Summer 2022 Student Research Projects

Nick Taubenheim, Junior, Government

Faculty Advisor: William Ascher

Stigma, Shame, and Poverty Alleviation in Developing Countries

We examined how poverty alleviation programs may stigmatize beneficiaries in various developing countries, either purposefully or inadvertently.

Prior to my SRP experience, I had never spent so much time and effort on a single project. This type of research demanded a different type of thought--including the willingness to pursue different angles under the umbrella of my topic. Ultimately, this meant that I learned how to actively and purposefully read articles and sort through data in order to develop theories.

I liked the length of the SRP program. It was enough time for me to conduct thorough research on my topic and gain some specialized knowledge, but short enough to prevent the possibility of burn-out. Overall, the program's length is conducive to a rewarding experience.

Jonathan Becker, Junior, IR-Chinese with a CS Sequence
Faculty Advisor: Chelsea Zi Wang

Grappling with Two Views on Manchus in the Qing Dynasty
I researched the unique identity of the Manchus, who ruled China's Qing Dynasty.

I continued to refine my ability to do independent research, including the following skills: taking effective notes, managing sources, effectively putting sources into conversation, etc. On a more topic-specific level, I learned about countless pieces of evidence and viewpoints that I did not know about before.

I really loved the mix of autonomy and guidance that working with Prof. Wang provided. She's my favorite professor at CMC, and it was really fun and educational to work with her. She allowed me to try things out on my own while still making sure everything was going well and that I was not lost.

Colin Scanlon, Sophomore, Gov/Film Studies
Faculty Advisor: Michael Fortner

Crack: A Tragedy in Three Acts
Creating an accurate account of the lives of drug dealers and addicts during the crack era in the United States.

My research experience helped me gage a better understanding of a period of history that has been very impactful on America. Not only did I learn more about the actual time period, but I learned the value of assessing different perspectives. I learned how to conduct research by critically reading and thinking about sources, and then comparing and contrasting to see where there is potential for bias, misinterpretation, or other larger motives contributing to differences among sources. My research has taught me a great deal of history, critical thinking skills, and thoughtful analysis, and deepened my knowledge of a subject I was already very passionate about.

The program gives you a lot of freedom and resources to really excel in your research pursuits. I was so fortunate to have a professor and team of peers who shared the same passion, excitement, and genuineness for the project. While the program has its challenges of independent research and lots of self-determination, each week felt rewarding to submit a piece that fully showcased my work put forward and new knowledge.

Olivia Fish, Senior, PPE
Faculty Advisor: Michael Fortner

The Origins and Consequences of the Crack Epidemic: The Congressional Response    
An exploration of the congressional response to the crack epidemic as well as the public attitudes and responses to the war on drugs    

I learned more about the intensity of a full-time research position, but more importantly solidified an area of interest for myself. My thinking around the area of my research also dramatically changed, and proved to me the importance of going into a research project without assumptions.

My favorite part of this experience was working with and learning from Professor Fortner. Even in its early stages, it is fascinating to learn about the process of writing a book, and to see what such an extensive research project looks like and what it requires.

Nisha Singh, Senior, International Relations, Economics

Faculty Advisor: Jennifer Taw

Reimagining International Relations Theory    

The ultimate aim of the project is to create a textbook that sets itself apart from the traditional, Western-focused overview of international politics and can serve as a resource in the classroom.

I have learned how to synthesize dense theoretical articles into accessible educational material. Through this project, I also became more familiar with alternative approaches to international relations theory undertaken by different scholars in the field, including postcolonial studies, race and racism, feminism and global IR. This has not only deepened my understanding of my major, but allowed me to build a more critical lens and approach to the coursework.

I really enjoyed the lunch sessions where faculty presented. As a student interested in pursuing a career in academia, it was helpful to gain insight from mentors at CMC beyond just my faculty advisor.

Nicole Cheung, Sophomore, Economics and Psychology

Faculty Advisor: Professor Wei-Chin Hwang

Psychedelics: the re-emerging science and our studies

Based on past literature reviews and team discussions, our team developed two studies: 1) Attitude, Prevalence and Correlates of Psychedelic Substance Use in the 5C Community, and 2) Orientation Program's Effect on Psychedelic Experiences

I learned the process of IRB approval, the development from literature review to brainstorming study ideas to carrying out the study, the differences between studying a topic and researching a topic, my own understanding of what I want to do and not to do in the future career-wise, etc.

