SURP Projects

CLA Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP)

Faculty Projects, Summer 2021

TikTok Videos as a Stimulus Set for Generalizable Experiments

    CONTACT

    Dr. Kelly Bennion
    Psychology and Child Development
    kbennion@calpoly.edu


    PROJECT DESCRIPTION

    The emergence of new technologies inevitably raises questions about their effects on the mind, and the arrival of social media is no exception. Indeed, whether social media affects our mood (Kramer et al., 2014) or preys upon our desire for social reinforcement (Lindstrom et al., 2019) has been explored in response to concerns regarding its widespread use, but there are many questions in the cognitive domain yet to be answered. Given the rapid rise in popularity of social media especially during the pandemic, there is great potential to use social media as stimuli to investigate a variety of experimental questions. In doing so, one can use complex, naturalistic stimuli that are generalizable to the real world. Our goal here is to develop a stimulus set and collect data about hundreds of TikTok videos to be used in several experiments in the future, similar to how data are collected about words and images to run well controlled studies.

    In compiling the TikTok stimuli, the SURP student will find groups of 10 videos that are interrelated according to some higher-order category (e.g., cooking, break dancing). The student will load these stimuli into Qualtrics Survey software. Participants (recruited from summer classes either as a requirement or extra credit) will view these videos over Zoom, with the SURP student scheduling the times, corresponding with participants, and running the sessions. Participants will rate the relatedness and emotionality of each of these videos, among other characteristics. The SURP student will be responsible for exporting and organizing all data in preparation for analyses, scoring data, and running statistical analyses using SPSS, all of which would be done under Dr. Bennion’s mentorship.

    DESIRED STUDENT QUALIFICATIONS

    The SURP student should be hard-working, responsible, organized, and social media-savvy. They should be able to search TikTok (and possibly other social media platforms) to find videos appropriate for use in our project and should preferably be good with technology (e.g., to screen-record these videos, organize files), including Microsoft Excel. They also should have a flexible schedule to run participants. PSY majors who have not yet completed PSY 448 or PSY 449 and plan to continue in Dr. Bennion’s lab for their PSY internship requirement are preferred, but an interest in research (ideally in cognitive psychology or cognitive neuroscience) is more important. No prior experience or specific coursework is necessary.

    Number of Students: 1

     

    José Vasconcelos, Chicanx Philosophy, and Lugones’ Logic of Curdling

      CONTACT

      Dr. Francisco Fernflores
      Philosophy Department
      ffernflo@calpoly.edu


      PROJECT DESCRIPTION

      This project is a critical re-examination of the middle and late period writings of the Mexican philosopher José Vasconcelos and its relationship to contemporary Mexican American Philosophy. Our aim is to answer two key questions to determine whether Vasconcelos' philosophy can contribute to a humanist (feminist-supporting), anti-racist, meliorist, pragmatist philosophy:

      1. What was the influence of Vasconcelos' philosophy on the Chicano Movement and does it need to be re-framed in light of our critical re-appraisal?
      2. Is there any room in a humanist (feminist-supporting), anti-racist, meliorist, pragmatism for the “aesthetic monism” of Vasconcelos?

      Our preliminary research suggests that there is textual evidence to support the following claims: 1) Vasconcelos' philosophy is inconsistent with the philosophical aims of Chicanx and Latinx authors to frame a philosophical conception of identity that transcends being "míta y míta [half and half]," and 2) The version of mestizaje that is read sometimes into the work of Vasconcelos, and especially La raza cósmica, is at odds with what philosophers such as María Lugones see as the most conceptually important aspect of that notion, viz., what Lugones calls "the logic of curdling'' as opposed to the "logic of purity.''

      The project will involve citation tracing, database searches, locating and searching digital archives, bibliography construction and annotation, reading and studying peer-reviewed philosophy articles and books, presenting research findings during biweekly meetings, developing and writing an original research essay to be submitted for a peer-reviewed philosophy journal, and distribution of research findings. The project will produce two original research essays in philosophy, one written by the faculty member, the other by the student researcher under the guided supervision of Prof. F. Fernflores. Both papers will be submitted for peer-review publication to the appropriate philosophy journals at the completion of the project.

