This year, Penn hosted its first ever symposium on student research, bringing together Ivy League students from all disciplines to present and discuss their work. It wouldn't have been possible without Anuj Amin, symposium founder. Did we mention he's also good with a bow and arrow?
Hometown: Port Neches, Texas
Major: Religious Studies
Activities: Ivy League Undergraduate Research Symposium, Ivy League Undergraduate Journal of Research, Penn Journal of Religious Studies, Penn Archery
34th Street Magazine: Tell me a little bit about the Research Symposium and how you got involved in it.
Anuj Amin: In my junior year, I actually emailed CURF about an Ivy League research symposium of some sort—something of that nature—and then I found out that it hadn't existed. And one thing led to another, I started sculpting the idea, I created the proposal, I came up with an itinerary, put together a team, and everything started going underway at the end of my junior year, through the summer. And then in November of 2017, the inaugural symposium was held here at Penn.
Street: What's your role in the Research Symposium?
AA: I serve as the founder and I served as the executive director this past year, so I directed the whole Symposium and ensured that every step was made, every deadline was made, that it was a successful first symposium.
Street: How can people get involved?
AA: Right now, we actually just started our next cycle. I was super sad to have to let it go, just because it was, kind of, like my child. As they go forward, they'll be looking for committee members and the application will be circulating for them.
Street: What's your favorite memory from the Research Symposium this year?
AA: One of the most exciting things about the whole Symposium was on the weekend of, I was able to walk Bodek Hall and see all of the research of the different individuals presenting, and there were students from just about every discipline at the symposium. It was just really cool to talk to other undergraduates and get to ask them about what they study, about their thesis or the work they've done as an undergraduate, and actually see them have the opportunity to work with their peers and discuss ideas from across disciplines was honestly one of most gratifying aspects of the symposium
Street: What are your goals for the future of the Research Symposium?
AA: So because this was the first year in operation, I had like a thousand and seven notes that I had at the end of the Symposium and, in my opinion, there's always a way to improve an organization. You never just want to settle, so going forward, I definitely have given my thoughts and improvements for the symposium to the next executive director, but overall, our team is so happy with the way we ran it this year, and we just really want to carry a lot of the elements that we had brought to the symposium into this coming cycle.
Street: So you started this, you've done your own research. What is it?
AA: So I research some pretty strange stuff, I'm not gonna lie, so most of my stuff focuses on the underworld, demonism, or death, in part. So, right now, I'm currently studying necromancy in Ancient Egyptian religion and practice. They had a really robust afterlife depiction and really robust rituals for them when you die, so I really wanted to explore that theme of necromancy and imagine it through them.
Street: Of the activities and clubs you've mentioned, what's your favorite?
AA: I'd say, in my sophomore year, I had shot at the Ivy League Archery Tournament, and it was that tournament's second year in operation and it was Penn Archery's first year in operation, so it was really crazy to go out and shoot with other people, meet other people from the other Ivys, and see that there's this mutual interest in archery and that a developing community was occurring across the Ivy League, which is really cool.
Street: How did you find out that you were into archery?
AA: So the thing is, as a high schooler, I'd always kind of been interested in the sport. I always thought it was really cool, but I never really had the opportunity to explore it, and I didn't really know where to go to learn about it. I got here at Penn and I was really upset that there wasn't a team and I had started emailing people. I emailed a level 3 coach to get certified, I traveled back to Houston to get the certification, came back here, registered Penn with Team USA, and just one thing led to another and I kept going with it.
Street: Any plans after you graduate?
AA: Ask me in, like, a month.
Street: What's your favorite thing about Penn?
AA: I'd have to say, my favorite thing here about Penn is the Penn Museum. I think it's one of the most least known facilities on campus. It's actually truly one of the most amazing places. As a sophomore, I had the opportunity to go underground back when all the collections were still there, and it's literally like Night At The Museum. I mean, they have artifacts from across the world, across chronologies.
Street: What's your favorite show right now?
AA: Schitt's Creek
Street: Guilty pleasure?
AA: Sour Patch Kids
Street: First AIM name?
AA: anuja1995. I was lame as a kid.
Street: Favorite spot to eat on campus?
AA: Anything from Grubhub. (Ed. note: this doesn't count as a spot.)