The Laidlaw Undergraduate Leadership and Research Scholarship Programme


Partnership with the Laidlaw Foundation

The Laidlaw Foundation partners with world-leading universities, including Columbia University and University College London, to select up to 25 outstanding undergraduates at each institution annually for the Laidlaw Undergraduate Leadership and Research Scholarship.

To date, over a thousand scholars have completed the program.

Eligibility and Rules

  • Applicants must be currently enrolled at Georgetown University as either first year or sophomore students from any major.
  • Potential Laidlaw Scholars are eager to conduct meaningful research in their academic area of interest while expanding their leadership skills. Applicants with no prior research experience are particularly encouraged to apply.
  • The Laidlaw Scholars Program is an equal opportunity to all current Georgetown University undergraduates regardless of immigration status.
  • Students must have a Georgetown Supplier ID established at the time of application. (If possible, it is best to select the ACH/direct deposit option.) If you previously applied for a Supplier ID, check that it is still active on the website of the Office of the Chief Financial Officer. If the Supplier ID is inactive, you will need to apply for a new one.
  • Summer research grant awards administered by the Center for Research & Fellowships, including the Laidlaw Scholars summer research, cannot be used for academic course credit. 

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Program Details

  • Summer 1: Scholars undertake an independent, faculty mentored 6-week research project after receiving the scholarship.
  • Academic Year following Summer 1:
    • Scholars participate in leadership development workshops and seminars during the academic year between the first and second summer.
    • Scholars participate in an ethic masterclass designed and facilitated through the Oxford Character Project.
  • Summer 2: Scholars participate in a 6-week Leadership-in-Action experience in the second summer after receiving the scholarship. The project must have a defined objective and benefitting a group or community in need. Students may develop their own project or apply to work with a partner program through the Laidlaw Foundation.

As part of the Laidlaw Scholars Program, scholars receive:

  • Stipends amounting up to $3,900 per summer
  • Housing during the Research Summer period
  • Access to global networking through the online community network, Laidlaw Scholars Network

Application Timeline and Information

Application Opens: November 1, 2023

All Materials Due: Thursday, February 1, 2024 at 12:00pm (noon) ET

Cohort Selection Announced: March 2024

Cohort Induction Ceremony: April 2024

Summer 1- Research Summer: June 2024 – July 2024

Leadership Development Program: September 2024 – April 2025

Summer 2- Leadership-in-Action Project: Mid-May to Mid-August 2025

Applications for the Laidlaw Scholars Program must be submitted in a single .pdf via a Google form application. A Laidlaw Scholars application consists of the following:

  • Completed Google form application (Note: The Google form application is where applicants will upload their combined .pdf document including, in this order, the cover sheet, research statement, leadership essay, resume, and transcript.)
  • Completed cover sheet
  • Short Answer Question – Identify three goals for your development as part of the Laidlaw Program. Each response must be maximum 50 words and submitted via the Google form.
  • Research statement (max. 600 words) – Applicants should select one of two project options
    • Self Proposed Project: The statement should include a proposed project of study, the significance of the project in relation to the field, project methodology, relevant credentials. Applicants self proposing a project should use this proposal template.
    • Apply to a Faculty Member’s Project: Applicants can select from the list of faculty proposed projects below. Faculty members will review application materials and shortlist candidates for selection through the review process. Students applying to a faculty member’s project should use this project proposal template.
  • Leadership essay (500 – 750 words) – Applicants may use this template to respond to one of the three following prompts: 
    • Option 1: What connections do you see between research and leadership? How have those connections become apparent to you so far in your academic, professional, or personal experiences?
    • Option 2: Who is a leader you look up to (not related to you) with a trait you would wish to emulate? What is that trait and why do you believe it is important to use as a leader?
    • Option 3: How would you define “ethical leadership”? Why is it important to develop leadership skills rigorously informed by ethical principles?
  • Resume – 1 page, 12 pt. font
  • Transcript (may be unofficial)
  • Academic, Leadership or Character Recommendation Letter – The letter of recommendation should come from one best poised to recommend you for an intensive, cohort-based, leadership and research development program. Select an individual who knows you well and can attest to the qualities that make you a valuable member of a student-scholar community.
    • Only one recommendation is required though additional recommendations may be submitted on behalf of an applicant. All recommendations must send their letter to by the application deadline
  • Faculty Mentor Information- A faculty mentor is not required at time of application. However, applicants must identify a faculty mentor by the start of your summer research period. If you have concerns or questions about identifying a faculty mentor, please contact the CRF at
    • A faculty mentor provides direct mentorship during the summer research project. They recommend the project proposal and review the final outcome. Applicants are highly encouraged to provide a draft of their proposal to their faculty sponsor before the deadline with ample time for revisions. A letter of support can be submitted separately by the faculty member by the deadline.

