Collaborative undergraduate research is a cornerstone of the Centre College experience and this summer, Professor of Religion Shayna Sheinfeld and her student assistants are engaging in two projects that examine religion historically and in contemporary pop culture.
Catherine Uritis ’19, Clark Gebhart ’18 and Katie Alexander ’19 have helped Sheinfeld with research on women and religion in the ancient world. Their work supports a textbook she is writing with two colleagues, Meredith Warren at the University of Sheffield and Sara Parks at McGill University.
Additionally, Sheinfeld and Abby Vansickle ’18 are partnering to research the role of religion on a past SyFy television series, Battlestar Galactica. Both projects received their funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Grant for undergraduate research, which aims to encourage this kind of mentored scholarship across various disciplines.
Sheinfeld has guided these students through their research, giving them project ideas with which to start. Within these topics, her students have the ability to work on narrower ideas that interest them. While her students get the opportunity to work independently, Sheinfeld makes sure to support them during their research.
“I encourage them to be in touch if they have any questions about anything—not just content, but the process of research,” Sheinfeld said.
One of the most interesting parts of Centre College’s summer research community, Sheinfeld’s students have presented their projects at luncheon seminars for peers and professors in the fields of the humanities and social studies.
“This allows students the opportunity to share what they have been working on, highlighting not just the end results but also the process, which is mainly what research is,” she added.
Beyond the classroom, Sheinfield likes working with students over the summer, as she can help them explore academic work outside of a college class setting.
“I particularly enjoy helping students understand how scholarly research is different and how they can participate in it,” she explained.
In addition, Sheinfeld said she has had the chance to get to know the students a little better through these projects.
By the end of the summer, she anticipates that her students will have added to their knowledge of the research process.
“I hope my students gain some insight into how to do scholarly research, as well as gain research skills that they do not have the opportunity to gain during the busy semester,” she concluded.
by Kathleen Murphy ’18
July 24, 2017