University awards grants for undergraduate research projects

Even the best students often need help. WSU recently awarded seven undergraduate students $1,000 each to use for research projects. This will help students get a head start in research.

“I applied for the grant and was ecstatic when I got it,” said Chandler Williams, a Spanish major.

“I feel like it’s going to change my life, in a way.,” she said. “That’s cliche to say but it’s going to help me with graduate school and I’ve been offered other things with it.”

Williams’s project will study monolingual and bilingual individuals.

“I’ll be seeing what they’re involved in, if they’re leaders, whether or not they participate in community involvement and community service,” Williams said. She said it will observe their leadership and involvement in community activities.

Williams will conduct research at both WSU and Puerto Rico when she visits next spring.

Williams became interested in Puerto Rico through the National Student Exchange program.

“I started thinking, what’s something I can incorporate to learn more about Puerto Rico and the culture before I go to make it even more special when I’m there?”

Once she started doing the research, Williams said she grew attached to Puerto Rico.

“I fell in love with the people and the language since I’m a Spanish major. I loved how they use the language,” Williams said.

Her hypothesis is that learning more than one language increases an individual’s bisensitivity, when a person can view things in more than one context.

“That opens up the possibility of being more empathetic toward different types of people and having more of a connection with the world,” she said.

Williams said she hopes her research can continue to develop when she goes to graduate school. She plans to get a master’s degree in psychology and eventually become a bilingual counselor.

“I would hopefully develop this to where I would look into how bilingualism helps people psychologically,” she said.

The money she receives through the grant will help with travel costs and allow her to purchase a camera to record interviews.

“I’m excited to make new relationships,” Williams said. “The people there are going to be really pivotal in my research. I’m excited about the friendships I’ll make at the university, and improving my Spanish.”

Another winner, Khondoker Usama, will use his grant to study the importance of color vision as it relates to safe driving.

Usama said his research contributes to the Department of Motor Vehicles’ perspective of “how human factors contribute to the driving of older people.”

“This is also related with aging research. It’s a huge project but right now I’m thinking of this very small potion of it,” Usama said. “It’s going to be helpful for understanding the situation of senior drivers.”

Rather than interviewing subjects as in Williams’s approach, Usama will ask his subjects to complete tests.

Usama said the data will reflect reactions to images related to driving.

“I’m really excited about it,” he said.

The money he receives from the grant will help pay participants and go to the psychology department.

As a computer science student, Usama said people have asked him why he chose to do research with a psychology emphasis.

“Research is basically doing something that has never been done before,” Usama said. “There is an excitement of inventing something, of discovering new knowledge and showing your skills and learning a lot. This is a great learning opportunity and I didn’t want to miss that.”

Usama plans to apply what he learns through his research to graduate school and presenting for the university. He said he hopes to attend graduate school for either networking or software engineering.

This grant will help him achieve his goals and encouraged students to apply in the future, Usama said.

Williams said he encourages students to be proactive about applying for research grants.

“Why not?” he said. “You should go for it.”