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What are some research programs at Dartmouth?

A: Image of Gabriel Gilbert '23; he is wearing a black aloha shirt with a red leaf pattern that runs from his shoulder down the left half of his shirt.

This is a great question and I'm so glad you asked! As a Linguistics and Native American and Indigenous Studies (NAIS) double major, research programs are such fantastic ways to work closely with Dartmouth's brilliant faculty while tackling projects of personal interest that truly broaden your skillset and diversify your learning. I'm a junior now and have engaged with two different research programs over the course of my Dartmouth career — let me tell you about my experiences!

During my sophomore spring term, I received a Sophomore Research Scholarship (now known as Undergraduate Research Assistantships at Dartmouth, or URAD — read more here!). I did my one term of this program under Professor N. Bruce Duthu, the chair of the NAIS department and an incredible legal scholar. With his advice, I designed a project that would allow me to explore the role of Hawaiian language in the contemporary Hawaiian sovereignty movement. I wanted to see how language revitalization and the increased number of people learning Hawaiian has impacted how current generations of Native Hawaiians conceive of and describe Hawaiian sovereignty. I looked at archival materials like newspapers and novels, and did a broad survey of the current scholarly literature available on the topic. Professor Duthu and I met weekly over the term, and by the end of the project I had a much greater understanding of my chosen topic and am thinking about how to potentially integrate what I learned into my undergraduate thesis. 

During my junior fall term and my junior spring terms I worked with Professor David Peterson in the Linguistics department on South Central Tibeto-Burman languages for my James O. Freedman Presidential Scholarship (read about the program here!). We met weekly to establish goals and action items for the week, and then I'd jump into the weeds independently, surveying grammars and different sources to compare and contrast dozens of different languages. At the time of my writing this answer, it's still ongoing, but I will say that working closely with a world expert (as many Dartmouth faculty are) has been such a great way to get into the thick of research in my field as I approach my senior year.

All in all, research has really broadened my skillset and taught me so much more about my chosen topics. Sometimes, you get really into a project or topic in a class you take but when the end of term approaches, you feel constrained — with a term-long research project, you can really get into specifics on a topic of your choice paired with the guidance of an expert researcher. I cannot recommend applying for one enough! We have several, all of which you can read about over on the Undergraduate Advising and Research website. Hope this helps!

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