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.
2019 MORTARA UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH FELLOWS
Adam Shahm, BSFS '22
Adam is a freshman in the School of Foreign Service hailing from New York City. Born to two Israeli immigrants, Adam's first-generation American upbringing led to a passion for in international affairs and a curiosity for understanding global politics, particularly in the Middle East. In Professor Lahra Smith's proseminar, "The Politics of Migration In and From Africa", he was introduced to the the interplay between refugees, internally displaced peoples, voluntary migration, and the politics surrounding the international movement of peoples. The proseminar exposed Adam to how the many different fields of the social sciences can be applied to international affairs. Through the Mortara Undergraduate Research Fellowship, Adam will be working alongside Professor Fida Adely in completing an ethnography of the capital city of Jordan, Amman. On campus, Adam is a board member of J Street U, volunteers in Virginia during the tax season with Hoya Taxa, and runs with the Running Club.
Ray McCormick, BSFS '22
Ray is a freshman in the School of Foreign Service from Bellefontaine, Ohio and currently plans on majoring International Politics. Growing up in a small, rural community, he took every opportunity to learn about foreign countries and cultures, developing a particular interest in China after having the opportunity to take Chinese classes in elementary school. His interest in learning more about the wider world evolved into an interest in conducting research following his time as a student of Professor Abraham Newman in his freshman proseminar, “The Politics of International Economic Competitiveness,” in which he began to truly appreciate the depth of interconnectivity among different spheres of life and policy, both internationally and domestically. He strives to use both the knowledge and skills gained from MURF to do his part in making the world a better place for everyone. Outside of MURF, Ray is a member of the Georgetown University College Democrats, an active resident in the Living Well LLC, and serves as Vice President of the Southwest Quad Hall Council.
Sabrina Hernanadez, BSFS '22
Sabrina is a freshman in the School of Foreign Service, majoring in International Politics. She was born in the US, but grew up in South America and Africa. She has studied abroad twice in the former Soviet Union, which led to her interest in Eastern European history, politics, and frozen conflict zones. Sabrina first became interested in research in Professor Long's proseminar "Tsar and People." As a Mortara Fellow, Sabrina researches wealth in politics with Professor Marko Klasnja. Outside of MURF, Sabrina is involved with the Georgetown Russian Association and enjoys reading and exploring DC.
Jack Resnick, BSFS '22
Jack is a freshman in the School of Foreign Service, majoring in Science, Technology and International Affairs with a certificate in Asian Studies. During his junior and senior year of high school, Jack studied abroad in Israel and Beijing, China, respectively. Jack discovered his research interests after conducting research for MIT on the educational disparities between Arabs and Jews in Israel. In China, he conducted research on the impact and public perceptions of urban development policies with a focus on Beijing’s immigrant population. He is currently researching ‘untouchability’ in Asian society for an upcoming book with Prof. Diana Kim. As a fellow, Jack hopes to research non-traditional security threats created by China’s Belt-Road Initiative in Central and Southeast Asia, focusing on illicit connectivity networks i.e. drug trafficking. Outside of MURFs, Jack is a writer for the Central Asia-Middle East section of Georgetown’s international affairs newspaper, is a member of the SFS Academic Council, and is a Blue and Gray tour guide. He is also involved with the International Relations Club and Georgetown University Pride.
Noor Takkar, BSFS '22
Noor is a freshman in the School of Foreign Service intending to major in Science, Technology, and International affairs with a certificate in Asian Studies. She grew up in New Delhi, India. During her time in high school, Noor through her social initiative ‘My Vote My Voice’ helped register domestic migrant workers to vote in their place of work. Her initiative eventually extended to children with disabilities, as she led a voter registration drive at the National Association for the Blind in New Delhi. Noor’s passion for research also began in High School when she worked alongside Dr. Jyoti Trehan of Delhi University to publish a paper regarding India’s position during the Cold War. During her time in the MURF’s program, Noor will be working with Professor Andrew Bennett on issues such as the importance of rhetoric in analyzing U.S. China relations. Outside of the MURF’s program, Noor is also a member of Delta Phi Epsilon Professional Foreign Service Sorority, the India Initiative, and the Carroll Forum.
Khai Nguyen, BSFS '22
Khai is an international student from Vietnam, but spent his high school years in New Zealand doing the International Baccalaureate program. Georgetown University is his first time being in the States, and he has been learning from his time here. In particular, Professor Erik Voeten’s proseminar, “Global Governance Lab”, opened his eyes to the structures of the international economic and political systems. It also introduced him to the exciting field of data science through R, which he is currently pursuing through independent self-study. He is excited to continue working with Professor Voeten in MURF to learn more about data analysis and global political economy to set a stepping stone for his future studies in the International Economics major. Outside of MURF, he is currently a stock analyst for the Zeeba Investment Club, a Board Member for GU’s Farmers Market, and a badminton player.
2018 MORTARA UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH FELLOWS
Paul Castaybert, BSFS ’21
Paul is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service majoring in International Political Economy. He grew up in Larchmont, NY, a suburb north of New York City. He is a French-American dual citizen and attended bilingual school through 8th grade. Professor Joshi’s proseminar, “Development in India,” gave him a taste of the kinds of insights research and data analysis can offer into the politics of financial liberalization and the tensions between growth and development in emerging economies. Throughout his freshman year and over the summer, he worked with Professor Nita Rudra on a number of projects examining the dynamics between domestic politics and global trade policy in countries of different income levels. This year, he is excited to start working with Professor Joanna Lewis on a project examining Chinese foreign energy investment in the context of the One Belt, One Road initiative. Outside of MURFs, he is a member of the Men’s Ultimate Frisbee team, a Vice President in the Georgetown University Student Investment Fund, and frequent customer of the Grilling Society. He is a fan of classic film and impressionist art, and he remains trapped in a love-hate relationship with the New York Knicks.
