UMass Boston showcase highlights range of undergraduate research
On April 25, undergraduate students gathered in UMass Boston’s Alumni Lounge to present posters and papers for the inaugural College of Liberal Arts Undergraduate Research Showcase.
Research topics ranged from urban gentrification to international trade to sexual violence on the HBO show "Game of Thrones." The showcase brought together students from across the social sciences and humanities, all of whom eagerly shared knowledge with each other.
Stephanie Hartwell, professor of sociology and interim dean of the College of Public and Community Service, organized the event.
“The students care about what they’re learning in the classroom and can connect that to research. They are working side by side with professors who can lead them in collaborative work,” Hartwell said. “The range of projects is particularly impressive. We have performing arts, classics, English, women’s and gender studies, and economics.”
The two dozen students participating in the showcase were mostly graduating seniors. Many were preparing to attend graduate school in the fall or launch careers related to their area of undergraduate research.
Ashley Pierre-Louis, a senior political science major, says that her research into economic development in the city of Brockton began with a text from her dad. One day, he sent Pierre-Louis a photo of a new Starbucks under construction, and she noticed it was right next to the declining Westgate Mall in Brockton. She wondered why new construction was happening outside the mall, when Brockton was having trouble attracting retailers.
“Starbucks usually means that something more is coming, so I was interested in what they had planned, and how it would affect the community later on,” she said.
Pierre-Louis went on to look at urban planning in Brockton over the last 20 years, and her research work at UMass Boston has inspired her to pursue a career as an urban planner. She will attend Tufts University this fall, and will earn a master’s degree in urban planning.
Thomas Kraemer, a senior economics major and Honors College student, researched the wage gap in professional baseball, examining whether foreign-born players were at a financial disadvantage in major league baseball. Kraemer had previously been a biology major, but a professor at UMass Boston helped him discover a love of economics. He will begin working at the State Street Corporation after graduation.
Taylor Burns, a senior women’s and gender studies major, studied the ways in which menstrual products are promoted to women in the developing world. Burns worked closely with Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies Chris Bobel, a noted expert on menstruation research.
“I really enjoy feminism and gender, and this department really feels like home,” Burns said. She hopes to find a job in research before returning to academia to complete a master’s degree in women’s and gender studies.