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Research for Aspiring Coogs in the Humanities

Research for Aspiring Coogs in the Humanities (REACH) Program

The Research for Aspiring Coogs in the Humanities (REACH) Program at the University of Houston is a collaborative effort supported by the Cougar Initiative to Engage and the Office of Undergraduate Research and Major Awards. REACH will provide a year-long introductory research experience for students in humanities disciplines by connecting participants to existing undergraduate research projects at the University of Houston. From projects in collaboration with UH Libraries Special Collections, to the digital humanities, to individual faculty research projects in humanities disciplines, the REACH program provides an entry-point to hands-on scholarly inquiry. Check out the exciting projects below!

REACH participants will develop their research skills through their work on a mentored research project and through their participation in OURMA undergraduate research programming. Students will also learn how to apply for future research opportunities such as SURF, ARC, PURS and the Mellon Research Scholars Program. REACH participants receive a $1,500 scholarship split between the fall and spring semesters in the program. 

Selected students will be expected to:

  1. Devote a minimum of 67 hours of research activity per week for the 20222023 academic year
  2. Contribute directly to the existing research project and produce a research project deliverable by the end of the academic year in coordination with the project mentor
  3. Attend OURMA Undergraduate Research webinars and bi-monthly check-ins
  4. Complete pre- and post-surveys administered by the CITE office
  5. Present their research findings through a research poster and oral presentation in coordination with the UH Undergraduate Research Day held April 13, 2023


  • Sophomore, junior, senior and transfer students at UH main campus enrolled for the 20222023 academic year
  • Pursuing a major in the humanities (qualitative CLASS and ART majors)
    • Students outside of a humanities major but pursuing a minor in a humanities-related discipline will need to articulate how research in the selected subject area will play an integral role in their future trajectory.
  • An interest in contributing to one of the projects facilitated by our campus partners (no prior research experience required)
  • Students should be in good academic standing.

REACH Projects

Learn more about the innovative projects happening at UH! One or more REACH participants will be paired with each of the projects below. Please review the descriptions from REACH campus partners. Applicants will be asked to identify which projects to which they would like to contribute. 



Resilient Houston: Documenting Hurricane Harvey

“Resilient Houston: Documenting Hurricane Harvey” is a UH Center for Public History project creating an archive of oral histories and a public-facing website showcasing excerpts from interviews of people impacted by the storm.

Student researchers will work primarily on the website, creating short videos for select interviews and transitioning our ArcGIS-based website to a new template that will make the project findings more accessible to researchers and visitors. Work may also include additional tasks like writing short interview abstracts, conducting basic research and supporting archive creation. Students will develop digital humanities, basic research, writing and archival skills.

Debbie Harwell:
Todd Romero:



Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage Program

The Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage Program’s US Latino Digital Humanities (USLDH) program serves as a venue for scholarship focused on the US Latino written legacy that has been lost, absent, repressed or underrepresented. The USLDH program provides a physical space for the development, support and training in digital humanities projects using a vast collection of historical newspapers, photographs and digital materials; creates opportunities and facilities for digital publication of Latino-based projects and scholarship; promotes and fosters interdisciplinary scholarly work; provides a communal virtual space to share knowledge and projects related to Latino digital humanities; and establishes a Latino digital humanities hub.

REACH students will work with Latino archival materials in different capacities from handling and arrangement of historical collections to digital projects of the recovered items that include manuscripts, photographs, newspapers, correspondence, etc. The students will receive training in archival procedures, digital humanities tools and theory.

Lorena Gauthereau:
Gabriela Baeza Ventura:
Carolina Villarroel:



Sharing Stories from 1977

"Sharing Stories from 1977" focuses on documenting, preserving and analyzing the 150,000+ participant stories of 1977 National Women’s Conference in Houston. This multi-year, multi-state multi-institutional effort, led by the University of Houston, aims to create an open-source digital archive that spurs quantitative and qualitative scholarship as well as public engagement.