Faculty Proposed Projects

For the 2024-2025 Laidlaw Scholars Cohort application, the Center for Research & Fellowships is piloting an option for students to apply to research projects proposed by Georgetown University faculty members. Students interested in applying to faculty member projects should complete the Faculty Member Project Application Research Statement as part of their application materials. Project information can be found in the drop down menus below.

Social Science Projects

Faculty Member Information
Faculty Supervisor Name: Dr. Anita Gonzalez
Faculty Supervisor Department:
Performing Arts and African American Studies; Racial Justice Institute – President’s Office
Faculty Research Focus/Interest:
African American Performance and Folklore (theater, dance, music and history)
Faculty Supervisor Email:

Project Details
Project Title: African American Resiliency in the British Caribbean
Project Summary:
The research project involves ethnographic and folk research on Afro-Caribbean cultures on Cat Island, one of the “Out Islands” in the Bahamas. The 50-mile-long strip of land situated between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea is considered by some to be the first landing site of Christopher Columbus and is the birthplace of the actor Sidney Poitier. The aim of the research is to map – through storytelling, foodways, music and archival research – how Caribbean histories intersect with the experiences of Black populations in North America. We will focus on environmental connections between food sustainability, and vernacular culture along coastal waterways. Students will travel to the Bahamas and meet with local Bahamian cultural experts. They will interview them about their experiences and those of their ancestors. After researching the history of the region, students will participate in discussions about culture, food, and music and their contribution to rural Bahamian lifestyles. Students will learn skills of cultural immersion and cross-cultural communication. They will learn how to develop and present a research project based upon oral histories and field research. They will learn how culture, and particularly Bahamian culture contributes to the resiliency of Black communities who have survived migration and enslavement in the Americas.

Laidlaw Scholar Responsibilities: Students will:
1) Research the geography and history of the British Caribbean and its settlement with a focus on the Bahamas in general and Cat Island in particular.
2) Become familiar with Cat Island/Bahamian cultural practices of the carnival festival or Junkanoo, musical traditions of “rake and scrape,”/soca/marching band, agricultural practices in salt flats, Anglican missionary practices, Bahamian educational systems and Bahamian cooking styles.
3) Travel to Cat Island in the Bahamas between June 4 and 14th, 2024.
4) Learn about ethnographic inquiry and interview methodologies.
5) Develop interview questions about food, environmental, and cultural practices that they will use to conduct at least 10 interviews with Cat Island residents during the research immersion.
6) Transcribe, edit, and upload the interviews to an externally facing website.
7) Participate in meetings and discussions about the project and participate in a follow-up webinar or public event about the project.

Expected Scholar Deliverables:
1) oral-recordings and transcriptions of interview with at least ten residents of Cat Island
2) a written blog about the student’s experiences on the island
3) participation in a webinar or event during the Fall 2025 semester that describes their role in the research.

Do you expect this project to run longer than six weeks? No

Project Requirements or Skills:
1) Audio recording and photography skills.
2) Oral communication skills (a people person) and flexible approach to intercultural exchange.
3) An interest in history or cultural migrations or environmental sustainability.

Faculty Member Information
Faculty Supervisor Name: Dr. Michael Parker
Faculty Supervisor Department:
College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Office
Faculty Research Focus/Interest:
Biosecurity policy
Faculty Supervisor Email:

Project Details
Project Title: Inspiration from Down Under – The Role of the Australia Group in US Biosecurity Policy
Project Summary: The Australia Group (AG) is an international cooperative of forty-two countries and the European Union that seeks to levy coordinated export control to limit proliferation of chemical and biological weapons. As a member of this group since its inception in 1984, the United States has significantly shaped, and been similarly shaped by, the evolution of these efforts throughout time. In evaluating biosecurity policy regulations of the United States, the AG’s influence is evident but fragmented. This project would seek to better understand the role of the AG in US biosecurity policy decision making throughout time, and to compare and contrast the evolution of export control agreements and legislative/regulatory action in the US. To accomplish this, we will review historical records available online, consult governments of both the US and Australia to obtain currently non-public records, and perform interviews with representatives to the AG. The results of this work are likely to compile important historical information for the biosecurity community, divulge critical information about the influence of international collaboration on domestic biosecurity policy decisions, and provide insights into how policy might evolve moving forward.

Laidlaw Scholar Responsibilities:
1) Background research on the Australia Group’s origins, history, and modern undertakings. Primarily done on computer, but may require reference to physical texts at times.
2) Working mostly independently (100% virtual), but with weekly check-ins (via Zoom) to discuss progress and to define new work.
3) Drafting of outlines and manuscripts to describe findings.

