Office of Undergraduate Research

Drop Shadow

Keck Faculty Fellows


USD's aim to establish faculty/student research and creative inquiry as a distinguishing feature of an undergraduate education at USD has been supported by a W. M. Keck Foundation grant.  From 2011-2015 the Keck Faculty Fellows Grants (FF) were availableto foster the development of student-faculty collaborative research programs. The Keck Faculty Fellows Program provided one-year fellowships to faculty who have not been involved in undergraduate research with an emphasis on faculty in disciplines that have little or no access to external funding or formalized programs to support undergraduate research and scholarship. Keck Faculty Fellows received funding to conduct research or scholarly work in collaboration with an undergraduate student of their choice. They also engaged in a number of professional development activities related to mentoring and undergraduate research and learning. Information about the recipients and their research projects can be found in the 2011-2015 Keck Faculty sections below.

In line with the mission, vision, and strategic directions of the University, the Office of Undergraduate Research has partnered with the Mulvaney Center for Community, Awareness and Social Action (CASA), and the Changemaker Hub (Hub) and the Center for Inclusion and Diversity (CID) to support Community Based Research (CBR) projects.   In the 2015/2016 academic year two types of Community Based Research Development Grants (CBRDGs) will be available to faculty, administration and staff; a yearlong curricular development grant and a yearlong co-curricular development grant.   Both are designed to support faculty, administration and staff that are interested in incorporating research and undergraduates into their community relationships. For more information about the CBRDG's please visit the CBRDG webpage. 

2015 Keck Faculty Fellows

Dr. Julia Cantzler - Sociology
Student Fellows: Sterling Fearing, Hailey Gordon and Angela Marie Hessenius

Study to Increase Student Engagement and Mobilization in Sustainability Issues

Dr. Susannah Stern - Communication Studies
Student Fellow: Victoria Valdes

Study on the Experience of Invasions of Networked Privacy by Teenagers and Young Adults

Dr. Karma Lekshe Tsomo - Theology and Religious Studies
Student Fellow:  Rosalie Plofchan

How a Woman’s Religious Beliefs Carry into her Role as a Peacemaker and Activist

2014 Keck Faculty Fellows

Dr. Halina Duraj - English
Student Fellow: James Bennett

Boundries, Binaries and Language: An Experiment in Bilingual Fiction Writing

As the title suggests, this project represents an effort to produce fiction in two languages: English and Spanish.  It consists of a collection of original short stories that I have written and translated from English to Spanish or vice versa. These pieces are varied thematically and bisected linguistically. They push against each other with sharp edges and proclaim disunity. But they unite through the transgression of the same lines that divide them: linguistic, textual, international, and those limiting demarcations of readers we call expectations. The various settings will roam from an Argentine metropolis to a hospital in San Diego to a grave in Baja California, all the while exploring the lines that construct our reality, the lines that, every now and then, intersect.

Dr. Maura Giles-Watson - English
Student Fellow: Desiree Palmer

Shakespeare's Richard III as Pick-Up Artist

This paper offers an approach to a long-standing interpretive problem in Shakespeare's "Richard III", namely, Richard's seduction of Anne in Act 1, Scene 2, and her response to his manipulation. In this scene, Anne escorts the corpse of her father-in-law, Henry VI, past Richard, Duke of York, who murdered both her father-in-law and her own husband. In just 207 lines of dialogue between Richard and Anne, Anne transforms from hating him venomously to agreeing to marriage. Taking into account treatments of this scene by critics including Zauderer (2011), Schalkwyk (2010), Phillippy (2002), Oakes (1999), Sanders (1998), Larocco (1995), and Waller (1986), this paper analyzes the actions and effects of Richard's seduction scene by focusing on elements of Richard's physical and verbal behavior toward Anne that mirror specific techniques employed by the "PUA (pick-up artist) community" a seduction community that inhabits the internet, bars, and literature.

