McDonough Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship

SURF student presenting

Each summer, the McDonough Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) offers students the opportunity to apply for a grant to conduct original research of their choice. Those receiving the grant are awarded up to $3,000 for a 5-6 week research project or up to $6,000 for a 10-12 week research project to be completed during the summer. 

Students connect with faculty members to investigate topics that are related to business but may also be interdisciplinary in nature. By working one-on-one with a faculty advisor, students learn how to use the research process to inform a real problem.

Upon completion of the research project, students present their findings in a forum open to the entire Georgetown community and have their research papers, posters or video presentations published to our website. Students also receive the following notation on their transcript: Summer Undergraduate Research Fellow, along with the year they participated in the program.

Applications for the 2021 SURF program are due on February 22, 2021

Please contact Daniela Brancaforte, senior assistant dean, with any questions.

*Please note that the SURF program is only available to current McDonough undergraduate students.* 

2020 Research Projects

Samar Ahsan

Samar Ahsan (B’21)

Advising Professor: Professor Katalin Springel

Samar’s work aims to explore the future of the coworking industry in the midst of the pandemic, using topical case studies and literature reviews to argue that the future of office space is co-working.

Robert Alward

Robert Alward (B’22)

Advising Professor: Professor Elizabeth Ferris

Recognizing that employment is regarded as one of the key measures of successful refugee integration, Robert’s research analyzes the underlying relationship between public opinion and refugee employment by assessing attitudes globally and domestically with respect to national refugee employment data.

Emilio Angel

Emilio Angel (B’21)

Advising Professor: Professor Katalin Springel

Emilio’s research centers itself around the impact Uber has had on both Colombian society and the underlying economic environment, particularly on the taxi industry. While recognizing the potential negative impacts Uber may have had on Colombia, Emilio’s work offers a more holistic counter narrative, one that also accounts for benefits often ignored by those analyzing the emergence of Uber in Colombian transportation markets.

Nam Bui

Nam Bui (B’23)

Advising Professor: Dr. Stanley D Nollen

Using probit analysis of over 2000 Vietnam manufacturing SME’s, Nam’s research tests the idea that sector-level as well as firm-level resources both significantly affect SMEs’ export participation, showing that firms in comparative advantage industries have a greater propensity to be exporters.

Francesca Canovi

Francesca Canovi (B’22)

Advising Professor: Professor Charles Skuba

Consumer customization and the personalization of services have progressively played larger roles in attracting business, particularly within the fashion industry. The purpose of this research paper is not only to explore the history and development of both concepts in fashion, but perhaps more importantly to understand the choices fashion companies and consumers make under either condition.

Carlos Carcamo

Carlos Carcamo (B’23)

Advising Professor: Professor Rebecca Hamilton

The recent rise of health-conscious consumer behavior, taken under the lens of Healthy Living, has translated into an increase in the number of health initiatives undertaken by multinational Food & Beverage companies, from Pepsi and Nestle to General Mills. Such campaigns mostly focus on reducing ingredients like sugar and sodium while increasing the concentration of vitamins, minerals, and whole grains in their food products, to maintain their economic viability. Carlos’s research explores the relationship between these health initiatives and the economic performance of multinational Food & Beverage companies, with the goal of gaining insight into the value of incorporating Healthy Living standards into business platforms, from product development to marketing.

Aluwet Deng

Aluwet Deng (B’21)

Advising Professor: Professor Scott Taylor

Since the emergence of Microfinance Institutions in the 1970’s and 80’s, most notably with Muhammad Yunus’s launch of the Grameen Bank, microfinance has become widely formalized in Africa, existing alongside more traditional loan and savings schemes such as Susus and Sanduks. The two critical questions this paper seeks to answer is whether microfinance can be an effective and sustainable tool in ending poverty, and whether microfinance should be further implemented in South Sudan. Using case studies across a variety of developing countries, Aluwet’s research clarifies the benefits and drawbacks of microfinance, ultimately raising important questions that beg closer examination. If you are interested in microfinance or sustainable development, this work is for you.

