News & Events

2021 Capstone Award Winners

As hybrid learning continued in Spring 2021, CGS students maintained an impressive work ethic as they engaged in the Capstone project, the 50-page essay and oral defense that marks the end of sophomore year. With students scattered across the globe, the Capstone groups created thoughtful and well-synthesized strategies, proposals, and debates on topics such as college admissions processes, social media regulation, and even health implications for the future colonization of Mars. The following teams, which all received high praise from CGS faculty, are this year’s award recipients for their remarkable work during challenging times.

Team R: Students for Fair Admissions, Plaintiff v. President and Fellows of Harvard College (Harvard Corporation), Defendant

Team R’s winning Capstone group was made up of Maya Ferris, Ashley Hsieh, Katie Fong, Ericka Liu, Brendan Green, and Paul Ovadeck. Acting as Supreme Court justices, the team explored whether or not Harvard University has racially penalized Asian students through awarding Black and Hispanic applicants more points in the application process. The group both determined that Harvard did not improperly use race as a major determinant for admissions and proposed a strategy for universities to increase diversity through an admissions process which considers location-based median incomes and education levels, ethic demographics, and frequency of past admissions. Team R faculty says, “The paper was well-researched and well-written and the students were extremely  knowledgeable during their oral examination. We were pleased that this diverse group of students carefully reviewed the data before them and delivered a very informed and logical opinion. We hope that the Supreme Court, if it decides to  take up this case, will be as deliberative as these students were.” 

Team S: Genetically Modified Organisms and In Vitro Meat: The Future of Food Biotechnology to Combat Resource Overconsumption

Team S' winning capstone group addressed the negative impacts the meat industry has on human ecology and proposed biotechnology to combat this problem.

The winning Capstone group from Team S, made up of Magdalena Christenson, Laila Inan, Dhruv Manik, Kaitlyn McFall, Acadia Monkman, Anthony Shelly, and Asritha Sure, proposed a biotechnological plan to combat the environmental issues that the growing demand for meat creates. Their solution, to clone animal cells in bioreactors, shows a thorough understanding of the technology. Team S faculty said, “this group thoughtfully addressed many of the objections that can be leveled against such a proposal by examining the current status of this biotechnology with an eye to its viability. This team also presented a new strategy for speaking about this technology to the public and gave a spirited oral defense of their paper.”

Team T: Where To Now With Social Media?

Team T's winning capstone group created a proposal in response to the impacts of online misinformation.

The students in Team T’s winning Capstone group were Katherine Harada Alcantara, Victoria Fernandez, Jason Miraka, Aruzhan Sarsenova, Ferren Winarto, and Yao Yao. he group pitched the Social Media Education Program (SMEP), a pilot program to mitigate the effects of misinformation spread by social media. GSM conducted their research by reaching out to a local school district superintendent, along with school principals, whom they were able to persuade of their program’s feasibility. The program, which incorporates a training program to teach students how to spot misinformation, is designed to create responsible social media consumers. According to Team T faculty, “if GSM demonstrates that its Social Media Education Program mitigates the impacts of digital misinformation in one district, the program could become a model for mandatory digital media  literacy throughout the state.”

Team U: A Policy Proposal to the Association of American Universities

Team U’s winning Capstone group Eliana Bortman, Taylor Brown, Hannah DeGraw, Sarah Eckerson, Evie Lipsig, and Sueda Nalcaci proposed a better way to increase access to American universities for students of all backgrounds. In opposition to many current and traditional practices, the group created thoughtful recommendations on how to increase diversity and fairness during college admissions. Team U faculty noted that, “The project was particularly successful because every proposal was well researched and analyzed. The group members commented that they worked well  together, especially as careful editors. One student mentioned that there isn’t a  single sentence written by just one person.”

Team V: Report to the President on the State of White Nationalism and Domestic Terrorism

Team V's winning capstone team studied the U.S. Government's capacity to confront white nationalism and domestic terrorism.

Araybia Ahmad-Goodlaw, Jasmine Alqassar, Toni-Marie Gomes, Said Kouiri, and Kyle Reiss delved into the connections between domestic terrorism and white nationalism in the United States for their winning Capstone project from Team V. Their research included analysis of the U.S. Government’s past actions and their current means to deal with the threat of domestic terrorism. According to Team V faculty, “all  members contributed and displayed an in-depth understanding of the structure  of the U.S. Government and how their proposed recommendations could be discussed and passed in real life, offering shrewd amendments to the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2021, currently under consideration. In addition, the  group's camaraderie and high regard with which they held each other’s work and views, key in any successful collaboration, made this example of Capstone team  work.” 

Team W: Proposal for Regulating Surveillance Capitalism at the Federal Level: Enforcing  Company Transparency to Ensure Consumer Safety

As one of two winning Capstone groups from Team W, Cameron Anderegg, Logan Diverniero, Leyla Eren, Serena Gajarawala, Abigail Lowry, Mariana Villegas, and Rachel Zhu created a solution which addresses the control over our personal information we have forfeited to companies that track us through our digital lives for profit. Acknowledging our dependency on our digital lifestyles, this group’s solution combines government legislation and a website which creates transparency between the public and the companies that collect personal data. Team W faculty praised the “unusual level of sophistication in their policy proposal, making a convincing  case for how to rebalance, in the individual’s favor, the competition for control of  our personal data.”

Team W: Debating the Regulation of Social Media: Possible Merits and Implications of the  Proposed Internet Protection and Disclosure Act

Team W’s second winning Capstone group Luca Carroll-Maestripieri, Alan Chau, Pei Du, Nicole Lopez, Payton Rohr, Isabel Yin, and Brandon Yu formatted their Capstone as a debate focused on dealing with issues created by social media, such as cyber-bullying and the spread of misinformation, while also considering First Amendment rights. The pro-regulation of social media side of the debate suggested laws and regulations to mitigate the dangers of social media while the rebuttal side focused on the legal and logistical implications of regulating the mass information that is created daily on social media. Team W faculty noted that, “Capstones utilizing the adversary format rarely succeed in holding a consistent dialogue, yet this group made  it look easy, proving just how much effort they put into their project.”

Team Y: Colonizing Mars: Addressing the Health Hazards of Radiation with Feasible  Solutions

Team Y's winning group researched the impact of radiation on health as well as what future research should be done to determine how radiation on mars will affect humans.

Team Y’s winning capstone group Veronika Bukanova, Tsetan Dhondup, Nikolette Dusevic, Javier Faustino, Eliona Lecaj, and Jesse Uiterwijk proposed solutions to the problems radiation will have on on the future colonization of Mars. Given the effects they researched that radiation will have on human health, they synthesized a strategy that takes into consideration both our current technological limitations and future research that should be conducted. Team Y faculty commended the group for their “extensive research and analysis of the problem.”




