Mortara Undergraduate Research Fellows

The Mortara Undergraduate Research Fellows is a four-year research apprenticeship program. Five first-year School of Foreign Service (SFS) students are selected in the spring semester and paired with a faculty mentor to gain hands on experience as a research assistant working on advanced research methods and projects. By supporting faculty research initiatives, students gain the necessary skills to carry-out their own independent research in their third and fourth year.

By empowering students as generators, not just consumers, of knowledge, we hope that Mortara Undergraduate Research Fellows emerge from the program with advanced competencies to tackle qualitative and quantitative research projects, deep knowledge in a specific area, and relationships with faculty and fellow students that inspire and prepare them for their post-graduate career.

The program was started in the spring of 2012 as part of the University's strong commitment to undergraduate research. Funding is provided by the SFS Dean's Leadership Fund. 

To learn about former participants in and graduates of the MURFs program click here.


Paul CastaybertPaul Castaybert, BSFS ’21

Paul is a freshman in the School of Foreign Service, planning on majoring in International Political Economy. He grew in Larchmont, NY, a suburb of New York City, and attended a bilingual French-American school through 8th grade. Paul is interested in the intersection of politics and economics, both domestically and in the arena of global trade. Professor Joshi’s proseminar, “Development in India,” gave a him a taste of the kinds of insights research and data analysis offer into the politics of financial liberalization and the tensions between growth and development in emerging economies. He is excited to look at similar dynamics in other regions and on an international scale. Outside of MURFs, Paul plays on Georgetown’s Ultimate Frisbee team, is an analyst in the Georgetown University Student Investment Fund (GUSIF), a member of the International Relations Club, and an avid New York Knicks fan.

Harsh DubeyHarsh Dubey, BSFS, '21

Harsh is a freshman in the School of Foreign Service, currently deciding International Economics and Science, Technology, and International Affairs. He was born in India, but grew up across the United States, India, and Singapore. Harsh’s interest in global affairs stems from his own international upbringing. His interest in research is a result of a 12th grade project he did on the potential economic effects of Brexit on Northern Ireland. As a student in Professor Scott Taylor’s “Africa in the American Imagination”, Harsh conducted basic preliminary research work, which got him interested in the Mortara Fellowship. Outside of class, Harsh is involved with Carroll Fellows, the Georgetown University India Initiative, and India Ink. He has also started a cricket club at Georgetown (if it was not for school, he would have trained seriously to become a professional cricketer).

Ricardo FloresRicardo Flores, BSFS ’21

Ricardo is a freshman in the School of Foreign Service, planning on majoring in International Political Economy with a certificate in International Business Diplomacy. He is a dual-citizen and lived most of his childhood in Mexico, but now lives in El Paso, Texas. Ricardo owes his interest in research to his freshman proseminar professor, Dr. Abraham Newman, who opened his eyes to the competitive evolutionary biology that arises due to globalization. He hopes to develop his research on the financial and political incentives that drive the leveraging power of Mexico and the United States. The dynamic interconnectivity that both countries share in his border town’s economy inspires his research interest. Outside of MURF, Ricardo is Executive Board Member of Georgetown’s Aspiring Minority Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs, a non-profit consultant for Innovo Consulting, an investor and stock analyst for Georgetown Collegiate Investors, and is part of the Georgetown Boxing Team.  

Jonathon MarekJonathon Marek, BSFS, '21

Jonathon is a freshman in the School of Foreign Service, planning on majoring in International Political Economy with a certificate in Asian Studies. He is proud to have been born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. He has studied Mandarin Chinese for 10 years and has taken 2 study abroad trips to China. His interest in Chinese culture, politics, and economics, as well as Sino-American trade and security issues, has spurred a broader interest in international relations research. This interest was furthered during his freshman proseminar, "Politics of International Economic Competitiveness," with Professor Abe Newman, which exposed him to the complex and nuanced factors that shape the political economy. Jonathon hopes to continue researching Chinese political and economic issues, both through the MURF program and beyond. Outside of the MURF program, Jonathon is a member of the Walsh Exchange Steering Committee, a member of the International Relations Club, a member of GU Politics, and a writer for the Indo-Asia-Pacific section of the Caravel.

