2020 Library Research Scholars and Adobe Scholars to showcase their research

Designed to offer a unique learning experience, the paid, yearlong program allows students to build on their personal interests while collaborating with University of Miami librarians.

Program coordinators Ava Brillat and Lauren Fralinger-both librarian associate professors and learning and research s librarians-are proud to select from a diverse pool of applicants each year. 

"Students typically apply with an idea already in mind and we then match them with a University libraries’ mentor whose interest aligns,” said Fralinger. "They are truly brilliant students.” 

Normally, the capstone event that recognizes the scholar’s final audiovisual and/or multimedia intellectual project is presented at an event in the Otto G. Richter Library, but it has transitioned to a virtual celebration on Monday, April 27, at 3 p.m., because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Brillat and Fralinger, it has been a "pretty smooth transition” since remote learning went into effect. Though the current circumstances nixed their ability to mingle at a wrap-up affair, they are glad that technology will allow them to maintain the annual tradition.

"Every year, they work so hard and so diligently for two whole semesters and I know the both of us are proud when we go to that celebration event and see their parents, mentors, and friends,” said Brillat. "We did not want to have a year where they didn’t have the same opportunity. Every year it is a lovely celebration, and it’s really an important part where they can showcase the expertise that they gained over the year.”

Since 2015, the senior vice provost, dean of Undergraduate Education, and the dean of Libraries have jointly sponsored the annual trailblazing Library Research Scholars Program for three undergraduates. In 2018, Adobe Systems Inc. established an endowment for two additional undergraduate students to be awarded annually. Because one student left the university in the middle of the program this year, there are four projects being presented.

The upcoming event is an example of the University’s efforts this spring to continue as many of its annual celebrations as possible. Brillat and Fralinger worked closely with the undergraduate researchers  to convert their presentations from the original in-person exhibition to an online version.

"A lot of the things we could switch to make it an online event were explored, and we are happy that it worked out that way,” Brillat said.

Learn more about the scholars and their projects in the following summaries.

Christina Jayaraj, junior majoring in biochemistry

Project Title: Integration of Wearable Technology in Healthcare Systems

Project Description: Health care is an incredibly complex topic that is extremely relevant economically and politically. It is a somewhat paradoxical subject as it affects all, but the entirety of its implications is understood by little to none. In the U.S. system, health care is often directly tied to one’s employment. With the advent of new technology, the divide between the workplace and the personal life of employees has become increasingly blurred. This project, an online research poster, will aim to investigate the integration of wearable technology into the everyday lives of consumers and the impact of this phenomenon on the relationship between employers, health insurance companies, and consumers. 

Mentor: Vera Spika, learning and research s librarian

Brandon Rojas, junior majoring in architectural engineering

Project Title: Revolutionary Change in Havana

Project Description: Following the 1959 Cuban Revolution, the capital city of Havana began to feel increasing Marxist-Leninist influences from the revolutionary government and abroad. These influences would culminate in physical changes in the architecture and urban planning, as collectivist and internationalist ideas would permeate all aspects of city development moving forward. A unique combination of geography and politics, Havana would become a city defined by the ideology that ruled it. This story map will study several buildings and neighborhoods of Havana in order to demonstrate the radical transformation that occurred as a result of the abrupt political change.  

Mentor: James Sobczak, STEM librarian

2019–2020 Adobe Scholars

Noor Khaled, junior majoring in international studies 

Project Title: Interpretations of Free Speech on College Campuses

Project Description: The First Amendment protects five rights-freedom of religion, press, petition, assembly, and arguably most important and relevant, speech. It clearly states that "Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.” On many college campuses, it is often the case that students do not apply these rights. Due to the limitations that COVID-19 has sprung onto our progress, my project will now be delivered in the form of a creative poster that outlines the different perspectives of free speech on college campuses. I will also be presenting to my audience using PowerPoint, in order to deliver the information concisely. 

Mentors: Shatha Baydoun, learning and research s librarian, and Vanessa Rodriguez, head of the Creative Studio

Nhadya Lawes, sophomore majoring in English

Project Title: A Different Image, Another Sound: Resistant Rhetoric and Black Identity

Project Description: Rhetoric is a weapon of the times; it is also our internal remedy. This project leans into an interior perspective about the beauty and complexity of American blackness by looking at how, and in what ways, oppressive rhetoric has been rejected/reclaimed by the U.S. black community across eras. To explore current practices and trends, I am using survey data to examine what informs blackness for generations living in this time. Ultimately, this project will shed light on interior studies of cultural blackhood, shifting the conversation of rhetoric and blackness from one of victimhood to agency and power. My presentation will be in the form of a slideshow and a journal paper for the Richard Macksey National Undergraduate Humanities Research Symposium at Johns Hopkins University.

Mentors: Roxane Pickens, Learning Commons director, and Vanessa Rodriguez, head of the Creative Studio

The Library Research Scholars and Adobe Library Research Scholars online reception is open to the University community. Join via Zoom at 3 p.m. on Monday, April 27.

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