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Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

MSB Summer Undergraduate Research Fellows Present Findings

The McDonough School of Business (MSB)’s Undergraduate Research Symposium showcased projects ranging from India’s socioeconomic issues to food safety Oct. 13 from its Summer Undergraduate Research Fellows (SURF), a cohort of MSB students who spent last summer producing an individual research study.

The fellows, a cohort of MSB students who spent last summer producing an individual research study with the help of a faculty advisor, received up to $6,000 to research topics related to business like the restaurant industry, e-finance and the labor industry. This year’s cohort included 24 students, the largest cohort ever, following a record number of applications. 

Justin Smith, the MSB’s associate dean for strategic initiatives, oversaw the program and said this cohort showed a great deal of excellence due to most not being in the District for the summer, which posed challenges to research from afar. 

“Their remarkable engagement, coupled with the unwavering support from their dedicated faculty mentors, made this cohort truly exceptional,” Smith wrote to The Hoya. “The SURF students’ research this summer was first-rate, reflecting their profound curiosity and scholarly dedication, qualities that resonate with the inquiry we consistently witness among Georgetown students.”

The McDonough School of Business (MSB)’s Undergraduate Research Symposium showcased undergraduate research Oct. 13 from its Summer Undergraduate Research Fellows (SURF), a cohort of students who received up to $6,000 to conduct business related research last summer.

Renzogio Garcia (MSB ’26) spent the summer studying the food safety and health of “ghost kitchens,” restaurants with no physical storefront that solely operate using online orders.

Garcia said the research process gave him the chance to delve into his own interests in the restaurant industry.

“Making your graphs and then seeing whether or not they match your hypothesis or not was the moment where I could see it actually coming together,” Garcia told The Hoya. “I could see I had a project.”

Professor Jason Brennan, who teaches “Moral Foundations of Market Society” at Georgetown University, was Garcia’s faculty advisor throughout the summer. Brennan said Garcia excelled at determining a hypothesis and selecting follow-up questions to drive his research process. 

“What I liked most about his work is that regardless of whether his hypothesis turned out to be true or false (or, more precisely, supported by the evidence or not), it was still going to be an interesting and surprising result,” Brennan wrote to The Hoya. “That means he had a good question. Half of research is figuring out which questions to ask.”

Garcia was one of four students in the cohort to win an Exemplar Award at the symposium, which honors projects that showcase outstanding excellence in their conception, design, execution and conclusions. 

Patrick De Meulder (MSB ’25), Gage Lucken (MSB ’26) and Senoh Koroma (MSB ’25) were also recipients of the award. 

Koroma examined the relationship between racial financial inequity related to health care and the overall financial well-being of African Americans in the United States. Koroma said the amount of people who expressed interest in her findings shocked and moved her.

“I find these issues important for myself because I hold these identities, but people also find it important even if they don’t hold those similar identities,” Koroma added. “It definitely gave me confidence to talk more about Black-centered issues that I was previously a little bit more shy to speak about beforehand.”

Shayna Ellis (MSB ’25) said her own classroom experiences at Georgetown inspired her to investigate the factors that contribute to female students’ participation in undergraduate business classes. 

“I came from a pretty big high school where I always felt comfortable participating in my classes,” Ellis told The Hoya. “And then I came to Georgetown, and I immediately felt some form of anxiety about participating in my business school classes. So I wanted to study that more and see if other women around me and at different schools felt similarly.”

Ellis said that at the symposium, some of the MSB’s deans approached her and requested to involve her research in a series they are holding on inclusion to help professors hear all voices in the classroom.

“I felt like that was like a really nice source of validation and I feel like my research is actually having an impact,” Ellis said. 

Christopher Saca (MSB ’24) studied the usage of El Salvador’s digital wallet, Chivo Wallet and Bitcoin. He recommended that the nation halt investing in Bitcoin in favor of focusing on other strategies to raise disposable income that could help stimulate the economy.

Saca wrote that showcasing his research caused him to realize how far he had come since his initial hypothesis.

“Presenting my research allowed me to appreciate how much progress I made in just 10 weeks,” Saca wrote to The Hoya. “I was excited to present my valuable results and increase awareness of the topic.”

Janani Aparna Sundaram (MSB ’26) investigated the factors that contribute to some of India’s socioeconomic immobility. 

Sundaram wrote that she was inspired by a trip to India she took a year ago, during which she witnessed firsthand the effects of the inequality she had grown up hearing her grandparents talk about.

“Socioeconomic inequality is a very real problem and there are many moving parts that affect it, so getting to take apart some of the major factors and seeing how they each manifest themselves was definitely very important and useful,” Sundaram wrote to The Hoya.

Koroma said her research experience was transformative, especially since she received the Undergraduate Research Symposium Exemplar Award, and she advised students to participate in research and symposiums. 

“That one small conversation we had kind of led up to the accumulation of this award today,” Koroma said. “So definitely don’t be afraid to try something new. And don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and just kind of experience what comes.”

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