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Research Program Gets Its First Cohort

By Antoaneta Tileva

SIS News Olson Scholars 2014

This coming academic year will mark the start of the Olson Scholars Program at AU’s School of International Service. The program is a living memorial to William Olson, former Dean of SIS, whose dedication to the mentoring of students was renowned and greatly appreciated by numerous students over the years.

The Olson Scholars Program recognizes high-achieving undergraduate students as they enter their sophomore year at SIS and provides a structured, challenging, and supportive environment for them to have the opportunity to pursue advanced work in international studies under the close supervision of a member of the SIS faculty.

Each Olson Scholar is matched with a SIS faculty mentor whose research and professional interests closely correspond to the student’s own passions and vocational goals. The faculty mentor guides the student through the research project that the student will work on over the course of the year.

Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education Patrick Jackson explained that the goal of the program is “to identify students that have a real interest and passion for doing research and can produce the kind of knowledge to affect things in the real world.”

The inaugural class includes eleven rising sophomores with diverse research interests:

Anne Shannon - ethnic conflict in East Africa, especially in the Rwanda and Congo

Emily Dalgo – international meanings of the American dream 

Erin Bovee – identity, state building, and globalization 

Erin Campbell – empowerment through education in Honduras and how education can be a form of development 

Gabrielle Hasenstab – demography as a predictor of European countries’ alignment with the United States or Russia 

Gretchen Cloutier – gang activity in Latin America 

Jay Zameska – small states in the international system 

Madison Freeman – international business and Turkish national identity 

Pedro Vigil, Jr. – Latin American politics 

Rhys Leahy – the People’s Mojahedin of Iraq and U.S. foreign policy, especially counterterrorism  

Trent Burns – the role of culture in international relations