2021 Faculty and Alumni Awards

During Alumni Weekend, the College of General Studies honored this year's faculty and alumni award recipients in a virtual ceremony. Dean Natalie McKnight presented the following awards:

  • The Outstanding Service Award, which recognizes service to the college above and beyond the call of duty was awarded to John Regan
  • The Peyton Richter Award, which honors excellence in interdisciplinary teaching, was presented to Sal GenoveseJune Grasso, and Karen Guendel
  • The Dr. Ismail Sensel Award, which recognizes and honors outstanding professors, was awarded to Sandra BuergerThomas Finan, and Joshua Pederson
  • The Distinguished Alumni Award was presented to Valerie Ford Jacob (CGS’73, COM’75) in recognition of outstanding achievement and service

Watch video of the award ceremony:

A Look at Undergraduate Research: Covid-19’s Impact on the Airline Industry

By Julia Allard

Since its outbreak, the COVID-19 pandemic has hit many industries hard, but few were more negatively impacted than air travel. Due to travel restrictions and widespread anxiety among consumers, many airlines struggled to fill seats during the first several months of the pandemic. 

Intrigued by the effects of the pandemic in this area of the economy, Christian Mouton (CGS ‘19, CAS ‘21) embarked upon an undergraduate research project to discover exactly how COVID had affected airlines, using data analysis techniques to research how the airline industry was affected by and reacted to the pandemic. 

Christian Mouton (CGS ’19, CAS ’21) studied the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the airline industry through CITL.

According to his research, while flight volume dropped noticeably across the board, commercial flights were hurt significantly more than non-commercial flights. 

“Research into this suggested that many airlines changed their airplanes to cargo transportation in order to offset the massive drop in domestic demand,” Mouton said. “In addition to this, a look at the U.S. data on its total flights showed that domestic flights were significantly more damaged due to the pandemic, while international flights simply suffered a minor reduction in total flights.”

Mouton, who is majoring in Economics and minoring in Environmental Analysis and Policy, was introduced to the topic through material from his economics courses. 

“I was recommended to do an undergraduate research project, one where I am the one actively pursuing and designing it, because it would be good for research experience and future applications,” Mouton said. 

CGS presented Mouton with just such an opportunity. The CGS Center for Interdisciplinary Teaching & Learning (CITL) paired Mouton with Andy Andres, a Senior Lecture of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, to conduct his research.

Andres said that he enjoyed working alongside Mouton.

“He was very interested in learning more fundamentals of Data Science to further help his career options, and he pursued a project using an airline flights database to better understand the impact the pandemic had on air traffic,” Andres said. “His learning and his interest in the question was a testament to his skill, talent, persistence.”

Working alongside Andres, Mouton began to delve into different data sets and analysis software to conduct his project, including teaching himself the R language. Mouton said that throughout the project he learned a lot about not just this particular topic, but about the process of data analysis.

“My idea and plan was to do a write-up talking about my process with the data and process of going through and trying to answer my research question and how it’s been changed due to the data I have been finding,” Mouton said. “Instead [of my initial plan], I can talk about how data analysts need to be conscientious about their data and how they interpret and present to the general public because each data set tells a different story.”

A graph created by Mouton during his research project.

The most rewarding part of the process, Mouton said, was being able to structure his own project.

“I was the one setting up meetings, setting and making milestones, and otherwise building up this research experience from the ground up,” Mouton said. “Students are very used to structure and parameters so this was a very different experience compared to what I’ve been exposed to in my undergraduate career.”

Mouton said that he would recommend the undergraduate research program to any other CGS students. 

“The opportunity grants you the ability to pursue work in something one has an interest in while receiving mentorship from a faculty member on how to achieve that goal,” he said. “It’s an invaluable learning experience in addition to a helpful indicator that the student is actively trying to make use of their education during their undergraduate career to potential employers.” 

CITL provides stipends for CGS students to pursue paid undergraduate research with a member of the CGS faculty. Students interested in pursuing undergraduate research can learn more here.

Banner image courtesy of Andrew Palmer via Unsplash

Senior Spotlight 2021

To celebrate the Class of 2021, we asked graduates who attended CGS to share their memories, proudest accomplishments, and plans for the future. Congratulations Class of 2021!


Amanda Fay, CGS and CAS, Psychology Major

What student organizations have you been involved in?

BU Women's Soccer

What do you have planned for the future?

Recently accepted a Marketing job in Orlando, FL

What is your favorite memory of CGS?

I remember loving and looking forward to Professor Marr’s classes


Gianna Loiacono, CGS and Questrom, Finance Major

What student organizations have you been involved in?

Alpha Phi

What have you done in your time at BU that you are most proud of?

Serving as President of Alpha Phi

What do you have planned for the future?

Working at Northern Trust in Chicago

What is your favorite memory of CGS?

CGS London Program! Best experience at BU!


Bridget Kelly Chiaravalle, CGS and COM, Public Relations Major

What student organizations have you been involved in?

The Track & Field team, SAAC, BFLA

What have you done in your time at BU that you are most proud of?

3x high hurdle Patriot League Champion

What do you have planned for the future?

To work at a PR agency


Katie Barnett, CGS and CAS, Economics Major

What student organizations have you been involved in?

BU Women's Lightweight Rowing, SAAC

What have you done in your time at BU that you are most proud of?

I am most proud of my accomplishments on the lightweight rowing team because I was a captain my junior and senior year. I am also most proud of being a Capstone winner my sophomore year.

What do you have planned for the future?

I will be working for JP Morgan Chase & Co. as a Data Analyst.

What is your favorite memory of CGS?

I loved being in CGS and I think winning Capstone was a very pivotal moment in my college career. It gave me the confidence to pursue my degree in Economics.


Summer Willerth, CGS and Questrom, Finance Major

What student organizations have you been involved in?

Alpha Phi, Fintech Club, Residence Hall Committee, HerNetwork, HerCampus

What have you done in your time at BU that you are most proud of?

Graduate!

What do you have planned for the future?

Working as financial analyst right outside of Boston

What is your favorite memory of CGS?

Thank you to all of my amazing professors for setting me up for success and pushing me to pursue my dreams!


Katie Yao, CGS and Sargent, Health Science Major

What student organizations have you been involved in?

Asian Studies Initiative at BU (ASIABU), Mock Mediation, First Gen Connect's G1 Peer Mentor Program

What have you done in your time at BU that you are most proud of?

I got to go to Toronto for the 2019 INADR International Intercollegiate Mediation Tournament with the Boston University Mock Mediation team.

What do you have planned for the future?

Currently I am hoping to relax a bit before applying to graduate school.

What is your favorite memory of CGS?

During the London semester, BU offered a trip to Wales for coasteering, hiking, and sea kayaking. The highlight of the trip was that I got to jump off a cliff into the ocean and enjoyed some delicious Welsh cakes after.


Connor McMillan, CGS and CAS, Neuroscience Major

What student organizations have you been involved in?

I was involved with the CGS's Deans Host program, Boston University Esports, BU Snowboarding (BUST), as well as the Mind and Brain Society.

