Student Independent Study and Research (SISTAR) Grant

Student Independent Study and Research grants support teams of one Saint Mary's student and one Saint Mary's faculty member in collaborative scholarly or creative projects for eight weeks during the summer between a student's junior and senior years. The student and faculty member may share the same project, or they may do separate projects that complement or support each others' work. Projects may also be distantly related in subject matter but closely related in method or field.

SISTARs help to prepare students for graduate study and careers by encouraging their personal development as confident, independent scholars; faculty benefit from the opportunity to dialogue with a mature and motivated student on topics of mutual interest. Among the other SISTAR grants awarded annually, Maryjeanne R. Burke and Daughters SISTARs are reserved for pretenure faculty.

Application Guidelines Previous SISTAR Awards Apply

Application Guidelines

Eligibility: The SISTAR Program is open to full-time faculty and students in any discipline. The student and faculty member should apply for the SISTAR program as a team in the student's junior year.

Time commitment: The student and faculty member are expected to collaborate for eight weeks during the summer.

Funding: The student receives a taxable stipend of $4,000. On-campus housing, if desired, is available at a very affordable rate. The faculty member receives a taxable stipend of $3,500. The grant also supports travel and related expenses for the student to attend a professional conference.

Application: Applicants should fill out this form. In addition, they should jointly assemble a typed, double-spaced, four- to six-page proposal narrative that includes the following.

1. A proposal for the student's project, written by the student, and addressing these questions:

a. What do you propose to do?

b. How did your project come about?

c. Why is it worth doing?

d. What do you expect to accomplish in your eight-week work period? If completing your project will take longer than that, what is your plan and timetable for completion?

e. What experiences and courses have prepared you for this work?

f. What other summer obligations do you have (for example, summer school, summer job, internship, other travel plans, etc.), and how are they compatible with the demands of your proposed SISTAR work?

2. A proposal for the faculty member's project, written by the faculty member, and addressing these questions:

a. What do you propose to do?

b. How did your project come about?

c. Why is it worth doing?

d. What do you expect to accomplish in your eight-week work period? If completing your project will take longer than that, what is your plan and timetable for completion?

e. What teaching and research experience has prepared you for this work?

f. What other summer obligations do you have (for example, summer school teaching, other research or travel commitments, etc.), and how are they compatible with the demands of your proposed SISTAR work?

3. A jointly written description of how your projects complement each other and how you plan to work together.

4. In addition to the four- to six-page application described above, please also include:

a. A brief curriculum vita emphasizing the faculty member's preparation for this project.

b. A letter of recommendation addressing the student's ability to undertake this project, written by someone other than her faculty co-applicant.

The proposal narrative, as well as any supporting documents, are to be emailed as attachments to

Additional notes:

  • Interview: After you submit your application, you will be contacted for an interview with the CFAI Grants Committee. Interviews last about 30 minutes, allowing the Committee to ask additional questions about your projects, as well as to assess your preparation, commitment and interaction: it is important for teams to demonstrate good rapport, and a collaborative, peer relationship in which the student plays an equal role.
  • IRB approval: Please note that if the application proposes research involving human subjects or laboratory animals, the applicants must contact the chair of the Institutional Review Board (IRB) for research involving human participants, or the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) for research involving animals. A Request for Protocol Approval must be submitted to the appropriate committee. When the protocol is approved, the applicant will receive a letter from the chair of the IRB or IACUC to forward to the CFAI Grants Committee. The grant award is contingent upon this approval.


Previous SISTAR Award Recipients:

SISTAR Grants: Initially funded by the Knight Foundation, SISTAR Grants support student-faculty partnerships in summer research and study

2017 SISTAR Teams

Maryjeanne R. Burke and Daughters Pretenure Faculty SISTAR Grant:

Jacob Duncan, Mathematics, and Monica McGrath ’19, “Modeling Addiction Relapse-Recovery Cycling, Case Study: Alcoholism”

National Endowment for the Humanities SISTAR Grants:

Leslie Wang, Sociology, and Kristie LeBeau ’18, “What Does It Mean to be a Teacher at a Rural School?: A Case Study of Four Schools in White County, IN”

