Augusta University awards fellowships for undergraduate research

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Palak Patel, a senior pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Health Services, received a CURS fellowship for her research, "Racial Segregation and COVID-19 Health Outcomes: Evidence from the State of Georgia."

Augusta University’s Palak Patel has already made school history. Patel, who is planning to attend the Dental College of Georgia, is the first recipient of the Center for Undergraduate Research and Scholarship‘s Fellowship for Enhancing Equity and Diversity.

The fellowship was designed for students to examine past and current issues that impact diversity and equality. For Patel, this fellowship was the right fit, as her honors thesis was on racial segregation and COVID-19 outcomes in Georgia. Patel is a senior pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Health Services in the College of Allied Health Sciences.

“I know around the world, it’s a big topic, so I did want to look into it more,” said Patel. She hopes her work, and the work of others who study health equity, can lead to changes in public policy.

Dr. Simon Medcalfe, a professor in Hull College of Business, mentored Patel. She said Medcalfe played a big role through the entire process.

Medcalfe encouraged her to apply for the National Collegiate Honors Conference, and as a surprise to her, she was accepted.

“At first, I was very hesitant about applying because I did not know what to expect. Dr. Medcalfe was very supportive and to my surprise, I was accepted,” said Patel

This is the first year CURS has offered fellowships, which include the Community Impact Fellowship, Fellowship for Enhancing Equity and Diversity and International Research Fellowship.

“The neat part of the whole thing is we are trying to encourage people from any college to apply. If it’s community impact, it can be our health, it could be poetry. As long as you make the case and you can justify it as to how this is improving our mental well-being or physical community, I’ll listen,” said Dr. Quentin Davis, CURS director.

Patel and Katlin Pugh, a senior pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Cell and Molecular Biology in the College of Science and Mathematics, are the first recipients of fellowships, as Pugh received the inaugural Community Impact Fellowship. The International Research Fellowship has yet to be awarded this year, but Davis said as COVID-19 restrictions start being lifted, she’s hoping that will change.

“The International Research Fellowship could be a variety of things. It might be a student who’s on a study aboard trip already,” said Davis. “We could tack on research to the class they’re taking.”

Building these fellowships is Davis’ immediate vision, but in the future, CURS wants to increase the number of fellowships, name them and find a sustainable funding source for them.

For more, read the latest “CURS Connection” newsletter.

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Written by
Kevin Faigle

Kevin Faigle is Media Relations Specialist at Augusta University. Contact him to schedule an interview on this topic or with one of our experts at kfaigle@augusta.edu.

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Written by Kevin Faigle

Jagwire is your source for news and stories from Augusta University. Daily updates highlight the many ways students, faculty, staff, researchers and clinicians "bring their A games" in classrooms and clinics on four campuses in Augusta and locations across the state of Georgia.

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