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iLEARN: The Innovative Learning Program of the College of Arts and Sciences

The Center for Innovative Learning (iLEARN) of the College of Arts and Sciences supports a variety of innovative educational programs and undergraduate research activities in the College and its departments. It also serves as a clearinghouse for information about undergraduate research and other innovative learning opportunities, as well as a source of encouragement and support for their further development.

The center helps students complement traditional classroom and laboratory work with enhanced out-of-classroom learning experiences. These experiences represent active learning at its best, tapping students’ creativity, curiosity, and drive. These kinds of opportunities also enable students to apply their knowledge and skill to independent research and other scholarly projects that engage students with current issues, and give them the kinds of experiences helpful in making career choices. Students may choose to earn academic or experience credit.

Exemplary programs:
• Undergraduate Research Program
• The Syracuse University Undergraduate Mock Trial Program
• Ruth Meyer Undergraduate Research Scholars Program

Funding opportunities:
iLEARN has funds available for use by arts and sciences undergraduate students, faculty, and departments/programs for eligible projects. Eligibility is dependent on a project’s relevance to the types of educational activities listed in the mission statement. Inquiries should be made to CAS Advising.

For more information, see Undergraduate Research Program Requirements. Expand the categories below to learn more about research opportunities in various departments.

Art and Music History

Department: Art and Music Histories

Chair: Romita Ray Kapoor

Research faculty (names): Carol Babiracki, Luis Castañeda, Theo Cateforis, Laurinda Dixon, Wayne Franits, Jeehee Hong, Sydney Hutchinson, Matilde Mateo, Stephen Meyer, Gary Radke, Romita Ray Kapoor, Sascha Scott, Amanda Eubanks Winkler

Research interests: Faculty in the department of Art and Music Histories approach the arts in relation to their cultural, social, economic, and political contexts. Some of their research interests include:

  • Period studies in art (Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Eighteenth Century, Nineteenth Century, Modern, Contemporary)
  • Period studies in music (Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romanticism, Modern, Contemporary)
  • Art and Music of the Americas
  • South Asian Art and Music
  • Asian Art
  • Art and Architecture
  • Art and Science
  • Film Studies
  • Gender Studies
  • Music and Dance
  • Music and the Stage (Theater, Opera, Musicals)
  • Popular Music Studies

Undergraduate research opportunities:

Popular Music of the Empire: Victorian Britain

Project Description: This project will investigate the various primary and secondary sources associated with the British Empire in popular musical culture. These include historical recordings, contemporary journalistic accounts, academic studies, sheet music, and much more.

Student Roles/Responsibilities: Working closely with the faculty member, students will develop research skills as they select, edit and annotate source materials in this subject area.

Minimum Qualifications: Students should have completed at least one Music History (HOM) upper elective. Preference will be given to students who have taken HOM or HOA 400/600: Music and Art of Empire.

Sponsor: Amanda Eubanks Winkler, 308 Bowne Hall, 315.443.4584

Sources in Rock Music History

Project Description: This project draws on the various primary sources (“firsthand accounts”) that comprise rock music history since the 1950s: music criticism, journalistic writings, autobiographies, fanzines, congressional hearings, academic studies, oral history and much more.

Student Roles/Responsibilities: Working closely with the faculty member, students will develop research skills as they search for, select and edit primary source materials of their choice in rock music history.

Minimum Qualifications: Students should have completed at least one Music History (HOM) upper elective. Preference will be given to students who have taken HOM 378 (Rock Music).

Sponsor: Theo Cateforis, 308 Bowne Hall, 315.443.4835

Contact information:
Theo Cateforis, 315.443.4835


Academic Program: The Biochemistry Program, leading to the B.S. Degree in Biochemistry, is administered jointly by the Biology and Chemistry Departments.

Chairs: James Kallmerten (Chemistry, interim) and Ramesh Raina (Biology)

Biochemistry advisors: James Dabrowiak,, x4601 and  Sam Chan,, x3182

Research faculty: John Belote, Philip Borer, Mark Braiman, Carlos Castaneda, Joseph Chaiken, Arindam Chakraborty, Samuel H.P. Chan, John Chisholm, Daniel Clark, Heather Coleman, James Dabrowiak, Steve Dorus, Robert Doyle, Scott Erdman, Thomas Fondy, Anthony Garza, Paul Gold, Sarah Hall, James Hewett, Sandra Hewett, James Hougland, Bruce Hudson, James Kallmerten, Ivan Korendovych, Donna Koral, Timothy Korter, Katherine Lewis, Yan-Yeung Luk, Eleanor Maine, Mathew Maye, Melissa Pepling, Ramesh Raina, Karin Ruhlandt, John Russell, Robert Silver, Nancy Totah, Roy Welch, Jon Zubieta

Research in Biochemistry: Biochemistry is the study of the molecular basis of life. Lying at the interface between chemistry and biology, biochemistry is concerned with the structure and interaction of proteins, nucleic acids, and other biomolecules as related to their function in biological systems. As one of the most dynamic areas of science, biochemistry has led to improved medicines and diagnostic agents, new ways of controlling disease, and greater understanding of the chemical factors that control our general health and well-being.

