Christian Gum was born and raised in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. During his junior year at the University of New Hampshire (UNH), he developed the research topic for his Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) based on a suggestion from his mentor, Dr. Cathy Frierson. As a history major with a Russian minor, Christian was inspired to combine his interests in Russian literature and the history of the expansion of the Russian empire to investigate how American authors were perceived in Russia. A “happy accident” partway through his research brought Christian to examine the connections between James Fenimore Cooper and Leo Tolstoy. His SURF experience helped Christian appreciate how adaptable researchers must be. Christian found satisfaction in the unexpected nature of his research path and in the connections he discovered. An aspiring high school social studies teacher, Christian hopes to communicate the social studies skills he learned during this experience with future students. He completed the Honors in Major program and will graduate with a bachelor of arts degree in history in spring 2018. In fall 2018 he will intern as a student teacher at a local high school, completing his master’s degree in education in spring 2019.