Meet Our Scholars

Education, the Equalizer of Opportunity: Alex Velazquez ‘20

Alex Velazquez ‘20

Alex Velazquez ‘20

For Alexander Velazquez ’20, the value of education has always been a topic that resonated. After taking a class at Saint Joseph’s this past fall that focused on public education in America, his interest grew – but he still had many unanswered questions.

“As a low-income student, I feel this overwhelming motivation to do something that could educate people on the growing inequalities in higher education,” says Velazquez.

A risk management & insurance and economics double major, Velazquez decided to embark on a research project through the Summer Scholars program as a way to meet this goal. He is researching how a student’s family income relates to individual college readiness and the overall college admission process with respect to GPA scores and extracurricular activities.

His research aligns with the work of his mentor, Laura Crispin, Ph.D., assistant professor of Economics.

Crispin had previously analyzed trends in outcomes between low-income high school students and their peers with respect to such activities and time allocation. She found that students from disadvantaged backgrounds have less access to extracurricular(s), are more likely to work, and have higher high school dropout rates and lower college attendance and completion rates than their peers.

“Given the recent push toward college attendance, it is important to understand barriers in the pathway to college, specifically for first-generation college-goers and for students from disadvantaged backgrounds,” says Crispin. “Alex’s research focuses directly on these barriers to understand what types of resources are available to students to provide policy suggestions on increasing college readiness for low-income students.”

“The answer to the problems in American education policies is not always money; low-income students are in desperate need of adequate primary and secondary education,” says Velazquez.

A 2020 Deans’ Scholarship recipient and member of the SJU Honors Program, Velazquez says that earning the scholarship is one of the reasons he decided to explore this topic.

In addition to gaining a better understanding of the American education system, he hopes the work will help him develop time management skills and a more independent work ethic. He also plans to share his findings with the University community once they are complete.

Velazquez was involved in the SJU Theatre Company as a cast member in the most recent casts of “Carousel” and “Tommy” and participates in SJU’s student theatre company, Followed by a Bear. He is also the student communications chair of the Business Leadership Council and a Hawk Host.

Project Title: The Equalizer of Opportunity: An Examination of Income’s Effect on Education

Mentor: Laura Crispin, Ph.D., assistant professor of Economics

Hometown: Blackwood, New Jersey

Follow @sjuartssciences & @haubschool on Twitter to learn about this year’s summer scholars. #SJUSSP

Storytelling and ASD: Nick O’Malley ’19

Nick O’Malley ’19

As a lifeguard on Long Island last summer, aspiring pediatrician Nick O’Malley ’19 made sure to spend extra time helping children with special needs, some of whom had Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This year, he is staying in Philadelphia as a Summer Scholar to begin work on research that aims to discover if TimeSlips, a storytelling therapy developed for patients with Alzheimer’s disease, can lessen anxiety and increase social interaction in children with ASD.

“I always had a passion for helping people with intellectual or physical disabilities,” says the interdisciplinary health services major and varsity rower from Floral Park, New York. “This project is a great way to continue this passion in a manner that might leave lasting results.”

When O’Malley’s advisor Eileen Sullivan, Pharm.D., assistant professor of health services — who has researched the effects of TimeSlips on dementia patients and found that it decreased their agitation and anxiety — told him that another health services professor, Anne Fetherston, Ph.D., would embark on novel research focusing the same therapy on children with ASD, O’Malley jumped at the chance to get involved.

TimeSlips is based in the improvisation, imagination and spontaneity that develop when dementia or Alzheimer’s patients are given a photograph they haven’t seen before — for example, a woman playing a guitar, and then they begin to tell the woman’s story. As the story progresses, anxiety and isolation decrease, and pleasant interaction with caregivers increases. Patients focus on the enjoyment that using their creativity brings, instead of the realization that their memory is failing.

Fetherston, a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst-Doctoral (BCBA-D) who has provided interventions based on Applied Behavior Analysis principles to multiple populations, including individuals with autism, became intrigued by Sullivan’s findings and wondered if TimeSlips could produce the same positive results in the autism community.

“People with Alzheimer’s or dementia present with social deficits and behavioral excesses such as anxious and disruptive behaviors,” says Fetherston. “Likewise, individuals with autism have deficits in social skills and often display challenging behaviors, including anxiety-based responses that impede development of social interactions and relationships.  Given that TimeSlips has been effective in ameliorating the problem behaviors of people with Alzheimer’s, we hypothesize that it will be an effective intervention for similar behaviors in people with ASD.”