Genevieve Domenico

Genevieve Domenico (B’23)

Advising Professor: Professor Nataly Lorinkova

In this paper, Genevieve details the environment in which women in the Asia-Pacific region work. Explaining various policies that could be enacted to support women and how effective they may be. The research in this paper was conducted through reading and synthesizing previous studies on various topics related to workplace gender inequality. She concluded that for the Asia-Pacific region, there must be both corporate action and government policy enacted to support women to join and remain in the workforce.

Ilona Emery

Ilona Emery (B’22)

Advising Professor: Professor Charles Skuba

Chinese consumers significantly contributed to the digitalization of the luxury industry, reshaping the traditional business model of an established luxury brand. Furthermore, Chinese consumers’ motivations shifted throughout the years as they matured and became more meticulous and demanding in the purchasing process. The overall price harmonization on luxury goods is partially due to the creation of a market trade in China called daigou. Considering the COVID-19 crisis, we can legitimately ask if Chinese consumers are going to stay the main source of revenue for luxury brands, or if this will change over the years.

Jeniffer Figueroa

Jeniffer Figueroa (B’22)

Advising Professor: Professor Benjamin Chen

The increase in the overall foreign population living in the United States and the continuous increase in the outflow of money through remittances has further exacerbated the divide between American support and opposition towards immigrants. Keeping in mind that the remittances sent to Latin America are utilized for families to improve their living standards, this paper aims to test whether there is a cycle bringing a portion of the money sent out of the United States back into the country. Specifically, the money cycling back to the United States would result from remittances being utilized for consumer spending on American goods.

Nyasha Gandawa

Nyasha Gandawa (B’23)

Advising Professor: Professor Robin Dillon-Merrill

This paper studies the impact of environmental policy on the demand and supply of factors of production using the simulation of a Pigouvian tax in a Computable General Equilibrium (CGE) model.The model is based on a cross section of data from California’s electricity sector in 2018. Nyasha consider the optimizing behavior of market participants i.e. cost minimizing and profit maximizing to create equilibrium conditions. He created a closed CGE model with a government and two subsectors namely renewables and non-renewables and two factors of production namely technology and capital.

Jade Glab

Jade Glab (B’22)

Advising Professor: Professor Jason Brennan

Jade conducted an exploratory study comparing comparable social and traditional enterprises and their media presences, particularly with regard to news and social media. Discovering that while social enterprises receive less news media coverage than their traditional counterparts, they do not suggest that there is any significant correlation between company social media followings and news media coverage.

Milan Khosla

Milan Khosla (B’23)

Advising Professor: Professor Thomas Cooke

Coronavirus has had highly salient effects on the US economy, wrecking the US GDP and skyrocketing unemployment. This, in turn, has resulted in extremely unique and multifaceted challenges for all sectors, notably US universities. This paper aims to analyze these effects in depth to develop an understanding regarding the US higher education system.

Jack Longarzo

Jack Longarzo (B’23)

Advising Professor: Professor Jason Brennan

Jack’s paper examines the role or roles that might be appropriate for US financial technology companies should the US issue a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). A CBDC is a digital representation of a sovereign currency issued as a liability of a central bank. At least 40 central banks around the world are researching and experimenting with CBDC. This paper argues that if the Federal Reserve (Fed) were to issue a CBDC, it would need to rely heavily on the private sector in order to assure a successful adoption of the asset by businesses and consumers.

Brittany Malcolm

Brittany Malcolm (B’21)

Advising Professor: Professor Jasmina Chauvin

The Bahamas has seen a significant growth slowdown, measured using GDP growth, from 1978-2018. In analyzing and processing global development data from The World Bank, as well as drawing on prior research, she aims to understand the complex and nuanced history of economic growth in the country. Decreases in the drivers of the economy, investment and net trade, and a firm reliance on tourism paint a bleak picture for the country’s future economic prospects, should there not be smart and intentional policy reform. Decades of underperformance has reached a pinnacle, with the devastating impacts of Hurricane Dorian in 2019 and tourism and foreign direct investment shocks stemming from the COVID-19 virus. This problem is not one that suddenly arose, rather the current circumstances underscore the frailty of the Bahamian economy and the vulnerability it’s engendered.