Victoria Fu - Art, Architecture, Art History
Student Fellow: Mike Van Mierlo


Mellowdrama is the underlying conflict of nature versus society. In this visually represented sound scape, an unsuspecting antagonist is documented anlong with auditory stimuli created by man and nature to createa coxing dialogue. This dialogue exists in the form of water and the unnatural movement of machines and the sounds they produce. Water is the primary focus as the oculus explored in different forms, both natural and man-made. Stillness and the absence of visual stimuli are exploited in Mellowdrama to heighten auditory receptivity. Mellowdrama does not follow a cinematic, Hollywood-style narrative but it does have linearity to it. We follow the human representation through a series of scenes and she is juxtaposed with her reality. The antagonist feels distant from the viewer, and as innocent as she may seem, we are all responsible.

2013 Keck Faculty Fellows

Dr. Erik Fritsvold - Sociology
Student Fellow: Sophia Bolt

Crime Unmasked: An Expert’s Guide to Protecting Individuals, Families and Communities from Crime

This project would support a book in progress tentatively titled Crime Unmasked: An Expert’s Guide to Protecting Individuals, Families and Communities from Crime. Within the field of contemporary criminology, there are two arteries of research that are central, and often presented as largely distinct: debunking and victimology. This proposed book seeks to bridge the gap between these areas of scholarship to create a useful guide to crime issues forscholarsand non-scholars alike. The media, politicians, and sometimes even law enforcement often have vested interests in portraying the crime problem in particular ways. Accordingly, the evidence suggests that the public discourse about crime focuses on sensational and atypical cases. Thus, many more typical, yet less sensational crimedynamics remain less visible: white-collar crime and crimes committed by friends, family and acquaintances for example. Under the umbrella of pragmatism, this book seeks to correct many of these media-driven misconceptions about crime.

Dr. J. Michael Williams - Political Science and International Relations
Student Fellow: Tenaya Miller

Understanding the Development of Democracy in Africa: The Importance and Role of Education.

This research project examines the ways in which politics is practiced in weak state democracies. In particular, to understand how citizens respond to this chronic lack of delivery and ways in which they pressure the government to respond to their needs. This research focuses on the interactions of the government and civil society and provides insight on whether weak state democracies are able to maintain political legitimacy, and if so, how this occurs. While public education is the main focus for this year, this is a broad ranging project that will examine a variety of other public goods in the future.

Dr. David Sullivan - Communication Studies
Student Fellow: Aeron Hall

The Construction of Gender Identity in Reality TV Shows

This project explores how reality television programming in the U.S. provides meaningful discourse about gender that, in the face of actual and symbolic challenges to traditional gender distinctions in politics, reinscribes heteronormativity. Popular reality series that focus on relational conflict and competition provide, or encode, narratives by which viewers, especially fans of such shows, decode meanings that help them to negotiate their own gender identity at a time when normative conceptions of gender are in great flux. Project data include thematic analyses of two gender-specific texts: The Real Housewives franchise, which features women cast members is produced primarily for a female viewership, and The Ultimate Fighter, which features men in mixed martial arts competition and targets a male audience.In addition, survey data inform thematic analyses of audience responses to these shows.

2012 Keck Faculty Fellows

Dr. Jonathan Bowman - Communication Studies
Student Fellow: Connor Sullivan 

Effects of Partner Distraction and Amount of Individual Information on Task and Relational Achievement

The purpose of this factorial experiment was to determine whether or not dual-tasking has a connection with communication outcomes including the features of the intimacy of communication. Additionally, this project scrutinizes whether participants’ knowledge that someone is preoccupied has a direct influence on the conversation being carried out. In the study, individuals’ abilities to hold a conversation with a close friend while distracted by an outside factor, as well as their abilities to accomplish a task while at the same time being attentive to a conversation though a telephone, may influence a wide variety of communication outcomes. When looking at the intimacy of these conversations among friends, this study raises the question whether one’s ability to connect in conversation is diminished when someone is doing an additional task (and is distracted). This study discusses whether playing a video game has a negative effect on communication quality, and whether one’s knowledge of said distraction changes conversational participant’s evaluation of a distracted game player.

