Undergraduate Research

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Allison Matous

Allison Matous
“I had never administered my own research and was surprised how much I enjoy working on my project.”

Faculty Supervisor: Dr. Sheldon Ekland-Olson, Sociology

How did you initially get involved in research?

I examined Sociology professors’ Curriculum Vitae, and I chose Dr. Ekland-Olson based on his work. I reached out to him to be a research assistant, and he suggested I conduct my own research instead.

Briefly describe your research project.

My study concentrates on the last statements of prisoners who have been executed in Texas since 1982. This research involves an extensive coding scheme with nearly 20 variables, including the prisoner’s race, age, and ethnicity as well as the themes in the last statements such as religion, remorse, family, anger, and an overall assessment of the justice system.

What was the most rewarding part of your research experience?

The most rewarding part of my research experience was being selected to present my findings at the Liberal Arts Undergraduate Research Reception. Furthermore, meeting with Professor Ekland-Olson one-on-one and developing a relationship has been gratifying. Working on a unique and extensive project is satisfying as well.

How has participating in research affected your undergraduate experience?

Other doors have opened up by participating in research. Outside of the classroom, I assist a doctoral student with data collection for a windshield survey as part of Dr. David Kirk’s Restore Rundberg project. Restore Rundberg was designed to combat crime challenges and neighborhood distress and to revitalize the Rundberg neighborhood.

What surprised you during the research process?

I had never administered my own research and was surprised how much I enjoy working on my project. At first I was overwhelmed at the thought of analyzing 493 last statements, but I frequently lose track of time when I work on my research.

What advice would you give to incoming and current students about getting involved in research?

My advice is the sooner you begin during your undergraduate career, the better. As a result, many doors will open that will benefit you as a student. I would also recommend researching a topic you have plenty of interest in, because you will spend a lot of time working on it.

Research Week showcases the exciting work of undergraduates across campus and highlights opportunities for students interested in getting involved. Co-sponsored by the Senate of College Councils and the School of Undergraduate Studies, Research Week takes place April 15-19 this year. Take a look at the online schedule of events to find out more about Research Week events. To celebrate undergraduate research and creative activity, we’re highlighting five profiles of student researchers.