Senior English and Political Science Major Tiera Moore and Professor David Kaplan, Ph.D.
How did you become involved in the SURE program?
Moore: I feel like it was a process of being involved with student research throughout my college career. I participated in the Sophomore Research Experience where I researched with a professor in the School of Peace and Conflict Studies, and then I did SURE with her that summer as well.
I was already familiar with SURE from my participation the previous year. In 2020, I did a study abroad trip to Portugal and Spain with a professor in the geography department, who's currently my honors thesis adviser. We decided to do SURE this past summer to work on one of his books about nationalism. It was great because I was able to do different research both summers that I participated in SURE.
Do you think the first time you participated in SURE gave you a foundation or basis for student research?
Moore: Yes, I think that the first time showed me what student research is and how you work with a professor on student research. Both experiences were very different because each professor had different research, and they wanted different things. It did give me a foundation of what to expect going into the program for a second time. This year, I was able to mentor other students and help them through the program, it was important especially because we went virtual this past summer. As a previous participant it was nice to be able to help those students connect to the program and answer their questions.
Moore: The first one was with a professor in the School of Peace and Conflict Studies, and we did a lot of archival work; this involved reorganizing files through a system and reading journals. The most recent experience was more tech-heavy with research because I learned a whole new technology system. I was given everything to read, and I had to take notes while reading through many journals.
This past summer, I was helping a professor in the geography department with his book about nationalism. I collected articles for him and did some writing. I had to research things based on certain topics and organize them.
How did you see Tiera grow within her time as an undergraduate researcher?
Dr. Kaplan: Tiera was always a strong writer but I found that having her as an undergraduate researcher showed her some of the steps in acquiring the sources necessary in putting together a book. This also helped her in her own work. Tiera is writing an Honors Thesis on Spanish regionalism and its effects on the response to COVID under my supervision and I felt that the work she did as an undergraduate researcher helped her develop greater skills in finding the secondary sources she needs for her thesis.
How did you find your faculty mentor(s)?
Moore: I studied abroad at the end of my freshmen year, which is early for most college students, but I wanted to go on this trip because it was faculty-led. I was interested in the topic, and I'm glad that I went when I did. I formed a strong relationship with the professor because I'd say we have very similar research interests, even though he's in a different field from me. I always tell students not to limit themselves to just their area of study or their department because professors all over campus have similar, overlapping interests with you. We formed that relationship and stayed in contact throughout my college career. I recommend younger students not to lose contact with professors, especially those whose research you're interested in.
What are the benefits you've gained as a result of your participation in SURE?
Moore: The research skills I’ve gained are different than the skills I’ve gotten through any other courses where I’ve been doing research. Most undergraduates will write papers and research in their field, but you get more in-depth with the research when completing it with a faculty member.
You also get to see the end result of your research and see the larger project come together. I think it’s a good thing to talk about, and I know people are interested in hearing about the research I’ve done.
I also got to meet other students through this program and other faculty members that my faculty member knew, which was great. You’re able to network with them and you never know when another opportunity might arise.
How did Tiera's work help to support your research?
Dr. Kaplan: I am currently finishing a book on Geographies of Nationalism and wanted Tiera to be involved in the research for this. Tiera was responsible for finding examples of ethnonationalism in multinational federations, which helped me frame a chapter on this topic. I would hope to be able to hire Tiera in the future as a research assistant in order to gather information about some of the other aspects of nationalism.
Once you graduate, do you have a path that you'd like to pursue?
Moore: I’m taking a gap year right now because of the pandemic and it’s not time for me, personally, to start another school journey. I’m interested in doing some research later on in my career and I’ve always been very interested in writing my own book.
What advice would you tell a student who's interested in getting involved in undergraduate research?
Moore: I would tell them to not be scared to reach out to professors about research. It helps to reach out and introduce yourself, even if you don’t have a class with the professor and explain that you’re interested in the faculty member’s research. Even if the research you're interested in might not be exactly something you're doing in your field, that's okay. Many times, there will be overlapping areas of interest within research.