*Possible travel to Paris for the annual Australia Group meeting during summer 2025 at the discretion of the Faculty Supervisor.

Expected Scholar Deliverables:
1) A shared Google Drive folder with organized provision of all collected and produced work from the summer
2) A collection and detailed bibliography of relevant documents on the topic
3) Interview transcripts from discussions with government officials
4) A rough draft of a methods section for an eventual manuscript
5) An outline of an eventual manuscript

Do you expect this project to run longer than six weeks? Flexible, see Additional Notes below.

Project Requirements or Skills:
1) Detail oriented and organized
2) Ability to take feedback and directions and to not only follow through, but to innovate beyond the instructions
3) Genuinely interested in the topic of biosecurity policy and non-proliferation

Additional Notes: While 6 weeks would be fine as a start, the project would benefit from a full summer’s work, or continuing longer-term. Students will have the option to continue with the project longer term at the discretion of the Faculty Supervisor.

Faculty Member Information
Faculty Supervisor Name: Dr. Yuki Kato
Faculty Supervisor Department:
Faculty Research Focus/Interest: Environmental and Food Justice, Urban Studies
Faculty Supervisor Email:

Project Details
Project Title: Multi-generation local food provisioning in American cities
Project Summary: Long before the “farm to table” concept gained popularity in the 21st century, there have always been folks growing food for themselves and their community in most American cities. They were mostly Black and immigrant growers whose ancestors passed on their knowledge for growing and procuring food, for survival and subsistence in the context of discrimination and oppression, but also for demonstrating collective efficacy and preserving cultural heritage. Yet so little of this tradition and legacy has been officially or systematically recorded, in contrast to the widely supported contemporary “urban agricultural” movement, whose most visible leaders are white, college-educated, middle-class urbanites. This owes partially to the termination of the local food provisioning praxis within BIPOC communities sometime during the late 20th century, often resulting in the impression that growing food at a scale is “new.” This project aims to resist this cultural erasure by identifying archival and official records that uncover the scope and scale of urban food production to understand who were growing what, for whom, and why, while also identifying those who are continuing the tradition to this day. In doing so, the project specifically focuses on “folk” practice that are not government-sponsored or activist-driven.

Laidlaw Scholar Responsibilities: The scholar will assist in identifying approximately 30 individuals across the US who are currently growing food or otherwise locally procuring food (e.g., fishing, harvesting, animal husbandry) for the purposes beyond private consumption, as a continuation of their family tradition. The scholar will engage in a brief, initial “intake” interview of the potential study participant to gather their family history, location, to facilitate the faculty member to conduct an extended research interview starting later Summer 2024. The scholar will also assist in archival and official data identification and search for the project. The scholar will gather information on relevant historical events, official records, geographical data, for the selected cities where the in-depth analysis will take place. Currently Washington, DC, and New Orleans, LA, have been identified. Depending on the site selection process by the time the scholar starts the work, they will also assist in identifying additional research sites, especially in conjunction with the individuals they will be identifying, as described above.

Expected Scholar Deliverables: The scholar will provide a list approximately 30 potential interviewees for the larger project (as described above in the Scholar Responsibilities), along with their location, demographic and family information, current scope and scale of food provisioning practices, and their relationship to the local food movements. The scholar should provide rationale for the selection of the individuals on the list and clarify their selection methodology in writing, including any challenges they experienced. For the archival and official data analysis, the scholar should present the identified data in an organized manner that will facilitate the analysis by the faculty member.

Do you expect this project to run longer than six weeks? No

Project Requirements or Skills:
1) Independent and innovative data search
2) Comfortable reaching individuals they have not met (with cultural sensitivity)
3) Qualitative and quantitative data organization (light coding and spreadsheet)

Additional Notes: Ideally located physically in DC for the local data collection (archive, interview).

Faculty Member Information
Faculty Supervisor Name: Monica Sanders
Faculty Supervisor Department:
Georgetown University Law Center
Faculty Research Focus/Interest: Legal issues in disasters and climate change
Faculty Supervisor Email:

Project Details
Project Title: Ten States Project – Law and Equity Map of Baltimore, MD
Project Summary: We are examining the climate risk in ten U.S. Gulf and Mid-Atlantic states. With the exception of Texas and Virginia, they have some of the lowest GDPs and are under-performers in general measures of climate mitigation. Further — the majority of African-Americans, 60%, live in these states ( By looking at the access to information, risk awareness and ability to mitigate of those who are among the most divested and marginalized populations, we can better understand preparedness and mitigation planning for marginalized groups . This process alone will lead to a particular data set of climate risk, digital divestment, and governance failures that can be scaled to better understand the intersection of risk and divestment on other marginalized groups facing similar complex risk profiles. For example here is what the nexus of race, connection, and lack of access to opportunity: looks like for different groups. The summer 2024 part of this project is to be done in Maryland with prior partners in Baltimore. We will “equity map” parts of the city. This means looking at access to public resources and funding to address climate impacts and compare that access across neighborhoods. The whole team will be looking at risk data, such as heat, contamination and flood risk information about areas with the least equitable access. The summer scholar will look at state and local legal instruments and policies, with some federal programming, that can help the community address these issues.