While O’Malley and Fetherston are still in the early stages of designing the study, which will continue into the academic year, O’Malley says that the project has received approval to involve children with ASD who attend programs at SJU’s Kinney Center for Autism Education and Support.

“Nick is very committed to developing this research,” says Fetherston. “He has been pouring over literature to locate the background information supporting our hypothesis. The development of a line of research is an arduous task and Nick has displayed a strong commitment to making it successful.”

“I’m really lucky to be doing this work,” says O’Malley. “ASD is a huge public health issue, but many doctors don’t know much about it — they usually refer patients to other experts. I have a long road to go before I’m a pediatrician, but in my view, because we don’t have a cure for autism, it’s beneficial for everyone in healthcare to have more awareness about the disorder.”

Project Title: Examining the Effect of TimeSlips Therapy on Anxiety and Social Interaction of Individuals on the Autism Spectrum.

Mentor: Anne Fetherston, Ph.D., BCBA-D

Hometown: Floral Park, New York

Follow @sjuartssciences & @haubschool on Twitter to learn about this year’s summer scholars. #SJUSSP

Diving in Head First: Kathryn Hyduchak ’18 and Nathalia Benavides ’18

Benavides (left) and Hyduchak

On a hot summer day, nothing refreshes like a tall glass of cold water. As you reach to turn on the faucet, most people can generally assume that the water is clean and safe to drink. But exactly how clean is your local water, and how much do commercial filters help the cause?

Kathryn Hyduchak ’18 and Nathalia Benavides ’18 are studying water quality as part of the Summer Scholars Program. The students will collaborate on two projects: measuring the effectiveness of household water filters in removing lead and testing local water supplies for any detectable levels of pharmaceuticals. The project is mentored by Jean Smolen, Ph.D., associate dean of mathematics, natural sciences and computer science and director of the program. Peter Zurbach, Ph.D., associate professor of chemistry, is providing assistance with instrumentation.

“We will start by perfecting our methods using spiked samples,” Benavides explains. “We’ll use gas chromatography, which separates analytes by vaporizing them, to quantify pharmaceutical concentrations. For the lead determination, we use an instrument called ICP-OES, inductively couple plasma-optical emission spectroscope, which can detect trace metals. Once we are certain of our methods, we will collect water from local streams and the Schuylkill River for analysis.”

Hyduchak, a chemical biology major from Scranton, Pennsylvania, says that she chose to work on the project because of its global relevance.

“Water quality has always been a major concern throughout the world, not only in developing nations, but even in countries such as our own,” she says. “The water crisis in Flint, Michigan, brought to everyone’s attention the importance of clean and drinkable water, and we wanted to research the methods of testing for lead in our own area.”

Benavides, a dual chemical biology and French major from Weston, Florida, adds that there are many other contaminants, in addition to lead, to consider when testing drinking water.

“More medicine is being administered to the public than actually being consumed, and because there is no national standard for disposing of pharmaceuticals, many people flush their unused medication down the drain,” she explains. “That could lead to detectable levels of contaminants in the local water supply, which is harmful to people, wildlife and the environment.”

Both students sought places in the Summer Scholars Program to engage in high-level research with a faculty member.

“Working in this setting allows me to be able to fully immerse myself in a topic,” Benavides says. “Doing research has given me control of my education and enhanced my understanding of topics I have previously learned in my lecture courses.”

Hyduchak adds that “this kind of research allows for more freedom and creativity than assigned laboratory exercises. I can take the time to think of and test out several different possible solutions to a problem.”

Smolen, who has been studying water quality with her students for years, praises Benavides and Hyduchak’s commitment to the topic.

“Because they are passionate about water quality, Nathalia and Kathryn have been delving into the corresponding scientific literature and mastering their analytical techniques,” Smolen says.

Outside the research lab, Hyduchak is a member and the scholarship chair of SJU’s chapter of the Phi Sigma Pi National Honor Fraternity, vice president of the Alpha Epsilon Delta Pre-Health Honor Society, and a Resident Assistant. Benavides is a sister and director of academics for SJU’s chapter of the Alpha Phi sorority, secretary of the Biology Club, and a member of both the Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society and Pi Delta Phi French Honor Society.

Impromptu Iambs: Emma Seely ’18

Emma Seely ’18

Are you a poet? If you haven’t met Emma Seely ’18, it’s possible that you are and you just haven’t discovered your inner bard yet.

