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FUSE grants allow faculty and students to engage in summer research projects

FUSE grant recipient Terry Easton
Terry Easton, an associate professor of English, had his research project, "Singin' the Rez Blues at the Crossroads of Working-Class, Racial, and Ethnic Studies," selected for a 2018 Faculty Undergraduate Summer Engagement (FUSE) program grant.

Ten projects by 14 faculty and staff at the University of North Georgia (UNG), ranging in areas from American literature and art to geospatial technology and anthropology, are recipients for this year's Faculty Undergraduate Summer Engagement (FUSE) program.

Now in its eighth year, FUSE pairs faculty and students together in full-time research projects for seven weeks. Teams then present to other FUSE faculty and peers and receive critical feedback on their findings. FUSE is sponsored by the Center for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (CURCA).

FUSE seeks to support teams of faculty and students conducting focused and meaningful research or scholarly and creative activities from May 14 to June 29. Funded applications are awarded a $4,000 faculty stipend, up to $500 for materials, and the ability to hire a student researcher for seven weeks at 40 hours a week. Faculty may alternately hire two researchers at 20 hours a week for seven weeks.

Dr. Anastasia Lin, assistant vice president for research and engagement at UNG and CURCA director, said oftentimes what starts out as a short-term summer project blooms into more detailed research over the course of many months, leading to discoveries that otherwise wouldn't have come to fruition. 

“The FUSE program seeks to fund innovative research teams of faculty and students to pursue research full time for seven weeks in the summer," Linn said. "We often find FUSE to be an incubator for longer, more detailed, and more extensive undergraduate research as faculty use the intense summer period to jumpstart and/or sustain long-term undergraduate research initiatives.”

Terry Easton, associate professor of English, is a FUSE recipient this year, having applied and being awarded a grant the very first time he applied. He said his research project, "Singin' the Rez Blues at the Crossroads of Working-Class, Racial and Ethnic Studies," is something he has long wanted to pursue.

Easton first heard about the FUSE grants last year from a student who was preparing a proposal of his own and asked for Easton's help. Intrigued, Easton discussed FUSE with his supervisor, Dr. Shannon Gilstrap, associate department head of English, who strongly recommended Easton to apply for a grant.

"I've been wanting to do this for many years, but I haven't had the time to do it, and the stipend allows me to focus on research and writing this summer instead of teaching" Easton said of his research project. "In my mind I knew exactly what I wanted to do, and I think my passion and knowledge of the subject matter showed in my proposal. It helped me focus to put down on paper what I've been thinking about for a long time."

Easton's project focuses on "Reservation Blues," a 1996 novel by Native American writer Sherman Alexie, as a cultural production at the intersection of working-class literature and ethnic and racial literary traditions. Alexie explores the lingering effects of colonization and historical trauma on present-day Native Americans on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Washington.

Working with an undergraduate student to create a research essay to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, the in-depth analysis will enable scholars to see more fully Native American life in its material context while helping frame ethnic and racial literature in terms of working class experiences that shape the narrative.

The student who will collaborate with Easton on the project will attain multiple skills, including how to conduct detailed research and how to present their findings in a number of different formats.

"The student who joins me on this project will learn a great deal about research across several fields of study while analyzing a literary text in a structured way. This will entail scaffolding a process that foregrounds methodical and steady creation any synthesis of knowledge over time," Easton said. "The student will also present our findings, either at conferences, in scholarly publications, online essays and other forms of presentation, either with me or by him or herself t."

Lin agrees that students stand to gain much from the FUSE experience.

“Students gain hands-on research experience, which can lead to other tremendous opportunities," she said. "Two alumni of our 2016 FUSE program are currently abroad on Fulbright scholarships.”

View the complete list of 2018 FUSE recipients here.

For more information on FUSE, visit the website. All FUSE student summer research projects are posted on the UNG student employment webpage.


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