Six UNC undergraduates will tackle independent research projects this summer as 2011 Burch Fellows.
The fellows, announced in March, will receive awards supported by alumnus Lucius E. Burch III to pursue their projects.
Junior Farhana Ahmed said she has a passion for Arabic literature and philosophy.
As a Burch Fellow, the philosophy and peace, war and defense major will travel to Pisa, Italy, to study under a prominent scholar in philosophy and Arabic.
Ahmed said she will work to make Arabic literature available to Western philosophy scholars by translating texts into English.
She said Arabic philosophers’ work often goes unnoticed — but she hopes to change that.
“It’s really easy to get caught up in this dichotomy of ‘us’ versus ‘them.’ I hope to help bridge that gap.”
As the son of missionaries, Burch Fellow sophomore Santiago Beltrán developed a love for community and economic development at an early age.
“I’ve always been into community development, but didn’t know much about sustainable development until I got to UNC,” said Beltrán, a public policy and economics double major.
During summer 2010, Beltrán helped develop FAC Internacional, a micro-loan program in Guatemala. There, he saw a need for micro-savings initiatives to help people learn to save money.
Beltrán aims to use his grant to pursue micro-savings training and to teach financial literacy in Colombia and Guatemala.
“Hopefully through this experience I’ll learn a lot more,” he said.
Bryce Butner, a junior photojournalism and English major, will use his grant to create a documentary exploring a proposed copper and gold mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska.
He said he hopes to raise awareness about the environmental issues surrounding the project, which could decimate the salmon population.
Butner said he first developed a passion for nature through his childhood fly fishing trips. Despite his love of nature, he said he hopes to develop an impartial argument during his month in Alaska.
“It is easy to let passions get the better of you. But I want to present the data very objectively from both sides and let people make their own judgments,” he said.
Matthew Krantz, a junior biology major, will spend his summer in Berlin, Germany, doing research at the Center for Stroke Research at Charité.
After spending last year working in a lab at Duke University, Krantz said he was inspired to further pursue biological research.
He will research ubiquitin proteins and their role in stroke prevention and tumor growth.
He said his inspiration came from his mentors and the researchers he worked with in the lab.
“The people who taught me really made the difference for me,” Krantz said.
Mindy Feng, a junior biomedical engineering major, said she hopes to bridge the gap between humanitarian and engineer with her Burch fellowship.
She will head to Costa Rica and Honduras to fix medical equipment in rural hospitals with the funding.
“In these countries, technicians are not qualified, or they don’t have the resources or money to properly fix the medical instruments,” she said.
She said such programs hold importance for the worldwide medical community.
“This encourages developing countries to reach out to international engineers,” she said.
Kiri Sunde, a junior quantitative biology and mathematics major, will spend 10 weeks in Strasburg, Pa., serving Amish children with disorders as an intern at the Clinic for Special Children.
Sunde will create educational tools about glutaric aciduria type 1, a metabolic disorder with effects similar to cerebral palsy, for Amish families.
Sunde will live with an Amish family with two children who receive treatment from the clinic.
“One day one of my professors mentioned that the Amish make good subjects for genetic studies and it really sparked my interest because that’s a combination of these two things I’m so interested in,” Sunde said.
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