The injustices of offshore tax evasion. The relationship between Sigmund Freud and his mentor Jean-Martin Charcot. The connection between stress responses and glucose-sensing neurons in the brain. The power of dance to promote social-emotional learning.

These topics sparked the interest of three recent Fordham College at Lincoln Center graduates whose research papers were honored by the Global Undergraduate Awards, a Dublin-based program that recognizes top undergraduate work and seeks to connect students across cultures and disciplines.

Examining the Injustice of Tax Crimes

Public awareness of offshore financial crimes has risen since the publication of the Panama and Paradise Papers in 2015 and 2017, respectively, but Briana Boland, FCLC ’19 was left wondering whether the attention has resulted in increased regulation.

For her foreign service seminar, the international studies major looked at the tax governance policies of the United Nations, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the Group of 20, the international body composed of leaders from nearly two dozen of the world’s largest economies.

What she found is that while public scrutiny of offshore finance has increased, there has been little progress toward better international tax governance.

“Global governance mechanisms have failed to effectively regulate tax avoidance,” Boland writes in “Tax Injustice: The Failure of Public Scrutiny to Translate into Global Tax Governance.”

She does express optimism about the potential for increased public attention to lead to better regulation, stating in the paper’s conclusion that “[p]ublic engagement and activism to hold states and intergovernmental organizations accountable … is critically important to ensuring any future justice and equality in the international economy.”

Boland’s paper was recognized by the Global Undergraduate Awards as a Highly Commended entry in the political science and international relations category—a designation given to the top 10% of papers submitted in each subject area. It later was named a Regional Winner, meaning it was deemed the best paper in that category in the United States and Canada.

Boland described the recognition as “a tangible result of hard work and scholarship,” and expressed gratitude to her faculty mentor, adjunct instructor Anna Levy, “for encouraging me to pursue my research interest in the topic and for continuing to work with me even after our class had ended.”

Since graduating from Fordham last May, Boland spent the summer in Dalian, China, studying Chinese as a recipient of the Critical Language Scholarship from the U.S. State Department. Now she’s back in New York City interning for U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on immigration and foreign affairs issues.

Freud as a Mentee—and the Amygdala’s Role in Eating Behavior

Kaetlyn Conner, FCLC ’19, who majored in integrative neuroscience, produced two award-winning papers.

In “Charcot: The Catalyst of Freudian Psychoanalysis,”—which received the Global Undergraduate Awards’ Highly Commended designation in history—she focused on the relationship between Sigmund Freud and one of his mentors, Jean-Martin Charcot. Conner decided to write about Freud and Charcot as a final assignment for her interdisciplinary capstone course, Hysteria/Sexuality/Unconscious, taught by professors Doron Ben-Atar and Anne Hoffman, because they were both prominent figures in the study of hysteria and sexuality.

Freud worked under Charcot, a prominent neurologist, at Paris’s La Salpêtrière hospital in 1885 and 1886, an experience that gave Freud the tools to invent the practice of psychoanalysis, Conner wrote.

“Freud’s ideas about trauma, sexuality, and hypnosis, that were formed and shaped by his early exposure to male hysteric patients and Charcot’s therapeutic methodologies, went on to have significant impacts on Freud’s way of thinking,” she wrote.

“By studying the works of both men, I was able to draw parallels between the two and infer some of the effects that Charcot’s work may have had on Freud’s career.”

Conner’s second paper earned the Highly Commended honor in psychology.

In “Glucose-Sensing Neurons in the Medial Amygdala and their Role in Glucose Homeostasis,” she investigated the way the medial amygdala portion of the brain responds to glucose levels, and how that affects subjects’ eating behaviors.

While most studies on glucose-sensing in the brain have focused on similar neurons in the hypothalamus and brain stem, Conner finds that the medial amygdala, which is central to reproductive, sexual, emotional, and defensive responses, may also have a role in feeding behaviors or glucose regulation.

“As obesity rates in America continue to rise at alarming rates,” Conner writes, “research investigating the neuronal processes and mechanisms behind feeding behavior will continue to be of the utmost importance.”

The paper came out of an independent research project Conner conducted under the supervision of Sarah Stanley, Ph.D., at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital. Conner continued to working in the Stanley Laboratory after graduating from Fordham, thanks to a grant from the American Heart Association that allowed her to extend her work there through the summer. More recently, she moved back to her hometown of Pittsburgh for a job as a research specialist in the CARE Laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, which studies how parental care is related to how children learn to express and regulate their emotions using brain and behavioral methods.

Conner says that her research and professional success reaffirm that she chose the right school.

“Fordham’s unique mixture of supportive peers and engaging professors really challenged me and gave me the space to explore new areas of research that I had not previously considered,” she said.

Dance Education as an Agent for Change

Caroline Shriver, FCLC ’19, double majored in dance and Latin American and Latino studies, and she brought both of those subjects to bear in her award-winning research, which was recognized in the anthropology and cultural studies category.

In “Becoming an Agent for Positive Change: Youth Development of Self Efficacy and Agency through Social and Emotional Dance Education in Aguas Frías, Colombia,” Shriver sought to demonstrate how Colombia’s tumultuous history and identity of conflict pervade the country to this day, and how students would benefit from an emphasis on social-emotional learning.

After teaching dance-based social-emotional learning classes in the rural community of Aguas Frías and conducting interviews with a number of her students, she found that “a physicalized form of social-emotional learning gave students the opportunity to develop a degree of self-efficacy.”

In these classes, she had students take part in physical trust-building exercises, and she asked them to teach a dance move to their peers to build a collaborative choreography.

Employing her research and that of others, she concluded that physicalized social-emotional education “offers an effective strategy to combat Colombia’s social order of conflict and provides a vehicle for young people to develop personal and cultural agency.”

Since graduating from Fordham, Shriver traveled to Spain, Berlin, and Panama, where she participated in dance workshops and taught dance. She also led a group of 13 undergraduate dancers from the U.S. on a dance outreach trip to Colombia. After returning from these travels, she has been freelancing as both a dancer and dance teacher. She said she plans on continuing to pursue a career as an artist and social activist.

“This award reminds me that arts education can have a positive impact on young people around the world, and it inspires me to further develop and share my passion for dance education,” Shriver said.

Boland, Conner, and Shriver are not the first Fordham students to be recognized by the Global Undergraduate Awards. In 2018, Joshua Anthony, FCLC ’19, was named a Global Winner for his paper on the morphing historical perceptions of La Malinche, the indigenous woman who was the chief translator to Hernán Cortés.

“The range of the majors and minors of these winners captures just some of the breadth of the many academic and research opportunities offered at Fordham University,” said Josie Grégoire, J.D., assistant dean for seniors at Fordham College at Lincoln Center. “We are delighted with their success.”