What have you done in your time at BU that you are most proud of?

I am most proud of the vast research exposure opportunities that I have had the pleasure of being a part of. However, a close second would be my time as a CGS Dean's Host being able to welcome new students to the very close community that is CGS. My professors and peers will forever be in my memories and heart and it was an amazing experience.

What do you have planned for the future?

I am looking forward to attending medical school and applying all the knowledge I have attained over these four years as well as staying in touch with the great community here at BU.

What is your favorite memory of CGS?

I would like to thank all my professors greatly, although I would like to recognize Professor Holm due to the great teaching methods and personality he brought to the classroom. He had a great relationship with his students and he helped turn bad snow days into a worthwhile experience when no one wanted to go to class. Also, Dean Godnick has helped me maneuver some issues that I thought might force me to fall behind but she was extremely understanding and made me realize the faculty and staff are willing to help you no matter what and I am extremely grateful for that. She is wonderful.


Marisa Gregory, CGS and COM, Public Relations Major

What student organizations have you been involved in?

BUTV10, CGS Student Government, BU Student Government, PRLab, and Alpha Delta Pi Sorority

What have you done in your time at BU that you are most proud of?

Coming into a big city I was scared that I would not find a close-knit group of friends, I am so proud that I put myself out there and found peers and professors who I will be close with for the rest of my life!

What do you have planned for the future?

I will be working at a financial PR agency in Connecticut

What is your favorite memory of CGS?

I met my best friends through CGS and would not have the writing or reading skills I do today without my amazing professors. CGS will always have a special place in my heart!


Sebastian Del Principe, CGS and COM/CAS, Advertising and Philosophy Major

What student organizations have you been involved in?

BU Baseball, BU Advertising Club, BU AdLab

What have you done in your time at BU that you are most proud of?

I learned and read a lot. Became confident and determined in my own ability to succeed both academically and socially.

What do you have planned for the future?

Moving back to New York and finding a job in advertising, possibly pursuing a masters in Philosophy or Business in later years.

What is your favorite memory of CGS?

The CGS environment was incredible. I miss it a lot, the relationships I made both with teachers and friends were truly unique and even more appreciated once I got to college. The teachers are so caring and instilled great values in me and my peers and I will be forever grateful for that. I miss Mr. Brown and Dr. Cheung and all my other teachers.


Song Kim, CGS and CAS, Economics Major

What student organizations have you been involved in?

BU KISA, BU ASU

What have you done in your time at BU that you are most proud of?

Connecting with my CGS advisor who helped me the most and continuing my journey to CAS

What do you have planned for the future?

OPT, Become a CEO of IB company

What is your favorite memory of CGS?

Professors that I can not forget and pushed my academics the MOST.... : D. Lynn O’Brien Hallstein! She teaches one of the best writing classes you should take if you happened to be in her class because of your schedule do not worry, it will be your favorite. Though I suck at writing she is patient and understood me the most and really wanted me to improve. She also gives a friendly hello all the time. Also professor Davida Pines! How can I forget her as well. Also one of the most understanding, enthusiastic professor she is ready to teach students what she knows and really wants to prepare students for future writing skills so students please listen and remember her lectures for life :)


Sarah Janel Schmacher, CGS and CAS, Biology Major

What student organizations have you been involved in?

Alpha Phi Omega, The Outing Club, The Navigators

What have you done in your time at BU that you are most proud of?

I was able to conduct three years of research on non-communicable diseases, funded by UROP and research-for-credit, and be co-authored on a study!

What do you have planned for the future?

I will be continuing my education at Boston University School of Public Health to purse my MPH --Epidemiology and Biostatistics with concurrent graduate certification in Statistical Genetics.

What is your favorite memory of CGS?

My summer in London was a definitive time in my life that I will always hold dear to my heart.


Helen Kitrosser, CGS and Sargent, Speech Language and Hearing Science Major

What student organizations have you been involved in?

I have been involved with Camp Kesem, which is fully run by BU students. We spend the school year providing support to children through and beyond their parents cancer (@campkesembu). I have also been involved with NSSLHA - National Student Speech Language Hearing Association. Additionally I was an undergraduate research assistant at the BU Aphasia Research Laboratory and a Deans Host for CGS!

What have you done in your time at BU that you are most proud of?

I am proud of so many things- how can I pick one! I think I am most proud of getting Camp Kesem from a small student org of 15 people to over 50 in four short years. I could not be more proud!

What do you have planned for the future?

Even though I technically graduated in January, I finally feel like my time at BU is coming to a close. I currently work as an Administrative Associate at Good Shepherd Community Care in Newton. In the future I hope to go to grad school for Speech Language Pathology.

What is your favorite memory of CGS?

My favorite memory was probably working for orientation as a CGS Student Advisor. I loved getting to know the class of 2023 and working with my co-workers that summer was just a fantastic experience!


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E-Beth Leach, CGS and Pardee, International Relations Major

What student organizations have you been involved in?

Co-founded BU Food Engineers Club, BU Running Club, Kappa Alpha Theta, ASB

What have you done in your time at BU that you are most proud of?

My proudest BU moments were studying abroad in Rabat, Morocco and Geneva, Switzerland and absorbing the different cultures.

What do you have planned for the future?

I will be studying for a Masters in Global Migration at University College London next fall!

What is your favorite memory of CGS?

I wish I could have turned my root beer mug into a beer mug, but thank you professors and classmates from Teams B & T!


Juliana Torrez-Ortiz, CGS and CAS, Architectural Studies Major

What student organizations have you been involved in?

Student Government, Alianza Latina

What have you done in your time at BU that you are most proud of?

Studying abroad twice in London and Italy!

What do you have planned for the future?

I will be attending the University of Southern California (USC) in the fall to receive my Masters in Architecture.

What is your favorite memory of CGS?

My favorite memory was studying abroad in London with my favorite classmates and teachers (Byttebier and Lynch!) for an unforgettable summer.


Keziah Zimmerman, CGS and COM, Advertising Major

What student organizations have you been involved in?

Delta Gamma sorority, AdLab Eboard, Adclub member, BU Marketing Club Instagram committee, empath worldwide creative content creator

What have you done in your time at BU that you are most proud of?

Learned some invaluable life lessons about friendship, work-life balance, and how to manage and prioritize mental health.

What do you have planned for the future?

For now, I am planning on moving home to save money and to put my full time/effort into applying to jobs. Eventually, I hope to work at an advertising agency in NYC, Chicago, or LA/San Diego where I can network and move either in-house or doing freelance work for people working in entertainment.

What is your favorite memory of CGS?

