Eight SESP Undergraduates Win Summer Research Grants

Eight SESP Undergraduates Win Summer Research Grants

Eight School of Education and Social Policy undergraduates received Summer Undergraduate Research Grants from the Office of the Provost. Robert Barnes, Marcel Byrd, Lya Ferreyra, Qiddist Hammerly, Jennifer Katz, Brenna Ledvora, Nick Medrano and Karen Wilber will pursue independent research projects this summer in the United States and abroad.


Robert Barnes

Robert Barnes, a social policy major, will spend eight weeks in Tanzania this summer researching garbage removal in that country as a health policy issue. “I have an interest in the influences of policy on the healthcare of populations. My project will provide an insight on the community impact of a recently passed sanitation proposal and hopefully allow for further investigation on the larger health problems in rural Tanzania,” says Barnes. His faculty sponsor is Noelle Sullivan.


Marcel Byrd

Marcel Byrd, a social policy major, will travel to New York to research the topic “Vogue and Ballroom Culture in NYC.” He says, “I chose to research ballroom culture for a multitude of reasons. To begin, I am very interested in gender and sexuality and find that the ballroom scene, oftentimes, serves as a safe haven for the exploration of LGBTQ identity. Additionally, studying ballroom would encompass my interest in dance as well and allow me to explore those intersections.” His faculty sponsor is Jeffrey McCune.


Lya Ferreyra

Lya Ferreyra, a social policy major, is investigating Latina media depictions for a research project called “Scripted Latinidad.” She says, “Researching the effects of Latina sexuality and portrayal in media is important as it helps dissect the stereotypes and misconceptions about the Latina community. As a Latina myself, it is important to understand the roots of these limited and often skewed representations in order to help combat them. I am looking forward to learning more about Latina (miss)representation and what can be done to help ensure a more positive and diverse Latina public image.” Her faculty sponsor is Jaime Dominguez.


Qiddist Hammerly

Qiddist Hammerly, a social policy major, will be traveling to Ethiopia this summer to study local perceptions of food development programs for her study “Perceptions of Aid to Ethiopia.” She explains, “I chose to study food development in Ethiopia because of its history of famines and the large amount of foreign aid assistance received. I am particularly interested in the process of aid giving, and why oftentimes the funds raised do not result in sustainable assistance or development. By comparing perceptions of aid between a international organization based in the U.S. and a receiving organization in Ethiopia, I hope to better understand where there may be gaps in understanding.” Her faculty sponsor is Jeff Rice.


Jennifer Katz

Jennifer Katz, who is majoring in social policy and gender studies, is researching “Sexual Violence Prevention at NU.” She says, “I am doing my research on the discourse of sexual violence prevention efforts on college campuses. I have been passionate about issues of violence against women for many years, and as the incidence of college sexual assault rises (currently projected at one in five women on college campuses), I think it is of the utmost importance to devote our attention to effectively preventing these incidents before they occur.” Her faculty sponsor is Laura Stuart.


Brenna Ledvora

Brenna Ledvora, a social policy major, is researching “The Corporate Frauenquote.” She says, “My research explores attitudes towards the Hamburg Frauenquote, a political gender quota that mandates that 40 percent of all state supervisory boards and parliamentary committees in the city of Hamburg, Germany, must be women. In addition to analyzing public opinion towards a social policy, which relates to my social policy concentration, this research also seeks to examine cultural attitudes towards gender, politics, and how they intersect,” says Ledvora. Her faculty sponsor is Franziska Lys.


Fortunato Nick Medrano

Fortunato Nick Medrano, who is majoring in human development and psychological services, is researching “Young Children Learning Science.” He says, “I am very interested in cognition and development, and this project allows me to explore both. This project allows me to look at actual application of theory, while also exploring how children learn in a social context. It is also exciting because my research lab is looking at learning in the science fields, which is becoming more important as our country starts to lack a sufficient number of scientists. Plus I get to build things with kids, which is always fun.” His faculty sponsor is David Uttal.


Karen Wilber

Karen Wilber will travel to Bolivia to research the relationship between religion and family roles in Cochabamba. “With a major in human development and psychological services and a minor in religious studies, I'm excited to bring together two frameworks of thinking and understanding people that I am very passionate about. I chose this topic because I saw a lot of amazing support that family members provide for one another in Bolivia when I did GESI [Global Engagement Studies Institute] there last year, and I thought that religious festivals would be a great lens through which I could try to understand these family roles,” she says. Her faculty sponsor is Lilah Shapiro.

View the complete list of 2014 summer grant winners. 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. 

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 7/16/14