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For four weeks last summer, Emily Katz ’06 (Staten Island, N.Y.) rose at 7 a.m. from her bed in an early 20th century house on the grounds of artist Claude Monet’s estate in Giverny, France. By 8 a.m. Katz, a double major in history and French, was pulling weeds and cutting flowers in the garden that inspired many of Monet’s most famous impressionist paintings.

“We were outside every day,” says Katz, whose work as an intern for the New York City-based Versailles Foundation included assisting full-time gardeners at Fondation de Claude Monet, the museum that includes the artist’s home and surrounding grounds. “It was gorgeous.”

This past semester, Katz used her experience as the basis of an independent study project on why Monet chose to live and work at Giverny and how the town and his gardens influenced his later work.

“Every time that I see one of Monet’s paintings I get excited now because I am able to put myself in his exact spots,” Katz says. “I understand his garden patterns and color schemes because I helped to tend to the same type of flowers that he painted.”

Her research included the influences of other cultures on how Monet planned his garden, such as the famous water lily pond, which was based on Japanese prints.

Olga Anna Duhl, associate professor of foreign languages and literatures, mentored Katz in her research, which she believes was unique.

“I’m not aware of any studies that have been conducted from her angle,” she says. “Nobody has ever looked into what was really Monet’s idea about the place where he lived and worked and its surroundings.”

She adds that Katz, who plans to spend the spring semester studying at the University of Paris, took her research very seriously.

“She’s extremely motivated,” Duhl says. “She has good analytical skills and also she’s very creative. This research was a wonderful step towards her study abroad semester.”

Katz was impressed with Duhl’s depth of knowledge on the subject.

“I was very glad to work with her,” Katz says. “She was motivating and encouraged me to delve further into the material.”

Katz adds that Lafayette’s small size has allowed her to be creative and explore many different outlets.

“The environment allows for flexibility, which is important in independent studies,” she says, pointing out that as a double major, flexibility is especially important to her. “Lafayette does a great job of helping me to combine both my interests and take classes that will satisfy requirements for both subjects. It is great majoring in history and French because I can appreciate my history classes with a background in the language of the country I am studying.”

A graduate of Staten Island Academy, last semester Katz was president of Delta Gamma sorority, participated in the Adopt-a-Grandma program, and was a contributing writer for the Marooned satirical publication. During fall 2003, she interned in the art department, focusing on visual design.

As a national leader in undergraduate research, Lafayette sends one of the largest contingents to the National Conference on Undergraduate Research each year. Forty-two students were accepted to present their work at last year’s annual conference in April.

Categorized in: Academic News