As part of a project for the Summer Scholars Program, Seely, a dual English and psychology major from Parkton, Maryland, is building a collection of poems written by people she meets on the streets of Philadelphia.

Seely guides the writing by asking the poets to think about an object, then gives them several prompts to describe the object: its appearance, how it affects the world, and so on. Each exercise lasts 30 seconds; within five minutes, a new poem is born. She publishes the finished products online at https://poemsofphiladelphia.wordpress.com.

“When I approach people, a lot of them worry about not being able to write a ‘good’ poem,” Seely says. “I want to make the point that anyone can be a poet if they aren’t caught up in the need to write to meet someone else’s criteria for good.”

A longtime fan of the art form, Seely hopes that the projects kick starts a love of poetry in both her spontaneous authors and those who visit the site.

“Sometimes people feel like poetry is inaccessible to them if they don’t have a master’s-level understanding of English,” she says. “These poems prove that an audience can appreciate and relate to the work even if it isn’t necessarily the next Shakespearean sonnet.”

Seely’s mentor, Thomas Coyne, M.F.A., assistant professor of English, agrees about the project’s potential to inspire a love of poetry.

“This project combines the best of what we do here at SJU, blending art and academic pursuit and community engagement,” he says. “It makes a real case that poetry matters, and that language can reshape the way we look at our lives. It is both service and research, and its potential to show people the poetry in their lives is truly exciting.”

When not working on her Summer Scholars project, Seely is a member of three national honor societes: Sigma Tau Delta (English), Psi Chi (psychology) and Alpha Sigma Nu (Jesuit). She participates in weekly service at Covenant House, hosts a radio show on Radio 1851, volunteers in a campus psychology lab and mentors students at SJU’s Writing Center.

Seely says that the hopes the project brings her to a better understanding of the world around her.

“I’m seeing Philadelphia in new and exciting ways,” she says. “I always wonder about the secret lives of the random people I see walking on the street, and now I have an outlet to bring us closer together.”

Project Title: Poems of Philadelphia

Mentor: Thomas Coyne, M.F.A.

Hometown: Parkton, Maryland

Follow @sjuartssciences & @haubschool on Twitter to learn about this year’s Summer Scholars.

Marketing Trends and Consumer Choice: Jessica Olszyk ‘19

Jessica Olszyck

Jessica Olszyck ’19

Most people don’t question what makes them pick a certain product off the shelf, or even what draws them to buy a blue and pink coffee drink for $4.45, but food marketing major Jessica Olszyk ’19 was so interested in this process that she dedicated her summer to it.

Olszyk decided her topic, consumer psychology within the food industry, based on the research of her faculty mentor, Ernest Baskin, Ph.D, an assistant professor of food marketing who is an expert in consumer judgment and decision making, particularly consumer biases.

“It is important to understand how shoppers make decisions in order to understand more about consumer psychology,” says Baskin. “Jessica is working on several projects related to how retailers market products that will help us understand how customers function and how they should be approached in the future.”

One part Baskin’s research to which Olszyk contributed included a survey conducted with SJU students and family members. The goal was to analyze purchasing habits when choosing for oneself versus choosing for others. The participants had the choice between one higher quality mint and two lower quality mints; the control group choosing for themselves and the experimental group choosing for a friend.

“It was interesting to note how those in the experiment made the decision for themselves; how they weighed quality vs. quantity, how they rationalized [their choice],” says Olszyk, who has maintained Dean’s List honors since coming to SJU.

She is still analyzing the results of the experiment; however, previous research suggests that individuals choosing for themselves would select a higher quantity based on monetary concerns, while those choosing for a friend would select the higher quality due to social pressure.

The experiment led her, under Baskin’s guidance, to write case studies, or lesson plans, about trends in food marketing through SAGE publication, which creates lesson plans that universities can use. Her most recent topic was the Unicorn Frappuccino, released by Starbucks in early May this year. Her case studies center around flashy products in the market that dramatically generate consumer interest.

“My goal is to have some of my work used in the classroom to help professors effectively teach about the industry,” Olszyk says.

Outside of the classroom, she is a distinguished member of Villiger Speech and Debate Society and Dean’s Leadership Program, an RA, and a sister of Alpha Gamma Delta.

According to Olszyk, Summer Scholars was a perfect choice to continue her interest in food marketing. “It is a great way to apply what I’ve learned in the classroom and translate it into real world experience… [In this project], I am strengthening my style of writing while gaining insight from a professor who is an expert in consumer psychology.”

