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‘Killer' project lands CLAS student undergraduate research award

Date: 6/1/2015
Karyna Sitkowski
Karyna Sitkowski, a senior in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Wayne State University, followed her own advice when it came to choosing the topic of her recent research project: "Get weird with it and follow your passion.”  The Slavic studies and psychology double-major combined her lifelong fascination with Russian culture with a bit of morbid curiosity to fuel a yearlong research project examining infamous Russian serial killers.
Sitkowski’s pep talk paid off — literally. She recently received a $2,300 grant from Wayne State University's Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program for the project. Sitkowski plans to use the funds to expand her research with a trip to either the Crime Museum in Washington, D.C., or to Toronto to meet with experts in the field.
The project — in which Sitkowski studied the likes of notorious Russian serial killers such as Andrei Chikatilo and Alexander Pichushkin — examines cultural differences in psychology. "I think the greater impact is the way it highlights cross-cultural ideologies,” Sitkowski says. “It really shows a different perspective on society.” Her research was the central component of a directed study in Wayne State’s Department of Classical and Modern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures
The paper also landed Sitkowski an invite to Wayne State’s annual Rushton Undergraduate Conference on Language, Literature and Culture — an opportunity she won’t soon forget. “There was such a diverse group of presentations there,” says the aspiring Ph.D. “It was great to not only share something I worked so hard on, but also to see what my classmates are passionate about.” 
For more information on undergraduate research opportunities at Wayne State, visit