The amazing student researchers who support and encourage each other.

Bradley Kwon, Sophomore, Undecided (likely PPE or PPA)

Professor Shanna Rose

Federalism and the Minimum Wage

I examined the historical development of US minimum wage policy, with a particular emphasis on the FLSA of 1938, the states' minimum wage laws between the 1930s and the 1980s, and state preemption of local minimum wage laws.

I learned that while the research process can be daunting and challenging, it is a very rewarding process. I recall a time when I could not find a particular source about the inclusion of men in minimum wage laws in Oklahoma for several days. When I finally found what I was looking for, however, I felt immensely proud and had a newfound appreciation of the research process.

This research experience enabled me to become more adept at finding valuable, credible sources, writing detailed case studies, and forming structured arguments. I am confident that these skills will improve the way I approach my courses here at CMC.

I must add that the constant immersion in academic material made me realize that there are so many topics in academia that have not yet been deeply explored. I feel motivated to engage in additional research experiences, whether here at CMC or in a different part of the world, to learn more about today's (and yesterday's) societies.

I liked that the program was relatively flexible and took place on CMC's campus. Because I am a local resident, I found it convenient to only have to drive a few minutes to meet with other students in the SRP and with Professor Rose. 

I also greatly appreciated the workshops that took place every week. The speakers' presentations were very insightful and provided me with a new outlook on my academic experiences.

Eva Augst, Senior, PPE

Faculty Advisor: Aseema Sinha

Varieties of State Capacities: The Political and Institutional Origins of Health Resilience

I worked with Professor Sinha on her research surrounding the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, using a comparative international analysis to assess various countries’ success.

I gained skills in synthesizing large amounts of data, noticing trends in governmental response, and extracting information from dense sources such as government documents.

I liked the independence of the research that I undertook, and appreciated the opportunity to learn more about how to best utilize library resources.

Jason Bashai, Sophmore, Biology

Faculty Advisor: Michael Fortner

The Origins and Consequences of the "Crack Epidemic"

We are researching at the Crack Epidemic of the 80s and 90s and looking at the specific aspects that caused it .

During this Summer Research Program, I learned the importance of picking and pursuing a subject that interests you. I especially found this program to be fruitful because the topic that I worked on alongside my team and Professor Fortner was quite intriguing and encouraged me to want to learn more. I also learned good research skills and the efficiency of sifting through dense papers to find useful material. Finally, I learned to seek the truth and not to search for things that will benefit the results I want to find. Overall, it was a fantastic experience.

I loved getting to work alongside an extraordinary professor and getting to obtain his insight and experience in researching and specific topics.

Alexis Lee, Junior, Molecular Neuroscience

Faculty Advisor: Cathy Reed

The effects of aging and cognitive load on neural oscillations: An EEG Study

Our project used EEG equipment to analyze differences in alpha waves between younger and older aged adults across a variety of cognitive tasks.

Going into the program, I had previous experience in psychology research, but no experience in neuroscience research or the use of EEG. I learned a whole field of study from scratch, and did many other tasks within that field. Along with my fellow research assistant, Heather Shipley, we conducted a literature review, developed and programmed an experiment from scratch using E-Prime, learned to administer the Montreal Cognitive Assessment, recruited younger and older adult participants from the community, and successfully ran over 30 participants using EEG equipment.

I enjoyed the weekly talks.

Heather Shipley, Senior, Neuroscience

Faculty Advisor: Catherine Reed

The Effects of Cognitive Load and Age on Neural Oscillations

We utilized EEG to look at the differences in neural oscillations between older and younger aged adults.

I gained several skills throughout the Summer Research Program. First, I learned how to conduct a meaningful literature review to derive key information pertaining to the background of our study. Then, I learned how to use E-Prime, which allowed me to refine our experimental design. I learned several methods for recruiting both older and younger aged adults. Lastly, I learned how to use BrainVis to record EEG data and MATLAB to analyze EEG data.

I really liked the community of the program. I like how all the professors are so willing to discuss different topics with students. I enjoyed our lunches and the communication that occurred between me and professors.