 

Project title:  “Consumer Purchasing Behavior of Arrogant Food Brands”

Mentor: Dr. Ernest Baskin, assistant professor of food marketing

Hometown: Mountain Top, PA

Follow @sjuartssciences & @haubschool on Twitter to learn about this year’s summer scholars. #SJUSSP

Investigating Pathogenic Bacteria E. albertii: Marisa Egan ’18

Egan and Dr. Bhatt

Egan and Dr. Bhatt

It’s important in college for students to find a place where they can escape and focus. For many, it’s a quiet corner in the library or a residence hall lounge late at night.

For Marisa Egan ’18, it seems that the best place to go after a long day of classwork is the lab.

The junior biology major, mathematics, philosophy and chemistry minor and McNulty Scholar has spent a considerable amount of time during her two years on campus — and two full summers as part of the Summer Scholars Program — in the lab of Shantanu Bhatt, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology, conducting research on the pathogenic bacterium Escherichia albertii.

The bacterium, which is in the same family as E. coli, attacks the intestines, causing diarrheal problems. It is drug resistant, has no vaccine, and largely affects infants in developing countries, though some cases have appeared in adults in Japan and Germany.

“There’s so much we don’t know yet about E. albertii,” Egan explains. “The goal of our research is to understand how it causes sickness by creating mutations in its genome. If we can understand the genes that contribute to its disease causing ability, then someone may be able to one day develop a drug to attack those genes.”

In the summer between her freshman and sophomore years, Egan and Dr. Bhatt became the first research team to successfully create such a mutation in the bacterium since it was identified 25 years ago. Their research was published this year in Biological Procedures Online. Egan was the lead author. Another paper, led by Dr. Bhatt and co-authored by Egan and other researchers, was recently published in Gene & Translational Bioinformatics.

“Marisa is one of the most gifted students to have ever graced my classroom,” Dr. Bhatt says. “Ever since I have known her, she has exhibited uninhibited enthusiasm in learning all that she can from her academic journey. It’s students like her that teach teachers so much and serve as a motivator to go the extra mile for our students.”

Egan enjoys the abundance of time that comes with doing her research as part of the Summer Scholars Program.

“I love immersing myself in the work,” she says. “There are no daily time limits with Summer Scholars. I can come in early and leave late. The entire day can revolve around research.”

Egan credits her parents — both of whom are doctors — with teaching her a love of science.

“I’ve always been interested in topics that were relevant to human health,” she says. “Ultimately, I want to serve humanity through scientific research and teaching.”

Outside the lab, Egan mentors her fellow students by serving in SJU’s Success Center as a supplemental instructor for Biology 101 and teacher’s assistant for organic chemistry lab courses. She is also the scholarship chair for Pi Sigma Phi, a gender-inclusive academic honors fraternity on campus.

“Besides research, my absolute favorite thing to do on campus is to teach,” Egan says. “Working as a supplemental instructor and teachers’ assistant lets me share my passion for science, humanity, and learning with others. I derive so much inspiration from my parents, my peers, my students and my professors, and my life goal is to pass that inspiration on.”

CTE and School Age Athletes: Brant Edmonds ’17

 

Brant Edmonds and Peter Clark, S.J.

Brant Edmonds and Peter Clark, S.J.

From court to field, sports fans show their appreciation and team spirit in a variety of ways. But Summer Scholar and biology major Brant Edmonds ’17 is channeling his love for sports in a unique manner: He’s looking at brain development in school age football players, and writing about the ethics surrounding young people who play football and might be exposed to practices that could eventually lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disorder caused by repeated concussion. His research goal is to write a paper that will provide guidance and protocols that could reduce the likelihood of these young players developing CTE as they mature.

An aspiring physician, Brant read Jeanne Marie Laskas’s (Class of 1980) New York Times bestseller Concussion, and the book served as the catalyst for his project. “After noticing that autopsies of younger players were displaying advanced stages of CTE, I wondered if the disease was beginning much earlier in a player’s career,” says Brant, who adds that he hopes his paper, which will be submitted for publication, promotes awareness of CTE risks among young players and parents.

Organized in six sections, his final work will include background information on CTE, an in-depth medical analysis of the disease, a historical view of CTE in American sports, the educational issues caused by football in elementary and high school players, and an overview of associated ethical issues. He’ll conclude his paper by proposing recommendations and safeguards for children rooted in the suggestions of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Brant’s SSP mentor Peter Clark, S.J., professor of theology and health services and director of SJU’s Institute of Clinical Bioethics (ICB), where Brant is a senior research fellow, observes him in a different capacity most week days as Brant attends ethics rounds and other bioethics related meetings at Mercy Health System, where Fr. Clark is the staff bioethicist.

