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COLUMBUS, Miss.--Salina Rai, Emma Gousset and Morgan Harberson were recently selected to participate in Mississippi University for Women’s second annual Summer Scholars Research Program.

Hillary Richardson, an associate professor, coordinator of Undergraduate Research and Information Literacy Librarian at The W’s Fant Memorial Library, said the program enables students to pursue an independent, faculty-guided project over the course of a five- or 10-week summer term.

The Undergraduate Research Advisory Committee reviewed brief proposals about the students’ submitted projects and selected the participants.

“The students will receive course credit and a scholarship for tuition, room and board and an opportunity for valuable hands-on experience,” Richardson said. “This year, funds for Summer Scholars came from the MUW Foundation, for which we are very excited and grateful.” Because of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), two of the three students will do their research remotely this year.

RaiRai, who received a degree in Women’s Studies earlier this month, is the only student who will be on The W campus. She will analyze the impact of NEW Leadership on the ambition of women through alumnae and political elite survey. Dr. Chanley Rainey, an assistant professor of political science, will be Rai’s mentor.

“I wanted to research how a small organizational effort can amount to a nationwide political change,” said Rai, who is from Pathari, Morang Nepal.

NEW Leadership is a national bi-partisan program developed by Rutgers University to address the under-representation of women in American politics. The W serves as host for NEW Leadership Mississippi, a six-day residential institute that educates college women about the role politics plays in their lives and encourages them to become effective leaders in the political arena.

GousettGousset, a Speech-Language Pathology major from Tupelo, will work to design and to evaluate the effectiveness of a “virtual” Parkinson’s disease Support Group as a response to the unique needs of individuals with Parkinson’s disease and those imposed as a result of the current COVID-19 pandemic.

“I wanted to apply for summer scholars to learn about the research process and gain valuable skills that will help me when I begin my honors project in the fall,” said Gousset, who intends to graduate in May 2021. Dr. Laura Ball, a speech-language pathology professor, will be her mentor. Gousset plans to attend graduate school and to earn a master’s degree in speech-language pathology.

HarbersonHarberson, a psychology major from Picayune, plans to research the process of dying and grieving in older adults so she can gather information in a literature review. She intends to graduate this August. Dr. Youn Mi Lee in the Family Studies Department will be her mentor.

“I wanted to study this process in older adults because understanding this part of the journey of life can benefit any person, regardless of age,” Harberson said. “I believe this knowledge can lead to compassion and open the door for genuine human connection. I see the program as a great way to help get this information into our local population.

“I want people to understand that even if you don’t have someone in your life that qualifies as an older adult, one day you will. There will come a day when this knowledge is useful.”

The Summer Scholars Research Program is designed to bring immersive research experiences to The W undergraduate students outside of semester coursework and makes financial support available for housing, meals, and tuition for the summer term.

For more information about The W’s Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) or the Summers Scholars Program visit: www.muw.edu/our.


May 20, 2020
Contact: Adam Minichino
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