Mehrnaz Ahrar

The gender gap in STEM fields in the U.S. continues to be a detriment to women’s advancement. While women represent almost half of the US workforce, only 25% of STEM-related jobs are held by women. Research suggests several sociocultural factors that may account for this gap; however, there is no current research exploring the impact of the traditionally male-dominated environment in higher education within STEM departments and female students’ academic self-efficacy. Mehrnaz’s proposed research will investigate whether or not there is a connection between a graduate student instructor (GSI)’s gender and the level of self-efficacy reported by that GSI’s undergraduate students.It aims to contribute to a more nuanced understanding of specific social factors within the university setting and its contribution to the prevailing gender gap in STEM.

Minda Bautista

The colonial relationship between the Philippines and the United States has shaped both migration patterns from the Philippines and Filipino community formation in the U.S. since the start of the 20th century. Minda’s research will examine this ongoing legacy through the case study of Project Manong, a 1970s housing and services project for elderly Filipino laborers initiated by youth and students in Oakland, California. Minda will use ethnographic interviews and primary sources to interrogate the role of race, space, gender, and age in shaping the need for Project Manong, and how the intersection of these attributes informed the emerging Filipino youth sectors response to racial and class subordination. The case study of Project Manong is particularly relevant given the rapidly changing demographics of many Oakland neighborhoods due to gentrification.

Rhonda Armstrong

It should not be surprising to hear that people respond to rejection in various ways. Additionally, there are several different pathways to achieving power, and people in powerful positions consistently have more adaptive responses to rejection. Rather than rejection resiliency being a product of power, Rhonda’s research seeks to show that it is actually a predictor of power attainment. By manipulating rejection resiliency, she intends to find differences across participants such that those who are primed with high rejection resiliency will achieve more power in a paired task than those primed with low rejection resiliency. This will inform power relations and provide an alternate pathway to power for minority groups, such that minorities can be taught resiliency skills to attain power at a similar rate as majority group members.

Rikki-Nikol Anderson

Rikki-Nikol is researching the status of prosaic photographs in Vladimir Nabokov’s fiction, focusing on the problems of verisimilitude that arise when a solipsistic narrator refers to a supposedly objective image. In many of Nabokov’s works, the fictional reality is mediated through a highly subjective, unreliable narrator. These narrators employ ekphrasisthe verbal description of a visual object to insert photographs into their prose. Though photographs require a real subject and suggest an objective reality, Nabokov’s narrators constantly undermine the idea of objectivity. Rikki-Nikol’s research will explore the ways in which photography affects human perception of reality and how the inclusion of ekphrastic photographs affects a readers perception of fiction. Over the summer, she will be traveling to New York to examine Nabokov’s personal papers at The Berg Collection.

Connor Scott Clark

In the year 1890, more Italian-Americans immigrated to the United States than any other ethnic group. They brought their culture along with them, and Italian theatres began to spring up in their urban ethnic enclaves, where Italian performing culture could survive in the new world. However, America had been exposed to Italian theatre before its founding, and that appreciation for Italian performance contradicted rising distaste for Italian immigrants, who were viewed as ethnic inferiors via eugenics. How did Anglo audiences reconcile these two contrasting views on Italian immigrants and their culture? How did Italian-Americans use the popularity of their culture to change public opinion? Connor will explore this topic by consulting archives and research centers in New York and Chicago, two cities at the heart of this Italian migration.

Karen MacLaughlin

In first century Rome, increasing numbers of the elite class chose to commit suicide rather than forfeit their honor in the courtroom or on the battlefield. Although Stoicism had its detractors in Late Antiquity, suicide was considered by many Romans to be a rational choice. Roman Christians, however, drawn from all social classes, chose to submit to various methods of torture and death rather than participate in civic religious rites that deified the emperor. Their choice was considered to be just deserts for impiety at worst, and pitiful, at best. In Rome this summer, Karen will examine the archeological and literary evidence for these two types of non-natural death in order to discover what it was that gave Stoics the courage to commit suicide and Christians the courage not to.

Charlotte Hull

Martha’s Vineyard conjures up various cultural and historical myths. But what did community life really look like for British colonial settlers in the seventeenth century? Who were these people and what did they value? This summer Charlotte will examine the abundant town records that remain in local, Vineyard archives. Yet how do you unpack a community, or even a single human, from their legal footprint, from the tangled mass of wills and land deeds? This project pieces together a single life out of the dismembered details present in the documents kinship ties, bureaucratic titles, commodities, resources, and physical landscapes. In return, Hannah Mayhew, the governor’s daughter and one of the first colonial settlers to call the Vineyard home, offers us a window into her three-dimensional community.

Jay Kumar Gupta

Humans display an intrinsic capability for prosocial behaviors: behaviors undertaken to benefit others. Stress disrupts this capability but also induces neurogenesis in the hippocampus, a brain region that functions in social memory. Understanding the relationship between stress and prosociality allows better treatment of diseases such as Autism Spectrum Disorder and depression, as the asocial nature of these disorders puts affected individuals at increased risk for anxiety. The neural and hormonal basis of this relationship is explored through a behavioral paradigm involving rats. Given that the hippocampus directly projects to components of the stress response and is acted on by chemicals secreted during stress, Jays project examines hippocampal activity during prosocial behaviors as observed in rats. This activity is measured with immunohistochemical staining and fMRI scans of the rats brains.

Kristophe Green

Researchers have found that, in general, positive emotions lead to greater creativity (operationalized as increased cognitive fluency, flexibility, and divergent thinking) than do negative emotions. Increasingly, innovations and gamechanging insights are the product of not one creative person, but teams of people working together to produce results. It is essential to understand how creativity functions within groups, and how/which emotions play a role in increasing the creativity of these groups. Kristophes proposed research project addresses the question of how different positive emotions influence group creativity. Specifically, he will test whether awe, a positive emotion that has been shown to produce different cognitive and behavioral tendencies relevant to creative performance, and has also been shown to produce prosociality, increases group creativity. Photo: Kristophe (second from right) enjoying a meal with fellow Haas Scholars during Orientation Week.

Sophia Sage Elia

Sophia is studying regular embeddings of complete graphs on powers of two vertices. A complete graph is one in which each vertex is connected to each other vertex. Loosely, if one starts with a prime power number of vertices, it is possible to symmetrically connect the vertices in such a way that none of the connecting lines cross on the surface of a torus (think doughnut) with a certain number of holes. There isn’t a constructive way to create a visual representation of the embedding of the graph. Sophia’s project illustrates a fully regular embedding of the complete graph on 8 vertices and locally regular embeddings of the complete graphs on 8, 16, and 32 vertices. She is currently working towards a proof of full regularity for the embedding on 8 vertices through computation of the cartographic and automorphism groups. Embeddings of graphs are connected to a wide range of […]