UH Student to Present Research on Capitol Hill

Undergrad Derek Goodwin Selected for Prestigious "Posters on the Hill"

Mary Talbert's name might not ring a bell, but her contributions to African American history are starting to gain notice thanks to University of Houston student Derek Goodwin.

Goodwin's research has shed new light on Talbert's role in building the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in Texas. Soon, the junior history major will take his findings to Washington D.C., as a presenter at "Posters on the Hill" on May 5.

"Posters on the Hill" is an annual event sponsored by the Council of Undergraduate Research (CUR) to showcase students' research efforts to members of congress and representatives of higher education funding agencies. Goodwin’s abstract for a research poster titled "That Part of Hell Where We Should Work: Mary B. Talbert and the Texas NAACP" was selected for this event.

"It's exciting to have this opportunity to share my research and represent the university," Goodwin said.

Goodwin's research on this project began in 2007 through his partnership with UH's Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, an annual summer program that provides a $2,800 stipend to selected UH students. Faculty mentor and professor of history in UH's Honors College, Charles Orson Cook, directed him to an article on black history in Texas that made mention of Talbert's name. Follow-up investigations uncovered facts about Talbert's work in growing NAACP chapters in Texas in the early 20th century.

"Through NAACP records and her own written correspondence, we traced her tour through Texas as she recruited members in San Antonio, Dallas, Fort Worth and Austin between 1918 and 1919," Goodwin said. "Because of her work, NAACP membership in Texas was the highest in the nation. This is incredible considering the era and the country's attitudes toward race at that time."

During "Posters on the Hill," Goodwin will present a research poster summarizing his project. The event will be conducted in the Rayburn House Office Building, one of the buildings used by the U.S. House of Representatives. Coincidentally, this building's namesake, Sam Rayburn, and Goodwin hail from Bonham, Texas.

In preparation for his visit to Washington D.C., Goodwin will write letters to members of congress from the Texas area inviting them to "Posters on the Hill" and requesting meetings with them.  Among those to be invited by Goodwin are representatives Sheila Jackson Lee and Ralph Hall and senators John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison.

Goodwin's participation in "Posters on the Hill" is aided through the support of UH's Office of Undergraduate Discovery Programs. The office oversees the university's Learning through Discovery Initiative, which is aimed at bolstering undergraduate students' research abilities, providing research resources and partnering them with mentors.

"Working with student researchers is always a unique experience," said Goodwin's faculty mentor, Cook. "They are quickly engaged by the material, follow leads very quickly and face frustrations with patience. Derek faced some strong challenges, but found creative solutions that allowed him to complete his project."

Goodwin already has presented an earlier draft of this research in 2008 at the Southwestern Social Science Association Annual Meeting in Las Vegas. At this conference, it received the Best Paper Prize in U.S. History. Another paper related to this project, "Assault on the NAACP: The Austin Assault of John R. Shillady," was presented in 2008 at the Fall Meeting of the East Texas Historical Society.

When he arrives in Washington D.C., Goodwin won’t need a guide to show him around the city. He already has spent much time there while he worked as government intern. In 2007, he worked with the Department of Homeland Security and in 2008, he interned with the Department of Defense.

Goodwin will graduate in 2010. He aims to attend graduate school and ultimately return to Washington D.C. to seek a position with the DoD.
"Student accomplishments such as Derek's complement the university's educational mission.  We are proud of the national recognition for his research under the mentorship of Dr. Cook.  We hope that their accomplishments will inspire both faculty and students to engage in mentored research." said John D. Antel, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost.

To learn more about "Posters on the Hill," visit http://www.cur.org/poh/programinfo.html

For additional details on the Office of Undergraduate Discovery Programs and the Learning through Discovery Initiative, visit http://www.uh.edu/discovery/.

About the University of Houston
The University of Houston, Texas' premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 35,000 students.