expand industry best practices to do even more good.” Harlow’s adviser is Brian Hanson of Buffett Institute.


Stacy Kim

Stacy Kim

With her grant for “Capao: Vida Alternativa,” LOC major Stacy Kim traveled to a remote village in Brazil called Vale do Capão to finish filming a documentary with Annabel Edwards (Medill '16). “We wanted to understand why people from all over the world were choosing to leave the conveniences of modern-day society to live in a place with limited technology where work was not as important as personal growth, spirituality, and strong relationships,” Kim says. “It is important to showcase alternative lifestyles, as they have been a source of freedom for so many people.” Her adviser is Ana Williams of the Spanish and Portuguese department.


Fortunato Medrano

Fortunato Medrano

Human development and psychological services major Fortunato Medrano is pursuing a research project titled “Power of Perspective: Effects Reframing STEM Fields and SES on Connection, Achievement and Engagement.” His adviser is SESP assistant professor Mesmin Destin.


Renee Wellman

Renee Wellman

Social policy major Renee Wellman is investigating the intersection of environmental and religious values in a project titled “Valuing Northwestern's Outdoor Environment.” She says, “For many people, religion is a powerful narrative and belief system that informs how they value the natural environment. It is important to gain a better understanding of the many different perspectives and motivations of environmental actions, especially as more environmental problems, including climate change, become more pressing. This can lead to the development of beneficial policies that align more closely with people's values, while also facilitating communication.” Wellman’s adviser is SESP professor Douglas Medin.


The Undergraduate Research Grants program offers academic year grants of up to $1,000, summer grants of $3,000 and conference travel grants of up to $500 in support of independent undergraduate projects. Information about grants and deadlines is available on the Undergraduate Research website.

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 3/30/16