Two SESP Students Win Undergraduate Research Grants

SESP seniors Victoria Romba and Birong Wang were awarded $1,000 Undergraduate Research Grants during fall quarter from the Northwestern University Office of the Provost. The students' research topics investigate transitions during early adulthood and the impact of language on identity.

Victoria Romba

Victoria Romba
For her senior honors thesis, Romba is researching how individuals define adulthood as they transition from their 20s to 30s. The title of her project is “The Roaring 20s and Sturdy 30s? How Millennials Traverse the Path from 25 to 35.” 

“I hope to explore how expectations and definitions of adulthood change for individuals as well as how priorities in the areas of work, relationships, and values change during this time,” notes Romba, who is majoring in human development and psychological services. “I am very interested in how individuals experience different life stages as well as the influences that shape individuals’ expectations for different life periods. Throughout my undergraduate studies I have become very intrigued with emerging adulthood theory and psychological studies of how individuals identify and understand times of transition.”

Romba has found her honors thesis to be “an incredible learning experience in so many ways.” She explains, “I have the opportunity to utilize university resources that I may not have explored otherwise. I did not realize how many options students have to develop research interests and earn grant funding to support them in doing so. … I now have a better understanding of what it means to craft research proposals for different audiences, and I think this will help me in almost any future work and research I pursue.” Romba’s Undergraduate Research Grant will help her to handle some of the logistics of her study. Her faculty adviser is SESP faculty member Regina Logan.

Birong Wang

Birong Wang
Wang, who majors in both learning and organizational change and sociology, won a grant for her study entitled “Speaking Dilemma: The Language Use of Tibetan Students at Tsinghua University and Its Role in Tibetan and Chinese Identity Construction." She says, “Through my research I want to discover how schooling and social contexts influence the ways in which Tibetan students use their native language and Chinese, what shapes individuals' choices of language, and how identity is affected in these negotiations.” 

She hopes that this research for her sociology major will contribute to the dialogue on language and identity, acculturation and assimilation. She says, “My research also has the potential to internationalize the American debate on assimilation and acculturation as it provides a case study of how/if assimilation works differently in societies that do not have such strong traditions of immigration as the U.S., but that do have many cultural minorities in their midst. The research topic is also important to me personally as I have close high school friends who are Tibetan and who are attending universities far from home. And I am concerned about how they speak Chinese or Tibetan and frame their identities.” Her faculty adviser is Sarah Jacoby of Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.

The Undergraduate Research Grants program offers academic year grants of up to $1,000 and summer grants of $3,000 in support of independent undergraduate projects. For more information visit the Undergraduate Research Grants website or e-mail

View the complete list of fall quarter winners.


By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 3/21/13