After transferring from community college my sophomore year, I had a slight crisis about my career path and what exactly I should be pursuing as a major. As CGS students know, sophomore year is when you decide what school/college you are going to enter and I felt like I was torn between choosing a career path that would make money and one that would make me happy/play off of my strengths. After vocalizing this to Dean Godnick (my advisor at the time), I started sobbing about my future and had a bit of a breakdown (as many of us do when thinking about the future). She immediately got up, gave me a hug, and told me that I would be successful in whatever I pursued, as long as I was playing on my strengths and doing something I was passionate about. This moment shaped the rest of my college experience, the way I view my career and aspirations, and made me realize how important it is to look to do something you love. I owe this mentality to Dean Godnick. She is such a crucial part to how my college experience played out. In writing this, I just want to thank her for the role she played in who I am and who I grew to be. Not many people are as lucky as I am to have had such a caring and wonderful college advisor and I just wanted to write this to vocalize my gratitude for the work Dean Godnick does. So to Dean Godnick I say: thank you. You are impacting so many lives in such a positive way and that deserves so much recognition :)


Ethan Kolsky, CGS and COM, Advertising Major

What student organizations have you been involved in?

Captain of Men's Tennis Team

What have you done in your time at BU that you are most proud of?

Being named captain of the mens tennis team

What do you have planned for the future?

Working in Burlington, Ma for Oracle in the fall.

What is your favorite memory of CGS?

Professor Chris Coffman had a big impact on my life whether he knows it or not. The content of his course challenged me mentally and helped me see life from many different perspectives that I still carry with me today.


Caitlyn Federico, CGS and CAS, Psychology Major

What student organizations have you been involved in?

Kappa Delta

What have you done in your time at BU that you are most proud of?

Winning Capstone for Team S

What do you have planned for the future?

Getting my masters in Applied Behavioral Analysis at Salve Regina University

What is your favorite memory of CGS?

Beyond thankful for my time in CGS! Professors Tyler, Genovese, Whalen, and Cole have had such an impact on my education. CGS will always have a special place in my heart!


Wesley Lau, CGS and Questrom, Business Administration Major

What student organizations have you been involved in?

President, Global Business Brigades; Head of Investment Research, Finance and Investment Club

What have you done in your time at BU that you are most proud of?

The opportunities to represent BU beyond Boston has been invaluable. Traveling to Atlanta my Freshman year on the BU mediation team; Toronto my Sophomore year in an Investment Banking Competition; Panama my Junior year as an economic consultant; and Munich my Senior year for the TUM Business Game Competition. With the aforementioned events and many more, I held the BU brand proudly on my shoulder.

What do you have planned for the future?

I will be an Investment Banking Analyst for Oppenheimer & Co. based in Boston focusing on Technology and Software. Outside of work, I will act as a regional board member for the national non-profit, Easterseals.

What is your favorite memory of CGS?

Truly cherish the late nights working on your Capstone Project. The thesis was just as impactful as the memories and friendship developed as a result. CGS is where I met my closest friends.


Kendall Brown, CGS and CAS, Psychology Major

What student organizations have you been involved in?

CGS Dean's Host, FY101 Peer Mentor, TTBU Peer Mentor, Peer Tutor, BUnited, Umoja: The Black Student Union, Omega Phi Alpha National Community Service Sorority, Sisters United, ASB, Undergraduate Psychology Association, Whitmore Leadership and Mentoring Lab, Social Learning Lab

What have you done in your time at BU that you are most proud of?

As a peer mentor, I loved forging relationships with first year students and supporting them as they navigated life at BU! Through these leadership positions, I found a career path that spoke to me and my passions.

What do you have planned for the future?

Next fall, I will continue my studies as I pursue my Master of Arts in Social-Organizational Psychology at Columbia University's Teachers College.

What is your favorite memory of CGS?

I am forever indebted to CGS for providing me with the best friends and mentors I could have imagined:)


Caitlin Burke, CGS and COM, Public Relations Major

What student organizations have you been involved in?

President of Terpsichore (BU’s first a cappella group)

What have you done in your time at BU that you are most proud of?

When I first came to BU, my goal was to learn about new ways of thinking by engaging with diverse and inclusive groups of intellectuals. I remained active in pursuing this by finding strong communities in CGS and COM, and by studying abroad twice (through the January-London program and Sydney, Australia Internship Program).

What do you have planned for the future?

I plan to work for a few years at an integrated communications agency that specializes in healthcare. Then, I hope to earn my MPH and JD to specialize in Health Law and Policy.

What is your favorite memory of CGS?

I’m very thankful for the community and experiences I found through CGS. Also, thank you to Professor Stewart for inspiring me to elevate my writing when possible. Another thank you goes to Professor Wexelblatt, for sparking my considerations and interest in existentialism.


Lisette Thurlkill, CGS and CAS, Psychology Major

What student organizations have you been involved in?

President and Program Coordinator of BU Photography Club, member of Alianza Latina, member of Art Club, and member of Psi Chi

What have you done in your time at BU that you are most proud of?

I have been able to TA some amazing classes, spend time with awesome people, and explore the city the most that I can! At BU, connecting with the best professors and friends is what I’m most proud of because I know I will have a community whenever I visit.

What do you have planned for the future?

I am going to attend Columbia University for my Masters in Quantitative Methods in Social Science and then work towards my PhD in clinical psych!

What is your favorite memory of CGS?

To all my CGS Professors, Byttebier, Pederson, Lynch, and more, thank you for the best years of learning and camaraderie! I loved your classes, going to office hours, and you all motivated me with your enthusiasm and knowledge. I will keep in touch and y’all will always have a place in my heart!


Kelly Blake, CGS and Questrom, Marketing and Information Systems Major
Emilie Hibbard, CGS and Pardee, International Relations Major

What student organizations have you been involved in?

Fashion at BU & marketing club

What have you done in your time at BU that you are most proud of?

Emilie: Starting fashion at BU
Kelly: Finally feeling like I’m equipped for the real world

What do you have planned for the future?

Job searching!! Hire us please :)

What is your favorite memory of CGS?

Getting to shake professor Lavalli Wexelblatt and Deese’s hands when we gave our final Capstone presentation. CGS gave us so many friendships too - best community at BU!


Anastasia Boulos, CGS and Pardee, International Relations Major

What student organizations have you been involved in?

BU Lebanese Club, NSLS, CGS Deans Host, CAS Academic Ambassador, CGS Peer Mentor

What have you done in your time at BU that you are most proud of?

Most proud of my leadership roles on campus and my work with community service.

What do you have planned for the future?

I will be going to NYU to pursue a Master’s degree in International Relations with a concentration in International Law

What is your favorite memory of CGS?

My favorite memory is going on so many fun adventures all over with my CGS friends. My most fond memory is having picnics in Hyde Park while studying in London.


Rilie Curd, CGS and Sargent, Human Physiology Major

What student organizations have you been involved in?

Sargent Honor Society

What have you done in your time at BU that you are most proud of?

Graduating as the valedictorian of both CGS and Sargent College!

What is your favorite memory of CGS?

Dean Godnick is the best ever!!!!


Sam Ducharme, CGS and Questrom, Finance/Management Information System Major

What student organizations have you been involved in?