Laidlaw Scholar Responsibilities: On a daily basis, the scholar will be working with Prof. Sanders (PI and org leader) and another faculty mentor on research and community engagement. The initial phases of the project will focus on: 1) foundational research, 2) getting to know the community, 3) project design and 4) primary social and legal research. At roughly the two two-week mark, project members will engage in 1) community visits and interviews and 2) identification of internal and external assets. The final two weeks will be 1) creation of a draft product(s), 2) validating with research team and community and 3) finalizing work product. Team members will work with the student to develop a work plan with suggestions about daily foci and weekly goals. During the time of the program, the scholar will also have opportunities to connect with the team at their Alexandria and Navy Yard locations for project and partner collaborations. Prof. Sanders’s team will be working on a leadership Masterclass around the same six weeks. Each of these will present leadership and engagement opportunities in addition to the research work if the student is interested.

Expected Scholar Deliverables: Scholar will produce a briefing paper of no more than ten pages that is accessible and useful to our community partners. As a matter of practice, Prof. Sanders’s team also break papers down into visualizations that are easier to communicate and leverage in advocacy work. The research team can work with the scholar on how to produce these kinds of accompaniments. The work will be shared with the community and added to the larger dashboard that is part of the project.

Do you expect this project to run longer than six weeks? No

Project Requirements or Skills: Strong interest in law and impacts on divested communities, understanding of social science and some familiarity ( I will also teach) legal research, willingness to work on an interdisciplinary team and understand how future lawyers can engage with other practitioners.

Additional Notes: To understand the larger project, a basic understanding of visualizations and GIS would be helpful, but not necessary.

Faculty Member Information
Faculty Supervisor Name: Dr. Nadia Brown
Faculty Supervisor Department:
Government; Women’s and Gender Studies; African American Studies
Faculty Research Focus/Interest: Black women’s politics (electoral)
Faculty Supervisor Email:

Project Details
Project Title: Bridges: Black Women Lawmakers in Identity-Based Caucuses
Project Summary: By centering Black women lawmakers, our project sheds light on the way in which institutions and identities interact with one another. In the tradition of intersectionality research (see Hancock 2007), we recognize that institutions and identities, though often studied as separately by scholars, in fact engage with one another in meaningful ways. When we also focus our attention on marginalized communities, such as Black women, then we begin to see things, uncover truths about American politics that otherwise would remain invisible, unseen. More broadly, with the creation of the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls and with the split of the Maryland’s Women’s Caucus—the oldest such caucus in the country—along partisan lines, we are in a new era for identity-based caucuses. In this new era, single-axis caucuses are no longer doing enough to help lawmakers achieve their goals, and as a result, we are seeing fracturing and the emergence of new groups that will allow Black women to do just that. That said, Black women are not uniform in their beliefs. While they share an experience of being Black women in institutions that are raced and gendered (Hawkesworth 2003), they also have different ideas about how to navigate these spaces.

Laidlaw Scholar Responsibilities: Coding and analyzing archival data collected from the Congressional Black Caucus Archives; coding social media posts from Black women state legislators; cleaning up zoom interview transcripts with Black women legislators

Expected Scholar Deliverables: Completing the assigned data related tasks. Possibly developing an annotated bibliography

Do you expect this project to run longer than six weeks? No

Project Requirements or Skills: independent, self starter, organized, administrative skills, has had experience with data analysis software

Faculty Member Information
Faculty Supervisor Name: Dr. Melanie White
Faculty Supervisor Department:
African American Studies; Women’s and Gender Studies
Faculty Research Focus/Interest: Afro-Caribbean Studies, Central American Caribbean
Faculty Supervisor Email:

Project Details
Project Title: The Black Central Americas Project: Phase I – Mapping Black Central America
Project Summary: The Black Central Americas (BCA) Project is a digital public humanities initiative established in 2023, with a core mission of exploring and advancing the rich tapestry of Black Central American history, culture, and scholarship. The project is designed to provide a transdisciplinary and transnational platform to foster discourse and host innovative programming in the burgeoning field of Black Central American Studies. Through a Black feminist and community-collaborative framework, the BCA Project embraces the inherently digital and ephemeral nature of Black Central American diasporic culture and knowledge production and centers themes of migration, movement, and displacement. “Mapping Black Central America,” the first phase of our initiative, entails designing an innovative and interactive mapping platform to illuminate the histories, cultures, and intricate patterns of movement and migration of Black and Black Indigenous Central American communities across Central and North America. Our digital map will serve as an invaluable resource, resonating with historians, sociologists, anthropologists, artists, and non-traditional and independent scholars alike. Our primary objective is to place a spotlight on Black Central America and its dynamic diasporas within Caribbean digital scholarship. In bringing Black Central America and its underrepresented narratives to the forefront, we aim to bridge a longstanding critical gap in Caribbean Studies.

Laidlaw Scholar Responsibilities: Conducting research into the diverse histories of Black Central American communities; conduct interviews and oral histories with community members, scholars, and artists to be spotlighted in digital map; transcribing interviews; assistance with web design and map development

Expected Scholar Deliverables: Conducting at least 5-10 interviews; compiling at least 5-10 site-specific research reports

Do you expect this project to run longer than six weeks? No

Project Requirements or Skills: Organized; Self-driven; ArcGIS and/or web design skills a plus

STEM Projects

Faculty Member Information
Faculty Supervisor Name: Dr. Kenneth Tercyak
Faculty Supervisor Department:
Oncology and Pediatrics, Georgetown University Medical Campus
Faculty Research Focus/Interest: My primary interest is in public health and the prevention and control cancer, with a focus on studying the impact of environmental, modifiable lifestyle, and genomic underpinnings of risk across the lifespan. My lab also develops, implements, and evaluates novel interventions for children, adolescents, adults, and families to reduce the burden of cancer and improve quality of life–and to do so equitably in under-resourced communities. Please see our website for more details:
Faculty Supervisor Email:

Project Details
Project Title: Multiple Approaches to Supporting Breast Cancer Survivors & Women with Metastatic Breast Cancer
Project Summary: Approximately 13% of women in the US will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetimes. Women face formidable challenges posed by the threat of living with or being at increased genetic risk for breast cancer, with attendant disruptions to their physical and mental health, overall quality of life, and social and economic well-being. As a Laidlaw Scholar, the student will have the opportunity to participate in a national demonstration and evaluation project focused on the prevention and control of breast cancer, propose and conduct a secondary analysis on archival data from a multi-year program evaluation to support women at risk for and surviving with advanced breast cancer, and engage in community outreach and education programming with medically at-risk communities. This opportunity will expose the student to public health research, and extends the learning to the local community, and at the national and policy levels.

Laidlaw Scholar Responsibilities:
1) Prepare, conduct, and summarize the results of a directed medical literature review
2) Develop a research hypothesis about/plan to test the hypothesis using secondary/archival data available to the project (using student-friendly statistical software)
3) Participate in weekly team/lab meetings to learn more about public health and cancer control and prevention research
4) Participate in community outreach and engagement activities in the local area focused on cancer prevention
5) Attend national webinars on select topics of interest and participate as part of the core data evaluation team.

Expected Scholar Deliverables: The scholar will be expected to present their research as part of a student seminar series, and will be encouraged to also prepare a poster for submission to a professional meeting in the area of public health.

Do you expect this project to run longer than six weeks? No

Project Requirements or Skills: Interest in health, medicine, public health, and/or healthcare. Familiarity with data in spreadsheets. Strong written and verbal communication skills.

Additional Notes: If the scholar is interested in continuing to conduct research in the lab, opportunities to extend the work may be available.

Faculty Member Information
Faculty Supervisor Name: Dr. Jan LaRocque
Faculty Supervisor Department:
Human Science, School of Health
Faculty Research Focus/Interest: DNA repair
Faculty Supervisor Email:

Project Details
Project Title: Mechanisms of DNA Double-Strand Break Repair
Project Summary: Our genomes are inundated by DNA damage that threatens the integrity of our genome. The inability to maintain our genome can lead to tumorigenesis and cell death or developmental defects and premature aging in multicellular organisms. One type of damage that impacts our genome is DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs). There are many factors that determine how these DNA DSBs are repaired. This project will use genetic and molecular biology tools to investigate factors (genetic, developmental, sex, environmental) that influence accurate and efficient repair of DSBs in a model organism, Drosophila melanogaster.

Laidlaw Scholar Responsibilities: Students will learn basic fly husbandry (collecting flies based on genotypes/phenotypes) that they will utilize on a daily basis. They will also learn molecular biology techniques such as genomic DNA extraction, PCR, DNA purification and Sanger sequencing analyses.

