Morris Undergraduate Research Fellowship in Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences

 Statue of Bing Crosby behind fall yellow leaves. Gonzaga Will banner drapes the background.

About the Morris Undergraduate Research Fellowship

Established in 2017 thanks to a generous donation from Scott and Liz (Tomich, '80) Morris, the Morris Undergraduate Research Fellowships are awarded to student-faculty research teams in the arts, humanities, and social sciences disciplines in the Gonzaga University College of Arts & Sciences. These fellowships are awarded to original, student-driven research projects that are carried out during the summer months under the mentorship of a faculty member in the College. Both the student and the faculty mentor receive a stipend for this work.

Past recipients of the Morris Fellowship have been involved in a wide variety of projects, studying a diverse range of topics from Zambian choral music to the influence of Bing Crosby on post-World War II America’s views on Christmas, to an augmented reality walking history tour of the Gonzaga campus, and many more.

Tieryn Bills (Junior, Sociology and Psychology)

Exploring Multiple “Logans”: Whose Neighborhood Is It Anyway?

Mentor: Mike DeLand, Sociology

I want to complete an ethnographic study of the Logan neighborhood in Spokane, Washington in the Summer of 2019. The proposed project will investigate Gonzaga University’s relationship to the Logan neighborhood, as well as the precarious position of renters in the community. In order to study these distinctions, I have organized the neighborhood into two axes of difference: homeowners and renters, and university students and non-students. My ethnographic research will reveal how and when these axes of difference are meaningful to community members in their everyday lives.

Specific goals of the project include (1) participant observation at the weekly Logan Community Dinner and monthly Logan Neighborhood Council meetings, (2) participant observation at local coffee shops, stores, and public spaces in the Logan neighborhood, (3) in-depth interviews and “go-along interviews” with community members and activists, and (4) completion of a literature review on contemporary urban sociology as it relates to the Logan neighborhood. These four goals will lay the groundwork for a year-long ethnographic study of the neighborhood during the 2019-2020 academic year. I plan to present my research findings at the 2020 Pacific Sociological Association’s Annual Conference as part of the Department of Sociology and Criminology’s student research group.

Alyssa Cink (Junior, English; Spanish and Journalism minors)

Woldson in the Digital Sphere

Mentor: Katey Roden, English and Digital Humanities

“Woldson in the Digital Sphere” aims to create a platform prototype for housing narratives about the life and philanthropy of Myrtle Woldson in a public, digital space. This content stems from the Woldson Project: an independent, undergraduate research endeavor where students created digital and material exhibits located in Gonzaga’s new performing arts center. By engaging with stories about the Woldson family, students and faculty have opened up discourse about a number of culturally-relevant topics: 20th century urban growth and development in the western U.S., the influence of western culture, gendered business structures in America, correlations between gender roles, body image, and social propriety, relationships between immigration and the rise of the American West, and the roles of philanthropists, both in preserving America’s past and paving opportunities for the future.

These student narratives, however, are only accessible to a limited number of audiences who can travel to the on-site exhibit. Audiences outside of the City of Spokane are currently excluded from these vital conversations about American history. Even the digital exhibits installed in the Woldson Performing Arts Center remain unavailable on the internet. As a previous Woldson intern, my goal is to transfer the currently-existing narratives into a universally-accessible, digital space. In addition to researching potential digital platforms, I would also revise and design the existing narratives for visual appeal and consistency with the Chicago Manual of Style. Finally, I would aim to publish the revised narratives onto a Beta exhibit. In the end, I hope to create an interactive, visually-engaging, and didactic, digital space that makes existing research more accessible, while also engaging intellectually with the WPAC’s existing exhibit.

Kevin Fagan (Sophomore, Economics and International Relations; Spanish minor)

Health Impacts of Wildfire Smoke in Spokane

Mentor: Joe Jozwiak, Environmental Studies

This project hopes to observe the effects that wildfire smoke has had on daily mortality and hospital admissions in the Spokane area and to further predict more effects going forward. These effects range from but are not limited to; increased Physician’s visits for respiratory problems and mortality among at-risk populations like those with Asthma or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. This will involve collecting data mostly from hospital admissions and comparing that data to the air quality at the time and looking into the determinant factors of that air quality. Further, it may be worthwhile to research the effects of the wildfire smoke having disproportionate effects across different socioeconomic classes.

