Summer Preview, Part 2: Gusties Earn Creative Research Experiences Posted on May 12th, 2021 by

This summer, over 50 Gusties will be undertaking summer research projects. Their collaborations with faculty span the sciences, arts, and humanities. Here’s a snapshot of 4 students who will be conducting research on-campus.


Tyler DelMain ‘22, Music Education


Through his music research, Tyler DelMain ‘22 will identify what is leading the disparity in gender among conductors, and providing solutions to how we expand representation in our next generations of musicians.


DelMain is motivated by class discussions at Gustavus regarding gender representation, and hopes to bring this research into his future career as a music educator. “The most impactful experience to me that led to this research came last year when the Gustavus Wind Orchestra was offered to perform at the College Band Directors National Association conference in Chicago. At this performance, of all of the groups and pieces played, Dr. Heidi Miller from Gustavus was the only woman to conduct any of the ensembles and Dr. Lexi Bryant’s music was one of only two pieces composed by a woman. I had never truly recognized before that time how drastic the issue may be.”


DelMain encourages other students to partake in unique research topics saying, “Just pick a topic you’re passionate about and go for it! No matter the field of study, you are always able to research into some topic, especially if you feel passionate towards it.” 



Kelly Carlson ‘22, Environmental Studies and English


Austin Witt ‘22, English and Communication Studies


Carlson and Witt will be analyzing two nineteenth century texts written by women in history, Jane Eyre and Little Women. These researchers will collaborate with Professor Vera Foley to  explore the roles that gender, sexuality, and feminine representation play during this period of American history. 


Preparing for this research project, Carlson says, “we are working to find and critique academic literature written about these novels in an attempt to uncover hidden ideas about the characters, the novels, and the authors themselves. With an emphasis on women’s literature, rights, and looking through the lens of the time period, we hope to find new ways to view women through their written characters.”


These researchers hope to publish their research and eventually present their findings at Gustavus conferences and conferences outside of Gustavus. Witt says, “I hope to produce a scholarly article detailing our findings and present this article in an undergraduate journal. We have also considered presenting the information at local literary conferences.” 


Looking ahead to an immersive research experience, Carlson says, “I am most excited for honing my writing skills with Foley’s guidance, to work with Austin, to read these beautiful pieces of literature, and to learn more about women in the literary world.”


Witt says, “I look forward to dissecting two prominent American Novels and learning more about how the authors categorize and represent gender and sexuality.”


Carlson and Witt offer advice to fellow student researchers. Witt says, “Don’t be afraid to ask for help and learn;it is how we all grow and change for the better!” 


Carlson says, “If you want to do something, achieve it to your best ability.” 


Emma Nelson ‘22, Spanish and Political Science


This summer, Emma Nelson will be exploring the perceived benefits and drawbacks of using Strava (a fitness tracking app) for running. This app allows people to log information about their physical activity and compete against each other, earn awards, and create leaderboards. Nelson’s research will look into how these features affect motivation and engagement. Her research is in collaboration with Dr. Hayley Russell and Dr. Charlie Potts


Nelson looks forward to this research and how it will further her career goals. She said, “I’ve also already noticed that this project has enabled me to better understand other research, which will definitely be useful in my classes and graduate school. I’m hoping to go to graduate school to study kinesiology and health behavior, so one of my goals is to gain research experience and strengthen my application.” 


This research is the product of a rich and unexpected student/faculty relationship. “I randomly went into Hayley’s office my first year because I thought I might be interested in studying exercise physiology. Although that wasn’t the path I ended up taking, I’ve still taken many of her classes, gone to her for advice, and she’s recommended me for many opportunities,” said Nelson.  


Through her unique experience connecting with faculty, Nelson encourages others to reach out. She says, “If you have a professor that studies something you’re interested in, don’t be shy in building that relationship!” 


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