Expected Scholar Deliverables: Student will be expected to be able to apply the techniques that they are taught in a semi-independent manner by the end of the project. Samples may be prepared ahead of time for analyses by the student, which will culminated into a complete data set.

Do you expect this project to run longer than six weeks? Yes

Project Requirements or Skills: ability to follow detailed instructions, ability to think critically about data interpretation, ability to focus on the project

Additional Notes: Project may be able to be modified to be completed in six weeks, although continuing research throughout the academic year is encouraged

Faculty Member Information
Faculty Supervisor Name: Dr. Sarah Stewart Johnson
Faculty Supervisor Department:
Biology; Science, Technology, and International Affairs
Faculty Research Focus/Interest: Astrobiology
Faculty Supervisor Email:

Project Details
Project Title: Looking for Life “As We Don’t Know It”
Project Summary: The Johnson Lab’s research is driven by the underlying goal of understanding the presence and preservation of biosignatures within planetary environments. We’re also involved in the implementation of planetary exploration, analyzing data from current spacecraft and devising new techniques for future missions. We are looking for a new Laidlaw Scholar to assist with our Laboratory for Agnostic Biosignatures (LAB) project. As we search for life on other worlds, the idea of “life as we don’t know it” presents a formidable challenge. As we proceed deeper into the solar system, the chance that life shares a common ancestor with Earth diminishes. The Scholar will help advance one of LAB’s concepts for life detection: harnessing the power of nucleic acid sequencing to yield intricate informatics fingerprints, even for life that is not nucleic acid–based. The concept is based on the fact that folded nucleic acid structures (aptamers) are capable of binding a wide variety of compounds, whether inorganic, organic, or polymeric, irrespective of being from a biotic or abiotic source. Without presupposing any particular molecular framework, we hope this new agnostic approach to life detection could be used from Mars to the far reaches of the Solar System, all within the framework of an instrument drawing little heat and power.

Laidlaw Scholar Responsibilities: The Scholar will assist a postdoctoral fellow with bench experiments, data analysis, and reporting results.  The Scholar will also work in a collaborative manner with researchers at NASA Goddard, UT-Austin, and the Santa Fe Institute.

Expected Scholar Deliverables: The Scholar will put together a research report at the end of the summer, including archiving all data generated on our shared data repository.

Do you expect this project to run longer than six weeks? Yes, there are possibilities for continuing research in the lab.

Project Requirements or Skills: A strong interest in astrobiology, molecular biology and/or coding experience a plus!

Faculty Member Information
Faculty Supervisor Name: Dr. Sreejith Nair
Faculty Supervisor Department:
Oncology; Biochemistry; Cell and Molecular Biology; Pharmacology and Physiology
Faculty Research Focus/Interest: Gene regulation in cancer and development
Faculty Supervisor Email:

Project Details
Project Title: Evaluating the roles of cellular RNAs in gene regulation
Project Summary: Gene regulation is a fundamental biological process critical for normal cellular function. Defects in this process are a common feature of many diseases, including cancer. One major project in our lab aims to identify the role of cellular RNAs in gene regulation. Biochemical and computational tools will identify gene-regulatory RNAs. Students will engage in cutting-edge research to unveil novel mechanisms governing gene expression. The training involves a comprehensive immersion in contemporary biomedical research tools. Participants will formulate and test a hypothesis by applying these skills to address pertinent research queries. The experiential journey includes hands-on involvement in various techniques, such as mammalian cell culture, gene reporter assays, quantitative real-time PCR, confocal microscopy, and DNA cloning. The overarching goal is to equip students with proficiency across all facets of biomedical research, instilling the passion and knowledge to embark on an exciting career in science. Through this immersive journey, we aim to inspire the next generation of scientists, fostering a deep commitment to advancing our understanding of the biology of health and disease.

Laidlaw Scholar Responsibilities: The Laidlaw scholar will participate in all aspects of biomedical research. This includes formulating research hypotheses, identifying specific questions to test the hypothesis, designing the experiments, performing the experiments, recording and analyzing the data, interpreting the results, and presenting/publishing the results. Collaborative synergy will be fostered as students work alongside other dedicated scientists within the lab. Students will engage in dynamic discussions, participate in lab meetings, give research talks, provide feedback on other people’s work, and contribute to scholarly publications. Beyond the research arena, scholars will actively contribute to the day-to-day operations of the lab, participating in various lab responsibilities. To further enhance critical thinking and analytical skills, scholars will be tasked with reading and presenting research articles as part of a journal club. This exercise aims to cultivate the critique skills necessary for evaluating and appreciating the nuances within a body of scientific work.

