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 11-15 this year. To celebrate undergraduate research and creative activity, we’re highlighting profiles of student researchers.
Major: English and Government
Research Topic: William Lauder’s Impact on the History of Barbados
Faculty Supervisor: Dr. John Rumrich, Department of English
“I have built much stronger relationships with other members of the administration and faculty and have been able to attend research conferences, as well as presented my own research here at The University of Texas at Austin.” — Zachary Garber
Briefly describe your research project.
I was researching a famous literary forger from Scotland, named William Lauder, who forged some poetry and then attempted to claim that John Milton had plagiarized his “Paradise Lost” from the poems Lauder had previously forged. When contemporaries discovered his forgeries and ostracized him, he went to Barbados. Primary documents of the time chronicle his dealings within the Barbados community in an especially unfavorable light; the purpose of my research was to determine if one could confirm (based on corroboration with other primary documents) or deny that unsavory events took place with regards to William Lauder, since the other parties involved became very important to the history of Barbados.
How did you become involved in research?
Entering college, I already had a strong desire to undertake research in anticipation of applying for departmental honors programs, which would require me to write a thesis. I wanted to get involved early, so I contacted the Research Apprenticeship program coordinators in the College of Liberal Arts, who gave me the names of a few professors who were looking for research assistance. I contacted them, and based on my own interests, I chose to work with Professor Rumrich.
What was your favorite part of your research experience?
I really enjoyed getting to meet with my professor one on one and develop a personal relationship with him that has lasted throughout college. Especially as a young freshman, I really gained a lot from his insight and advice, and I have been able to turn to him consistently since then whenever I need some advice. I feel that the personal relationship that I developed with him has been a valuable part of my research (and college) experience.
What doors did participation in undergraduate research open for you?
Both my relationship with my professor as well as my research experience led to my applying for the English Honors program, into which I have since been accepted. I also have built much stronger relationships with other members of the administration and faculty and have been able to attend research conferences, as well as present my own research here at The University of Texas at Austin.
What advice would you give incoming students about getting involved in research?
Get involved early in college, and don’t be afraid to use either university resources such as the Research Apprenticeship program and EUREKA or to contact an individual professor (both for independent research and for faculty-led research). Also, speak to your professors often since they have the research experience and are ready and waiting to pass it on to you.