Notice of Online Archive

  • This page is no longer being updated and remains online for informational and historical purposes only. The information is accurate as of the last page update.

    For questions about page contents, contact the Communications Division.

Having relocated 14 times since age six, Nicole Parillo ’06 (Holliston, Mass) has developed a keen interest in urban and suburban living.

“I have forged my own notions of the way residents of a given area form perceptions of how a community should be composed,” she says.

A double major in government & law and anthropology & sociology, Parillo is examining neighborhoods in Philadelphia, Boston, and Atlanta as part of a year-long senior honors thesis. Having laid the groundwork in an independent study this spring, she will interview suburban and urban residents to determine how the appearance of each resident’s community affects his or her relationship with it.

“This project sums up exactly what I want to pursue in life,” she says. “It is a dream of mine to improve the American landscape. I want to see a complete revitalization of America’s cities, and I want suburban residents to begin to view the cities as great places to raise a family or start a new life.”

Rebecca J. Kissane, assistant professor of anthropology and sociology and Parillo’s adviser, says the project is unique because it targets methods of moving middle-class families out of the suburbs and into the cities.

“Nicole is interested in examining the interactions among public space, infrastructure, community, and social relations in metropolitan areas,” she says.

Parillo is using a qualitative approach to focus on the use of public space in a community, residents’ definitions of a community, perceptions of urban and suburban living, and ties within the community.

“Nicole’s project is rather ambitious, methodologically speaking,” Kissane says. “Her approach takes into account comparisons on multiple levels – between metropolitan areas like Boston versus Philadelphia and within metropolitan areas like cities versus suburbs.”

Kissane says Parillo’s enthusiasm for the topic has been contagious.

“I am thoroughly enjoying working with her,” she says. “She is abundantly eager and diligent in her work.”

Parillo believes the project will be integral for her future. She plans on pursuing a master’s degree in urban and regional planning as well as real estate development certification.

“[The thesis] will greatly help me in knowing what people want when I plan or develop communities,” she says.

Kissane credits Lafayette with encouraging students to conduct research with faculty.

“Lafayette provides students like Nicole an opportunity to work closely with faculty and experience the rigors and rewards of conducting research,” she says. “She is gaining the benefits of an excellent education in the classroom, but is also afforded the opportunity to see a research project through from start to finish.”

Parillo takes guitar lessons through the music department and previously took vocal lessons.

Kissane came to Lafayette last fall from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School, where she was postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Research on Child Wellbeing. She was also postdoctoral fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research. She holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in sociology and graduate certificate in urban studies from University of Pennsylvania and B.A. in sociology from Villanova University.

Honors thesis projects are among several major opportunities at Lafayette that make the College a national leader in undergraduate research. Lafayette sends one of the largest contingents to the National Conference on Undergraduate Researcheach year. Thirty-nine students were accepted to present their work at this year’s conference.

Categorized in: Academic News