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UK Sociology Major Awarded Fulbright Canada-MITACS for Research

By Whitney Hale

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 26, 2021) —The University of Kentucky Office of Nationally Competitive Awards has announced Madeline Williams has received a Fulbright Canada-MITACS Globalink Research Internship. Through this highly competitive opportunity, she will undertake advanced research projects virtually for 10 to 12 weeks.

Williams, a sociology and political science junior in UK College of Arts &Sciences and member of Lewis Honors College, will use her Fulbright internship to do research in the social sciences.

A Louisville native, Williams says her love of studying human interaction led her to select both her majors as well as her areas of research interest. She recently finished her honors thesis, "Loneliness During Mass Social Distancing: An Exploratory Qualitative Study of Loneliness in College Students During the COVID-19 Pandemic” and previously presented a project at the Spring 2020 Kentucky Honors Roundtable titled "What’s the Harm in Believing?: A Field Observation of Ancient Alien Discourse on Reddit,” that focused on the rhetoric of Reddit users when discussing their lack of trust in scientific institutions.

The previous summer, Williams participated in an education abroad program on an Israeli archaeological site with Eric Welch, a senior lecturer in Lewis Honors College. While constantly covered in sunscreen and sand, she got the opportunity to work with people from all over the world and learn more about the history and people there. More recently, she has been working with Leihua Edstrom, psychology professor at Northwest University in Washington state, as an undergraduate research assistant on longitudinal gender identity development research. This project has influenced the areas of research that Williams hopes to study in the future.

Williams credits several UK faculty members as being instrumental in attaining her goals.

“I would definitely say that Dr. Lauren Cagle has been very influential as she guided me through my honors thesis research," she said. "She continues to help me outside of the project with internship applications and much-appreciated support in everything I do. The professors at the Lewis Honors College, specifically Dr. Eric Welch and Dr. Zada Komara, have been working with me on a variety of projects since my freshman year, and I would not have been able to participate in as many opportunities without them. Many professors in the sociology department, specifically Dr. Edward Morris and Dr. Patrick Mooney, have also helped me in various ways from providing resources for my honors thesis to helping me with internship applications.”

Upon completion of her two bachelor’s degrees, Williams plans to pursue a doctoral degree in sociology.

The UK Office of Nationally Competitive Awards assists current UK undergraduate and graduate students and recent alumni in applying for external scholarships and fellowships funded by sources (such as a nongovernment foundation or government agency) outside the university. These awards honor exceptional students across the nation. Students who are interested in these opportunities are encouraged to begin work with the office, housed in the Chellgren Center for Undergraduate Excellence, well in advance of the scholarship deadline. Staff is available for appointments to discuss opportunities for the 2021-2022 academic year and beyond.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.