Students from QF Partner Georgetown Win Top Honors at QNRF Undergraduate Research Competition


The outstanding research efforts of students at Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q) were recognized at the Qatar National Research Fund’s 13th Annual Undergraduate Research Experience Program (UREP) Competition, where two teams from the QF partner institution won first place in the poster and oral presentation categories.

Held virtually this year, the UREP competition featured 26 teams from universities across Qatar.  The GU-Q teams competed in the Social Arts and Humanities pillar of the competition, and presented original research on the socio-economic and policy environment of Qatar conducted while they were undergraduates.

Alisha Kamran (SFS‘18) and Halak Sheth (SFS‘18) won Best Oral Presentation for their project, “Investigating the Resilience of Qatar’s Trade Network” (UREP 23-148-5-036) under the mentorship of Dr. Jack Rossbach, Assistant Professor of Economics.

Their winning project determined that Qatar is well diversified across trading partners and imported products, but highlighted the need for continued diversification. “The work Alisha and Halak did as student researchers was extremely impressive and relevant to Qatar,” said Dr. Rossbach. “And the award was an acknowledgement of that.”

For the researchers, UREP offered a chance to practice applying their developing skill sets while an undergraduate. “Our faculty mentor has been paramount to this research study. His courses equip students with the ability to clean large economic datasets and build code for trade models which we were able to apply to the study of the resilience in Qatar’s trade network,” said Sheth.  Partner Kamran added that the UREP program “provided graduates like Halak and myself the opportunity to apply classroom learning to the real world, and to experience research culture first-hand while appreciating the challenge of contributing to existing literature.”

Best Poster Presentation was awarded to Abdul Rehmaan Qayyum (SFS‘21) and Khansa Maria (SFS‘21) for their project on “Humanizing Resources: Analyzing Employment Opportunities for the Disabled in Qatar” (UREP 24-215-5-041).

Mentor Zahra Babar, Associate Director for Research at the GU-Q Center for International and Regional Studies (CIRS), said: “ This project draws attention to an understudied but important socioeconomic issue: how to better include people with disabilities in Qatar’s national labor market. And as their poster demonstrates, the project’s findings hold both scientific value and policy relevance.”

The team’s Primary Research Mentor, Dr. Sonia Alonso, Associate Professor of Government, added that GU-Q students are encouraged to focus on regional issues with global relevance, saying “We hope these awards will contribute to making Qatari society aware of the importance of the social sciences to generate knowledge with real-life impact.”

“This recognition from QNRF is important because it increases the visibility of our project, and more importantly, the issue that we are highlighting,” said Maria. “I am grateful to our mentors for pushing us beyond our comfort zone and making sure that we gave the project our best. We are also grateful to the disability community in Qatar for supporting our project in every way possible.”

Receiving UREP funding for a project around disability-related issues was inspiring to Qayyum, who added: “This recognition is a huge motivating factor for me to continue working for the inclusion of disabled people in Qatar and for other significant causes.”  At GU-Q, students are encouraged to pursue research outside of the classroom through programs such as UREP in order to ​​​​​​provide students with an opportunity to develop research skills and gain experience while addressing real-world issues under the mentorship of a faculty member.


Source: Georgetown University