Abraham Mata

Abraham Mata (B’22)

Advising Professor: Professor Jason Schloetzer

There is currently quantifiable evidence that workers are fearing for their job security in the age of advancing technology. The policies that future presidential candidates propose regarding AI will heavily impact future elections. The majority of the swing states are at the highest risk for automation. These are crucial battlegrounds for any presidential candidate. Even if the threat of automation is far from becoming a reality, the fear is not. This paper evaluates how presidential candidates are responding to automation within the next 5 years.

Julien Matrullo

Julien Matrullo (B’23)

Advising Professor: Professor John Mayo

This paper aims to elucidate and outline the manifold evidentiary thresholds antitrust regulators must meet to challenge a case on the grounds of potential competition. By both alleviating confusion surrounding the doctrine and offering a list of potential reforms, this paper may help the FTC and DOJ better recognize where prosecution is suited and provide guidance to companies concerning the approach they can expect the government to take when evaluating their transaction, saving time and money for both parties.

Wendy Mejia

Wendy Mejia (B’22)

Advising Professor: Professor Robert Bies

The purpose of this research paper is to identify, by doing an extensive literature review, what are the factors that lead to the success or failure of immigrant Latinx entrepreneurs’ ventures. By doing so, I hope to raise awareness of particular ways these entrepreneurs can grow, expand, and receive support to mitigate their failures and increase their contribution to the U.S. economy for decades to come. The paper concludes by giving a research agenda for the future.

Salome Mikadze

Salome Mikadze (B’22)

Advising Professor: Professor Laura Clark

With more and more businesses are acquiring the tools to automate data processing in order to maximize returns, it is essential that businesses take proactive steps towards advancing AI to reach sustainability. The research we are planning to undertake will look closely at past achievements and potential trends within the AI industry to achieve UN Sustainable Development Goals. Closer attention will be given to environmental, social, human, and economic sustainability and how education and data harnessing can positively impact these spheres.

Alexis Nord

Alexis Nord (B’21)

Advising Professor: Professor George Comer

This study investigates consumer sentiments towards other borrowers with payday loans and their ability to access better forms of credit. Through asking consumers questions aimed to reveal their level of knowledge about the payday loan industry. This survey tests how changes to information known about the industry affects perceived sympathy for borrowers that have used or currently use payday loans. This sympathy measures their ability to be lent to in the future from more reputable lending institutions. Furthermore, it leads to what the correct approach may be to transform consumer sentiments and make the payday loan industry safer for consumers.

David Park

David Park (B’23)

Advising Professor: Professor Xiaoli Tian

Financial disclosure obligations have improved market transparency to investors. Historically, broker-dealers could use the “piggyback exception” in the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 to provide no information at all, resulting in a lack of transparency and risk for investors in the OTC market. The Securities and Exchange Commission proposes amendments to 17 CFR 240. 15c2-11 to resolve this issue. However, the changes suggested by the Commission have significant implications. The paper points out instances of this proposal that have legal importance, offering opportunities for further study and creation of legislation with explicit statutory language that fulfills the intent of its legislators: market transparency and assurance.

Madeline Pfister

Madeline Pfister (B’23)

Advising Professor: Professor Jason Brennan

In this paper, Madeline defines ethical parameters for credit card data transparency and data breach response, then compares these ethical parameters to strategic business operations regarding the issue. This study was conducted using literature review on ethics and strategy, analysis of privacy statements of different major United States credit card companies, and interviews with security managers at various financial institutions. Ultimately, she concluded that the ethical response to data breaches is also a very strategic response to data breaches.

John Picker

John Picker (B’22)

Advising Professor: Professor Bonnie Montano

Every offseason, NBA general managers draft, trade, sign or release players. Although many analysts have studied these decisions, the broader considerations are often forgotten. For example, should a general manager change the roster at all, and if so how? This paper will answer those questions and more. First, he tested whether roster continuity affects winning percentage. Then, compare the advanced performance metrics of trades and draft picks to determine which type of player is more efficient and contributes more wins to their team. He discovered that the standard trade outperforms the standard draft pick for the first two years after joining a new team, but draft picks tend to outperform trades from the third season on.

