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Faculty Mentor Leads Undergrad to Research

March 13, 2008

Alicia Duplessis   

A book, a professor or even an assignment can alter the course of a college student’s future. For Tulane sophomore Max Daigh, it was the support and guidance from a sociology professor that led to an invitation to join an elite group of students participating in a special research-training institute in the summer.

Max Daigh and Martha Huggins

Tulane sophomore Max Daigh, left, with guidance from sociology professor Martha Huggins, right, will attend the Research Experiences for Undergraduates program at the University of Delaware’s Disaster Research Center. (Photo by Alicia Duplessis)


With encouragement from Martha Huggins, Daigh applied and was accepted to the Research Experiences for Undergraduates program, sponsored by the National Science Foundation and hosted by the University of Delaware’s Disaster Research Center.

Huggins is the Charles A. and Leo M. Favrot Professor of Human Relations in the sociology department.

The intensive nine-week research training institute supports undergraduate participation in research by actively involving students in ongoing research programs. Each participant is required to have the support of a home-based adviser — a position that Huggins has happily agreed to fill.

“This program will be beneficial in developing Max’s research methods and analytical skills while preparing him for research on a graduate level,” says Huggins, who takes credit for guiding Daigh to Tulane’s sociology program after noticing the extent of his interest during her Tulane InterDisciplinary Experience Seminar (TIDES) course in 2006.

During that course, Daigh and his classmates helped compile information on the experiences of New Orleans police officers during and immediately after Hurricane Katrina. Huggins says the information they gathered will be incorporated into research she is conducting.

TIDES courses, like the one that brought the duo together, include a series of seminars designed to foster intellectual discussions in small groups.

Daigh, who is from Overland Park, Kan., says he’s appreciative but surprised at the support he’s received.

“Coming from high school to an upper-echelon university like Tulane, you don’t expect praise for hard work,” says Daigh. “Having a professor take an interest in you provides a lot of confidence in your abilities, and you don’t want to let them down.”

For his interest and enthusiasm in research, Huggins has nominated Daigh for a Community for Public Service Fellow position with the Tulane Center for Public Service. If accepted, Daigh will become the student assistant for her fall “Ethnographies of Crime” course. He also will be assisting Huggins in additional disaster-related research.

“Max came to Tulane in the first year after Katrina, energized to give back to the city and learn from a major research institution,” says Huggins.



Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000