Finance and investors club

What have you done in your time at BU that you are most proud of?

Winning CGS Capstone Project, Getting a job at Amazon

What is your favorite memory of CGS?

One meeting with Dr.Schoch, he talked with me about his experience and about his time on the Joe Rogan Podcast. One of the most helpful professors I’ve ever had that definitely inspired me to change what I can for the good of us all.

A Look at Undergraduate Research: Brexit’s Toll on the United Kingdom

By Grace Chen

When Megan Lau (CGS ’21) traveled to London during her gap semester, the trip sparked an interest in the impact Brexit left on the United Kingdom. With the help of the CGS Center for Interdisciplinary Teaching & Learning (CITL)’s undergraduate research program, Lau was able to translate that interest into a 20-page research paper examining Brexit's effects on the country.

In the Fall 2020 semester, Lau worked alongside Social Sciences Lecturer Shawn Lynch to examine the different movements persisting in the UK after withdrawing from the European Union. Her research focused on the rise of nationalist and right-wing sentiments and racism after the UK severed ties with the EU.

The topic was one Lau and Lynch expressed a shared interest in.

“I jumped at the chance because of my personal experience witnessing the Brexit vote and aftermath personally, due to my role in the CGS Boston-London Program,” Lynch said.

Lecturer Shawn Lynch and Megan Lau (CGS '21) meet over Zoom to work on their research project.

Lynch and Lau came to work together through mutual connections. Lau had expressed her interest for the CITL program to Associate Dean Lynn O’Brien Hallstein, the Director of CITL, and Donna Connor, CITL’s administrative coordinator, who connected her with Lynch. The pair met over Zoom, where they discussed Brexit and agreed to work together that very meeting.

The pair worked together solely over Zoom, but that didn’t limit Lau and Lynch’s productivity.

“We met regularly to discuss a variety of research related topics, but also just general global events such as the Presidential election in 2020,” Lau said.

While Lau researched, Lynch served as a resource for her. In meetings, she was able to solicit feedback and ask questions about her paper.

“Dr. Lynch’s feedback was extremely helpful for me because it forced me to reconsider my position, dive deeper into the topics, and question the accuracy and reliability of the sources I used,” Lau said.

Upon beginning their project, both Lynch and Lau established several goals, most of which have already been achieved. Lau hoped to learn more about researching and writing a twenty-page paper and enjoy the process of researching Brexit specifically. According to Lau, she planned to translate these skills to Capstone, and her next research project: a directed study focused on feminist literary intellectual thought.

Additionally, the pair shared a goal for her paper to be published, an achievement both Lau and Lynch hope to pursue in the future.

“I came into this experience unsure of what guided research entailed but came out with a wealth of knowledge, a mentor, and a growing passion of shedding light on global events that have an impact on our daily lives,” Lau said.

She strongly recommends the CITL research experience to CGS students as passionate about researching as she is.

“I live by a simple philosophy: learn everything I can, anytime I can, from anyone I can,” she said.

CITL provides stipends for CGS students to pursue paid undergraduate research with a member of the CGS faculty. Students interested in pursuing undergraduate research can learn more here.

A Look at Undergraduate Research: Boston’s Last Surviving Salt Marsh

By Meghan Bohannon

Several hundred years ago, when colonists ventured into the Boston area, they came across land sprawling with wetlands, mudflats, and salt marshes. Since then, much of the area has been filled in with landfill to build the city we know today. But though the urban landscape of Boston has changed dramatically over the centuries, one small nature preserve, located just a few miles northeast of Boston Logan International Airport, serves as a reminder of the way our environment shapes our lives.

CGS Associate Professor of Humanities Adam Sweeting

Known as Boston's last standing salt marsh, the Belle Isle Marsh Reservation faces several threats, including rising sea levels due to climate change and the recent proposed Suffolk Downs development. The marsh caught the attention of College of General Studies Associate Professor of Humanities Adam Sweeting for its evolving impact on the cultural history of Boston.

“It’s part of the cultural legacy of New England, and climate change is going to force us to rethink how we think about our landscape. That’s actually sort of the broader issues that my work is concerned with right now,” said Sweeting, whose scholarly interests include the environmental humanities and the intersections of literature, art history, and environmental issues. He plans to write a personal reflection on the marsh this summer, regarding its cultural legacy and potential future as a result of climate change.

When the COVID-19 pandemic postponed a conference presentation Sweeting had planned on the marsh last year, he was able to dive deeper into the marsh’s history with the help of undergraduate researcher Dena Ciampa (CGS ’20, CAS’22). Their partnership is supported by the Center for Interdisciplinary Teaching & Learning at CGS, which funds undergraduate researchers who partner with faculty members on a project of mutual interest.

Undergraduate Researcher Dena Ciampa

In order to aid Sweeting’s research, Ciampa looked into new topics every week regarding the marsh, including future flooding projections of East Boston due to climate change, the health of the marsh’s ecosystem and its animal inhabitants, and the implications of a proposed redevelopment of Suffolk Downs.

Although the marsh is the last one standing in the Boston area, it serves the important function of preventing flooding to coastal areas.

“Climate change is causing more sea level rise, but the marsh can’t necessarily keep up with it because on the other side, there’s all this built land, preventing it from moving inland, so the marsh is being squeezed from both sides,” said Ciampa, who is currently studying environmental analysis and policy in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Moreover, the Suffolk Downs development would bring more people to the area, adding further stress to the marsh. According to Sweeting and Ciampa, these issues of gentrification would alter the character of the surrounding neighborhood of East Boston.

The Belle Isle Salt Marsh. Photo Courtesy Adam Sweeting

Despite the pandemic confining Ciampa’s research to her apartment, she was able to find many unique sources, including poems, newspapers, paintings of the marsh, and old maps from the Boston Public Library’s digital map collection. She said the research was interdisciplinary, epitomizing CGS’s focus on thinking and problem-solving across disciplines.

“I’ve always been interested in resource conservation, but it was really interesting to see the history and its complications with gentrification and social justice issues,” Ciampa said.

During the fall 2020 semester, Ciampa and Sweeting met virtually at least every 10 days, expanding their knowledge on the salt marsh. While it was her first time conducting undergraduate research, Ciampa said she greatly enjoyed the learning opportunity and the research experience.

For Sweeting, the feeling was mutual.

“The opportunity to work so closely with an undergraduate was just terrific. I would encourage more of my colleagues to do this,” Sweeting said.

CITL provides stipends for CGS students to pursue paid undergraduate research with a member of the CGS faculty. Students interested in pursuing undergraduate research can learn more here.

2020 Capstone Award Winners

In a spring marked by the COVID-19 pandemic and the historic decision to switch to remote classes, CGS students persevered in completing the Capstone project, the 50-page essay and oral defense that marks the end of sophomore year. Students tackled Capstone virtually, meeting with teams dispersed across the globe and presenting their oral defenses via Zoom to discuss topics as timely and relevant as voter turnout in Georgia and improving maternal health care for women of color. The following teams are this year’s award recipients for their exceptional work amid exceptional circumstances.