Our project highlights the myriad identities and interests of participants at this most diverse gathering of American women in U.S. history. Our primary point of emphasis is to build out digital and brick and mortar archives, capturing demographic data, biographies, oral histories and ephemera. We connect humanities students with technology and design students in interdisciplinary collaboration on historical and technical aspects of the project.

REACH researchers' tasks could include drafting biographies, research and writing of interpretive essays, conducting oral histories, completing demographic research, public relations and social media engagement, archival research and liaison work with special collections and supporting our technical teams with back end web development and data visualizations.

Nancy Young:
Leandra Zarnow:
Sandra Davidson: 




Ancient coins have a tremendous story to tell about the past. This is especially the case for Syria, whose diverse citizens celebrated their communities with bilingual inscriptions and dynamic images – even after being conquered by Greek and Roman empires. Come join SYRIOS, a digital humanities project that tells these stories to a public audience through a virtual exhibit. Interactive narratives, 3D coin scans, and animations make these artifacts come alive and speak for the people who made and used them.

As a research assistant, you will help test the effectiveness of the project with its different audiences through user experience (UX) research. Additionally, you will assist in ongoing research on the topic of "data humanism" (the study of data not simply as numbers, but what it actually signifies: knowledge, behaviors, people). You will also gain technical skills and participate in a collaborative team process.

Peggy Lindner:  
Liz Rodwell:
SYRIOS site: 



Mapping Undergraduate Writing Project

The Mapping Undergraduate Writing Project is a multidisciplinary exploration of the writing that undergraduate students complete in their various areas of study. While academic disciplines often have specific genres and expectations for publishing, the requirements for undergraduate writing are often a result of these disciplinary standards combined with students’ existing knowledge and practical concerns.

The Mapping Undergraduate Writing Project is an initiative of the University of Houston Writing Center to better enunciate and understand the expectations that students face in various disciplines as they move from the Core Curriculum courses in communication into their Writing in the Disciplines classes and other writing requirements within their majors.

REACH researchers will assist with compiling assignments within a designated discipline and categorizing objectives and expectations for students, as well as contacting faculty for informational interviews. Disciplinary findings will then be summarized and compared with other disciplines to “map” the spectrum of undergraduate writing.

Mark Sursavage:



Opening Up Anti-Asian Racism Dialogues through Storymap

Anti-Chinese sentiment and Sinophobia are some of the most serious side effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. But the cries of “Chinese virus” resound beyond the current pandemic and into a long history of anti-Asian hostility in the United States. Using Storymap as a technological and educational tool, we demonstrate how anti-Asian racism is a historically-constructed notion over time and provide a big picture of anti-Asian incidents during the pandemic through the Storymaps of three States – New York, California, and Texas. Individual experiences recorded in writings, photographs, newspaper interviews and social media portray the collective, traumatic experience of the Asian American community.

Students who are interested in learning how to collect, clean, and visualize data to develop engaging presentations will help to collect journals, academic articles and data with a particular theme or research question in mind. They may also conduct interviews and make videos to add to our existing Storymap. Student researchers may also contribute to a journal article.

Melody Yunzi Li:
Sammy Hwang:
Yali Zou: 



OER Textbook: Be a Tech Advanced Cultural Learner

This project is working to create an open textbook that engages students through emerging technologies. The textbook will help students quickly get involved with the cultural aspects of a particular place through diverse channels, exploring topics like cuisine, music, and city development. Furthermore, the textbook will support students as they choose fitting technologies as a platform to express and communicate their understanding to the instructor and peers. Lastly, it guides students step-by-step to use technological tools for effective learning. Faculty can use the textbook to access exemplary cases and be encouraged to think about how to customize new technology in their own classroom.

Student researchers will research related open textbook resources; compose, review or edit open textbook content under the team’s guidance; design and develop graphics, audio, or video content for the book; and help to communicate with Open Textbook communities. Students will learn about OER and get first-hand experience in creating an OER textbook, developing basic research, video-making, written, and communication skills.