Kenshin Uoeka, Sophomore, Environment, Economics, and Politics

Faculty Advisor: William Ascher

The impact of self and social stigma on poverty-alleviation program participation

Research how stigma influences poverty policies, and how stigma can be reduced.

I gained valuable synthesis and critical thinking skills. During my research on Isaan, I found many conflicting views due to the highly politicized nature of the question at hand. While it was easier to subscribe to one idea and stick to it as truth, I absorbed and synthesized the different perspectives to challenge myself and my ideas. As a result, I feel I gained a much more informed view of the stigma dynamics in Isaan that includes considerations of politics, religion, and poverty. One of my most profound perspective shifts is my attitude towards certain Thai political leaders. Growing up in Bangkok, Thailand, my perspective on a controversial politician was profoundly negative as that was the opinion of most Thai people in my immediate surroundings. However, as I continued my research, I began to see the other side of the argument and how he is hailed as a hero by the Isaan people. I am made more aware of my susceptibility to formulate my ideas based on that of others, humbling myself as well as making me question other ideas drilled into me.

I most enjoyed the Wednesday seminars by professors presenting their research at the forefront of their field. In regular classes, I tend to feel that all that can be discovered is already discovered, and there is little that can be added by myself. Therefore, listening to professors tackling questions no one else has answered before was genuinely exciting. It was also valuable to see the approach professors take in their research to answer questions.

Devanshi Guglani, Sophmore, Mathematics

Faculty Advisor: Professor Mark Huber

Using Stitching for Monte Carlo Analyses

Using the R programming language to write algorithms that speed up the generation time Strauss point process, and analysing the results.

During the SRP I learned a lot about the R programming language, its applications and its various packages. I also learned about applied mathematics, statistics, and their intersection with computer science, in addition to what is happening at the cutting edge of this field something I was not expecting.

I very much enjoyed the problem-solving aspects of the SRP, as I enjoy both mathematics and computer science. I also liked the paper-writing: The project started with reading older research papers written in a highly academic fashion, so writing my own paper made it feel like I was contributing something to the field.

Alvin Villarosa, Sophomore, Neuroscience    

Faculty Advisor: Alison Harris

Individual differences in EEG correlates of body movement perception

We conducted experiments using EEG to analyze the mu neural oscillation during body movement perception.

Even though I have not taken a CMC Psychology course, I have learned so much from Professor Harris' research and its relevance to the psychological and neurophysiological curriculum. The most important skill I have gained during the SRP is that I was able to practice hands-on empirical research that involves specific methodology and test subjects. Because of the hands-on research experience, I have learned about the mechanisms of Electroencephalography (EEG) and the neural correlates involved in the relationship between doing and viewing actions and the brain. The SRP has also changed the way I thought about social perception and enhanced my perspective on how we understand each other through body language.

I loved how the program had weekly seminars that introduced research from other disciplines. Coming from a STEM-oriented student, I found the talks from other subject areas such as international relations, government, history, etc. to be really interesting. The talks were friendly to all students across disciplines, as I was able to understand the professors' underlying backgrounds and methodologies regarding their research, even when the research is outside the scope of my knowledge. The talks were overtly informative, academically engaging and enlightening.

Yuhan Kong, Junior, Psychology and Economics

Faculty Advisor: Wei-Chin Hwang

Can an Online Psychedelic Orientation Program Help Decrease Risk? A Harm Reduction Approach & Prevalence, Attitudes, and Correlates of Psychedelic Usage Amongst Liberal Arts College Students

The goal of the first project is to test whether a psychedelic orientation program that provides psychoeducation and equips potential users with tools and techniques (e.g., mindfulness and breathing training) to navigate challenging experiences can help reduce negative consequences and improve positive outcomes.  The second project aims to investigate the prevalence, attitudes, and correlates of psychedelic usage amongst 5C students.

I learned how to plan, manage and track multiple projects at once. I also learned invaluable research skills such as navigating the IRB application process, designing an effective survey, and developing an evidence-based intervention program.

I enjoyed working closely with my teammates and Professor Hwang. SRP allows for the possibility of dedication and team synergy that are difficult to achieve during the busy school year.

