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Investigative Studies Experience
Lily Sorensen ’26
Lily Sorensen sits at a desk


Actuarial Science



Faculty Mentor

Dr. Michelle Jeitler, Mathematics

Current Research Project

A Statistical Analysis of Mental Training in Backyard Ultra Marathons 

Lily Sorensen is a sophomore at Marietta College, and she participated in the Investigative Studies Program in Summer 2023 and presented her findings on “A Statistical Analysis of Mental Training in Backyard Ultra Marathons” in June. Lily plans to graduate in three years and start her career as an actuary. She plans to complete an internship during the summer of 2024. Lily has performed in three on-campus plays — Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley (Fall 2020), Be Aggressive (Spring 2023), and Much Ado About Nothing (Fall 2023).

Can you translate your work so we can all understand its importance?

Ultra Marathons are any type of race that is longer than that of a standard marathon (26.2 miles) and there are specific types of these races called backyard Ultras where racers essentially run until they can't anymore. I looked if mental toughness affects people dropping out of this race.

What did you learn most from your research?

I came into this experience not really understanding what the steps to do a research project were, and I came out of the process with a much greater understanding.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?

I got involved in undergraduate research when at the end of the Fall 2022 semester Professor Jeitler approached me and asked if I wanted to work with her on research, as the student she had been working with was graduating in the spring.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?

Don’t be scared to ask questions, especially to your mentor, because everyone involved in the process wants you to do well and learn. It’s important to remember that no one is going to expect you to get everything perfect on the first try.

Mentor Michelle Jeitler says:

A program like Investigative Studies is amazing because we can take a talented first-year student like Lily and expose them to research. Lily did a phenomenal job in every aspect of her research project this summer. It was a great experience to work with a student as motivated as Lily outside of the classroom.