The above goal should be more than enough to complete during the summer session, but going forward, another objective is to identify a correlation between average temperature and Spokane air quality. By studying temperature patterns through the year in Spokane and the surrounding region susceptible to wildfires, a direct relationship may be found between the temperature and the air quality in Spokane during that year. With this tool, it may be possible to predict the severity of a wildfire-smoke season in Spokane.

Sophia Maggio (Junior, Psychology/Research Concentration and Art; Leadership Studies minor)

The Stories We Tell: Influences of Gender on Personal Narrative

Mentor: Sarah Arpin, Psychology

The proposed project intends to examine the role of gender in the style and content of storytelling. As an especially emotional and intimate form of communication, storytelling has been heralded in psychological research as a way to cultivate resilience, reflectiveness, and character. Previous research has also considered how men and women differ in the content of major life event stories (e.g., Page, 2003); however, much of this work has focused primarily on narrative analysis. This project expands upon previous studies of gender differences involving narrative and pronoun analysis, proposing a multi-method procedure with both quantitative and qualitative methods. Further, the project will consider how dimensions of gender stereotypes (e.g., masculinity and femininity) are revealed through storytelling. The project plans to use a community sample from Spokane, WA, ideally comprised of men, women, and gender non-conforming individuals. To account for the psychological benefits of storytelling as noted by previous research, mood assessments will be administered before and after the storytelling session to record the subjective value of the experience for storytellers.

Erik Rinn (Sophomore, Psychology)

How to Connect With Nature: An Ethnographic Study of Earth and Spirituality

Mentor: Emily Clark and Matthew Wilson, Religious Studies

To investigate the category of “spiritual but not religious,” I propose an ethnographic project of the Tree Valley Wilderness School.* Tree Valley offers a unique opportunity to explore the confluence of nature and the “spiritual but not religious,” a mysterious group of people that find spirituality in places other than religion. Much like many of the most popular sects of the spiritual but not religious, this particular organization emphasizes building a deeper connection to nature and other people; however, Tree Valley does not acknowledge themselves as spiritual but not religious. Tree Valley is particularly interesting to study because they are spiritual but not religious, yet they don’t know it. Pairing Tree Valley’s emphasis on mentorship with my background as a mentor with Morningside Academy (in Seattle) and a personal love of the outdoors makes this an ideal ethnographic project for my interests and talents. In my research, I hope to discover how Tree Valley finds spiritual meaning in nature.

Tree Valley is a good candidate for this project as they cultivate religious experiences without using an overtly religious language or framework. Using tools of ethnography, I will investigate what being spiritual but not religious means in this community. Since I have an outsider’s view, I have a unique opportunity to bring a new perspective to the table when it comes to examining Tree Valley and its relationship to spirituality. By joining the Tree Valley community, learning from them, and working with them, I will use social scientific methods to write an ethnography of their community and beliefs.

* All names of organizations and people are anonymous. All names given are placeholders.

Georgia Veverka (Junior, English Literature)

Humanities and Medicine

Mentor: Ingrid Ranum, English

Students prepare for careers in medicine and healthcare by studying science. Science informs us of the biochemical pathways in our bodies, the mechanisms of reactions, and the intricate functions of our organs. Science teaches us about how we work, but it fails to teach us about who we are. That is the job of the humanities. The humanities inform our understanding of ourselves, our relation to others, and what gives our lives purpose. As the protectors of human life, physicians and other healthcare professionals ought to understand the humanity that belongs to human patients and what makes their lives worth living. In this research project, my goal is to establish studies in the humanities as critical to facilitating an effective healthcare system. Doctors need to lend their focus to treating patients not their problems, and practices in close-reading, critical thinking, and thorough analysis of text provide an essential framework for the diagnosis and treatment process in a medical setting. I plan to dedicate my research to showcasing the importance of studying narrative and applying close-reading skills to medical practices. I will read relevant literature on the topic of Narrative Medicine and the Medical Humanities to provide a foundation for my research. I then envision my research transitioning toward a human-study of narrative practices in clinical settings. I will propose a set of interview questions to ask a range of healthcare professionals. I plan to interview hospice physicians, primary care physicians, surgeons, and nurses to achieve a holistic understanding of how narratives and the humanities are incorporated into medicine. I will then organize my findings into a statement that emphasizes the relevance of using narrative as a model for more empathetic and effective medical practice. I believe that studies in the humanities will inform a more holistic, caring, and compassionate approach to healthcare, and this research will be an important step in directing medicine’s focus back to the human.

