Mount undergrads find new research space on campus

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They wanted a space to call their own. A space dedicated to undergraduate research — run by students — that fosters academic excellence and success while simultaneously gaining real life skills.

And that’s exactly what the students at the College of Mount Saint Vincent got.

Members of The Mount’s sophomore class collaborated with the school’s Fishlinger Center for Public Policy Research to open the Riverdale Avenue college’s first student-oriented research center. Officially, it’s known as the Fishlinger Center for Undergraduate Research, but students already are shortening that to a more familiar “UG Center.”

The Mount established Fishlinger Center in 2015 to broaden public policy research and analysis. The UG Center is independent of the main Fishlinger department, but is inheriting the space to become the first student-run research platform at the college.

The center makes room for 25 computer workstations as well as a virtual component that includes a website designed by Mount junior Syeda Anjum. It includes past research projects conducted by Mount students and faculty in the new facility, as well as resources for someone to start their own research.

Sophomore class president Wantoe Teah Wantoe spearheaded the movement, bringing some of his classmates on board. Wantoe worked closely with school administrators, as well as Fishlinger Center director Matthew Archibald.

“I’m very excited for this project,” Wantoe said. “I’ve seen a lot of research first-hand as an international student, so this project means a lot to me.”

Research at the center is wide-ranging and multidisciplinary, Wantoe said, with an aim to publish original content while reflecting new and innovative discoveries and contemporary issues in public policy, natural science, environmental issues and international development, among others.

Mount sociology professor Omar Nagi was one of the educators who spoke at the research center’s Oct. 30 launch, talking about how it would benefit generations of Mount students to come.

“A lot of people say your career begins after you graduate college,” Nagi said. “But your career begins now, in college.”

The Mount’s center is unique because at most other colleges, research centers are dedicated solely to graduate research, Nagi said. Opening the doors to undergrads provides those same resources, but just much earlier in academic pursuits.

The UG Center received support from the non-profit organization Net Impact, which pushes to educate undergrads about the fiscal and economic challenges facing the United States. Grant money from Net Impact paid for the building and the center’s website.

“We’ve done something amazing here at The Mount,” Wantoe said. “All we need now are students who are eager to research and enhance their knowledge.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Intern Christina Rasmussen is a student at the College of Mount Saint Vincent.

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