“Brant is bright, inquisitive, and relates very well with patients and physicians,” says Fr. Clark. “He examines an ethical issue from all perspectives and then logically evaluates the facts of a case until he reaches a well-reasoned decision. He is an exceptional scholar and person and will make a great physician in the future.”

Earlier this year, Brant, Fr. Clark, Ana Maheshwari, a Mercy medical resident, and three other SJU students — Brendan Gleason, Michael DeMuzio  and Jennifer Schadt — co-authored a paper titled “Pediatric Brain Cancer Tissue Donation: Ask and You Shall Receive,” which was published in the Internet Journal of Pediatrics and Neonatology 18.

The success of the paper helped the ICB develop a formal relationship with the Swifty Foundation in Chicago, a leading funder of pediatric brain cancer research. Both Brant and Fr. Clark look forward to collaborating on various projects with the foundation in the future.

During the academic year, Brant participates in Adventure Club and Hand In Hand. He is an RA for St. Mary’s Hall and also works in the University’s Biodiversity Lab, focusing on animal care. Brant has earned Dean’s List honors and is a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars.

— Kayla E. Lane ’17

Office of University Communications

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Project Title: Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) and its Effect on Elementary and Secondary School Student Athletes

Mentor: Peter Clark S.J., professor of theology and health services and director of the Institute of Clinical Bioethics

High School: Cherry Hill High School East, Cherry Hill, New Jersey

Follow @sjuartssciences @haubschool on Twitter to learn about this year’s summer scholars. #SJUSSP

Ew! Is Expressing Disgust Feminine?: Kristen Lanzilotta ’17

Lanzilotta

Lanzilotta

Imagine yourself sitting at a table, ready to eat lunch. You pick up your sandwich, take a bite, and find that there’s a long hair protruding from between your lettuce and cheese. How do you react? Be careful how you answer; it may determine how desirable you are.

Kristen Lanzilotta ’17, a psychology major and Summer Scholar, is researching how women’s reactions to disgusting situations affect how they are seen in others’ eyes. Under the mentorship of Alex Skolnick, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology — an expert in the emotions of disgust — Lanzilotta is spending the summer conducting surveys, asking participants how they’d feel about a woman who reacted to a disgusting situation in a variety of ways.

“The stereotyped reaction for women is one of helplessness,” Lanzilotta explains. “The aim of my project is to examine the relationship between women behaving in accordance to the gender stereotype of helplessness and their perceived physical attractiveness.”

Lanzilotta theorizes that women who act according to gender roles will be seen as more desirable. “The damsel in distress is a powerful stereotype,” she says. “I want people to understand the implications of applying gender stereotypes to women. They may not only shape how women act, but also how they will be judged by other people superficially.”

Summer Scholars was a natural choice for the project, Lanzilotta says, because it gives her the time and space to find her research style.

“My work on this project differs from my approach to regular schoolwork in that I have assumed more of a leadership role,” she says. “I have to plan, communicate, and delegate to make this project successful.”

Lanzilotta is a regular presence on the College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s List, and is a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and Psi Chi Psychology Honor Society. Outside the classroom, she competes in intramural soccer.

Summer Scholars Project: Women who do not say “Yuck!” Are Women Evaluated Differently Based on their Response to a Disgusting Situation?
Mentor: Alex Skolnick, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology
High School: Merion Mercy Academy, Merion, Pennsylvania

Follow @sjuartssciences @haubschool on Twitter to learn about this year’s summer scholars. #SJUSSP

Corporate Social Responsibility & Impact on Native Americans: Cameron Kenworthy ’18

 

Cameron_Neiva

Cameron Kenworthy ’18 and Dr. Nevia

“Most people give a firm handshake or sign on a dotted line in an attempt to prove they’ll keep their word in an agreement,” says Summer Scholar and SJU junior Cameron Kenworthy. “But how are businesses really held accountable?” Cameron is spending the summer trying to answer this question.

Her research focuses on the impact of a plant operated by Nestle Waters, producer of the brand Arrowhead, that is located on a reservation in Southern California. Despite operating under a mission of environmental and social responsibility, the plant has been under scrutiny for the amount of water they have used amid severe droughts in the region over the last four years.

