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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 a dozen students 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. REACH mentors receive a $300 stipend.

  Applications for the 2021-2022 academic year are now closed.

   Check back in summer 2022 for program updates!

Selected students will be expected to:

  1. Devote a minimum of 67 hours of research activity per week for the 20212022 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 14, 2022


  • Sophomore, junior, senior and transfer students at UH main campus enrolled for the 20212022 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. 

  Black. Migration. Houston.

Black. Migration. Houston.

Black migrants are impacted by structures of power that produce anti-Black policies, homophobia, economic constraints and more. Our digital humanities project, “Black. Migration. Houston.” takes a transnational Black feminist approach to public-facing scholarship around the intersection of anti-blackness, migration and sexuality. Our interdisciplinary work centers on challenges faced by migrants to Houston, working with Black migrants to educate the public through digital media tools. The central goal of our project is to produce dynamic digital resources about race, gender, sexuality and migration.

As part of this collaborative, students will gain experience working with community activists and scholars with expertise in women’s, gender and sexuality studies, critical race theory, sociology, multicultural and global journalism studies, geography, language justice and grassroots organizing. Students will conduct research and craft writing to contribute to the ongoing construction of our website, where we offer the public visual and auditory depictions of migration, sexuality and anti-blackness.

Rachel Quinn:
Zelma Oyarvide Tuthill:


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:


Working with Primary Source Historical Archives

UH Library Special Collections is excited to host one REACH participant to work with a modern historical archive selected collaboratively by the participant and the project supervisor, head of special collections Christian Kelleher. Possible collections may include the business records and photographs of the Red Adair Company, documenting the career of Houston’s charismatic oil well fire fighter; the personal papers of former Houston mayor Annise Parker and her spouse Kathy Hubbard that document Houston’s LGBTQ history; or the artists and business of influential Houston art gallerist Thomas V. Robinson and Robinson Galleries.

Activities will include learning the process of archival arrangement, preservation, cataloging and digitization; performing historical research and writing on the selected collection, individuals and topics; and curating a physical and/or digital exhibition based on the archival materials. Work will occur on site in the offices of special collections located in M.D. Anderson Library.

Christian Kelleher, Head of Special Collections:


DJ Screw Sound Recordings

For this project, the student will develop an online guide to the DJ Screw Sound Recordings, a collection of approximately 1,600 vinyl records that belonged to the iconic Houston “chopped and screwed” mixtape DJ. Using existing catalog records, the student will create a spreadsheet of the holdings, which will allow researchers to sort the recordings by artist, location and other facets. Then, they will create a small online exhibition describing the collection, its strengths and the relationship of various sound recordings to songs on DJ Screw mixtapes. The student may also choose to research a particular aspect of the collection.

In undertaking this project with the guidance of the curator of the Houston Hip Hop Research Collection, the student will acquire skills in research about primary sources and selection, analysis and presentation of archival materials. Some work will occur on-site in special collections at M.D. Anderson Library.

Julie Grob:
Visit the DJ Screw Sound Recordings website.
Note: This collection includes explicit language.


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
Check out the Audio/Video Repository website.


Black Power and Art in Houston

On March 7, 1969, both black and white students at UH marched into President Hoffman’s office, asking him to fight racism and support the demands of black student activists. The march took place in the context of a crucial moment in Houston's cultural, social and political history as the Black Power and Black Art movements took root in the city. This project seeks to tell the story of the people who contributed to these movements in our city.

Our project seeks young scholar-activists interested in pursuing archival research in the special collections at UH, TSU, Rice, the African American Library at the Gregory School, the Menil Collection and the Houston Metropolitan Research Center and/or conducting oral history interviews with members of the community who were leading activists during this time.

Duy Nguyen:
Cedric Tolliver:
A recent article:


Digital Research Commons: Data and Visualizations in English Literature

Students working with the Digital Research Commons (DRC) will contribute to one of many projects supported by the DRC. These include:

“Who Was the English Enlightenment?” By enriching the data we have on the 3,000 English individuals recorded in Electronic Enlightenment as being correspondents during the Enlightenment, I am hoping  along with a team of other researchers  to answer long-asked questions about the demographic constitution of the institutions of the Enlightenment in England. When was it? Who was it? What characteristics were they likely to hold in common? I am looking for someone to help me with cleaning the data, checking the literature in historical and literary studies for conjectures about the composition of the English Enlightenment that we can test and visualizing the results. This will contribute to an article.

“1771 in 3 Cities: Genre Boundaries and Dispersion” Using results from previous iterations of this project, this stage takes the 2,000+ items published in the year 1771 in three cities, along with the 10 categories and 100+ genres established earlier, and examines the spatial and boundary relations between literary and extraliterary genres. This project will conduct network analyses and visualizations of these relations and will also tackle the significant conceptual problem of the collection to see whether there is a relation to be drawn between this year’s aggregate genres (e.g., “Works,” “Miscellanies,” periodicals) and its principles of genre differentiation and attraction.

Claude Willan, UH Libraries:
DRC Projects Page:


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 learn how to create engaging stories and digital displays from ancient material and scholarship. You will also gain technical skills and participate in a collaborative team process. Most importantly, you will contribute to our ultimate goal: preserving knowledge of the ancient Middle East, while inviting the public to engage with the vital, contemporary issue of Syrian heritage.

SYRIOS site: 


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 our latest article: 

University of Houston Launches a New Undergraduate Research Program


REACH 20212022 Application Deadline: September 7, 2021

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