SURFing into Summer Undergraduate Research

News Story categories: Academics Faculty
Waverly Gouldman '20 working with History Professor Mathias Bergmann in the library
Waverly Gouldman ’20 and History Professor Mathias Bergmann (SURF 2019)

Randolph-Macon’s competitive summer research program, the Schapiro Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF), officially launched on Monday, June 5, for the twenty-five student participants and their faculty mentors. Sixteen students are funded through SURF and nine through other funding sources. 

During the nine weeks of SURF, students conduct original research under the guidance of a faculty mentor. Research projects span a variety of topics across disciplines including SociologyBusiness, and Environmental Studies among others. Students in SURF 2023 will research mental health among military personnel, the influence of TikTok marketing on movie revenue, the effects of maternal deprivation, and the impact of coastal engineering structures on the Chesapeake Bay beaches. 

Below is an additional small sample of SURF 2023 projects:

  • Clay Phillips ‘25, Professor Gubbels Bupp (Biology), “The Effect of Malnutrition on the Migration Behavior of T Cells in Mice”
  •  Morgan Hoyt ‘24, Professor Mikytuck (Psychology), “Investigating the Impact of Early Life Experiences on Alcohol Use Habits of College Students Through the Analysis of Familial Social Learning and Adverse Childhood Experiences”
  •  Eleanor Swager ‘26, Professor Turner (Political Science), “Women’s Descriptive Representation: Effects of an Open-List System in Paraguay”
  • Grace Figueroa ‘24, Professor Terrono (Art History), “Lost Causes: Neo-Confederates, Neo-Nazis, and the Ideological Utility of the Classical Past”
  • Olivia Zabko ‘26, Professor Michelsen (Chemistry), “The Reaction of Pyruvic Acid in Aqueous Droplets with Freezing”

SURF was introduced in 1995 and it has been supported through a generous endowment by Ben Schapiro ’64 and his wife, Peggy Schapiro and other donors, thus allowing close to 800 students to participate in this transformative experience. The fellowship provides students a stipend and housing on campus during the summer. Led by co-directors, Art History Professor Evie Terrono and Chemistry Professor Serge Schreiner, SURF is often cited by graduates as a most significant academic and professional development opportunity in their undergraduate studies.

The program will conclude on August 4 with a SURF symposium where students share their findings in oral and poster presentations. SURF projects will be highlighted on throughout the summer months.