Luke Westermeyer (Junior, Math and Philosophy)

The Transmission of Paul as Philosopher (and Anti-Philosopher) in Contemporary Philosophy

Mentor: Tyler Tritten, Philosophy

With this project, I hope to gain a firmer understanding of Paul’s theology and philosophy through an analysis and comparison of his contemporary interpretations. I myself am a Christian, but my hope is that through reading competing interpretations of Paul, often by non-religious thinkers that differ from the traditional theological readings, I can gain a firmer grasp of my own faith and gain a greater understanding of Paul’s writing from a broader philosophical lens, even if I might ultimately disagree with these interpretations. This project would perfectly marry my philosophical inclinations with my fascination with religious studies. Furthermore, I hope to strengthen my current research skills and develop a more robust philosophical toolbox to further increase my critical thinking and argumentative skills that will set me up for success in future courses and career paths that are currently unknown to me.

As a final result of this project, I hope to present a research paper that, among other things, examines the lineage of contemporary Pauline interpretations and ultimately asks whether these sources are fair to Paul and how he still today can be seen as a relevant philosopher. In short, Paul is not a historical figure, but our contemporary. I hope that this paper will be worthy of presentation both at Gonzaga and other philosophy conferences, and of publication in an undergraduate journal.

  • Madison Hendricks (faculty mentor: Leslie Stamoolis, MFA, Theatre and Dance): “Foundations of Silhouette: A Study of 19th Century Undergarments”
  • Andrew Kelley (faculty mentor: Dr. Timothy Westerhaus, Music): “In the Wake of Tragedy: Examining the Function of Music as a Response to Disaster”
  • Katherine Laco (faculty mentor: Dr. Anastasia Wendlinger, Religious Studies): “Teaching Participation: Vatican II’s Liturgical Reforms and Parish Catechesis in the Diocese of Spokane”
  • Audrey Parks (faculty mentor: Suzanne Ostersmith, MFA, Theatre and Dance): “Professional Dance Performance Preparation”
  • Nick Simmons (faculty mentor: Dr. Rebecca Marquis, Modern Languages): “Indigenous Resistance Case Studies”
  • Annie Stanger (faculty mentor: Dr. Timothy Westerhaus, Music): “Introducing Contemporary Women Art Song Composers to Teachers and Performers”
  • Jessica Albinson (faculty mentor: Dr. Naghme Morlock, Sociology): “Navigating Gender and Sexual Identity in a ‘Straight’ World: A Study of How College Students Talk About Romantic Relationships”
  • Annica Balentine (faculty mentor: Dr. Andrea Bertotti-Metoyer, Sociology): “Sterilization Discourse in Medical Textbooks”
  • Mitch Davey (faculty mentor: Dr. Timothy Westerhaus, Music): “Dancing in Harmony: A Documentation of the Traditions & Practices of Choral Music in Zambia”
  • Cole Fairbairn (faculty mentor: Dr. Ray Rast, History): “A Christmas Classic: Bing, Berlin, and the Story of ‘White Christmas’”
  • Danielle Forrest and Grace Muljadi (faculty mentors: Dr. Rob Bryant, Computer Science and Computational Thinking and Dr. Veta Schlimgen, History): “Walk Gonzaga: An Augmented Reality Walking Historical Tour of Gonzaga”
  • Analee Scott (faculty mentor: Dr. Mary Jeannot, TESL): “Investigating Multilingual Theory and Practice in Spokane Public Schools”

Direct participation in scholarly research not only helps you decide on a future career path, but also give you a competitive advantage with scholarships and acceptance into law school, graduate school, and professional performing companies.