Expected Scholar Deliverables: The scholar will assume responsibility for executing all planned experiments throughout the project lifecycle, meticulously analyzing the results obtained, and presenting the data during lab meetings. Additionally, the scholar will be tasked with crafting a comprehensive project report formatted as a scientific manuscript. This document should encapsulate the entirety of the research endeavor, providing a detailed account of methodologies, results, conclusions, and the future directions for the project.

Do you expect this project to run longer than six weeks? Yes

Project Requirements or Skills: Critical thinking, team work, problem solving

Faculty Member Information
Faculty Supervisor Name: Dr. Steven Singer
Faculty Supervisor Department:
Faculty Research Focus/Interest: Parasitic infection and immunology
Faculty Supervisor Email:

Project Details
Project Title: Virulence determinants in giardiasis
Project Summary: The intestinal parasite Giardia lamblia is a major contributor to growth failure in children in developing countries. The specific mechanisms that cause growth failure, however, are poorly understood. This project will examine numerous proteins secreted by the parasite which may contribute to this disease. The scholar will learn to produce and purify recombinant proteins using bacterial and fungal expression systems. The function of these proteins will be examined using a combination of biochemical, genetic and immunological assays. Most work will be performed in vitro using cell culture morels, however there is a possibility of participation in animal experiments as well.

Laidlaw Scholar Responsibilities: Initially, the scholar will work closely with a doctoral student to produce and purify recombinant proteins. This involves culturing bacteria (or sometimes yeast), collecting cells by centrifugation, breaking open the cells using a combination of chemical treatments and mechanical force, and then purifying the desired proteins using affinity resins (the proteins are all tagged with a sequence that binds tightly to beads coated with nickel). The entire process will be monitored using gel electrophoresis and western blotting approaches.

Expected Scholar Deliverables: By the end of the summer, the scholar shuold produce a short report detailing the optimal methods for protein expression and purification. The report shuold include examples of data generated showing and quantifying pure proteins. Ideally, some functional characterization of the proteins will also be performed and documented.

Do you expect this project to run longer than six weeks? Yes

Project Requirements or Skills: Should have some basic knowledge of Biology and a strong desire to learn more. Previous experience in a lab setting is highly desirable, including knowing how to use micropipets. Student should be able to use a balance and graduated cylinder to (given a recipe) make basic biological growth media and buffers.

Additional Notes: Enthusiasm!

Faculty Member Information
Faculty Supervisor Name: Dr. Heidi Elmendorf and Dr. Alexandra DeCandia
Faculty Supervisor Department:
Faculty Research Focus/Interest: Biology/Microbiology
Faculty Supervisor Email:;

Project Details
Project Title: The Role of the Microbiome in Anthropogenically-Altered Environments
Project Summary: Microbes (bacteria and fungi) have fascinatingly diverse metabolisms and are integral to the function of all ecosystems. Understanding the composition of microbial communities (microbiomes) helps us better understand how they are affected by changes in the environment and how they also act to effect changes in the environment. This knowledge has broad applications from medicine to climate change to agriculture to pollution. This is an on-going research project, and it takes a broad scientific approach to understanding the composition and function of microbial communities: from molecular biology to biochemistry to community ecology to bioinformatics and genomics.

Laidlaw Scholar Responsibilities: The Laidlaw Scholar will spend time in the field collecting environmental samples. They will also conduct bench research, ranging from standard microbiological techniques (culturing, staining, and microscopy) to molecular techniques (DNA isolation, PCR, gel electrophoresis) to data analysis (bioinformatics, coding, statistical analyses). In addition to doing research, the Laidlaw Scholar will also spend time reading and discussing the scientific literature and participating in scientific seminars as both a respondent and a presenter. Laidlaw Scholars will be expected to keep an accurate and detailed scientific notebook. Each week they will submit a brief report summarizing their intellectual and project progress. Applicants do not need to already have mastered these skills and will receive mentoring and instruction.

Expected Scholar Deliverables: The Laidlaw Scholar will be expected to write a formal research report (~ 2000 words) and give a 20-30 minute presentation.

Do you expect this project to run longer than six weeks? Yes

Project Requirements or Skills: A successful Laidlaw Scholar will: (1) Be methodical and precise in their research, (2) Ask questions when they need to and act independently when they feel able to, and (3) Be persistent in the face of the inevitable technical difficulties in research!

Additional Notes: Successful applicants will need to have successfully completed one or more of these courses: BIOL-100, BIOL-1203/1213, BIOL-1204/1214, or HSCI-1030.

