Mortara Undergraduate Research Fellows

In the spring of 2012, the School of Foreign Service (SFS) and the Mortara Center for International Studies launched a new research initiative, the Mortara Undergraduate Research Fellows Program. As part of the University's strong commitment to undergraduate research, a select group of the finest students in the School of Foreign Service will have the opportunity to partner with professors as research-assistants and potential co-authors on complex research projects throughout their undergraduate career.

By empowering students as generators, not just consumers, of knowledge, we hope that Mortara Undergraduate Research Fellows emerge from the program with the in-depth skills and training to tackle a range of issues in foreign affairs.

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


2017 Mortara Undergraduate research fellows

Adam Potter, BSFS '20

Adam is a freshman in the School of Foreign Service from Stoughton, Massachusetts and hopes to major in international politics with a concentration in international security. Adam has always had a passion to explore the world and his love for international relations began when he was young. Having lived outside of Boston, he is excited to discover all that the nation’s capital can offer. 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 plans to conduct research on 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. In addition, Adam enjoys the trombone and playing tennis

Meghan Bodette, BSFS '20

Meghan Bodette is a freshman in the School of Foreign Service from Andover, Massachusetts. She plans to major in Regional and Comparative Studies, focusing on authoritarian states and society in Russia and Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Bodette currently works as the Director of Outreach at Kurdistan Aid, a nonprofit organization that implements capacity-building projects in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. In this position, she has enjoyed the opportunity to learn about Kurdish and Iraqi politics, broader themes of nationalism and democratization, human rights, international institutions, and the ways in which NGOs interact with both the US government and foreign governments. Bodette is also an Eastern Europe and Central Asia writer for The Caravel, the Law and Ethics editor for the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs. In her free time, she enjoys reading and writing on both international and US politics, and exploring DC.

Saisha Mediratta, BSFS '20

Saisha is a freshman planning to major in International Political Economy with a certificate in International Development or 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. On campus, Saisha dances on GU Jawani, an Indian bhangra dance team, works with Innovo, and is the Civil Rights Undersecretary with GUSA's Federal Relation Committee. 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 freshman 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 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 final project in this class focused on the role of Western institutions in provoking Putin’s annexation of Crimea. As a Mortara Fellow, she is excited to work with Professor Newman to build a comprehensive dataset of the enforcement actions of the Securities and Exchange Commission against international companies. On campus, Emma works for the Law & Ethics section of the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs and as a tutor for DC Reads, and enjoys exploring DC in her free time.

Arjun Mehrotra, BSFS '20

ArjunArjun Mehrotra is a freshman in the School of Foreign Service. He is originally from Delhi, India but grew up in Bangalore and Dubai and attended high school in Singapore. Living in different places has pushed him to think about how things work differently in different places and sparked a deep interest in international affairs. Arjun’s interest in research stemmed from a research experience in high school, where he carried out development economics research assessing the impact education has on the standards of living of “adivasis”. The experience of conducting interviews and collecting data first hand exposed him to both the difficulties and the ultimate rewards of research (that of being able to answer questions and add to the body of knowledge). As a student in Professor Marilyn McMorrow’s proseminar “Global Pathways”, he was able to broaden his conception of the international system, gain a better understanding of globalization, regime types and climate change, and become motivated by the opportunity to do research as an undergraduate. Arjun is interested in research around the changing role of diplomacy, the role and effectiveness of multilateral institutions and figuring what global citizenship actually means and ways it might work. On-campus, apart from his work as a member of student board of the GU India Initiative Student Fellows, Arjun is a tour guide for Blue and Gray Tour Guide Society and is part of the Business and Economics section of the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs. In his spare time, he enjoys football (soccer), watching TED Talks, engaging in interesting discussions and reading pretty much anything under the sun.


