Panhellenic Partnership to Promote Women’s Undergraduate Research

Biomedical engineering PH.D. graduate student Vindhya Kunduru in a biomedical engineering lab at EBIII. When Vindhya Kunduru moved to Raleigh, she had no idea she was going to become an expert on Salmonella, bacterial infections and chickens. Now she's hoping to build a career on them. Photo by Marc Hall

This coming year the office is partnering with the Panhellenic Association in Fraternity and Sorority Life for an exciting new opportunity.

The Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) works to support and promote experiences based in discovery, inquiry, scholarship, and creativity for all NC State undergraduate students. This coming year the office is partnering with the Panhellenic Association in Fraternity and Sorority Life for an exciting new opportunity. In April, Panhellenic Association President, Lexi DeFalco, announced an agreement between OUR and the association in which they will provide one $500 research award for the 2019 – 2020 academic year. Recently, DeFalco sat down to discuss this exciting new partnership.

“It’s been such an incredible experience, and something I never really envisioned for myself,” notes DeFalco. “I always thought of research as being people in white lab coats working with bacteria or chemicals, and I didn’t understand how that could fit into a field like Education.” However, she now views research as a vital part of the undergraduate experience. “To be able to be in a school, doing hands-on work, and working with data as early as my freshman year, it’s been so impactful for me. It’s opened doors and even changed my mind about what I want to do in the future.”

DeFalco, a rising senior in Elementary Education and a member of the Kappa Delta sorority, shared her own experience with research and how it has enhanced her academic and professional outlook. “I was really lucky to get involved with research in my freshman year, and I hope to continue all the way through the end of my senior year, to really get a full four-year experience.”

“It’s been such an incredible experience, and something I never really envisioned for myself.”

Lexi DeFalco

DeFalco explained she has worked with iScholars, a program in the SMART Collaborative within the College of Education which looks to develop a coherent set of instructional practices for teachers and community stakeholders that target motivational needs specific to early adolescents in Durham, North Carolina.

“Lexi’s experience with undergraduate research is exactly what we hope for. It adds knowledge to a discipline while providing the student participant with opportunities for growth and reflection,” noted Annie Carlson Welch, associate director in OUR. “We hope this award not only reduces financial barriers for a student but also advances much needed research in women’s issues.”

Reflecting on her own experiences with research, DeFalco notes, “I think that is what really drove me to develop this award. I want to be able to help provide experiences like this for another woman on campus.” DeFalco envisions the award as a way to promote the Panhellenic Association’s mission of helping women to lead, become empowered, and to grow. “I think there really is a research opportunity out there for every person and for every woman. It’s just finding those experiences that align with your specific passions, interests, and goals. Being able to find it is just so liberating,” she explained. She also hopes other campus groups may take note and work to offer similar opportunities to ensure all undergraduate students have access to impactful research experiences. “I would love to see this continue in the future and even grow with other organizations, so we can continue to promote research within the NC State community.”

“I want to be able to help provide experiences like this for another woman on campus.”

Lexi Defalco

The $500 award will be presented to one student for the upcoming academic year. The award is open to any undergraduate student who identifies as a woman, with preference given to members of the Panhellenic community or students conducting research on women’s issues. To apply for the award students will need to submit a project proposal, a letter of recommendation, and identify an intended research mentor. Students interested in applying for the award should do so by visiting the OUR website to submit their proposal. The deadline to submit your proposal is June 25th.