Melody Yunzi Li:
Sammy Hwang:
Fang Fang:
Ariana Santiago:



Triumph and Tragedy in the Bayou City’s Civil Rights Era

On November 23, 1968, 20-year-old Lynn Eusan was crowned the University of Houston’s first African American homecoming queen. An important civil rights activist, both as a UH student and after her graduation, Eusan’s inspirational life and her murder in September 1971, for which no one was ever convicted, offers a rich, multi-faceted lens through which to explore Houston in the 1960s and 1970s: the fraught and sometimes violent transition from a deeply segregated to racially diverse city, its police department and judicial system, student activism at UH and TSU, and issues of gender, race, and systemic racism that we still grapple with today.

This project is comprised of research drawn from the UH MD Anderson Library’s special collections and oral histories focused on civil rights, including its collection on A.A.B.L. (Afro-Americans for Black Liberation), and the African American Library at the Gregory School, which houses local Black newspapers from the period including those that reported on the murder trial. Additionally, the project is comprised of attempts to obtain extant city, police, and judicial records on Eusan’s murder and the subsequent trial in order to call on officials to reopen the case to bring about justice for Lynn and closure for the Eusan family. Lastly, the project culminates in telling the stories that our investigative research has uncovered and pieced together, either through an article written for publication or a recorded podcast series.

Irene Guenther: ivguenth@Central.UH.EDU 



The Year 1771

What could seem more concrete, yet difficult to pin down, than the notion of a “year”? This project aims to convey some of the surprises of thinking through 1771, a single year in the literature and culture of the eighteenth-century British empire, as it was experienced by writers in three distinct locations: London, Edinburgh, and Philadelphia. And yet this single year, when viewed from the perspective of three major cities of the British Atlantic world, contains multitudes as well as an encyclopedic assortment of writing. The writings of this year, now increasingly digitized, are now available for inquiry and analysis in ways unimaginable to scholars even a few decades ago. These approaches should help us learn how to tell new stories about the authors and printers of this year, the genres they produced, and their responses to the year’s events.

The 1771 team is seeking student research assistants for its ongoing digital humanities project, which has already resulted in one collaboratively authored, peer-reviewed scholarly article and a forthcoming website to accompany its findings. The position will entail data entry and cleaning, along with some scholarly and editorial work associated with the project dataset and accompanying website. Though previous experience in digital research is not necessary, desirable candidates will be quick studies, good problem solvers, detail-oriented, and comfortable with technology.

David Mazella:
Article: “All the modes of story”: Genre and the Gendering of Authorship in the Year 1771"



Making the History of UH Student Group Afro Americans for Black Liberation (AABL) Available Online

This digital project aims to gather disparate resources (across UH Special Collections) and make them available in a curated online resource and exhibition.

In 1967, a UH sophomore, Gene Locke, created the student organization Committee for Better Race Relations (COBRR), which soon became Afro Americans for Black Liberation (AABL, pronounced “able”). In the spring semester of 1969, AABL presented their “10 Demands” to UH President Phillip G. Hoffman, and throughout the semester, AABL rallied almost daily for support on campus. AABL’s activities led to the creation of the UH Afro-American Program (now the African American Studies Department) later that year. AABL members Lynn Eusan, Ester King, Omawale Lithuli Allen (Dwight Allen when he led AABL) made their base in the community and helped to establish SHAPE Center. Deloyd T. Parker, Jr. co-founded the organization and has served as its executive director since 1969.

REACH students will research ABBL’s history using archival collections across UH Special Collections—from student publications to UH administrator’s records. Using these primary sources, as well as secondary sources, the student researcher will provide the context and description for an online resource and exhibition using the Omeka platform.

Mary Manning:

See the REACH Project archive here.

The University of Houston's drive for research and excellence in humanities is exemplified through the Research for Aspiring Coogs in the Humanities (REACH) program. To learn more, read about our launch: 

University of Houston Launches a New Undergraduate Research Program

For an example of work completed as part of the program, check out this article from UH Libraries about an exhibit curated by 2021-2022 REACH participant Kennedy Williams.

New Exhibit Features Houston GLBT Political Caucus


REACH 20222023 Application Deadline: September 7, 2022

For more information, contact:
Rikki Bettinger,
Ben Rayder,