2016 Mortara Undergraduate Research Fellows

Schuyler Colloredo-Mansfeld, BSFS '19

Sky is a sophomore 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 international development. The MURF program has enabled him to begin looking into research in this field while working under Professor Joshi. Sky is excited to build on the work he did for her last year examining issues of pollution of the Ganges River, in addition to helping with a new project looking at the long term implications of serializations imposed by the Indian government in the 1970s. 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 sophomore in the School of Foreign Service interested in majoring in International Political Economy. Having always lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, she is excited to be on east coast in Washington D.C. studying international affairs. Although Meghna has long been interested in politics and economics, her freshman proseminar and her project on the decolonization of the Congo sparked her interest in research. She is excited to continue working with her proseminar professor, Professor Voeten and help him research the role of international institutions in interstate conflicts. This year she looks forward to developing her data analysis skills with a new project—text analysis of UN General Assembly speeches to understand the link between these speeches and states’ policies. Meghna is also involved in the International Relations Club and enjoys hiking and baking in her free time.

Signe Stroming, BSFS '19

Signe Stroming is a sophomore in the Walsh School of Foreign Service, where she hopes to graduate with a degree in Science, Technology, and International Affairs (STIA) and a certificate in International Development. Hailing from outside Seattle, Washington, Signe's interest in international affairs has grown with her inexorable love of travel. In her junior year, Signe had an opportunity to travel to the tiny Pacific island nation of Samoa with the American Youth Leadership Program. While living with a host family and learning about Samoan culture, Signe studied food security and nutrition. She remains fascinated by the complex interactions of geography, climate change, politics, culture, and gender issues in determining access to food, and hopes to learn more about formal and informal efforts to combat this issue. In her free time, Signe enjoys exploring restaurants, coffee shops, and museums around DC, and playing ultimate frisbee with Georgetown club team.



Mariana Jurado Guedez, BSFS '18

Mariana is a junior in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, majoring in International Economics and pursuing a Latin American Studies certificate. Originally from the Midwest, Mariana began her first semester at Georgetown researching the relationship between membership on the United Nations Human Rights Council and foreign aid in Professor Vreeland’s undergraduate course. This experience has motivated her to pursue other areas of interest within international affairs, such as biotechnology, foreign investment, and international business diplomacy. Mariana has been motivated to further develop her quantitative analytical skills after working as a Data Analytics assistant at the State Department this summer. She is currently working with Professor Mark Giordano as a research assistant in the MURF program, pursuing projects, such as the investigation of the long-term effects on refugee camps. She is also enjoying topics concerning agricultural technologies and remittances. In the coming year, she plans to pursue independent research with a focus on emerging markets. On the side, Mariana is also a member of the Georgetown University Cheerleading Squad.  

Eric Menna, BSFS '18

Eric Menna is a junior in the School of Foreign Service from Boston, Massachusetts. Currently, he hopes to major in Science, Technology, and International Affairs, with a focus on Technology and Security Studies. As a jazz drummer in high school, Eric had the opportunity to travel to South Africa for two weeks on a combo tour, visiting townships and cities all throughout the country, sparking an interest in the country's educational development. For the past year and a half, Eric has been working with Professor Fida Adely on issues of educational inequality in the Arab World. Eric plans to move onto his own research on the use of technology to bridge socioeconomic divides in post-apartheid South Africa when he returns from Madrid, Spain in the spring. Apart from this fellowship, Eric is a Director in the Hilltop Microfinance Initiative, a guide in Georgetown's Tour Guide Society, a member of the inter-collegiate investment portfolio Global Platinum Securities, and a brother in the Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity.

Bessie Zavidow, BSFS '18

Bessie is a junior 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 now works with Professor Desai researching the role of collective action in community-driven poverty reduction projects in Rajasthan, India. 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 Second Annual MURF Symposium

Third Annual MURF Symposium

Alumnae Present Original Research at Writing Women's Lives Conference

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can apply?
Freshmen enrolled in the School of Foreign Service.

How do I apply?
Proseminar faculty will nominate talented freshmen in their Proseminar classes at the end of the students’ first semester. Once nominated, students should complete the application form. A faculty panel will manage the selection process, doing their best to pair students with professors with similar academic interests. If admitted, students will begin their research fellowship in February.

When is the deadline?
The 2017 application is due Tuesday, January 17, 2017 at 12pm.

How many students will be selected?
Three students will be selected each year with the anticipation to build to a group of 12 students.

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 conducting library and online research, 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.

Is the fellowship paid?
Fellows will receive $13.25 per hour starting. The hourly wage will increase each year 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 late February, 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 the broader Georgetown Undergraduate Research Symposium 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 the Acting Mortara Assistant Director, Alex Phelan.


Past murphs events