Team T's winning Capstone group met virtually to complete their project on voter turnout in Georgia—a factor that ended up being key in the general election.

Team R: Combating Food Deserts: Introducing Aquaponic Farms to South Side Chicago 

Team R’s winning Capstone groupBrianna Aldea, Juliana Alonso, Caroline Birdsall, Wesley Carty, Kaileen Germain, and Eesha Gholapanalyzed the issue of food deserts in Chicago’s South Side neighborhood and provided a proposal to counter this major public health problem. They researched the historical, geographical and demographic information needed to come up with an innovative solution: aquaponic farms within neighborhoods. Team R faculty described the team’s defense skills “with great skill at the oral defense, with all members of the group displaying deep understanding of the complexities of food distribution in economically disenfranchised neighborhoods.”  

Team S: A Policy Recommendation Prepared by Joe Biden’s Task Force on Russian  Cyber Aggression for the Likely Next President of the United States 

Team S’s winning Capstone groupHenry Brennan, Belize Combs, Kyla Denisevich, Sofia Dipilla, Mary King and Catherine Nortondeveloped a feasible multi-level solution as presidential candidate Joe Biden’s Task Force on Russian Cyber Aggression. The team proposed a voting policy regarding voting to prevent Russian interference. Team S faculty “commend the students in this group for their exceptionally successful Capstone project, and we urge them to send their paper to Washington if Biden is able to defeat Trump (and Putin) in November.” 

Team T: Disinfect Your Vote: Securing Voter Turnout in Georgia’s 2020 General Election 

Team T’s winning Capstone teamCammy Brits, Haleigh Drew, Kelly Pena, Mariah Rodriguez, Faith Rynda, Humna Siddiqi and Ashlyn Silvacreated a voter information campaign to expand voter turnout for the 2020 Georgia general election which took into consideration the COVID-19 outbreak. The team developed targeted advertising as well as a list of specific advice for the Georgia state government in terms of increasing voting access for the future. Team T faculty thought their proposal “was inventive, pragmatic, and (as are the best of  solutions) commonsensical. Recognizing how onerous it might be to  encourage change in legislation any time in the near future, they focused their efforts on a direct-mail component that equips individuals with “voter  packages” and important election materials.” 

Team U: Proposed Regulation of Gene Editing in Humans

Team U’s winning Capstone teamRebecca Loo, Lorena Magana, Philip Penabella, Caitlin Pianka, Sara Segal and Priya Tewaniprepared a new national Institute of Genome Editing for CRISPR-Cas9 technology to prevent the potential abuse of unnecessary genome editing. They were able to summarize the policy in this field internationally and domestically. Team U faculty said, “Overall, this group exemplifies the best practices of what a great academic exercise the Capstone can be for learning.” 

Team V: AI, Automation, & the U.S. Economy 

Team V winning Capstone teamSusan Aguilar, Seena Bee, Riley Cavanaugh, Aubrey Franzo, Kara Pepper, Sydney Pickering and Morgan Serughettiaddressed the US economic benefits of AI and AI-driven automation while also minimizing the social impact of job displacement caused by the technology advancement. The team explained the impact of past technology advancement and used their research to recommend a set of policies to deal with AI-driven automation. Team V faculty commented that the group’s “camaraderie and regard for its members were evident in the professional manner with which they conducted themselves throughout  the entire Capstone process. They added a lively good-humored Zoom aesthetic flourish to  an early required meeting, a fun touch that showed trust in their faculty  without detracting from their academic seriousness and focus.”

Team W: China and its Future Food Security  

Team W’s winning Capstone teamMingkai Sun, Hanyu Wang, Yuqing Wang, Zihuang Wu, Qianye Yin, Xinyi Zhai and Haoyu Zhangconfront the need to guarantee food security in China while environmental and governmental factors reduce the amount of viable space. They not only  analyzed methods of food security, they also used their research as the basis to create a policy recommendation. Team W faculty wrote, “ their Capstone was clear, well researched and presented a well thought out solution.”   

Team W: Recommendations for Improving the Maternal Mortality Rate for American Women of Color 

Team W winning Capstone teamStephen Bernard, Meredith Correia, Alexis Gomes, Ioannis Michaelidis, Aidan Moger, Sonia Rubeck and Gladys Vargasexplored maternal mortality rates for women of color in the United States. While they examined factors that contribute to the disparity, they also provided a solution that dealt with macro and micro level recommendations. Team W faculty noted that “their Capstone incorporated extensive research, was well written, and presented a clear and thoughtful solution.” 

Team Y: The Hypothetical Trial of Edward Snowden and the Debate of Democracy vs. Security in U.S. Society   

Team Y’s winning Capstone groupRyan Falzon, Camille Hall, Gabrielle Patterson, Avithej Reddy, Bethany Salah, and Aaron Velascofocused on creating a verdict for a hypothetical trial for two men, one a whistleblower and one who endangered national security. The purpose of the trial was to show the conflict between the transparency merited by open societies and the secrecy necessary for national security. Team Y faculty wrote, “The students had some fun but their legal research was worthy of law review editors and the arguments for the prosecution and defense were  professional and passionate.”  

Seven Years of Impact: A Q&A with Megan Sullivan

On July 1, Megan Sullivan will step down from her role as Associate Dean for Faculty Research and Development and Director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Teaching & Learning after seven years. In her time as Director and Associate Dean, Sullivan led CITL through a period of growth and development during which undergraduate research grants expanded dramatically and the College won an award for excellence in general education. Sullivan will be succeeded in the role by D. Lynn O'Brien Hallstein. We caught up with Sullivan to discuss her time at CITL and what's next for her as she hands off the role.

How has CITL evolved since you started your term as director?

CITL has evolved into a really burgeoning center for faculty, staff, student and alumni engagement. CITL has always taught summer institutes for lifelong learners on interdisciplinary topics, hosted academic conferences, published Impact: The Journal of the Center for Interdisciplinary Teaching & Learning, and more. We’ve since had the opportunity to offer or sponsor additional faculty development workshops, to fund more varied projects, and to offer the Global Impact Research Fund Award.

We’ve also been able to further harness our collective scholarship and commitment to pedagogy to present at national conferences and to become even more of a “name” in General Education. CGS has been ‘doing’ General Education for over sixty years, but I was honored that we were recognized by one of the most important associations for general education in my tenure as the director. CITL also wrote for and received grants to nurture staff and faculty development, which was important to me.