Undergraduate research opportunities in Biochemistry: In order to conduct laboratory research in biochemistry, students enroll in BCM 460 (Introduction to Biochemistry Research) any time from the spring semester of their freshman year to the spring semester of their senior year. Enrolling in BCM 460 involves completion of the form, “Proposal for BCM 460” which is available from either the Chemistry or Biology Departments. The form requires written information from the faculty sponsor/research advisor concerning the nature of the research project. Normally, students enroll for 3 credits per semester but BCM 460 can be taken multiple times prior to graduation.  

Contact information for BCM 460: Cathy Voorhees (Chemistry),, and Deborah Herholtz (Biology),


Department: Biology

Chair: Ramesh Raina

Research faculty: David M. Althoff, John M. Belote, Carlos A. Castañeda, Heather Coleman, Steve Dorus, Scott E. Erdman, Douglas A. Frank, Jason D. Fridley, Jannice Friedman, Anthony Garza, Paul Gold, Sarah Hall, James A. Hewett, Sandra J. Hewett, Donna Korol, George M. Langford, Katharine Lewis, Eleanor Maine, Susan Parks, Melissa Pepling, Scott Pitnick, Ramesh Raina, Mark Ritchie, Kari A. Segraves, Robert Silver, Roy Welch, Jason R. Wiles 

Research interests: The Biology Department is home to faculty who investigate questions in the life sciences ranging from the functions of molecules in cells and during development to the evolution of organisms and their roles in ecosystems. Our department faculty have interests and expertise in many fields, including Evolution, Ecology, Development, Neuroscience, Microbiology, Plant Biology and Epigenetics.

Undergraduate research opportunities: The Biology Department believes that undergraduate research is an important component of an undergraduate education in the Life Sciences and provides a variety of opportunities for students to engage in research with faculty. Each academic year roughly a third of our majors are engaged in undergraduate research experiences in the laboratories of faculty in the Biology Department, other academic departments at Syracuse University with faculty interested in the life sciences such as Chemistry, Physics and Bioengineering, or in laboratories of faculty at SUNY Upstate School of Medicine or SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry campuses which are adjacent to the Syracuse University campus. Undergraduate research opportunities are open to all students and the levels of background coursework or time expectations vary by the research mentor, so students are encouraged to contact candidate research mentors to learn more about expectations of specific mentors. Students can earn academic credit for their research work applicable toward the Biology, Biochemistry and Biotechnology majors via the courses Bio 460 and Bcm 460. Students with appropriate GPAs can also participate in our Distinction Programs for these degrees, which require dedication to a research project over multiple semesters and the generation of an original thesis at the completion of their research. An Undergraduate Research Conference and Poster Session is also held each spring, allowing students the opportunity to gain experience presenting their research.

Contact information: Students interested in conducting research with a Biology faculty member may contact them directly via e-mail to inquire whether they may have undergraduate research openings available in their groups.  For general assistance with the process of identifying a research mentor, students can also contact the Associate Chair and Director of Undergraduate Studies for Biology, Prof. Scott Erdman at

For more information:    Biology Research


Department: Chemistry

Chair:Timothy Korter

Research faculty: Mark Braiman, Carlos Castaneda, Joseph Chaiken, Ari Chakraborty, John Chisholm, Robert Doyle, Daniel Clark, James Hougland, Bruce Hudson, Tara Kahan, Ivan Korendovych, Timothy Korter, Yan-Yeung Luk, Mathew Maye, Karin Ruhlandt, James Spencer, Michael Sponsler, Nancy Totah, Jon Zubieta

Research interests:

  • Biological Chemistry: Biochemistry, Bioorganic/Bioinorganic, Biophysical, Medicinal Chemistry, Biomaterials, Biosensors
  • Inorganic Chemistry: Crystallography, Materials, Catalysis, Organometallics, Nanotechnology, Coordination Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry: Natural Products, Synthetic Methodology, Asymmetric Catalysis, Organometallics, Physical Organic, Materials
  • Physical Chemistry: Chemical Physics, Computational, Theoretical, Spectroscopy, Environmental, Kinetics

Undergraduate research opportunities: Students start doing research in labs (CHE 450 and/or BCM 460, Introduction to Chemical or Biochemistry Research) any time from the spring semester of their freshman year to the spring semester of their senior year.  Many students continue each semester once they start doing research in a lab.  NOTE: At least 3 credits of CHE 450 is required for a BS in Chemistry.