Nicole Ruggiero

Nicole Ruggiero, BSFS ’21

Nicole is a freshman in the School of Foreign Service and currently plans on majoring in Culture and Politics with a minor in Italian. Nicole was born and raised in Staten Island, New York, but spent half of her summers with family in Italy, which helped to form her interest in Italy and international affairs. As a student in Professor Jennifer Long’s “Tsar and the People” freshman proseminar, Nicole became interested in research and the way in which it is conducted. She is currently working with Professor Rochelle Davis, whose research focuses on refugees and conflict, particularly in the Middle East. Nicole hopes to research the integration of refugees in Italy, and how it is affected by factors such as race and religion. Outside of MURF, Nicole is a member of the Georgetown University ACLU, Mask and Bauble, and can be found enjoying a good book. 

Fiona SingerFiona Singer, BSFS, '20

Fiona is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service majoring in International Politics and hopes to pursue a minor in French and a certificate in Women and Gender Studies. She is a British citizen who grew up in Belgium but moved to the U.S. for middle school. This diverse cultural background spurred an interest in international affairs and an ambition to understand the mechanics of the various political systems she was raised in. However, women rights and gender equity have always been her core interest. She is currently working with Professor Kathleen McNamara, who specializes in markets, culture, and politics in the European Union and the United States. Eventually, Fiona hopes to research the role of gender and women in the security community, both in active duty roles, such as ground combat, and in diplomatic positions. Outside of MURF, Fiona is a member of GU Politics, involved in Best Buddies and is a tour guide (who happens to be very bad at walking backwards)!


2017 Mortara Undergraduate research fellows

Adam Potter, BSFS '20

Adam is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service from Stoughton, Massachusetts and plans to major in Science Technology and International Affairs. Adam has always had a passion to explore the world and his love for international relations began when he was young. Adam’s interest for research stems from his freshman proseminar, Youth in the Arab World, in which he explored sociology and ethnography. His final project for the class focused on effects of secularism for French Muslims and possible improvements for migrant integration in Western Europe. With Professor Edelstein, Adam is researching the ways in which migration affects foreign policy decisions. In the future, he plans to research the growing implications of Chinese counter terrorism efforts. When not in class, Adam sings in the Capital G’s, a coed a Capella group on campus, fences on the school’s club fencing team, and participates in Jewish life events.



Saisha Mediratta, BSFS '20

Saisha is a sophomore majoring in International Political Economy with a certificate in Women and Gender Studies. Coming from an Indian immigrant background, Saisha has always been fascinated by global affairs and issues. She is currently working with Professor Jenny Guardado on various political economy papers. With a knowledge of both Spanish and Hindi, Saisha hopes her research leads her to Latin America or India with a focus on economic development and poverty alleviation. Growing up in Atlanta, Georgia, she has working closely with the undocumented and asian-american community and hope to expand her efforts to a national and international level. She recently presented research on Dadaab, Kenya and spoke on a panel of international migration at the Jesuit University Humanitarian Action Network Conference. She continues this work on campus as a peer advisor for Profesor Smith's Pro-Seminar on Migration in Africa and as the Civil Rights Undersecretary with GUSA's Federal Relation Committee. Saisha also dances on GU Jawani, is a Rangila choreographer, works with Innovo Consulting, is a Blue and Gray tour guide. She hopes to bring in her passion for social justice issues into her future research projects and academic pursuits.

Emma Rhodes, BSFS '20

Emma is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service interested in majoring in International Politics. Having lived in Portland, Oregon nearly her whole life, she is excited to be studying international affairs in the nation’s capital. While she has been interested in politics and international relations from a young age, her freshman proseminar, War, Peace, and International Institutions with Professor Erik Voeten, sparked her interest in research. As a Mortara Fellow, she is excited to work with Professor Newman on research on international membership in financial organizations. On campus, she works as a Coordinator for DC Reads, is a Section Editor for the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, is a member of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, and enjoys exploring DC in her free time.