Faculty Member Information
Faculty Supervisor Name: Dr. Martha Weiss
Faculty Supervisor Department:
Faculty Research Focus/Interest: Plant-insect interactions, Community ecology
Faculty Supervisor Email:

Project Details
Project Title: Impacts of periodical cicada mass emergences on ant ecosystem functions
Project Summary: The once-in-a-generation aboveground appearance of billions of periodical cicadas provides a region-wide resource pulse that satiates an entire community of consumers, and in so doing, offers an unparalleled opportunity to document the effects of these pulses on the inner workings of forest ecosystems. Ants are key participants in forest food webs worldwide, not only in terms of their numerical abundance and collective biomass, but also because they play critical ecological roles, acting as scavengers, predators, ecosystem engineers, mutualists with both plants and phloem-feeding insects, and prey for a wide range of animals. In summer 2024 we will be traveling to a network of forest preserves near Chicago to study the responses of the local forest ant communities to the cicada bonanza that appears once every 17 years. We predict that most ant species will quickly alter their foraging behaviors to capitalize on these sudden bounties of protein-rich insect prey. These foraging shifts, in turn, are likely to disrupt a range of important ant-mediated ecosystem functions, including dispersal of spring wildflower seeds, protection of plants from herbivores, and aphids from parasitoid attack. Taken together, the results of this study will provide some of the first insights into how periodical cicadas (and biomass pulses more generally) perturb invertebrate-based interaction webs and how long these perturbations persist.

Laidlaw Scholar Responsibilities: The scholar will join a team of researchers in conducting a range of behavioral and ecological observations in forest preserves near Chicago. Potential projects include monitoring removal rates of seeds and flies from bait stations, quantifying cicada oviposition on host trees, observing ant-aphid interactions on herbaceous plants, and mapping interactions between co-occurring ant foragers. The research will be largely field-based, but will also involve laboratory work and data analysis. The project will take place on Georgetown’s campus and in the northern Chicago area.

Expected Scholar Deliverables: The scholar will participate in all aspects of field research, including experimental design, original data collection, data entry, and data analysis and visualization. A final report on one aspect of the research program that the scholar was most involved in will also be submitted to the supervising PI.

Do you expect this project to run longer than six weeks? No

Project Requirements or Skills: The scholar must be a good team player, enjoy working outside in a field environment, and be able to focus on collecting high-quality data and observations over extended periods of time.

Additional Notes: Exact field dates are yet to be worked out, but the project will likely be broken into two 3-week research chunks. Continued research on the Georgetown campus will likely be possible.

Upcoming Workshops

RSVP for our upcoming information sessions here. Zoom links will be sent at least 24 hours prior to the event. Information sessions will include an overview the program, including the main components of the program, this year’s application materials, and general expectations of Laidlaw Scholars. Open House sessions allow potential applicants to drop in for group advising sessions. These sessions are less structured to allow potential applicants to ask questions about the Laidlaw Scholars Program. 

Hybrid meetings will include both a Zoom link and a location on Georgetown’s main campus for those who wish to attend in person. Recordings will be posted to the CRF website. 

  • Information Sessions
    • Wednesday, November 15, 10:00am (In-person)
    • Thursday, November 30, 12:00pm (Hybrid)
    • Friday, January 26, 10:00am (Hybrid)
  • Open House Sessions
    • Tuesday, December 5, 1:00pm – 3:00pm (In person)
    • Wednesday, December 13, 2:00pm – 4:00pm (Zoom)
    • Thursday, January 11, 3:00pm – 5:00pm (Zoom)
    • Monday, January 29, 2:30pm – 4:30pm (Hybrid)

View a recorded information session about the Center for Research & Fellowships 2023 research programs.

RSVP for our upcoming information sessions here. These workshops are designed to help you craft your application materials. Each workshop will be recorded and posted to the CRF website below and under our Workshops and Webinars section. 

  • Wednesday, January 17, 10:00am – Undergraduate Research and the Institutional Review Board (IRB) Session #2 (Zoom)

In addition to the workshop recordings offered below, the CRF highly encourages individuals interested in the Laidlaw Scholars program to review our Canvas course on developing a research project.

2023 – 2024 Application Cycle Workshop Recordings

2022 – 2023 Application Cycle Workshop Recordings 

  • Laidlaw Info Session: Link here
  • Laidlaw Application Materials: Link here
  • Getting Started with Research: Link here
  • Cultivating Faculty Relationships: Link here
  • Summer Funded Research Opportunities: Link here
  • The Literature Review: Link here
  • Writing Your Leadership Essay: Link here
  • Designing & Formatting Resumes for Fellowships: Link here

To stay up to date on all information concerning the Laidlaw program, contact to be added to the listserv.