Abigail OsgoodSenior Undergraduate Research Ambassador & Social Media Manager
Year in School: Senior
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Jane Greer, English, College of Arts and Sciences
Ask Abigail a question.
Why is undergraduate research important to you?
Undergraduate research has given me an opportunity to expand upon topics I’ve found interesting in my classes. Instead of approaching assigned research papers as a boring task, I now take the extra time to make sure I explore something I’m truly interested in. With all the opportunities that UMKC offers to undergrads wishing to further explore, present, and publish their research, any research you conduct, in any field, has the potential to turn into something so much bigger than a class assignment.
How did you find your mentor?
I got lucky and happened to take a class with Dr. Jane Greer, the head of Undergraduate Research at UMKC. Her research, which focuses on girls’ literacy practices, closely aligns with my area of interest so I asked her to be my mentor. Since I’ve gotten to UMKC, however, I’ve had many professors who I would approach and ask to mentor me as I move forward with research. If you have a professor whose research you’re interested in and who you have a comfortable relationship with, I would strongly encourage you to ask them for their help. Even if it doesn’t end up working out, there’s a good chance that your professor will have some valuable advice on what your next step should be.
How did you settle on your research topic?
I began my research as part of the class that I took with Dr. Greer. The project assignment was for a class called Girls and Print Culture and required archival research, a task that I had never attempted before. I found my research material, two scrapbooks kept by Nancy Kalikow, a Jewish teenager in Kansas City in the late 1960s, with the help of the archivists at the State Historical Society of Missouri (conveniently located in Newcomb Hall on the UMKC campus- check it out!). After finding the scrapbooks, it was a matter of deciding which route I wanted to take with all the information I had at my hands. Ultimately, I decided to explore how the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization that Nancy was a part of gave her a platform to develop her writing style in a way that many girls at the time were not able to.
What have you gained from the experience?
Most simply, getting involved in UMKC’s Undergraduate Research program has helped me realize that my research is contributing to conversations within the academic community rather than just commenting on an existing conversation. After one semester of research, I already feel like I have a better idea of the work I would like to do for the rest of my time at UMKC and later on in my graduate studies. Narrowing down your interests can be daunting, so getting involved in your own research makes it a lot easier to hone in on what you really want your work to say.