ArjunArjun Mehrotra, BSFS '20

Arjun Mehrotra is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service majoring in International Political Economy. He was born in New Delhi, grew up in Bangalore and Dubai and attended high school in Singapore. Arjun’s interest in research stemmed from development economics research he did in high school, where carried out interviews and did data collection in Odisha, India, assessing the impact education has had on living standards of Adivasis (tribal groups in India). As a student in Professor Marilyn McMorrow’s proseminar “Global Pathways”, Arjun gained a better understanding of the international system and became excited by the prospect of engaging in research as an undergraduate. Arjun is doing research on American foreign policy under Professor Charles Kupchan. Arjun is a member of the Student Board of the Georgetown India Initiative (where he also heads the Writing and Research Committee) and is Director of Outreach for India Ink (the student run blog in US on India). Arjun is also a Junior Centennial Fellow for SFS Centennial Fellow Ambassador Richard Verma (former U.S. Ambassador to India), an Associate Board member for the Lecture Fund and a tour guide for Blue and Gray Tour Guide Society. In his spare time, he enjoys football (soccer), watching TED Talks, engaging in discussion and reading pretty much anything under the sun.


2016 Mortara Undergraduate Research Fellows

Schuyler Colloredo-Mansfeld, BSFS '19

Sky is a junior in the School of Foreign Service from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. His interest in international issues began with the time he spent in Ecuador growing up. After finishing high school, Sky decided to take a gap year before enrolling here a Georgetown. Through working for several different NGOs in India, Uganda, and Tanzania on a range of projects he became specifically interested in development in India. The MURF program has enabled him to begin looking into research in this field while working under Professor Joshi. Sky has had the opportunity to work on a range of projects in this area, from examining issues of pollution of the Ganges River, to looking at the long term implications of serializations imposed by the Indian government in the 1970s, to most recently working with survey data to assess outcomes of leadership initiatives in Indian schools . Beyond his work at the Mortara Center, Sky plays on the Georgetown Ultimate Frisbee team and works at a student run coffee shop, The Midnight MUG.  

Meghna Sinha, BSFS '19

Meghna is a junior in the School of Foreign Service hailing from the San Francisco Bay Area. She is an International Economics major interested broadly in international development and the way trade and international financial institutions affect different population groups. She works with Professor Erik Voeten on his research regarding the role of international institutions in mediating interstate conflicts. For the past year and a half, Meghna has assisted Professor Voeten on his work quantifying state preferences related to U.S. foreign policy using UN voting data. She is excited to begin her own research work this semester on identifying the roots of populism in Europe related to economic anxiety towards trade, immigration, and international financial institutions. Outside of MURF, Meghna is an editorial assistant for Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, Fundraising Chair of Georgetown Habitat for Humanity, and a sister of Delta Phi Epsilon Professional Foreign Service Sorority. 

Signe Stroming

Signe Stroming, BSFS '19

Signe Stroming is a junior in the School of Foreign Service, majoring in Science, Technology, and International Affairs concentrating in Energy and the Environment and pursuing a certificate in International Development. Her research interests are wide-ranging--from environmental security and natural resource management, to gender issues in development, to international climate change agreements and politics in South Asia. Most recently, she has been working with Dr. Mark Giordano on informal mechanisms for trans-boundary water cooperation between India and Pakistan in the Indus river basin. Currently studying abroad in Nepal, Signe is excited to begin her own research work in spring of 2018. Originally from outside Seattle, Washington, Signe enjoys hiking and running in her free time, finding new coffee shops, and playing ultimate frisbee with the Georgetown club team.



Eric Menna, BSFS '18

Eric Menna is a senior Mortara Fellow studying STIA with a concentration in Technology and Security. Coming into Georgetown, Eric's interests existed in the synergy between education and technology in the developing world, particularly in post-apartheid South Africa. He spent two years with Professor Fida Adely studying gender disparities in education in the Middle East. In the past year given the spread of terrorism, Eric has changed his personal research to the rhetoric of terrorism as a function of a given nation's demography. In addition to being a Mortara fellow, Eric is also in the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and enjoys the occasional Netflix documentary or podcast. 

