7 UK Libraries Learning Lab Interns Bound for Global Undergrad Research Conference

photo of 2018-19 Learning Lab interns in King Library lobby
photo of Dealla Samadi working in the SCRC Learning Lab

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 29, 2019) Seven interns in the University of Kentucky Libraries' Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) Learning Lab will represent UK at the second World Conference of Undergraduate Research (World CUR).

These students will travel to Oldenburg, Germany, May 23-25, to present their research, discuss global issues and create an international research partnership. Funding for their travel is provided through the Chellgren Center for Undergraduate Excellence, UK Libraries, Office of Undergraduate Research, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Fine Arts and Lewis Honors College

World CUR has a highly competitive application process and accepted a total of 270 abstracts from around the world. Additionally, only 106 abstracts from North America were accepted. Abstracts by UK Libraries' interns represent 2 percent of international abstracts and 6 percent of North American abstracts.

Bessie Guerrant, associate director in the UK Office of Undergraduate Research, is excited for the group to share their findings internationally. “The aim of this conference is to bring together the world's best undergraduate research and to work on some of the most significant challenges that the global community is facing today. The Office of Undergraduate Research is thrilled that this UK research group was selected and will have an opportunity to share their research, discuss global issues, possibly create international research partnerships, and enjoy and explore the northwest of Germany.”

The UK students will present their research from their work in the Learning Lab, which is a unique inquiry-based learning environment where students learn about archives, archival theories and conduct independent research based on an archival collection of their choice with the help of their mentor.

“Undergrads rarely have this level of supported access to primary sources, however the work they produce is quite extraordinary,” said Carol Street, the undergraduate research archivist who mentors the students.

The following UK students will present at World CUR: ​Katerina Banks, Shelby Clark, Ashleigh Cofer, Jillian Garcia, Elizaveta Khenner, Aaron Reynolds and Dealla Samadi.

Dealla Samadi, a senior honors student from Lexington majoring in neuroscience, biology and French/modern and classical languages, literatures and cultures, examined SCRC's Jean-Paul Sartre manuscript and discovered it was a missing piece of his book "La Reine Albemarle," which was published posthumously without the segment at UK. She published an article about her discovery in the October 2018 issue of the French philosophy journal, Les Temps Modernes. Last summer, she traveled to Rome and Paris to further her research into the manuscript and has created a digital humanities project, which she will present at World CUR. Samadi is planning to attend the College of Medicine at UK in the fall.

Katerina Banks, a junior honors student from Great Falls, Virginia, majoring in music, with concentration in violin, and classics/modern and classical languages, literatures and cultures, analyzed depictions of rural Kentucky within the writings of Kentucky author James Hines, whose collection is found in the James Hines Papers. 

Shelby Clark, a junior honors student from Benton, Kentucky, majoring in history and writing, rhetoric and digital studies, has investigated early Kentucky court records to learn more about property, ownership and legal institutions dating to the beginning of the Commonwealth. Clark plans to pursue a law degree after graduation.

Ashleigh Cofer, a senior from Columbus, Georgia, majoring in history with a minor in French/modern and classical languages, literatures and cultures, examined the William H. Qualls Planning Papers to learn more about the successes and failures of urban planning, particularly low-income housing, in Lexington.

Jillian Garcia, a junior honors student from Humble, Texas, majoring in mathematical sciences with minors in computer science and Jewish studies, researched the SCRC's extensive collection of Lexington Herald-Leader photographs and other newspaper archives to examine bias in reporting significant events during the civil rights movement. She intends to write a computer program to analyze the material.

Elizaveta Khenner, a senior honors student from Bowling Green, Kentucky, majoring in biology and German/modern and classical languages, literatures and culture, used the Joseph P. D'Andrea Papers to study the treatment of refugee children after World War II and compared it to today's treatment in the worst refugee crisis since WWII. Khenner is planning to attend medical school in the fall.

Aaron Reynolds, a senior from Lexington majoring in art history and visual studies with a minor in German/modern and classical languages, literatures and culture, explored Eastern philosophy within the work of the Lexington Camera Club, an influential group of mid-20th century photographers. Reynolds is planning to attend graduate school in curatorial studies at UK in the fall.

Additionally, nine UK Libraries Learning Lab interns recently presented their research at the annual National Conferences on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) held recently at Kennesaw State University. Those students selected to present research at NCUR were: Katerina Banks, Shelby Clark, Ashleigh Cofer, Jillian Garcia, Elizaveta Khenner, Brenna Kirkpatrick, Aaron Reynolds, Zachary Shelton and Shelby Simpkins.

The Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) at UK Libraries sustains the Commonwealth’s memory and serves as the essential bridge between past, present and future. By preserving materials documenting the social, cultural, economic and political history of Kentucky, the SCRC provides rich opportunities for students to expand their worldview and enhance their critical thinking skills. SCRC materials are used by scholars worldwide to advance original research and pioneer creative approaches to scholarship. UK Libraries SCRC is the Archives, the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, the King Library Press, the Wendell H. Ford Public Policy Research Center, the Bert T. Combs Appalachian Collection, the John G. Heyburn Initiative and ExploreUK.