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.

Selena Valdez

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) has been an engine of social mobility by negotiating high-paying jobs for its workers. But what happens when that social mobility is reserved for men? Nationally, of the 1.7 million full-time longshore workers, only 15.2% are women. Selena’s intention with studying the question, “What are the barriers women face in achieving upward mobility as longshore workers, and how can the ILWU better protect women?”, is to help labor organizers understand the underlying barriers and create solutions to improve women representation and upward mobility at the waterfront. Selena will make a documentary film to  present the (anonymous) interviews by women workers, survey findings, analysis on this labor market, and the history of women on the waterfront.

Simran Kaur

The ongoing farmer demonstrations in India that erupted in late 2020 in protest of agriculture reforms passed by the Modi administration have become some of the largest seen in modern history. However, agrarian unrest in the Punjab region has been a persistent issue since the partition of India, with external pressures such as debt, water shortage, and expensive inputs forcing its farmers to consider suicide as the only option. Simran will be conducting a meta-analysis of economic research in Punjab to determine policy factors that have contributed to the ongoing protests. Alongside this, she will be gathering qualitative data in the form of informant interviews with Punjabi farmers to explore the motivations behind these protests. The culmination of this research will be in the form of a senior thesis in Public Health.

Jae Manion

Jae’s project will study how the shift to home and Zoom learning affected educational accessibility for UC Berkeley students with disabilities. She seeks to pinpoint some ways that the intersectionality of womanhood and disability has made this shift different for female-identifying students with disabilities. Jae will also focus on the differing experiences of students with disabilities of the body and those with disabilities of the mind. Jae will  conduct two quality of life surveys and a round of interviews that seek to allow students with disabilities to use their own voices and tell their own stories, and in so doing  give light to the unique and unexpected ways this shift has made educational access better or worse for them. Her goal is to create scholarship that can help create more equitable educational systems.

Johnny Smith

The era of mass incarceration is a well-studied product of discriminatory policies and practices. Less emphasized are the cumulative effects of the ‘War on Drugs’ and ‘Tough on Crime’ ideologies among those charged with facilitating and supervising post-release reentry efforts. Addressing this underdeveloped scholarship, Johnny’s research examines the attitudinal consequences of foundational mass incarceration ideologies among community corrections officers, and their effects on client revocation outcomes. By conducting in-depth interviews with probation and parole officers of Sonoma County, California, his qualitative approach will explore variation in supervisory strategies to analyze whether officers favor a rehabilitate-and-reform or control-and-surveil orientation. Amid the broader discussion of criminal justice reform, illuminating how community corrections officers conceptualize their occupational roles aims to improve processes of (re)integration.

Desi Carrasco

Contemporary leisure studies research has broadened social and political understandings of leisure, particularly the meanings participants attach towards such activities. Discussions within the field suggest ways in which leisure activities, specifically sports, may promote political development among disempowered groups. Desi’s project and American Studies honors thesis aims to critically examine homeless children’s experiences in sports, specifically experiences of political development through youth sport in the California Bay Area. Through semi-structured virtual interviews, a Critical Race Theory framework will be used to investigate the ways racial identity shapes their sports involvement, the political nature of their experiences, and the social relationships therein. Ultimately, Desi hopes his research can advance the leisure and family studies field, inform youth sports policy, and guide the practices of educators, homeless advocates, service providers, and youth sports leaders.

Tonatiuh Beltrán

It is now common knowledge that the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the industrialized world. Many of the incarcerated population are parents. As the number of children affected by parental incarceration has risen, so too have the challenges in their everyday lives. Incarceration impacts both parent and child. It is the hardships that the children must endure that are ultimately the collateral consequences of incarceration. Tonatiuh’s research will focus on investigating what resources can best support children of incarcerated parents. She will conduct both surveys and qualitative interviews of adults who had parent/s incarcerated during their early childhood-adolescence. This project will have implications for programmatic decision-making in public policy, and enable more robust family reunification programs.

Hari Srinivasan

Hari wants to draw on the new science of awe to help autistics thrive and grow, rather than be viewed only in terms of deficits. His research seeks to begin an understanding of the role of awe, an emotion shown to have transformative effects, in autism. More specifically, he wants to see how autistics, who are considered neurodiverse (as opposed to the neurotypical or non-autistic population), view and experience awe, and how these dimensions of emotion may diverge from what has been written from a neurotypical lens. His hope is that this research can result in additional tools, such as “small doses of awe”, that can be used in the coping and navigating toolbox for autistics.

Violet Henderson

Imagine going to bed at night in your neighborhood, and slowly, over weeks, you witness your community being transformed into a scene that resembles a third-world country. Critical research examines the psychological and physical consequences of people living in urban centers where illegal waste dumping is a condition of everyday life. Oakland’s city streets have been overrun with illegally dumped trash. Before 2008, the dumping was confined to the backstreets of low-income neighborhoods of East and West Oakland. Today, middle-income communities are waking up to piles of debris on the main streets, parks, and recreational facilities in their districts. Violet’s research examines what city government agencies, and the citizens are doing about it and identifies how the tolerance of unlawful waste stigmatizes the city’s image.

Kevin McCarthy

Kevin is committed to researching the experiences of other formerly incarcerated adults who were persecuted under California’s draconian gang sentencing laws. Particularly, he seeks to research the traumatic experiences of people accused of gang affiliation, and whether the court, California Department of Corrections and parole department ever considered their trauma or provided psychological and rehabilitative resources. Kevin will also examine if gang sentencing laws impede access to resources during incarceration and post incarceration, and if this had any effect upon recidivism. To conduct his research, Kevin will travel to Southern California community centers that serve formerly incarcerated people. California sentencing courts continue to impose gang sentencing laws. Therefore, in order to inform policy, it is important to discover whether these laws are conducive to rehabilitation and public safety.