CGS faculty accept the AGLS Award. From left to right: John Regan, master lecturer, Department of Rhetoric; Megan Sullivan, associate dean for faculty research and development and director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Teaching and Learning; Karen Guendel, lecturer, Department of Rhetoric; Beth Kramer, senior lecturer, Department of Rhetoric. [credit Joyce Lucke, AGLS]
CGS faculty accept the Association of General and Liberal Studies Exemplary Program Award. From left to right: John Regan, Megan Sullivan, Karen Guendel, Beth Kramer. Credit Joyce Lucke, AGLS
CITL has also accomplished smaller, but still important things: we’ve hired an ePortfolio mentor and offered student prizes for ePortfolios; all this helps in our ongoing assessment practices. We’ve revamped the look and feel of Impact; we’ve mentored 7 or 8 what we now call “Pedagogy Fellows” who have gone into careers in higher education; we’ve expanded faculty talks into Alumni Weekend; and we’ve established thoughtful processes and procedures for these varied initiatives.

Importantly, our Undergraduate Research Experience went from sponsoring approximately 3-5 undergraduate researchers to funding up to 50 students per year. This is largely because CGS and Dean Natalie McKnight secured funding from generous alumni and parents, and because we know that undergraduate research is a ‘high impact practice,’ or one of those practices that significantly impacts student success and retention.

CITL supports an incredible array of undergraduate research projects – what are some of the most memorable ones that have stood out to you over the last few years?

Great question, but there are too many to name! I think more than the topics, I love to see how a student grows as a result of whatever project he or she is involved in. I love to see students’ eyes brighten when they discuss their research projects; I love that CGS faculty have invited students to present papers and attend conferences with them; and I love that now an entire cadre of undergraduates will know something about the process of writing a book or engaging in a long-term project. And I hope that this encourages them to someday write that book or engage in that long term project on their own.

Why do you believe it’s important to give students an opportunity to engage in paid undergraduate research?

Student Adam Lazarchik conducts research on historical cures through CITL's undergraduate research program.

In the parlance of the day, paid undergraduate research is a ‘win-win’ for everyone: faculty obtain research help, and students learn to put the critical thinking and research skills they learn in college to work by engaging in “real world” research, or research that will make its way into labs, grants, articles, books and conferences. As I noted above, it’s also important because engaging in undergraduate research has been found to increase students’ level of academic success and retention. I also really like that alumni and parents get to ‘win’ in this situation, too. They get to talk to our research teams and feel their excitement. They can contribute with thoughts or deeds; and that is how real research is accomplished, with a shared canvas and a shared goal.

In addition to supporting undergraduate research, CITL acts as a resource on interdisciplinary general education. Why do you think general education is so important? How is CGS’s program unique in the field of general education?

General education is important because it prioritizes the intellectual curiosity, skills and habits of mind that will help people become better in life and work. General education serves the whole person; it teaches us to be smart, ethical, community-oriented and autonomous. With the Hub, BU recognizes that students should have these opportunities throughout their four years of college, and that’s good. However, research shows that we need to “catch” students in their first two years; these are the years that can literally make or break students’ ability and desire to continue their education. General education is among the most important work a university has to accomplish.

What are you most proud of in your time as CITL director?

I’m really proud of what I’ve been able to do for the College of General Studies as a whole and with respect to each part or “stakeholder” in this whole. There can be a tendency for administrators to think in terms of constituencies: they support students or faculty or staff or alumni. I’m proud that I’ve been able to learn about and help foreground what folks need across the spectrum at our college and what makes them succeed, whether these people are students, staff, faculty, alumni, parents or donors. The reality is that a college is only as good as each of its parts, and from the beginning I’ve set out to contribute to all these “parts”; I’m proud of that. I was able to do so, because I wanted to, and because that’s something Dean Natalie McKnight believes in and promotes.

I’m also proud that I’ve been able to participate in so many BU committees and to therefore meet people who could, through me, learn more about CGSits goals, aspirations, sophistication and commitment to teaching and scholarship. When BU created its first university-wide general education program, or the Hub, I could contribute, because general education is what CGS does. Yet I could also be of service on the General Education Committee by allowing other units at BU to know more about what CGS does best: interdisciplinary, cohort learning. The same is true with respect to diversity and inclusion. Because I was able to be a member of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion Chairs’ group, I could showcase how CGS is working on everything from diversity hiring to inclusive pedagogy. This has been hugely important to me. There are other examples, but the reality is that I always thought my role was to help people within CGS and to help others better understand CGS.

What’s next for you when your term ends?

For the next year I am on sabbatical. All my energies will be focused on two things: writing a book about the Irish writer Maeve Brennan, and fostering a community of scholars, activists, educators and policy makers who will better attend to the needs of people in prison and their children. Just as my roles as Director of CITL and Associate Dean for Faculty Development led me to attend to the various communities that create a college, my research and scholarship have always pushed me to attend to and highlight those literary and material voices most in need of being heard.

-- Compiled by Chelsea Feinstein

My CGS: A Q&A with Tyler Davis

Tyler Davis (CGS ’20, COM ’22) spent her gap semester pursuing her passion – film. An internship with the San Francisco International Film Festival turned into an opportunity to have one of her own short films played at the festival – all before she continues on into the College of Communication to study Film and Television. We spoke with Tyler about her internship, what it was like to know her film had been chosen for the festival, and the trip to Ireland that kicked it all off.

How did you decide that interning at the San Francisco International Film Festival was how you wanted to spend your gap semester? What appealed to you about the opportunity?

Going into the gap semester, I didn’t have a clear plan on how I wanted to spend it, but I did know that I wanted to work on something related to film. I researched film internships in the Bay Area and that’s how I discovered the San Francisco International Film Festival. I was very excited to get hired because SFFILM has great connections in the film industry and hosts incredible filmmakers from all over the world every year, including during their annual festival. It’s an amazing organization, and I knew I was going to be able to get a lot out of the experience.

What was a typical day at your internship like?

I had several different responsibilities as an intern, and every day was a little different. During the week I helped teach stop-motion animation to a 5th-grade class at Jefferson Elementary School in San Francisco. The kids learned the basics of storytelling and then developed their own film, which they brought to life using paper cut outs and an adorable narration. I also worked in the SF Film office researching potential family-friendly short films for the festival to screen during their animated shorts section. I watched a lot of animated films and rated them for age appropriateness. On the weekends I helped host film screenings, mostly of documentary films. I assisted in documenting the film screenings, facilitated live Q&A with the directors and filmed interviews with the artists. Hosting these events was very rewarding because I was able to spend a significant amount of time with the artists, who were from all over the United States as well as different countries like France and Italy.

What were some of your favorite experiences during the course of the internship?

Working with the 5th graders at Jefferson Elementary was very exciting and rewarding since they were all able to work together to create a pretty impressive short film by the end of the class. The majority of the students were new to the art of film storytelling, and it was touching to witness how their excitement for their project progressed as they spent more and more time on it. I really hope some of them were inspired by the experience.

You’ve been interested in film for a long time. Can you tell me about the artists residency you participated in the summer before your gap semester?

