The Mortara Undergraduate Research Fellows (MURF) program is a four-year research apprenticeship for undergraduate School of Foreign Service (SFS) students with the goal of empowering students as generators, not just consumers, of knowledge. Fellows are selected during their first year at Georgetown and paired with a faculty mentor to gain hands-on experience as a research assistant and learn the necessary skills to carry out their own independent research in their third and fourth years.
Each month, in an effort to share the inspiring stories and impressive accomplishments of these young scholars, the Mortara Center team selects a MURF of the Month to feature.
December’s MURF of the month is Andres Alfonso. Andres R. Alfonso is a sophomore in the SFS studying Culture & Politics. His academic interests revolve around analyzing the intersection of discourse, critical geography, and human rights. As a MURF, Andres assists Professor Guardado in researching how conflict intersects with historical political economies.
Read on to learn more about Adam and his experiences as a MURF through his answers to our MURF of the Month questions.
What is your favorite part about being a MURF?
My favorite part of being a MURF is the relationship with my professor and the welcoming and flexible nature of the program. Professor Guardado helps me get out of my comfort zone when it comes to the research process. We’re both interested in studying the effects of violent conflict, but we approach them in very different ways. As such, I get exposed to a new way of thinking about research in almost every conversation we have.
What is one memory or project that stands out from your time as a MURF?
One memory that stands out to me is the first time I met the rest of the fellows in my cohort. It was great to see some familiar faces from class and get to know how widely different all of our interests were.
What is one particularly helpful piece of advice you’ve received or skill you’ve learned working with your faculty partner?
I think one of the most important skills I’ve learned while working with my faculty partner is how to do research design. Designing a good research question is essential, but it is one of the most difficult things especially when you account for external factors like budget, time, and feasibility.
How have your interests and/or aspirations changed or developed during your time as a MURF?
I came into the program very unsure about how I wanted to center my studies. I originally wanted to study how violent conflicts connect to migration through analyzing the role of governmental institutions. Now, I’ve realized I want to study this on a much broader scale analyzing the critical geography, discourse, and human rights behind how conflict connects to migration specifically in the Northern Triangle.
What is one thing other than the MURF program that you’ve been involved with during your time at Georgetown? How has it impacted you or your work as a MURF?
One thing that has heavily impacted my time at Georgetown is music. As a musical artist, I write, record, and produce songs. Naturally, I consider myself a creative person who can think outside of the box when it comes to problem-solving, crafting a unique argument, or designing a research project.
What’s a movie you can practically quote from start to finish?
I can quote most of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith from memory.