Amy Gillan, Education, and Jenny Hagenauer ’18, “Responding to Pope Francis’ Call to Action: A Saint Mary's College Farm-to-Table Coffee Shop”

2015 SISTAR Teams

Christopher Cobb, English, and Jennifer Vosters, '16, “Exploring the Recent Performance History of Shakespeare’s Roman Plays in the Midwestern Theatre Community”

Maryjeanne R. Burke and Daughter Pretenure Faculty SISTAR

Elizabeth Wolf, Mathematics, and Brianna Kozemzak, '17, “Analyzing the Effect of Delay in Discrete Stochastic Models and an Application to Mumps Epidemics”

2014 SISTAR Teams

Susan Alexander, Sociology, and Kelsey Collins '15, "Attacking Masculinity: An Examination of Hegemonic Masculinity in Two Television Series" 

Reena Lamichhane Khadka, Biology, and Colleen Quigley '15, "Characterization of Metal Resistance in Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus

Patricia Sayre, Philosophy, and Theresa Silver '15, "A Meeting of Minds?" 

Maryjeanne R. Burke and Daughter Pretenure Faculty SISTAR Grant:

Kathryn Haas, Chemistry & Physics, and Erin Reinhart '15, "Metal Ions in Alzheimer's Disease and Other Human Disorders: What is the Structure of the Metal-binding Site that Defines Biochemical Activity?" 

2013 SISTAR Teams  

Sonalini Sapra, Gender and Women's Studies and Political Science, and Abigail Burgan '14 "Transnational Advocacy and Challenging Traditional Gender Work Roles"

MaryAnn Traxler, Education, and Bridget McMillan '14 "Multicultural Connections: A View Through Children's Literature"

Maryjeanne R. Burke and Daughters Pretenure Faculty SISTAR Grant:

Steven Broad, Mathematics, and Meredith McGee '15, "Programming the Web: Recruiting and Retaining Women in Computing"

2012 SISTAR Teams

Julie Tourtillotte, Art, and Chelsea Young '13, "Obsolete by Lunchtime and Pattern/Repeat/Change"

Maryjeanne R. Burke and Daughters Pretenure Faculty SISTAR Grants:

Amy Gillan, Education, and Allison Zandarski '13, "Water Analysis and Potential Restoration of a Eutrophic Freshwater Lake: Investigation, Informative Documentation and Ocean Literacy Connections"

Kristin Jehring, Mathematics, and Gina Deom '13, "The Status of Girls in Indiana"

Terri Russ, Communication Studies, and Dani Haydell '13, "Uncovering Truths about Female Empowerment"

National Endowment for the Humanities SISTAR Grant

Edith Miguda, History, and Patricia Prucknic '13, "Women's Rights are Human Rights: The Human Rights Discourse and Kenyan Women's Search for Constitiutional Rights - Global and Local Connections"

David Stefancic, History, and Kathryn Replogle '13, "Women in State Reconstruction after War"

2011 SISTAR Teams

Susan Baxter, Communications Studies, and Emily Schmitt '12, "An Experiential Study in 'Staged Journalism'"

Stacy Davis, Religious Studies, and Rebecca Jones, "Gendered Language in Jewish Sacred Texts"

Krista Hoefle, Art, and Katheryn Fisher, "Unknown Atomic Workshop: A Two Women Collaborative Printshop"

Daniel Party, Music, and Rachel Thiel, "Women in Argentine Political Song: The Case of Mercedes Sosa and Popular Music and Masculinity in 1950's Latin America: The Case of Lucho Gatica"

Maryjeanne R. Burke and Daughters Pretenure Faculty SISTAR Grants:

Ryan Dombkowski, Biology, and Catherine Batz, "Longterm Physiological Effects of Energy Drinks"

Cassie Majetic, Biology, and Brittany Sinka, "Assessing potential effectors of Phlox floral scent biochemistry: fertilizer floral color"

Isabel Larraza, Chemistry, and Caitlyn Wonski, "Superbases and Hexabromoacetone: A Novel, Sustainable Approach to the Hofmann Rearrangement"