“Indigenous people who reside on the reservation, as well as those across the world are being affected by this,” says Cameron, a psychology major with a minor in Leadership, Ethics and Organizational Sustainability (LEO) from Hagerston, Maryland.

“I am investigating the inconsistencies between the company’s promise and its action,” says Cameron, “as well as the trying to identify ‘greenwashing’ practices.” Greenwashing occurs when a company spends time and money in an attempt to present an environmentally responsible image to consumers, often deceivingly.

Cameron’s mentor for the project, João Neiva de Figueiredo, Ph.D., associate professor of international business and LEO, was one of the first to encourage her to explore her interest in issues of corporate social responsibility.

“Dr. Neiva’s passion for the topics he teaches sparked my interest in the business world,” says Cameron. “He strives for each of his students to acquire passion for learning and a higher understanding of what interests them. He’s the best mentor I could ask for.”

“Cameron is a very dedicated student and summer scholar,” says Dr. Neiva. “She is a hard worker and is genuinely interested in researching differences between companies’ corporate social (and environmental) responsibility stated intentions and observed actions.”

“As consumers become increasingly focused on sustainability, it is in companies’ interest to project a socially and environmentally responsible image. The important question is what corporations do when there are conflicting incentives among the people, planet, and profit dimensions,” he says.

“I chose this topic because I think all too often people tend to accept big business for what it is, without questioning how the business interacts with the communities it may be affecting,” says Cameron. She hopes that the people who read her work will become just as passionate about these issues.

“[Through the Summer Scholars Program] I have learned more about the research process,” she says. “Like most summer scholars, I’ve never done anything like this before, and I have been eager to learn.”

— Colleen Sabatino ’11 (M.A.)

Office of University Communications

 * * *

Summer Scholars Project Title: “An Investigation of Corporate Social Responsibility in Relation to Rights and Resources of Native Americans”

Mentor: João Neiva de Figueiredo, Ph.D., associate professor of international business and LEO

Follow @sjuartssciences @haubschool on Twitter to learn about this year’s summer scholars. #SJUSSP

Cuban Economic & Agrarian Reforms Post-Revolution: John McGrath ’18

 

John McGrath '18

John McGrath ’18

The study tour John McGrath ’18 took to Cuba in the spring with his political science class —Contemporary Cuban Politics and Society — was not the initial spark for his curiosity about the relationship between economic and agrarian reforms in the island nation, but it did provide him the opportunity to formulate his Summer Scholars research topic.

“I have always been interested in the role that agriculture plays in society, especially since its importance is not highlighted in our country,” says the international relations major from South Kingstown, Rhode Island.

This summer, John is combining his curiosity about farming and his experience posing research questions while abroad to continue studying how Cuba’s post-revolution economy led to a change in the country’s agricultural practices — specifically how it fell to second place in the economy after the increase of tourism. He also hopes to discover how agriculture will change as a result of the new relationship between Cuba and the United States.

“The Cuban economy has become an especially exciting topic since the U.S. resumed diplomatic relations with its neighbor last year after having severed ties more than a half-century ago,” says John’s mentor Benjamin Liebman, Ph.D.,  professor of economics.

Dr. Liebman enjoys mentoring Summer Scholars as they navigate the research process and deepen their understanding of particular subjects in a way not usually possible during the school year. He says it’s also a learning experience for him, too.

“Working with Summer Scholars can be an opportunity for me to learn about topics outside of my research expertise,” says Dr. Liebman. “For example, I know a lot more about steel production in China than I do about Cuban agriculture, so I’m learning a lot from John this summer.”

Grateful for the opportunity the Summer Scholars program provides him to further explore a topic he finds intriguing, John looks forward to learning even more about Cuban reforms.

“[This research] is much more about following my interests than feeling compelled to complete assignments for a grade,” he says.

John is a recipient of the St. Andrew’s Scholarship and will focus on Middle East studies in Scotland at the University of St. Andrew’s beginning in the fall. He is a former member of the SJU Student Senate and has also been an RA.

— Liz Krotulis ’17

Office of University Communications

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Summer Scholars Project Title: Examining the Relationship between Cuban Economic Reforms and Agrarian Reforms after the Cuban Revolution.

Mentor: Benjamin Liebman, Ph.D., professor of economics

High School: South Kingstown High School, South Kingstown, Rhode Island

Follow @sjuartssciences @haubschool on Twitter to learn about this year’s summer scholars. #SJUSSP