Contact information: Cathy Voorhees,, x4109 or the Main office,, x2925

For more information: Chemistry Research Chemistry Department

Communication Sciences and Disorders

Chair: Karen Doherty

Research faculty: Karen Doherty, Soren Lowell, Linda Milosky, Jonathan Preston, Beth Prieve, Ellyn Riley, Victoria Tumanova, Kathy Vander Werff

Research interests: Research in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders is directed toward improving the evaluation and treatment of human communication and its disorders. Some of the specific areas studied by faculty in our department include speed sound disorders, fluency (stuttering,) voice disorders, language problems, hearing loss in both children and adults, and hearing problems associated with traumatic brain injury.

Undergraduate research opportunities: Potential research opportunities for junior and senior CSD majors with a minimum GPA of 3.5. Opportunities will deped on current projects and availability.

Contact information: Jennifer Steigerwald, Administrative Specialist,, 315.443.9615

For more information: Communication Sciences and Disorders Research


Chair: Dr. Jamie Winders

Research faculty:
Jacob Bendix, Peng Gao, Matthew Huber, Natalie Koch, Susan Millar, Don Mitchell, Mark Monmonier, Anne Mosher, Tom Perreault, Jane Read, David Robinson, Jonnell Robinson, Tod Rutherford, Farhana Sultana, John Western, Robert Wilson, Jamie Winders.

Research interests: The research foci of faculty range from topics in human, environmental, and physical geography, and in geographic information and analysis. Faculty work in a wide array of regions, places and landscapes. Research areas include: culture, justice, and urban space; environmental science and landscape dynamics; geographic information technologies and science; globalization and regional development; nature, society, sustainability; and political economy.

Undergraduate research opportunities: Students interested in geography are strongly encouraged to contact individual facutly to expore research opportunities on their projects.

Faculty research projects: See the Department web page for additional information on faculty interests and research.  Students may also contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies for additional information: Dr. Jane Read,; 315.443.4279.

Students with GIS&T skills: Students wishing to gain experience using their GIS, remote sensing and spatial analysis skills are encouraged to contact Drs. J. Read, P. Gao, or J. Robinson.

Community Geography: The Community Geography Program in the Department of Geography uses participatory methods and GIS to research topics of interest to the local community centered on the following themes: Health Inequality and Disparity; Social, transportation and environmental justice; Neighborhood planning and empowerment; Asset-based community and economic development. Undergraduates broadly interested in these themes participate as research interns for one or more semesters during the fall, spring or over the summer. Students receive 1-3 credits. Specific projects vary each semester. Open to any undergraduate student. Selected students will have a minimum 3.0 GPA. For an application package, email Prof. Robinson at, or phone 315.443.4890. For more information visit the program website.

Contact information: Dr. Jamie Winders,, 315.443.2607.

For more information: Geography, Faculty, Community Geography, Community Geography Students


Department: History

Chair: Michael R. Ebner

Research faculty: Alan Allport, Susan Branson, Craige B. Champion, Andrew W. Cohen, Albrecht Diem, Michael R. Ebner, Carol Faulkner, Jeffrey D. Gonda, Paul M. Hagenloh, Samantha Kahn Herrick, Amy Kallander, George Kallander, Osamah F. Khalil, Radha Kumar, Norman A. Kutcher, Chris R. Kyle, Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn, Andrew C. Lipman, Laurie Marhoefer, Gladys McCormick, Dennis Romano, Mark Schmeller, Martin Shanguhyia, Junko Takeda, Margaret Susan Thompson

Research interests: American, European, and Global History

Undergraduate research opportunities: Wortman Scholarship Fund:  All students may apply who are in a history class such as HST 201 (Research Seminar) or HST 401 (Senior Seminar) and are doing independent research as part of the class or honors thesis (HST 495/496 – Distinction in History) and need funds to travel to a library, visit an archive, or obtain materials.

Contact information: Frances Bockus / / 443-9926

For more information: History 

International Relations

Department: International Relations Program

Chair: Professor Mary Lovely

Research faculty: Mary Lovely, Francine D’Amico

Research interests: Topics in international relations, including international economics, trade, and development, international security and diplomacy, and international law and organizations, in particular human rights.

Undergraduate research opportunities: Each semester the International Relations Program may select 2-3 senior International Relations majors with a cumulative GPA of 3.4 or an IR major GPA of 3.5 and formal training in social science research methods, such as MAX 201, PSC 202, MAT 221/222, or ECN 410, to assist Professors Lovely and D’Amico with on-going projects.  Students register to receive one (1) academic credit for 9 hours research assistance each week during the Fall or Spring semester.

