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Office of News and Information
Johns Hopkins University
3003 N. Charles Street, Suite 100
Baltimore, Maryland 21218-3843
Phone: (410) 516-7160 | Fax (410) 516-5251

April 3, 2001
CONTACT: Leslie Rice Masterman

Hopkins Undergraduate Examines Sprawl in Salisbury

Barbara Kiviat, a senior from Salisbury, Md. was among 43 Johns Hopkins University students to receive a Provost's Undergraduate Research Award in the 2000-2001 academic year. Results of Kiviat's research, titled "Suburbanizing Small Town, U.S.A.: The Meta-Myth of Salisbury, Md." were presented at an awards ceremony Thursday, April 4, on the university's Homewood campus, 3400 N. Charles St., in Baltimore.

A story in her hometown piqued her interest: A farmer refuses for years to sell his land to developers, even the smallest corner needed for a road to a new housing development called Fox Chase. But eventually, the farmer sells.

It is a scenario happening throughout Maryland as farmland disappears and suburbia continues its sprawl. This particular farmer lives in Salisbury, and his is one of many stories that Kiviat, an aspiring journalist and senior in Hopkins' Writing Seminars, follows in her case study of this changing Eastern Shore town.

Barbara Kiviat, a senior in the Writing Seminars and an aspiring journalist, used her Provost's Undergraduate Research Award to fund investigative field trips, long-distance phone calls and a Dictaphone. In MSEL, above, she studied maps of Salisbury, Md., the focus of her project.
Photo by Will Kirk

Kiviat spent last summer poring over land records and population and agricultural data, interviewing real estate experts, camping out in the local historical library, recording oral histories of old and new Salisbury residents and examining her hometown with the eye of a journalist. Her grant money helped to buy a professional Dictaphone, and pay for copying materials, long-distance telephone interviews and the gas needed to drive back and forth from Salisbury.

The result is a well-written study of Salisbury's metamorphosis from small farm town to large suburb, even though its closest major city is three hours away. Kiviat has pitched the piece to several magazines and is waiting to hear back from them.

"I think the strength of the story is that Salisbury may seem to be an obscure part of the state, but it is a small model of the development and growth trends that are happening throughout the country," Kiviat said.

The Johns Hopkins University is recognized as the country's first graduate research university, and has been in recent years the leader among the nation's research universities in winning federal research and development grants.

The opportunity to be involved in important research is one of the distinguishing characteristics of an undergraduate education at Johns Hopkins. About 80 percent of the university's undergraduates engage in some form of independent research during their four years, most often alongside top researchers in their fields.

The Provost's Undergraduate Research Awards represent one of these research opportunities, open to students in each of the university's four schools with full-time undergraduates: the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, the G.W.C. Whiting School of Engineering, the Peabody Conservatory and the School of Nursing. Since 1993, about 40 students each year have been awarded up to $2,500 to propose and conduct original research, some results of which have been published in professional journals. The awards, funded through a donation from the Hodson Trust, are an important part of the university's commitment to research.

Return to Provost's Undergraduate Research Awards news release.

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