2010 SISTAR Teams

Maryjeanne R. Burke and Daughters SISTAR
Mary Ann Kanieski, Sociology, and Ashley Feely "Emerging Patterns in Relationships Between Mothers and Their Adult Children: Examining Mothers' Self-Constructed Identity"

Maryjeanne R. Burke and Daughters SISTAR
Susan Latham, Communicative Sciences and Disorders, and Brynn Thomas "Effectiveness of GIT and PROMPT in Autism Treatment"

Patrick Pierce, Political Science, and Megan Griffin "Race to the Top: The Political Economy of State Tax Incentives for Business"

David Stefancic (History)
Alyssa Klubeck
Women in Revolution: Comparing Women in the French and Irish Revolutions



2009 SISTAR Teams

Phyllis Kaminski (Religious Studies)
Mary Gross
Educating for Transformation: Daughters in Conversation

Isabel Larraza (Chemistry/Physics) Maryjeanne R. Burke and Daughters SISTAR
Kara Joseph
Hexabromoacetone and Ethyl Tribromoacetate: A Novel Green Path to Drug Intermediates

Daniel Party (Music) Maryjeanne R. Burke and Daughters SISTAR
Current Trends in Latin American Music: A textbook chapter
Stephanie Mitchell Where economics meets music: the Latin American Music Industries

Max Westler (English)
Kristle Hodges
Exploring African-American Poetry


2008 SISTAR Teams

Jerome McElroy (Business Administration and Economics) Maryjeanne R. Burke and Daughters SISTAR
Wenwen Bai
The Political Economy of China’s Incursion into the Caribbean and the Pacific


2007 SISTAR Teams

Kimberly Abeel ‘08 A Vision of the Church: Looking Toward the Future
Anita Houck, Religious Studies A Vision of the Church: Looking at Single Life

Ryan Dombkowski, Biology (Maryjeanne R. Burke and Daughters SISTAR Characterization of the vasoregultory capability of the heme-oxygenase/carbon monoxide pathway in isolated blood vessels of lower vertegrates
Beth Achterhoff ’08 Effects of exogeous and endogenous carbon monoxide on cardiovascular parameters of the rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)

Jeanne Choquehuanca ‘08 Indigenous Identity and Democratic Political Identity in the Andes
Marc Belanger, Political Science Assessing the Role of NGOs in Democratic Institution Building in Latin America

Alexandria Zakrzewski ‘08 Consciousness, Metacognition and "Theory of Mind": A Scientific and Philosophical Search
Thomas Parisi, Psychology Exploring the "fictive anthropologies" of Dante and Freud


2006 SISTAR Teams

María Meléndez (English) Maryjeanne R. Burke and Daughters SISTAR
Monica Garvey
Creating Fiction: Adventures in Listening to the Living and the Dead

Don Paetkau (Biology)
Christin Molnar
Cloning a Drosophila Suppressor of Retinal Degeneration

Laurel Thomas (Music)
Mallory O'Brien
Finding Our Voices: Repertoire for the Modern Woman in Opera and Musical Theatre

Julie Tourtillotte (Art) Captured Images: The Pace and Pattern of Change
Kristin Stransky Innardactions


2005 SISTAR Teams

Mana Derakhshani (Modern Languages)
Megan McGee
The Magic Carpet Ride

Kurt Buhring (Religious StudiesMaryjeanne R. Burke and Daughters SISTAR
Sinnamon Wolfe
Divine and Human Responses to Human Suffering In Liberation Theology and Process Theology

Kitty Green (Education)
Lauren Condon
Using Multicultural Service Learning to Connect Teachers, Students and Communities

Frances Kominkiewicz (Social Work and Anthropology)
Megan Kennedy
Increasing Understanding of Mental Health Issues Affecting College Women: How Can We Foster Student to Student Support?


