Students Spend Summer Exploring Research

Posted On August 7, 2013
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This summer, students from Georgia State University and several other public universities took part in the Georgia State University Community-Soil-Air-Water (CSAW) Summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Program, funded by The National Science Foundation and the Georgia State University Honors College. The CSAW Summer REU gave students the outstanding opportunity to participate in a seven-week intensive research program.

With a focus on community geography and university-community relationships, this

Eric Main and Dr. Timothy Hawthorne setting up for Eric's CSAW presentation

Eric Main and Dr. Timothy Hawthorne preparing for Main’s CSAW REU presentation

REU is a groundbreaking experience for undergraduates in the United States.  Undergraduate researchers, working in one of three research tracks, spent time this summer working together and with top professors to examine different community issues like neighborhood change, air and soil quality, urban, and neighborhood visioning.

After hearing of this amazing research opportunity, two Honors College students, Garrett Young and Eric Main, were eager to take advantage of the experience.

Garrett Young, a rising senior majoring in Geography, worked on a project titled “Race and Housing: Atlanta’s Housing Issues” under the leadership of Dr. Katherine Hankins and Dr. Andy Walter.  This paper examines the effects of several different infrastructural issues on the African-American population in Georgia.  From examining the Atlanta race riots in the early 1900’s which led to massive foreclosures and job losses to exposing wrongful bank practices through sub-prime loan lending, Young wished to display how racially divided the state of Georgia, and particularly Atlanta, remains.

“It was awesome being a part of such a self-guided experience,” Young stated when asked about his summer spent as an undergraduate researcher, “I had to learn everything from how to do the mapping to how to approach the community organizers.”

Through this experience, Young was thankful for his ties to the Honors College. “I am excited to transform this work into an Honors thesis and I am so grateful for the funding I received from Honors. It made me feel like someone really believed in the work I was doing.”

Eric Main, a senior majoring in Geography, has worked as a part of a cooperative effort on a project called “Whose Green Space is it Anyway?” under the leadership of Dr. Timothy Hawthorne, Dr. Leslie Edwards, John Steward, and Jack Reed.

Main and his group members studied the Beecher Hills Lionel Hampton Nature Preserve in Southwest Atlanta.  They studied the various factors that community residents believe impact access, usage, and neighborhood perceptions.

“This experience was absolutely wonderful,” Main said, “After years of working in the world of business, I wish I had pursued this major from the beginning.”

Main is also excited about the other opportunities he will gain as a member of the Honors College. “I just recently became involved with Honors and I can’t wait to do more. I was so touched by their investment in my research. It makes me want to give back.”

Dr. Timothy Hawthorne

Dr. Timothy Hawthorne

The Department of Geosciences hopes to continue hosting similar types of research opportunities for undergraduate students. Dr. Hawthorne, Georgia State professor and research leader, stated, “For me, the most exciting part was seeing students engage in a truly community-based research opportunity.  It gave them a chance to use their research skills and technology in the real world. We would like to give many more students the same type of opportunity.”

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