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.
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 student nominees will receive an application invitation in December, and must complete the application by the deadline in January, to be considered.
What happens next?
A faculty panel will manage the selection process. Students will notified of the decision (either way) by February. 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.
What is the time commitment?
Each fellow is expected to work eight to twelve 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 $16.10 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.