Bessie Zavidow, BSFS '18

Bessie is a senior in the School of Foreign Service studying International Economics. Bessie's freshman Proseminar with Professor Raj Desai sparked her interest in Political Economy research and Development Economics. She has worked with Professor Desai researching the role of collective action in community-driven poverty reduction projects in Rajasthan, India, and hopes to study related issues for her independent research project. On campus, Bessie is involved with the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs and the Chinese Language Exchange, and in her free time enjoys trail running and reading. 





Mortara Undergraduate Research Fellow articles

Students Present at the First Mortara Undergraduate Research Fellows Symposium

"Gender, Conscription and Protection, and the war in Syria", co-author Emma Murphy (MURF, SFS '16)

"The Buck Stops Here: What Global Horse Trading Tells Us about the European Project", co-author Soumyajit Mazumder (MURF, SFS '15)

Students Present at the 2015 MURF Symposium

2016 MURF Symposium

2017 MURF Symposium

Alumnae Present Original Research at Writing Women's Lives Conference

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can apply?
First year students enrolled in the School of Foreign Service and nominated by their Proseminar Faculty member.

How do I apply?
SFS Faculty will nominate talented, intellectually curious, and interested students in their Proseminar classes at the end of the students’ first semester (mid-December). Once nominated, students will be notified and sent an application form (last day before winter break). 

When is the deadline?
The 2018 application is due Tuesday, January 16, 2018 at 12pm.

What happens next?
A faculty panel will manage the selection process. Students will notified of the decision (either way) by Feb 1. If admitted, students will begin their research fellowship in mid-February. 

How many students will be selected?
Five first year students will be selected each year. 

What is the duration of the fellowship?
Students will normally work with the professors for the duration of their undergraduate career (ideally 3 to 4 years) but there is flexibility as research interests develop over time. This will ensure a strong mentor-mentee relationship between the Fellow and the professor, and strengthen the Fellow’s research abilities each year.

How is the fellowship structured?
Fellows start out as true research assistants to their faculty mentor by completing research tasks as assigned and developing a foundation of research skills. Over the duration of the fellowship, students will transition toward their own research projects depending on the mentor-mentee relationship. Please see the Mortara Undergraduate Research Fellows Four Year Program Guide for more details on this flexible timetable. Please note that most students do not transition to their own research until junior year when they have established their research skills and area of interest. 

What kinds of research duties will fellows engage in?
Fellows will assist professors with various tasks such as collecting literature and writing literature reviews, collecting and analyzing qualitative and quantitative data, summarizing and analyzing research materials, and proofreading and editing written work. In addition to working as research assistants, students may be involved in faculty seminars and conferences. Duties will be tailored to individual mentor-mentee abilities and needs and will likely change over time. 

Will there be a training program before the fellowship begins?
To prepare students to work with faculty and ensure their success, the Fellows will be required to attend a series of workshops taught by advanced graduate students on practical research skills, such as how to write a literature review, data collection and analysis, and research presentation techniques.

What is the time commitment?
Each fellow is expected to work ten to fifteen hours per week during the academic year. Yes, this is a significant time commitment and students should plan accordingly. 

Is the fellowship paid?
Yes! Fellows will receive $13.25 per hour starting. The hourly wage will increase as Fellows gain research experience and skills. Research funds for books, software, and conference travel/registration/posters costs are also available as needed.

Will the students present and publish their research?
Sophomore and Senior Fellows will present their work at the annual Mortara Undergraduate Research Fellow Symposium. Held in March, this event will offer Fellows the opportunity to polish their presentation skills and serve as a venue to educate the broader Georgetown community about their important research findings and experience. Fellows are also encouraged to participate in other Georgetown University research activities and other public forums as they see fit. 

Students should not expect to publish research in their first year, if at all. Research takes time and dedication and many factors go into publishing research. Students should work with their faculty mentors toward possibly publishing in the long run and seek out appropriate undergraduate research journals in their junior or senior year.

Funding provided by the School of Foreign Service Dean’s Leadership Fund

For additional questions, please contact Mortara Assistant Director, Moira Todd.


Past murphs events