2004 SISTAR Teams

Krista Hoefle (Art) Maryjeanne R. Burke and Daughters SISTAR
Dorothy Schultz
Does Pink Make You Puke? & To Be Unlike Myself

Mary Ann Kanieski (Sociology)
Tosha Smith (Burke)
Cultural Capital, and Standardized Testing

Don Paetkau (Biology) Maryjeanne R. Burke and Daughters SISTAR
Maria Khan
Characterization of a Drosophila Retinal Degeneration Mutant: rdgE

Katherine Sullivan (Theatre)
Betsy Brown
Rediscovering Michael Chekhov: The Old Becomes New Again


2003 SISTAR Teams

Keith Egan (Religious Studies)
Kathryn Harrison
The Phenomenology of Edith Stein in Conversation with John of the Cross & The Phenomenology of Edith Stein in Conversation with Thomas Aquinas for a Deeper Understanding of Feminism

Indi Dieckgrafe (Dance)
Jaclyn Thompson Dance:
Integrating Math, Motion and Forms

Bill Sandusky (Art)
Jennifer Trachy '04 in collaboration with Jill Feller '99
Aspects of The Brancacci Chapel of Masaccio, Masolino and Filippino Lippi Re-Created for the 21st Century

Rebecca Stoddart (Psychology)
Leticia Verduzco
Writing Our Way to Finding Our Way in School & Mentoring Hispanic students’ high school success through language and cultural self-efficacy


2002 SISTAR Teams

Karen Chambers (Psychology)
Heather Engstrom
"The Culture of Eating Disorders"

Sandra Ginter, (Art) "Indiana, the Crossroads of America"
Lisa Ritter "Transcendental Dinner Party" (Burke)

Astrid Henry (English and Women’s Studies)
Anna Lentz
"Women's Sexuality and Empowerment at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century: Two Studies."

Jerome McElroy (Business Administration and Economics)
Leslie Morris
"African Island Development Experiences"


2001 SISTAR Teams

Linda Berdayes (Communication, Dance and Theatre)
Hayley Dawson
"A Media and Public Discourse: Narrative Diversity in the Era of Media Consolidation." (Burke)

Kara Eberly (Biology)
Angela Cederquist
"Activation of Transgenic Mouse Macrophages: Which Genes Are Critical for Killing Bacteria?"

Jeffrey Jacob (Music)
Lilly Morales
"A Poetry and Music Collaboration." - (Burke)

George Trey (Philosophy)
Alissa Blair
"Philosophy, Emancipation and the Latin American Condition"


2000 SISTAR Teams

Christopher J. Dunlap (Chemistry/Physics)
Amy Dooms
"Variables Affecting Available Phosphate Concentrations in Soils." - (Burke)

Clayton Henderson (Music) "Good's Opera House and the Oliver Opera House: Cultural Resources for South Bend, Indiana: 1880 - 1905"
Rebecca J. Klest "Women Composers of the Late Twentieth Century"

Patricia Sayre (Philosophy)
Nora Byrne

Joanne R. Snow (Mathematics)
Angela Finke
"The Philosophy of Mathematics"


1999 SISTAR Teams

Deborah McCarthy (Chemistry/Physics)
Anne Pangilinan
"Studies of Antioxidants Produced for Use on Carbon/Carbon Composite Friction Materials"

Charles Peltier (Mathematics)
Chengdong Liu
"Determination of the Variables that are Significant to Student Retention at Saint Mary's College"

Max Westler (English)
Emily Cardinali
"Words and Images: Exploring Screen Writing"

Ann Loux (English)
Cara Ford
"Voices from the Avenue and Beyond: A Current Reader for Literary Non-Fiction" - (Burke)


1998 SISTAR Teams

Marc Belanger (Political Science)
Amy Shepherd
"Teaching Writing in the Borderlands Between Politics and Literature"

Jeffrey Breese (Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work)
Stacy Davis
"Service Learning in Higher Education"

Patrick Pierce (Political Science)
Madeline Carpinelli
"Constituency Contact and Citizen Knowledge"

Catherine Shoupe (Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work)
Carrie Goldbeck
"Studying Music and Dance in Scotland: The Meaning of Meanings" - (Burke)


1997 SISTAR Teams

Jerome McElroy (Business Administration and Economics)
Patricia Olazarri
"Measuring Tourism Development in Small Mediterranean Islands"

John Pauley (Communication, Dance and Theatre)
Anne Werring
"Reintroducing Voices from the Past: Sister Miriam Joseph Ruah, C.S.C. and Sisters of the Holy Cross" (Burke)

