Chapman Study Spots

Chapman Undergraduate Researchers Harness Summer Fellowship to New Ground on Perennial Topics The university’s Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program sparks studies focused on LGBTQ issues, music trends, seafood mislabeling and disabled veterans.

Chapman University proudly showcases the achievements of four students who have delved into diverse realms of research and creativity, in an eight-week summer research program that includes a $4,000 stipend for 30 hours of research work per week. As part of Chapman’s Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program, these projects encompass multiple topics from reimagining fairy tales through a queer lens to predicting trends in house music, shedding light on the complexities of seafood mislabeling and giving a voice to the often-overlooked experiences of disabled military veterans. 

Once Upon an LGBTQIA+ Dream: Exploring Queer Marginality in Folklore

Jade McDonald ’24, a creative writing major, has breathed new life into classic fairy tales, elevating their narratives with a contemporary twist. Throughout the course of the fellowship, McDonald immersed themselves in queer and feminist theories and explored how heteronormative ideas are embedded within ancient stories. The research served as a springboard for the creative portion of the project — their own retellings of “Sleeping Beauty,” in which the heroine chooses her own destiny and a “Beauty and the Beast” reimagined through a queer and feminist lens.

The Future of Music: Analyzing House Music Trends through Analytics and AI

Marcelo De La Maza Mendizabal ’24, applied cutting-edge technology to understand the future  of house music. Using audio analytics and AI, Mendizabal examines quantifiable elements in house tracks, offering insights into the genre’s trends and factors behind its rise in popularity. The seeds of this project were sown in February, during his enrollment in a finance class at Chapman’s Center for Global Education at City University in London. “Exploring predictive trends captivate me,” he shared, explaining how he seamlessly melded his newfound knowledge with his deep-rooted passion for music. His approach illuminates formerly arcane topics, such as: what makes a song particularly “danceable.”

Canning the World’s Favorite Fish: Unveiling the Truth of Seafood Mislabeling

Chloe Castanon ’25, a biological sciences major, aims to combat seafood mislabeling. Her research explores DNA testing methods for canned tuna. The canning process, including the heat applied, can adversely affect DNA integrity. Castanon employs three DNA testing methods across 24 samples to discern the most efficient and accurate techniques for identifying tuna species in commercial cans, even when multiple species coexist within a single container. 

Home of the Brave: Giving Voice to Disabled Veterans through Art and Advocacy

Vivianna Juarez ’24, a passionate advocate for veterans’ rights, harnesses the power of art to amplify the voices of disabled veterans. Through intimate interviews and poignant photographs, Juarez illuminates the struggles and resilience of these heroes as they navigate life beyond the battlefield. Juarez asked the tough questions: What is the lived experience of US military vets? How are their lives impacted and what can we do to help? Home of the Brave is a deep dive into the long-lasting effects of war on disabled veterans. She said: “While some disabilities are visible, many are mental,” said Juarez. “It started out as being about the veterans, but quickly became about their families.”

About Chapman University

Founded in 1861, Chapman University is a nationally ranked private university in Orange, California, about 30 miles south of Los Angeles. Chapman serves nearly 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students, with a 12:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Students can choose from 123 areas of study within 11 colleges for a personalized education. Chapman is categorized by the Carnegie Classification as an R2 “high research activity” institution. Students at Chapman learn directly from distinguished world-class faculty including Nobel Prize winners, MacArthur fellows, published authors and Academy Award winners.The campus has produced a Rhodes Scholar, been named a top producer of Fulbright Scholars and hosts a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious honor society. Chapman also includes the Harry and Diane Rinker Health Science Campus in Irvine. The university features the No. 4 film school and No. 60 business school in the U.S. Learn more about Chapman University:


Carly Murphy