Brace Center Scholars Named for 2011-2012 School Year

The Brace Center for Gender Studies announced its Brace Scholars for the 2011-2012 school year this past week, choosing fellows whose projects address issues including teen pregnancy, women in science and eating disorders.

These chosen students will conduct independent research over the summer on a proposed topic and write an extensive research paper by the fall. Their research will also culminate in a presentation as part of the Brace Student Fellows series next year.

Students chosen for next year and their project titles are Shannon Adams ’12, “Hanging by a Thread: The Plight of African American Males in America,” Isabella Kratzer ’12, “The Study of the Effects of Stereotypes on Women in Science,” Noël Um ’12, “The Terrifying Truth: Anorexia and Bulimia Nervosa in Female Ballerinas,” Nicole Villar ’12, “The Implications of Public Policy on Trends in Teenage Childbearing: On-Site Childcare in Lawrence Public Schools” and Suzanne Wang ’13, “Suicide Among Women in Rural China.”

The five students were selected from a record number of applicants and a very competitive applicant pool.

“This year’s group of Brace Center Fellows and their projects are extremely interesting, distinctive and relevant, and I’m looking forward to working with each of them,” said Diane Moore, Co-Director of Brace Center.

Although all the chosen fellows this year are all female, Moore said that the Brace Center did not do this intentionally.

The Brace Center also contemplated announcing yearly themes, but they decided against that idea in order to allow students to pursue projects in areas in which they are interested.

As part of his or her application, each student was required to select a faculty advisor that wrote a recommendation for his or her project. Students also included a research proposal, an autobiographical statement and a preliminary bibliography.

Moore said that applicants were evaluated mainly on the creativity and scope of their project proposal and the ability and of the student that would allow them to conduct sustained and independent research.

Because each Brace Fellow will receive a grant from the Abbot Academy, the maturity of the student, in being disciplined and responsible enough to meet the requirement of the presentation in the articulated time frame, was considered.

The fellows are expected to produce a 15 to 20 page research paper through research beginning in the Oliver Wendell Holmes Library. The majority of each student’s research will be conducted throughout the summer, and a final draft of the paper will be due on the first day of classes in the fall.

Kratzer plans to research how gender stereotypes influence women in scientific fields. She hopes to examine how women scientists succeed in a scientific professions and what inspires them to pursue careers in the sciences.

“I think the issue of gender prejudices is an important one to raise; especially in a scientific world dominated by men, I hope to look into what kind of stereotypes might affect women’s decisions to go into the scientific field and even their success once they get there,” Kratzer said.

Um will examine the prevalence of anorexia and bulimia nervosa in ballerinas, eating disorders that Um believes are perpetuated by the unrealistic weight standards ballet companies promote.

Inspired by her experience dancing with the Boston Ballet School and the experiences of her friends who struggle with eating disorders, Um hopes to talk with other dancers and research the history of these diseases.

“I want to kind of feel out the atmosphere and find out what it’s like and where the pressure [to take on an eating disorder] is coming from,” Um said.

Villar plans on researching teenage pregnancy in her hometown of Lawrence, MA, looking into the effectiveness of on-site childcare centers at Lawrence High School and the implications of such resources.

Villar hopes to devise a thesis that argues for or against having these on-site children care centers. Villar’s idea for the project was mostly driven by curiosity.

“I had no idea that the city was integrating child care centers into the new [Lawrence High School]! I heard nothing, I read nothing about it…I wondered what the argument was to put the centers in place, because I knew nothing of the child care centers and the powerhouse behind them,” Villar said.

Villar hopes to bring together her experiences in Andover and in Lawrence, and do justice to the dynamic of the complex city she calls home.