Honoring SESP's Best Undergraduate Research

Honoring SESP's Best Undergraduate Research

School of Education and Social Policy (SESP) honors students showcased their research projects in Annenberg Hall after being recognized at the monthly faculty meeting by Dean David Figlio and the faculty.

“Every student at Northwestern has accomplished amazing things; you have accomplished even more,” Figlio told the group. “Everybody in this room has a lot to be happy about.”

Figlio also recognized SESP Civic Engagement Certificate recipients, three retiring faculty members -- Carol Lee, Bart Hirsch and Doug Medin -- and the School's newest endowed chair holders, Diane Schanzenbach and Lindsay Chase-Lansdale.

Schanzenbach, director of the Institute for Policy Research, is the Margaret Walker Alexander Professor in the School of Education and Social Policy. Chase-Lansdale, vice provost for academics, is SESP’s Frances Willard Professor of Human Development and Social Policy. 

“It has been extraordinary to be part of this amazing community that’s out in front on so many things and attracts those who are excited about crossing boundaries, learning from others and using multiple solutions to solve problems,” Chase-Lansdale said.

The honors students worked with David Rapp, Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence and professor of learning sciences, and teaching assistant Sarah White. Lilah Shapiro, assistant professor of instruction, advised three of the six honors students. Assistant Dean Susan Olson coordinated the event.

Read on to learn more about each student’s research:

Camille Cooley

Caregivers’ Perspective on Illinois Policy for the Intellectually and Developmentally Disabled
Human Development and Psychological Services

Cooley looked into the efficacy of new policies designed to help those caring for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities. She found that recent efforts to standardize and simplify the process to receive state-funded services failed to support families over an extended period of time; instead, caregivers filled the gaps.

Adviser:  Dan Lewis, PhD
Reader: Elizabeth A. Hahn, Associate Professor, Medical Social Sciences & Preventative Medicine, Feinberg School of Medicine

Amy Lieberman

Voice-Pitch Perturbation in Non-Clinical Psychosis
Human Development and Psychological Services

Patients with psychosis experience deficits in the communication between different sensory modalities, such as sound and sight. Lieberman looked at whether voice-pitch tasks – such as asking participants to match the sound of their voice to a computer-altered version -- can help detect problems with sensorimotor integration. By studying patterns in at-risk populations, she hopes to find a “potential vulnerability marker relevant for understanding the pathogenesis of psychosis.”

Adviser: Vijay Mittal, PhD, Psychology, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences
Reader: Claudia Haase, PhD

Maria Christina Loi

Cultivating Leaders of Learning Organizations
Learning and Organizational Change

Curiosity and collaboration are the most important qualities for leaders of learning organizations, according to Loi’s research, which involved interviews with nine experts in the business and educational field. Loi’s research suggests they can be developed by asking questions, self-reflection, sharing information or engaging in conversation, stepping outside of one’s comfort zone, practicing mindfulness and other techniques.

Adviser: Jeannette Colyvas, PhD
Reader: Kimberly Scott, PhD

Sumaia Masoom

“Poised for Power”: Anti-Muslim Rhetoric, Identity, and the 2016 U.S. Election Cycle
Social Policy

Masoom studied Islamophobic rhetoric in the last election cycle and its effects on college students in America. She found that today’s Muslim youth view Islamophobia as a racializing ideology beyond just a “fear of Islam” that deepens their sense of otherization. Politically, participants were disenfranchised with both major political parties, and they identified the recent rise in anti-Muslim rhetoric as merely an amplification of existing political rhetoric rather than a new development.

Adviser: Lilah Shapiro, PhD
Reader: Simone Ispa-Landa, PhD

Sienna Parker

Picking Up Good Vibrations: Health and Wellness Perspectives and Motivations in the Practice of Sound Bathing     
Learning and Organizational Change

Parker researched sound bathing, an alternative practice involving meditation and introspection based on vibrations of percussion instruments, including gongs, crystal bowls, and chimes. Her case study sheds light on the mind-body-spiritual needs of people who participate in sound baths against the larger context of the contemporary health and wellness-consumer trends.

Adviser: Lilah Shapiro, PhD
Reader: Cindy Conlon, JD, PhD
Noted: Parker received 2017-18  Academic Year Undergraduate Research Grants (AYURG)

Imani Wilson

The Voices of Black Teachers: Understanding their value and needs through an examination of their roles, contributions, and contexts
Social Policy

Wilson interviewed Black teachers about their experiences, attitudes, and beliefs to better understand the relationship between educators and students. She found that Black teachers take on a number of roles that help them better connect with and care for their students, and to push for equity within their schools. She also found that Black teachers thrive in environments where they feel whole and supported, and they struggle when their voices or abilities are discounted, or when they feel job insecurity.

Adviser: Lilah Shapiro, PhD
Reader: Carol Lee, PhD


By Julie Deardorff
Last Modified: 6/17/18