“The genesis of my interest in history has to do with my first book project, which really got me into history for the first time, after my undergraduate life. I was interested in political activism, and then I looked at the American Revolution,” Dierks said.
Recently, Dierks lead undergraduate student Grace Boya Shen in historical research. He had previously supervised honors theses and worked on independent projects with students in his classes, but this was the first research project that came from his own work for which he recruited a student. The two collaborated to translate a work by Liang Qi Chao.
“My part in the project is to look at American media representations of (Liang Qi Chao’s) travels across the United States. He writes a travel narrative of his journey, and I’m looking at the other side: American media looking at Liang Qi Chao as he traveled,” Dierks said.
As a faculty member, Dierks says that being a mentor for an undergraduate creates extra work. Mentorships aren’t factored into professors’ evaluations. It can be difficult to find students with the right combination of interest and talent. But, finding the right student can be very rewarding.
“Grace has essentially been another project manager within the project, and an absolutely indispensable one…” Dierks said. “I have my own devotion to this unexpected research project, and it has been matched with Grace’s indefatigable translating, researching, and organizing work.”