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 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 DubeyHarsh Dubey, BSFS, '21

Harsh is a freshman in the School of Foreign Service, currently deciding between International Economics and Science, Technology, and International Affairs as his major. 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 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 MarekJonathon 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 11 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 interns for the Paulson Institute's Green Finance Center, which studies various topics regarding US & Chinese sustainable development & green finance. He is the Chair of the Walsh Exchange, and is also involved with the IRC.

Nicole Ruggiero

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 SingerFiona 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 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

MURF Sky Colloredo-MansfeldSchuyler 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 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 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

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