Dr. Lisa Nunn - Sociology
Student Fellow: Kelsey Perry

Intelligence Identity in Three California High Schools

This project is based on statistical analyses examining relationships between students’ perceptions of their own intelligence, and how they perceive other school-related factors including fairness of grading, whether their grades give a good picture of their intelligence, and whether they feel smarter inside or outside of school. Our findings indicate that the school you attend matters for such factors, as do the grades you receive. But such school related factors are only predicting less than half of what makes up your intelligence identity, so this project investigates this issue further to see what affects students’ understandings of their own intelligence.

Dr. Joe Schlichtman - Sociology
Student Fellow: Ian Gibson

Film as a Sociological Research Method

Allison Weise - Art, Architecture, Art History
Student Fellow: Noe Olivas

Untitled: A Rolling Social Sculpture

The past year I have been working diligently with my team to transform a working utility vehicle – a 1967 Chevy step-van P30 – into a slick art institution. The vehicle will serve as an alternative and unconventional, yet utilitarian, space, which will not only allow artists to exhibit their own art, but will also enable them to display their art around the city. The project, Untitled Space, finds inspiration across a menu of high and low art traditions that have fueled my recent work, such as Mexican-American car club low-riders; rat-rod and custom car culture in Southern California; the avant-garde conceptual sculpture of contemporary artists like David Hammons and the street art movement of the last 25 years. These influences have formed my aesthetic language, and are conveyed through both the vehicle’s exterior and interior. The project is not yet completed; the exterior and interior are still in progress. Currently, the vehicle is in the process of receiving air-bag suspension. The purpose of the air-bag suspension is to lower the vehicle for easier access, as well as to reference the Southern California low-rider culture. The materials of the air-bag suspension were funded by the Fall 2012 A.S. grant. The conversion of the interior is on hold until all the mechanical labor is completed, as we are working with grease and do not want to stain the new interior. Once the mechanical labor is complete, the interior will be outfitted with all the trappings of a contemporary art institution: hardwood floor, white walls and a miniature track-lighting system.

2011 Keck Faculty Fellows

Dr. Daniel Lopez-Perez - Art, Architecture, Art History
Student Fellow: Jacob Bruce

Blurring Borders: A Neighbor-Hood/ Rise Plan for Downtown San Diego

Student Fellow: Sou Fang

From Spheres to Atmospheres

Looking through Buckminster Fuller’s architectural designs for domes, we analyzed, categorized, reconstructed, and even deformed his original works - many of which were never formally produced. From this, we created a book incorporating our efforts in understanding Fuller and his domes.

Student Fellow: Devon Morris

Perversion of Preservation

An analysis of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites with their relationship between tourism, history, and the urban fabric of the city.

Dr. Monica Stuff - Theatre Arts
Student Fellow: Molly Maslak

The Performativity of Punk: Construction, Performance and Redefinition of the Punk Identity

The development of Punk in the 1970s was a departure from previously established aesthetics concerning sound, style and performance. I use a performative methodology as a way of looking at Punk as something which was created as it was performed. Existing secondary sources have begun to acknowledge Punk as both a music genre and a performance genre; I build on this to analyze how the Punk sub-culture was established via performance of the Punk identity, and argue that the state of the Punk identity can be observed in various stages of construction, performance and redefinition. The value of the Punk identity in the shaping of the sub-culture, and the creation and performance of that identity is the focus of my research. I have studied archival materials and performance footage in London and Liverpool, and conducted an interview with a former Rolling Stones journalist to support my analysis.

Dr. Lori Watson - Philosophy
Student Fellow: Shauna Riley

Sexual Education in the United States