Harsh Dubey, BSFS, '21
Harsh is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service majoring in International Economics. 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.
Ricardo Flores, BSFS ’21
Ricardo is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service, 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 incentives that illegal immigrants bring to the United Sates, and how their economic influence drives the leveraging power between 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 the Director of Careers and Academics for 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 Marek, BSFS, '21
Jonathon is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service, 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 12 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. As a MURF, Jonathon researches Chinese domestic politics & rural development with Prof. Kristen Looney. In addition, Jonathon interned for the Paulson Institute's Green Finance Center, with research primarily focusing on the impact of the Belt and Road Initiative. He is the Chair of the Walsh Exchange, and is also involved with the IRC.
Nicole Ruggiero, BSFS ’21
Nicole is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service from Staten Island, New York, and currently plans on majoring in Culture and Politics with a minor in Italian. Growing up, she spent half of her summers with family in Italy, which helped to form her interest in Italian politics and international affairs. Nicole first became interested in research and the various forms it can take as a student in Professor Jennifer Long’s “Tsar and the People” freshman proseminar. As a Mortara Fellow, she works with Professor Rochelle Davis, who specializes in refugees and conflict. In her six months with Professor Davis, Nicole has conducted research into durable solutions for internally displaced persons in Iraq, as well as done media roundups of news articles and reports on refugees from around the world. Nicole hopes to research the integration of and durable solutions for refugees in Italy, and how they are affected by factors such as place of origin and religion. Outside of MURF, Nicole is a member of the Italian Club, dances in Rangila and Reventon, and can be found enjoying a good book.
Fiona Singer, BSFS, '20
Fiona is a junior in the School of Foreign Service majoring in International History with a self-designed certificate in technology, business and policy. 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 through the lens of history. She is currently researching for Professor Meg Leta Jones on an upcoming book on the history and policy of internet privacy. Outside of that she is developing an independent research project on private sector artificial intelligence solutions for national security threats. When she is not doing MURF work or attending class, Fiona is a Sexual Assault Peer Educator, a tour guide, a member of Georgetown Women in Leadership, and an avid podcast listener.
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 junior 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 migration, gender issues, and economic development. 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 is the Captain of GU Jawani, is a Rangila choreographer, works with Innovo Consulting, and 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 junior in the School of Foreign Service majoring in International Politics with a concentration in International Law, Institutions, & Ethics. 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. Her work at the Mortara Center with Professor Abraham Newman has focused on issues of international trade, membership in transnational financial organizations, and global governance. This semester, she looks forward to working with Professor Charles Kupchan on a project that traces the intellectual history of U.S. isolationism. On campus, she works as a Coordinator for DC Reads in the Center for Social Justice, is a Section Editor for the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, is a sister of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, and enjoys exploring DC in her free time.
Arjun Mehrotra, BSFS '20
Arjun Mehrotra is a junior in the School of Foreign Service majoring in Regional and Comparative Studies, focusing on geoeconomics in Asia. 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 collected data in Odisha, India, assessing the impact of education on the living standards of Adivasis (tribal groups in India). As a MURF, Arjun has worked under Dr. Charles Kupchan on research for a book on American foreign policy (viewed through a broad historical lens) and is currently working under Dr. Evan Medeiros on research about Asia. On campus, apart from dancing in Rangila, Arjun is also involved with the Georgetown India Initiative, Blue and Gray Tour Guides, and the Lecture Fund.
2016 Mortara Undergraduate Research Fellows
Schuyler Colloredo-Mansfeld, BSFS '19
Sky is a senior 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 spent a year working for several NGOs India, Uganda, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe on a range of projects before arriving at Georgetown. During this time and a summer he spent in Mumbai after his freshman year, 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. Sky is currently working with Professors Bell and Veeraraghavan on their on participatory mapping in informal settlements in India. 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 senior in the School of Foreign Service hailing from the San Francisco Bay Area. She is an International Economics major who spent last semester abroad in Madrid, Spain significantly improving her Spanish abilities. During her time as a MURF, she has had the opportunity to work with Professor Erik Voeten his research regarding the role of international institutions in mediating interstate conflicts. Specifically, she spent a year and a half assisting Professor Voeten on his work quantifying state preferences related to U.S. foreign policy using UN voting data. This year she’s excited to conduct her own research identifying the relationship between populism and economic anxiety towards trade and international financial institutions in Latin America using text analysis of media sources. Outside of her research with MURF, Meghna is a choreographer for the philanthropic South Asian culture and dance show Rangila and a member of Delta Phi Epsilon Professional Foreign Service Sorority.
Signe Stroming, BSFS '19
Signe is a senior in the School of Foreign Service, pursuing a degree in Science, Technology and International Affairs and a certificate in international development. She spent a semester studying in Nepal and a summer conducting fieldwork in India, where she was able to explore a few of her research interests, including natural resource management, gender and economic development, and climate change mitigation and resilience strategies. In past years, Signe has worked with Dr. Mark Giordano on a number of projects related to the politics of water, including investigating mechanisms for transboundary water cooperation in the Indus River basin, as well as the political implications of groundwater overdraft in the Middle East. This year, Signe is excited to join Professors Lahra Smith and Douglas Howard on a study to assess the environmental conditions and impacts of refugee camps in northern Zambia via satellite remote sensing and qualitative focus group surveys. Originally from outside Seattle, Signe continues to enjoy exploring coffee shops and museums in the “other Washington” in her free time, as well as hiking, running, and playing on the Georgetown Ultimate Frisbee team.
Mortara Undergraduate Research Fellow articles
"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)
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 2019 application is due Wednesday, January 9, 2019 at 9am.
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.