Social work student Brittany Anderson is among the top honorees from the Charlotte Research Scholar Symposium, where undergraduate students from various fields share projects annually. Anderson’s research surrounding pediatric onset multiple sclerosis landed her first place in the Humanities, Social Sciences, Business, and the Arts category.
The symposium takes place in the Barnhardt Activity Center, just outside of the arena where the University hosts many of its sporting events, which is quite fitting for the mood of this event. Dr. Nathaniel Fried, who directs the symposium each year, compared the feel and atmosphere to that of a big game day, where scholars anxiously compete for the best research project and faculty excitedly judge each poster and presentation.
The Charlotte Research Scholar Program (CRSP) gives undergraduate students a unique opportunity to gain research experience in their interest of study. Anderson, a member of the social work honor program, was looking for an opportunity to gain research experience when she applied to the program.
“I had no background in research so this was a time to not just hear what I should do or just take a test on it, but a hands-on experience.”
After being selected to the program, scholars spend ten weeks throughout the summer working full-time with a mentor to perform research activities and receive professional development training. With this training, students gain valuable knowledge about conducting research, developing an academic resume, and applying for research fellowships and graduate programs.
“Spending a summer around the faculty helped me a lot with applying to graduate school and pursuing my career goals,” said Anderson, who will graduate in May with a degree in social work.
The summer of research culminates in a three-minute presentation at the symposium, where Anderson explained and answered judges’ questions about her project. Her interest in childhood disabilities helped spark the idea for her topic in the CRS program. She centered her research around the untapped area of pediatric onset multiple sclerosis, examining it from a social work point of view with the help of her mentor, Dr. Suzanne Boyd, an Associate Professor of Social Work and faculty member of the Health Service Research Doctorial Program.
“Brittany has been a vital part of the research team as we dive into pediatric-onset MS and the social work role,” said Dr. Boyd. “She has excellent problem-solving and critical thinking skills.”
During her senior year, Anderson continues to gain experience in her concentration of childhood disabilities. She has obtained her Registered Behavioral Technician Certification, which allows her to practice behavioral therapy for children with autism. She has also applied to the Fulbright Scholar program and plans to pursue a Master’s degree in education of childhood autism in the UK.
Faustina Bello-Ongunu, Public Health Sciences Doctoral Student and fellow research mentee of Dr. Suzanne Boyd, placed first at the Graduate Research Symposium in Spring 2018.
by: Anna Henderson