For Timna Medovoy, research has given her the opportunity to focus and personalize her undergraduate education. Through her research, she has been able to explore interests of hers that were not covered in her classes, develop new skills, and focus her educational and career goals. In recognition of her passion for her project, Timna was awarded the 2015 Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research for the School of Social Sciences.

1. What is your specific area of research (include the name of your faculty and/or laboratory)?

I study Middle East politics and I chose to focus specifically on leftist youth politics in Egypt following the 2010 uprising, assessing changes in both their political views and their perception of their role in the political sphere. I completed this research under the guidance of my esteemed faculty mentor, Dr. Cecelia Lynch.

2. When and how did you first get involved in research?

After studying abroad in Cairo, Egypt twice, once through UCEAP and once through a language program, I was inspired by the passion and commitment young people had for political causes and ideologies and the love and loyalty they had for their country despite so many tragic setbacks in the short years following the revolution. In my senior year, I decided to begin exploring some of the questions I had encountered on my trips in a more academic and methodological way - I approached my faculty mentor and began the process of narrowing down the specific questions I wanted to be asking.

3. How has research enhanced your education?

Research has enhanced my education in a tremendous way. As an undergraduate, there is a limit to how specialized your classes will be. But research opportunities, like those made available by UROP, gave me the opportunity to tailor my education to exactly what I wanted to be studying. It taught me how to connect conceptual academia to individual narratives and it taught me the value of being creative in our academic pursuits—being strong critical thinkers. Of course I learned about how to construct a formal research paper, how to conduct interviews and collect data and fill out an IRB application, (all valuable and transferable skills) but most importantly, this research project and the support from UROP gave me the opportunity to go beyond books and articles and go to the source of my research, to be able to hear people's stories directly and gain an appreciation for the nuance and complexity which are so often skimmed over.

4. What has been your favorite experience with research (include any interesting stories or specific events)?

My favorite experience with research would have to be one particular interview I did while in Cairo. While many of my interviewees spoke in broad generalities, there was one interviewee I met towards the end of my research. This individual exhibited by far the most passion and determination of any of the interviewees and proceeded to outline a detailed political strategy he hoped to implement on a wider scale. His enthusiasm and desire to share and explain everything in such depth was a very gratifying and informative experience.

5. What are your future plans and how has being involved in research helped to prepare you to meet your goals?

Following my research, I began an internship at a foreign policy think tank in Washington, D.C., so for obvious reasons, my research experience helped me immensely in developing the skills necessary to be an effective researcher and gave me some unique background for the subject areas I would end up working on. In my future I hope to continue studying and working on Middle East politics, and this experience, while narrowly focused, has given me a great point of comparison when learning about different populations and social movements across the region. Additionally, in an ideal future job, I would like to be able to combine academia with field work in the region, and being involved in research solidified my view that the two in tandem have a much greater capacity for relevancy and influence than either do on their own.

6. What advice would you give to a student interested in pursuing a faculty-mentored undergraduate research project or creative activity?

My biggest point of advice would be not to be afraid of changing your research question many, many times. Expect your assumptions and premises to be challenged and refuted and recognize that even the questions we ask can often be misguided because of gaps in our understanding. Discovering those gaps is part of what makes research so exciting.

Past Researchers of the Month

Dec. '15 Ka Hei (Eric) Chan
Nov. '15 Timna Medovoy
Oct. '15 Soraya Davia
Sep. '15 Amanda Nili
Aug. '15 Soo Song
Jul. '15 Tian Harrison
Jun. '15 Rommel Santos
May. '15 Mariyah Saiduddin
Apr. '15 Angel Rodriguez
Mar. '15 Sarah Tang
Feb. '15 Jay Tolentino
Jan. '15 Yuhao Ma