In April 2018, students, faculty, and academics alike will travel to the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, OK for a very special event. The National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR), annually invites accepted students to present their undergraduate research from a variety of disciplines. After a competitive review, three St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) students have been awarded the opportunity to share their research and academic achievements at NCUR 2018.
One of these successful students is Hannah Murphy, a graduating senior studying Spanish. She has been conducting research on increasing the retention of critical thinking skills in students that speak English as a second language. Using local middle school students as her focus, she hopes to develop critical thinking skills using articles in the students’ native language, and show that those skills transfer over when students use English. She will assess students critical thinking skills before and after relevant articles are read in the native language and will share her results at the NCUR conference. Hannah hopes to promote the importance of native languages and how they can be used to better the students educational experience, instead of hindering it.
Another notable student is Sidi Chleuh, a senior here at SMCM. He is studying International Languages and Cultures, with a double concentration in French and Spanish. He will be presenting his research on Fulbe oral literature at NCUR. The Fulbe are an ethno-linguistic group located in West Africa and have had their linguistic culture influenced by the spread of Islam and colonization. Sidi hopes to revive the importance of the Fulbe language and show how Fulbe proverbs impact culture throughout time. Sidi has conducted much of his fieldwork in the Republic of Guinea, collecting notes on the Fulbe language from the former colonial administration records, as well as past anthropological work. He will present his findings and showcase how Fulbe proverbs impact local identity, as well as influence values and knowledge. Sidi conducted much of this research in the summer of 2017, as part of the St. Mary’s Undergraduate Research Fellowship program. After graduation, Sidi hopes to continue travelling and to share his passion for languages as he contemplates future education.
Also going to NCUR is Chikondi Kulemeka, presenting ‘Beyond the Veil: Exploring the Many Layers of Muslim Women’s Identity in Nice, France’. Seeing the rising rate of Islamophobia in Europe, Chikondi has researched the daily life of Muslim women in France. She focuses her research on one woman particularly. This woman was born in Morocco, but grew up in France and is currently attending Nice University. Chikondi used this woman as a main focus of her interviews and research, helping to describe the bigger picture of the female Muslim experience in France as a whole. This research can show the opinions and experience of these individuals during their daily life. Through interviews and a detailed literature review, she hopes to shed light on the unique perspectives that these female Muslim individuals have as they navigate through their layered identities.
Past SMCM students presenting their work at NCUR have included Elizabeth Wenker ’17 and Brad Davidson’s ’17 research with white-crowned sparrows in Dr. Malisch’s lab (NCUR 2017) and Alex Schoen ’17 and Mary Korendyke’s mathematical modeling research with Dr. Socha (NCUR 2016).