New Program Offers Undergrads Small Grants that Can Make a Big Difference

Posted April 25th, 2013 at 10:13 am.

Jamey Bacchus ’13

Jamey Bacchus ’13

In the internet era, students doing research have more low-cost tools than ever available to them, allowing undergraduates to do research that would have been impossible even just a few years ago.

And thanks to funding from the dean’s office, those low-cost tools are becoming no-cost tools for many Bryn Mawr students.

Since last year, the dean’s office formalized a program by which students can apply for small grants (up to $450) to fund any approved expenses associated with a scholarly project or independent research taking place during the academic year.

The dean’s office funding to support student research and conference travel has supported:

  • Lakshmi Somasundaram ’13 and Peony Yiu ’13 (psychology majors): travel to the Center for Autism Research based at the University of Pennsylvania for thesis research
  • Katie McCormick ’13 (linguistics major): travel to the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., to listen to heritage audio recordings of the languages of Passamaquoddy of Northern Maine and Siletz of Coastal Oregon
  • Soraya Terrab ’13 (physics major): travel to University of Pennsylvania’s Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter to gather findings based on the study of electromechanical properties of materials at the nanoscale for her thesis
  • Lindsey Crowe ’14 (English major): travel to the East Asian Contemporary Culture Conference in Princeton to present her research paper, “Korean Pop: Translation of Culture through Fandoms”
  • Linda Cho ’14 (chemistry major): attendance at the International Conferences of the American Thoracic Society in Philadelphia to present research titled “Effect of Hyperpoxia on Mouse Lung Fibroblast Phenotype”
  • Isabel Guadarrama ’15 (Cities major): attendance at Joint Mathematics Meeting in San Diego to present research titled “What do Math and Legos have in Common?”

“Whether it’s traveling to a conference or to a research site, or paying for an online survey, these grants are helping students do sophisticated research that will be invaluable as they go on to pursue graduate work or a career,” says Assistant Dean Isabelle Barker.

This year, nearly 40 students took advantage of the funding, among them was psychology major Jamey Bacchus ’13.

For her thesis, Bacchus is researching online dating sites and whether perceptions of “confidence” impact male users’ attraction to women on such sites, and how any effects are moderated by male users’ self-perceptions of having or lacking power.

“Much of the literature shows that women are interested in confident men, but there is no research going the other way,” Bacchus says.

To conduct her research, Bacchus initially used her circle of friends to recruit male students from Haverford, Harvard, the University of North Carolina, and Kenyon College. Some rated women from the website Match.com on a scale of 1-10 in terms of how attractive they found the women based on their pictures and text, and others rated how confident they perceived the same women.

Based on this information, Bacchus separated the profiles into four groups: low confidence/low attractive, low confidence/high attractive, high confidence/low attractive, and high confidence/high attractive.

With funding from the dean’s office, she then used the online survey website mTurk to reach males in the 18-35 age range to rate each profile in terms of long-term and short-term dating desirability.

“mTurk has emerged in the last three to five years as an invaluable low-cost tool for social scientists to recruit participants for research beyond the usual undergraduate subject pool sample,” explains Bacchus’ adviser, Visiting Associate Professor of Psychology Louisa Egan Brad. “We’re very grateful for the dean’s funding for allowing us to take advantage of this cutting-edge resource to advance psychological science.”

Bacchus will complete her research by the end of the semester. After graduation, she will begin working towards her master’s in mental health counseling and certification in family and marriage therapy at the University of Central Florida.

For more about Academic Year Funding, visit the dean’s office website.

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