Three College of Fine Arts students receive research funding for Fall 2021

October 13 2021

The University of Utah's Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) gives undergraduate students and faculty mentors the opportunity to work together on research or creative projects. The program provides a stipend and educational programming for students who assist with a faculty member’s research or creative project or who carry out a project of their own under the supervision of a faculty member. Students may apply for UROP any semester and may be eligible for a one-semester renewal. UROP awardees are hired as temporary, part-time UROP Participants by the Office of Undergraduate Research and are paid $1,200 for 120 hours of research or creative work during the semester.

This fall, three College of Fine Arts students were awarded funding and are now hard at work on their research projects.

Here’s what they’re up to:

Makena Reynolds
Department of Theatre
Faculty Mentor: Alexandra Harbold

Reynolds is developing a musical based on the life and work of Emily Dickinson through the lens of those who shaped her legacy. What started as a commemoration of a famous poet's works turned into the investigation of her living life and how a falling out in the family shaped how we perceive Emily Dickinson in present day. After reading “Lives Like Loaded Guns” by Lyndall Gordon, the intrigue to tell Emily’s story grew amongst Reynolds' creative team. 

"It’s timely to tell the story of Queer women in theater. More specifically, it is important to tell the story of women through the female lens. Theater has the influence to sway audiences and tell them what is or is not important. The material currently available to produce within the theater industry does not accurately mirror the values of society today. Plays and musicals written by women for women are scarce, and to foster female theater artists intent on making change to the industry and society they require good material that supports it.

For this research I have paired with the registered student organization, Open Door Productions at the University of Utah, to use a departmental performance space and produce this show. A portion of this research project will be conducted in person and will involve producing a script, collaboration with other creators and artists, and ultimately stage a performance of this piece."

Mara Magistad
School of Dance
Faculty Mentor: Daniel Clifton

Mara Magistad, senior Modern Dance BFA student, is working on a UROP project titled "Developing Effective Personal Training Programs for Contemporary Dancers". The project looks at fitness levels, attitudes and behaviors towards fitness training in pre professional track contemporary dancers, and works to create specified programming for the individual based on their artistic and physical goals. Modalities used include weight lifting, high intensity interval training, core and balance training, and plyometrics, to name a few.

Brynn Staker
School of Music 
Faculty Mentor: Elizabeth Titrington Craft 

Brynn Staker is conducting musicology research with Dr. Elizabeth Titrington Craft. Dr. Craft is currently writing a book on George M. Cohan and early American musical theater. Staker's research involves cataloguing archived newspaper articles from around 1890-1942. She is creating a database of compiled and annotated articles that reference Cohan, his songs, or his work. 

"I am looking into the role of “international relationships” in early American music and musical theater. These relationships are a point of interest for many composers, and I find their fascination compelling. I will be comparing and contrasting different portrayed relationships, the perspective of the composers, and the affect this representation had on the public."