Throughout high school I participated in three very different summer programs, one at CalArts in LA, another at Northwestern in Evanston, IL, and an independent residency at Cow House Studios in Wexford, Ireland. I had a transformative experience at CalArts that really fueled my interest in film as a career. Northwestern was an intensive program in which I learned, in detail, about the different roles in film productions. Living in Ireland was definitely the most challenging, however, because it was the first time I was alone with the film camera. I tried a new, experimental form of filmmaking that was very personal.

Tell me about the film you made there.

I made a three-minute short film titled Farewell, inspired by my feelings about leaving home and moving on to college in Boston. I filmed myself on a tripod and played with mirrors and my reflection in order to create different illusions. I then added a voiceover of a poem that I wrote, describing the different memories and experiences that shaped my childhood. I was very proud of the final video since I really struggled working on such an intimate project. A few months after finishing, I submitted it to the Youth Shorts section in the San Francisco International Film Festival, and to my surprise it was accepted!

A still from Tyler Davis's short film, "Farewell."

When you were interning, did you plan to submit your film to the festival? What made you decide to submit?

I did not plan on submitting my film to the festival, especially since it was so personal and experimental. I was actually encouraged to submit by my boss, Hillary. She said they usually receive a wide range of submissions and look for a diversity of style.

What was it like to be featured at the festival?

When I got the news, I was overjoyed and just really honored to have my film selected. The festival happened in April, so I unfortunately didn’t get to go since I was in school in Boston, but my family and some friends were able to see it play at the Roxie Theatre in San Francisco. I get excited just imagining my short film playing in a local SF theatre. It’s so cool because a few months earlier I had been hosting screenings at the Roxie Theatre for established documentary filmmakers and now my own film has played there as well.

What are your favorite parts about filmmaking? What do you find the most challenging?

I absolutely love directing and editing because it is the part of the filmmaking process that brings the story to life. I’ve had the director role on a couple different projects so far and it is definitely a challenging role that comes with a lot of responsibility. Directing can be difficult since you are trying to accomplish everything you envisioned during the pre-production process. I feel like I am able to express the most creativity when I am on set.

Are you hoping to pursue film in the future? What are your plans for after finishing your sophomore year at CGS?

I do hope to pursue film in the future and after CGS I plan on transferring to the College of Communication to major in Film/TV. I love film but I still need to figure out what I want to do in film, so I will get the chance to figure that out in COM.

A still from Tyler Davis's short film, "Farewell."

What opportunities did your gap semester give you that you wouldn’t have had otherwise? How did that internship prepare you for college?

The gap semester was absolutely a gift in disguise. I felt a little left out and lost at the beginning of the semester since my friends were all leaving for college. Once I got an internship with SFFILM, however, that all changed and I started appreciating the opportunity. It’s an amazing (and surprisingly short) time to focus on things that you are interested in and commit to something new and unrelated to school. The gap semester gave me a lot of confidence that I could succeed in the future, maybe with film.

What advice would you give to current and future CGS students about how to make the most of the gap semester?

Focus on something that you are interested in, new or existing, during the gap semester and get as involved in it as possible. It’s the first time in which you have the freedom to explore whatever you want before you go back to school. It’s also a great time to reflect on your life and how you may want to improve moving forward onto college. Having a longer transition between high school and college was definitely rewarding for me, and I am very happy I had the chance to work with SFFILM.

What's next for you in pursuing your passion for film? Do you have anything planned for this summer?

I'm really excited to work on more projects in my upcoming production classes in the College of Communication. I am also currently a pledge in BU's professional film fraternity, Delta Kappa Alpha, which has introduced me to an incredibly driven group of film students on campus. This upcoming summer, I am doing a directed study with the amazing Dean Natalie McKnight that is focused on women filmmakers. I plan to study films written and directed by women in order to identify the unique characteristics of films made by female directors and creators. I will be creating a film at the end of the study inspired by my research.

Students present undergraduate research projects

The Center for Interdisciplinary Teaching & Learning offers undergraduates an opportunity to partner with College of General Studies faculty on research projects. During the Undergraduate Research Forum on Feb. 4, seven students presented their research to Mike Gould, the donor that made that work possible. Gould said to the students, he “wants people to grow and thought this would be an opportunity to challenge yourself.” 

Mike Gould (left), whose gift endowed the Center for Interdisciplinary Teaching & Learning’s fund for undergraduate research projects, speaks with CGS Dean Natalie McKnight.

Dominic Kemmett presented his research work with Peter Busher, which focuses on the relationship between northern water snakes and beaver structures. Over a period of time, he collected data and concluded that beaver structures appear to be a critical habitat for the northern water snake, especially during the late spring breeding season. For his possible future research, Kemmett wants to expand his area of data and focus on an endangered snake species.

Dominic Kemmett (left) presents his research on water snakes.

Caroline Pratt worked with Robin Hulbert to measure the prevalence of MRSA bacteria in the gyms at BU. She continued her research from last semester and decided to test the same four equipment pieces every month in the gyms. She used three different methods to help her analyze and after three months, did not see a trend with the bacteria of the different facilities. Pratt did find that the dumbbell had the most bacteria for every round of sampling. For the future, she is looking into using human subjects. 

Caroline Pratt (right) and Robin Hulbert

Ruslan Crosby worked with Joshua Pederson to design an ethics class with a unique approach. He wanted a class that everyone could take and he wanted the source materials to be interesting. For example, he talked about using books like Peter Pan as a way of demonstrating the concept of hedonism. The course focuses on utilitarianism vs. hedonism, time, and climate change. Crosby said that he learned a lot and now knows what to do better next time, including having clearer objectives and a stronger planning process.

Ruslan Crosby

Adam Lazarchik presented findings from his research with Sandy Buerger on historical remedies that may help to counteract antibiotic resistance. While using plants and fruit as samples, he focused on four types of bacteria. His ultimate hope is that studying historical cures will help develop new antibiotics.

Adam Lazarchik presents his research on historical cures.

Peter Moore, under the guidance of Shawn Lynch, explored neoliberalism globally during the 1980s. He noted that it was an interesting topic as he compared today’s politics with the past. Not only did he learn a lot about neoliberalism, but he also learned about the research process itself and how fluid it is. During his time working with Lynch, he helped Lynch with a paper that will be published in 2021.  

Peter Moore presents his research on neoliberalism.

Katherine Workman and Aanchal Goel, with the help of Sandy Buerger, observed the communication in environmental samples of bacteria from the Charles River and Lake St. Clair and the effectiveness of probiotics. Even though students in the past have done this experiment before, they wanted to redo it and see it for themselves. They concluded that the two bacteria do communicate based on the way they grew. Furthermore, they found probiotics to be less effective than expected.

Left to right: Katherine Workman, Sandy Buerger, and Aanchal Goel

Although not present at the event, Alexander Batt and Chris Coffman were also recognized for their research on the literary identity and improvisational strategies of The Grateful Dead. Batt will be presenting on his work at a conference in Albuquerque, N.M. later this month.

— Story and Photos by Natalie Seara