Kai Gundlach, Junior, International Relations    

Faculty Advisor: Aseema Sinha

State Capacity and the Origins of Health Resilience

Collecting information on Germany and Swedens state capacity to combat Covid-19.

I learned how to look deep for the information I need to collect. To do this I learned how to efficiently research in a way in which I only needed to use the keywords of what I was trying to find. It also gave me a deeper perspective of Covid-19 as an issue and how countries should combat future pandemics.

I liked learning new things about the world. I especially liked reading news articles about specific parts of Germanys response that I had a particular interest in such as how Germany responded to anti-vaccine protests

Perri McElvain, Sophomore, Psychology

Faculty Advisor: Alison Harris

Individual differences in EEG correlates of body movement perception

We used EEG to measure how the the mu rhythm responds while people watch others movements and make movements themselves.

This summer, I got empirical research experience by running EEG experiments, troubleshooting equipment issues, interacting with participants daily, and collaborating with my lab partner and advisor on various projects. During my literature review, I learned to consider a comprehensive set of varying theories and question how they fit into theoretical explanations of social perception, emotion understanding, and action simulation. I read dozens of papers on EEG correlates of action simulation and relevant individual difference measures that may explain for group differences we found in our data. This experience reinforced the technical EEG skills I learned in my cognitive electrophysiology class last semester. After data collection, there are several processing steps, including using Independent Component Analysis for dealing with artifacts in the data. This practice has prepared me for future research involving EEG.

I really enjoyed hearing from the rest of the SRP cohort on the development of their projects and their findings at the end of the program. I liked the collaborative environment in my lab and I made a lot of friendships that I believe will stretch far past this summer.

Basil Lloyd-Moffett, Junior, Literature    

Faculty Advisor: Blanford Parker

Bleak House and Lolita Revisited

I read and wrote critical arguments and papers about Charles Dickens's Bleak House and Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita.

Having the time to dive deeply into the project and dedicate oneself to the drafting and crafting of the paper was an amazing thing that improved my ability at every level: researching, writing, presenting.

The time to work, the advisor support.

Liann Bielicki, Junior, PPE/Data Science

Faculty Advisor: Andrew Sinclair

Election Prediction and Football Pick'em (or, Political Predictions in the Policy Process)

Through a football pick'em- inspired political predictions survey, this project will create insight into the 2022 midterm elections and voter mindset-- as well as insight into prediction strategies themselves.

I found that the summer research program was extremely challenging but very gratifying. I started the project working in Stata to create the back end of a prediction "game"-- I had never worked in Stata before, and there was certainly an intense learning curve. For the latter part of the summer, I worked on assembling a literature review of previous work in the policy process space. This deep context gave me insight into the broader purpose of our project, which is to understand why political predictions are so hard to make. On the other end of the spectrum, looking into each individual race for the midterm elections this fall showed me what complexity there is at the local, micro-level. Although I have always been interested in politics, this project made me much more informed about the political process.

I thought the Wednesday lectures provided a great structure to the program.

Xiangyi Ye, Sophomore, PPE    

Faculty Advisor: Professor Sinha

Varieties of State Capacities: The Political and Institutional Origins of Health Resilience

I researched the pattern of China's policies and institutions coping with the Covid-19 epidemic.

This is my very first legit research experience. I gained lots of research skills and ways to organize a successful research through the process . I was able to have a thorough understanding of the development of China's policy and the unspoken intentions of certain measures. Since I researched both on western and Chinese media, I observed biases from both sides.

Meeting new friends and learning from their research. Seeing my research developed through time.

Sophia Diomande, Senior, Government and Public Policy    

Faculty Advisor: Prof. Andrew Sinclair

Applying Sports Betting Mechanisms to Election Predictions

Our project evaluates political predictions and probabilities and applies them within the format of a sports betting game to gauge how respondents think about elections.

I learned about election predictions and probabilities, as well as how to develop my thinking more broadly when trying to solve a problem. It was a great experience!

Zhutao Li, Senior, Philosophy and Economics

Faculty Advisor: William Ascher

Research Assistant

I did a nomative analysis on using shaming and stigmatization as a tool in poverty alleviation programs

I went through the process of learning a broad topic and narrow it down to a specific point that I can dig deep into.