Sean Savage (Political Science) "The Rise of African American Political Influence Within the Democratic Party"
Jennifer Warner "The Impact of the 1965 Voting Rights Act on Southern Democratic Politics"

Julie Storme (Modern Languages)
Genevieve Morrill
"Collaborating on the Development of a New French Studies Course: French Colonization: History, Interpretation and Aftermath"


1996 SISTAR Teams

Theodore Billy (English)
Michele Kuhlmann
"The Aesthetics of Iconography: Nathaniel Hawthorne's Psychology of Art"

Indi Dieckgrafe (Communication, Dance and Theatre)
Caroline Quinlan
"Two Women Dancing"

Deborah Norin-Kuehn (Music)
Jill Switzer
"A Study of Extended Vocal Techniques of the Twentieth Century"

Thomas Platt (Biology)
Kara Masucci
"Molecular and Morphological Analysis of Larval and Adult Spirochids (Digenea: Schistosomatoidea), Parasites of Freshwater Turtles and Snails"


1995 SISTAR Teams

Susan Alexander (Sociology, Anthropology, & Social Work)
Johnna Skyles
"The Social Construction of Feminism"

J. Philip Bays (Chemistry/Physics)
Amy Brinkhoff
"Molecular Modeling in the Undergraduate Curriculum"

Sr. Jean Klene (English)
Suzanne Kondratenko
"A Search for the Sociopolitical Context of Lady Anne Southwell"
"Friendship in the Writings of Women of the Renaissance"

Katie Sullivan (Communication, Dance and Theatre)
Kathryn O'Donnell
"The Method to His Madness: A Performance Study of Jean Genet's The Maids"


1994 SISTAR Teams

Andrew Cutrofello (Philosophy)
Jennifer Shea
"Reconstructing the Life-Philosophy of Lou Andreas-Salome"

Philip Tiu (Mathematics)
Elizabeth Go
"On the Deterministic and Probabilistic Aspects of a Problem in Applied Combinatorics"


1993 SISTAR Teams

Herold Weiss (Religious Studies) "The Question of the Sabbath in the Epistles of Paul"
Lisa Hardman "Paul's Letter to the Romans: Ethical Guidelines in a Diverse Community"

Laura Haigwood (English) "The Romantic Link Between Feminine and Feminist: Gender and Ideology in Wordsworth and Coleridge's Lyrical Ballads"
Catherine Adams "Eliza Allen Starr: The Romantic Roots of a Woman-Centered Art Pedagogy"

Patricia Sayre (Philosophy) "Seeing the World Aright: Wittgenstein and Moral Psychology"
Katherine Bumb "Exploring Empathy: Wittgenstein and the Problem of Private Experience"

Zae Munn (Music)
Marcie Thorson
"Composing Two Large-Scale Musical Works: From Creative Inception to Public Access"


1992 SISTAR teams

Rebecca Stoddart (Psychology)
Janine Felder
"Self-Esteem, Social Problem Solving and Social Adjustment in Abused Preschoolers"

Tom Bonnell (English) "The Most Disreputable Trade: Publishing the Classics of British Poetry 1765-1810"
Rene Young "Stocking the Shelves: Women Poets in 18th-Century Anthologies"

Julie Wroblewski Tourtillotte (Art) "Contemporary Fiber Art: Rites of Passage, With an Investigation of Surface Design in Multi-Cultural Textiles"
Frances McMahon "The Human Form: Sculptural Fibers"

Ann Clark (Philosophy) "John Dewey and the Feminist Debate on Experience"
Lisa Claussen "Women's Experience: bell hooks and Vandana Shiva"


1991 SISTAR Teams

Gail Mandell (Humanistic Studies)
Moira Murphy
"Rediscovering Times Past: Biographical Research into the Life and Times of Sr. Madeleva Wolff, C.S.C."

Marcia Rickard (Art)
Brenda Hull
"Nine Drawings: Curatorial Problems in Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Art"

Catherine Pittman (Psychology)
Mary Beth Tusing
"Facilitating the Return to Driving After Brain Injury: Neuropsychological Assessment of Driving Ability"

Jerome McElroy (Business Administration & Economics)
Angelique Dioguardi
"Tourism in the Pacific Basin"