Nicholas Rice and Harry Yang

Nicholas Rice (B’23) and Harry Yang (B’23)

Advising Professor: Professor Arthur Dong

This paper analyzes both the structure and outcomes of Hong Kong’s public transport system and its rail-plus-property model of financing it, to examine the external policy and demographic factors contributing to these outcomes, and to discuss what American public transit can learn from Hong Kong policy-wise while accounting for differences in environment. By discussing the state of public transport in the US to assert the need for change, why American municipalities could stand to learn from Hong Kong and analyzing the functionality and outcomes of Hongkonger and American structures and outcomes.

Natalia Ruiz

Natalia Ruiz (B’21)

Advising Professor: Professor Charles Skuba

The “Made in Italy” trademark has been a prime example of using cultural heritage in terms of providing a concept of quality and territory-based standards. To analyze how the Italian luxury market and its marketing strategies are functioning today, and how the “Made in Italy” concept can be interpreted in today’s world, she has based her research on literature reviews and an interview case study. Focusing on how a market centered around exclusivity and high performance quality manufacturing was leveraged when used in a more specific local subset. This specified local concept can then be used to successfully build on brand image that will positively impact both online and in-store purchases with the support from online social media marketing.

Nicholas Sannito and William Schott

Nicholas Sannito (B’23)  and William Schott (B’23)

Advising Professor: Professor Arthur Dong

William and Nicholas’ work examines the two most prominent US housing subsidy programs, Housing Choice Vouchers and Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, to determine if there are conditions under which such programs could be more effective if expanded. By conducting literature reviews and analyzing public data, they hypothesize that Housing Choice Vouchers would be more successful in areas where the supply elasticity of rental housing is relatively high, and that Low-Income Housing Tax Credits would find more success in areas with low levels of land-use and zoning regulation.

Isshaan Shah

Isshaan Shah (B’23)

Advising Professor: Professor Martin Conway

Ishaan’s work studies the effects of the luxury tax on the MLB by evaluating changes in metrics related to competitive balance, such as Gini coefficients, volatility of success, and payroll figures, before going on to evaluate how the business of baseball has been impacted by the luxury tax. His findings recommend that the current luxury tax and salary be re-structured through a variety of mechanisms to improve the competitive balance within the MLB.

Joshua Solesbury

Joshua Solesbury (B’22)

Advising Professor: Professor Alberto Rossi

Joshua’s paper aims to achieve three goals. First, to give an overview of the Web 2.0 stack and the Web 3.0 stack. Second, to identify a set of value drivers for Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 entities, before going on to highlight the relationship between these drivers and value. Third, to form a conclusion on what a transition to Web 3.0 means for businesses. This work is highly relevant to our world today, and delves into the shift that is occurring as centralized data-owning entities morph into decentralized networks.

Gregory Sullivan

Gregory Sullivan (B’21)

Advising Professor: Professor Michael O’Leary

Gregory’s research investigates the role of multitasking in the workplace by simulating two common office-based tasks to assess potential differences in performance caused by multitasking, moderated by demographic differences such as gender and age. To do this, 231 participants were recruited through Amazon Mechanical Turk. His results showed that multitasking led to a statistically significant decline in comprehension, and were comparable to past findings that studied the influence of multitasking on comprehension.

Pulast Thaker

Pulast Thaker (B’23)

Advising Professor: Professor Bradford Jensen

Pulast’s research provides an introduction to the impact of the US-China Trade War on American equity markets, focusing on the events leading up to the announced Phase 1 Trade Agreement. While providing appropriate historical context through an annotated chronology of major events, the research will apply academic finance methods to quantify industry-level equity underperformance for major sectors of the US economy through calculations of cumulative abnormal returns, supporting this with analysis of how the underperformance relates to specific sectors’ exposure to China. Finally, the paper will conclude with suggestions for further empirical analysis on this topic.