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Passion for Research

ACC Meeting of the Minds Conference Attracts Top Student Researchers

A group of 7 young people are posed together

(From left): SOURCE assistant director Odette Marie Rodríguez poses with student researchers Jordyn Lee ’25, Katarina Sako ’24, Nathan Ashby ’23, Husna Tunje ’24 and Grace Brock ’23 during the annual ACC Meeting of the Minds research conference.


Each spring, there’s a prestigious, student-centric event featuring colleges and universities affiliated with the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) that has nothing to do with March Madness and everything to do with research and preparedness.

During the annual ACC Meeting of the Minds research conference, held March 24-26 on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Virginia, undergraduate students from each ACC institution convened to present recent findings to their peers.

The nomination and selection process—conducted by the Syracuse Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Engagement (SOURCE)—is extremely competitive, and only five students represented Syracuse:

  • Jordyn Lee, a sophomore sport management major in Falk College;
  • Nathan Ashby, a senior biochemistry and neuroscience major in the College of Arts and Sciences;
  • Grace Brock, a senior political science major in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and College of Arts and Sciences;
  • Katarina Sako, a junior neuroscience and biology major in the College of Arts and Sciences; and
  • Husna Tunje, a junior environmental engineering major in the College of Engineering and Computer Science.

Students either delivered a 10-minute oral presentation followed by a Q&A (Brock and Sako) or they devised a poster displaying their research (Ashby, Lee and Tunje).

Get to know this year’s Falk College Orange representative at the conference, her passion for her research topic and how this experience inspired her to go further with her research:

Jordyn stand next to a research poster

Jordyn Lee’s research focused on the lack of diversity and equity in the front offices of professional sports teams and leagues.


Jordyn Lee ’25: Tracking a Lack of Diversity and Equity in Professional Sports Front Offices

When Lee heads home after completing her sophomore year, she will intern for two different sports organizations: with event operations for Fastpitch Nation Softball Park, a sports complex in Windsor, Connecticut, and with USA Boccia, a national organization dedicated to promoting a highly competitive seated Paralympic sport where athletes with disabilities and able-bodied athletes participate in a throwing sport.

Lee, a lifelong tennis player, hopes to work for a professional sports organization or league once she finishes her sport management degree. As someone who grew up playing and following sports, Lee knows the front offices of these leagues and teams predominantly feature male executives.

When she arrived on campus, Lee noticed that her sport management classes contained mostly males, but she was determined to follow in the footsteps of recent female sport management graduates who have landed key jobs with professional sports teams and leagues. Those experiences of being in the minority in the classroom, combined with her personal experiences in sports, inspired Lee’s poster presentation delving into the lack of diversity and equity among the front offices of teams in both the National Football League (NFL) and the National Basketball Association (NBA).

“Just speaking with the other participants at the Meeting of the Minds gave me new insights into my research and [the knowing] that the possibilities are endless,” Lee says. “This experience inspired me to keep doing what I’m doing, to keep going with this research, and to expand it to include other sports leagues, like the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), to compare their front offices to the NBA teams. I left this conference more determined to raise awareness of this issue and make changes in these professional sports organizations.”

Read more about all the students representatives.