Contact information: International Relations Advisor, 315.443.2306

For more information: Maxwell 


Department: Psychology

Chair: Amy Criss

Research faculty: Kevin Antshel, Benita Blachman, Catherine Cornwell, Amy Criss, Joseph Ditre, Tanya Eckert, Les Gellis, Richard Gramzow, Randall Jorgensen, Michael Kalish, Larry Lewandowski, Stephen Maisto, Brian Martens, Leonard Newman, Tibor Palfai, Aesoon Park, Natalie Russo, Lael Schooler, Peter Vanable, Laura Vanderdrift, Corey White

Research interests: (a) Clinical Health Psychology:  research on the etiology and treatment of addictive disorders; health promotion and coping interventions; bio-psychosocial factors in relation to health; and coping with chronic illness; (b) School Psychology: assessment and intervention research to improve the learning, behavioral, and mental health outcomes among children and adolescents with and without disabilities, emphasizing behavioral, cognitive, and neuroscience perspectives; (c) Cognitive Science: through the use of rigorous methods such as computational modeling and fMRI, and driven by a strong theoretical foundation, research focuses on clarifying the fundamental mechanisms that underlie cognitive processing; and (d) Social Psychology: lab and community-based research on the causes, consequences, and remediation of social challenges; social psychophysiological research; and research on close relationships and health.  

Undergraduate research opportunities: The department encourages research involvement and students are able to earn course credit in exchange for hours spent performing research in a lab supervised by a faculty member in the department.  At the beginning of each semester, a research night is sponsored by the department and faculty members present available research opportunities to interested students.  Students are required to have a faculty member who is willing to provide appropriate research training and supervision.

Contact information: Jessica Shea,; 315.443.1628

For more information: Psychology Research

Public Affairs

Department:  Public Affairs Program

Chair: William D. Coplin

Research faculty: Carol Dwyer, Director of the Community Benchmark Program and Allan Mazur, Professor

Research interests: Research on current public policy topics in a variety of areas like poverty, crime, health, education and on the role of nonprofits and governments in making public policy

Undergraduate research opportunities: 100% of the students complete at least one research projects for a nonprofit or government agency in PAF 315.  They also complete research projects in PAF 410 and in independent studies.

Contact information: Bill Coplin,

For more information: Public Affairs Consulting Community Link Program Benchmarks


Department: Sociology

Chair: Madonna Harrington Meyer

Research faculty and research interests: Dawn Dow – intersectionality (race, class, gender), race and ethnicity, family, sociology of law, qualitative research methods; Cecilia Green – globalization, race, class, gender, colonial development, Caribbean; Madonna Harrington Meyer – aging, life course, health, gender; Prema Kurien – international migration and immigration, sociology of religion, South Asia; Andrew London – health and health care, population studies, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender studies, veterans, aging and the life course; Amy Lutz – race/ethnicity, immigration, sociology of education; Yingyi Ma – sociology of education, transnational student mobility, gender, China; Jacqueline Orr – contemporary theory, technology and science, sociology of the body; Arthur Paris – race and ethnic relations, urban society and policy, non-white popular culture, computing and telecom organization and change; Gretchen Purser – work and labor, urban poverty, ethnography, law and punishment; Rebecca Schewe – environmental and natural resource sociology, rural sociology, food and agriculture; Merril Silverstein – intergenerational relationships, social support and old age care, grandparenting, aging families in the U.S., China, and Europe; Janet Wilmoth – aging and the life course, demography, health.

Undergraduate research opportunities: Dawn Dow – SOC 319/WGS 317 – students conduct self-designed research projects using qualitative research methods; research on the experiences of millennial men of color on college and university campuses; research analyzing magazines marketed or directed to African American women and parents; research analyzing employment discrimination jurisprudence and professional advancement self-help books; Madonna Harrington Meyer – frequent independent studies to allow students to conduct research in areas of their own interests; Amy Lutz – senior thesis seminar (SOC 495) provides an opportunity for senior Sociology majors to complete an independent research project; Yingyi Ma – research opportunities for undergrads in her project on international students; Arthur Paris – for students who have done (or are doing) their semester abroad and are interested in what’s happening in western European societies, and are able/willing to continue to read the serious press from those countries, there is an opportunity to follow the growing problem of asylum seekers from outside Europe as part of an ongoing research project; Rebecca Schewe – opportunities for undergraduate research collaboration on both qualitative and quantitative environmental research projects are available, and research methodological training is offered in SOC 318.

Contact information: Janet Coria,, 315.443.2347