      DESIRED STUDENT QUALIFICATIONS

      • Completion of two upper-division PHIL courses (minimum)
      • Junior or senior standing
      • Reading Spanish competently is an asset, but not required
      • Self-motivated learner with evidence of academic achievement
      • Interest in Latin American, Mexican-American, Latinx, Chicanx philosophy
      • Willingness and ability to commit approximately 20hrs/week x 8 weeks to the project, including two bi-weekly two hour meetings

      Number of Students: 1

       

      Beauty and the Nation: Race, Capitalism, and Modernity in Vietnam, 1920-1945

        CONTACT

        Dr. Christina Firpo
        History Department
        cfirpo@calpoly.edu


        PROJECT DESCRIPTION

        Fashion, cosmetics, body image, and beauty contests are often dismissed as superficial and unrelated to politics. Yet that is far from the truth. Debates about women’s appearance and the image of the woman often shed light on what a society is and what it wants to be. This project examines beauty and fashion culture in French-colonized Vietnam, 1920-1940, through the lens of national identity and politics. I am looking to work with a student to research and analyze data for my book project, “Beauty and the Nation: Race, Capitalism, and Modernity in Vietnam, 1920-1945.”

        In the years after World War I, just as Vietnamese women were emerging as a new, powerful consumer class and potential political bloc, new fashions and beauty products from France began flooding the Vietnamese market. In light of these two developments, women’s attitudes about beauty, and their consumption of fashion- and beauty-related items, became a matter of intense interest among Vietnamese intellectuals, who discussed the issue in the context of broader debates about the nation’s place in the international arena. What surprised me about these discussions was the political and racial meaning the authors attached to even the most nuanced of fashion and beauty trends. I argue that women’s faces and bodies became a vigorously debated site for envisioning what it meant to be Vietnamese in a modern world. The chapters of this book are organized topically to reflect the primary areas of debate about women’s beauty, including an analysis of beauty culture, as well as chapters on fashion, cosmetics, body image, and beauty contests.

        I look forward to training student-researchers in historical research, specifically how to search newspapers and use finding aids. I will also take this opportunity to teach the student-researchers how to think in epistemological terms; in other words, how do we know what we know about the past? Student-researchers will work with me and work independently to scour newspapers, read through reportage and fiction literature, and identify and collect necessary secondary sources.

        Student-researchers will leave this project as resourceful researchers and skilled writers, equipped with the tools of professionalism. I will give them inside guidance on the conference and publishing processes and help them to navigate the Cal Poly bureaucracy and identify university resources that will be useful throughout their undergraduate career. My hope is to maintain a lasting mentoring relationship with my student-partner.

        DESIRED STUDENT QUALIFICATIONS

        I am looking for students who have a passion for Asian studies, history, or gender studies. There are no formal classes required for this project, but I hope to find students who are enthusiastic about research and learning. It would be especially helpful to work with students who are organized and have high attention to detail. The students should be proficient readers of Vietnamese. The students do not necessarily have to be native-level proficiency (nor be of Vietnamese heritage), but will have a level of competency to read newspaper articles. I speak and read Vietnamese, so I can help the students with more complicated reading passages.

        Number of Students: 1

         

        Captured Slave Ships and the Abolition of the Slave Trade

          CONTACT

          Dr. Matthew S. Hopper
          History Department
          mshopper@calpoly.edu


          PROJECT DESCRIPTION

          This project works to create the first comprehensive database of slave ships captured by the British Royal Navy between 1808 and 1897 while providing opportunities for undergraduate student researchers to improve their research and writing skills and make progress toward a published article in a peer-reviewed journal.

          After abolishing the slave trade in its empire in 1808, Great Britain created a network of treaties with other European powers authorizing the Royal Navy to search and detain suspected slave ships. Captured ships faced trial at Vice Admiralty Courts or Courts of Mixed Commission in Sierra Leone, Cape Town, Havana, and elsewhere. The correspondence produced by these cases has been preserved in an uncatalogued and underutilized 89-volume record group from the High Court of Admiralty (HCA 35 - Slave Trade Adviser to the Treasury: Report Books) in the National Archives (UK). On research trips over the past three years, I have taken digital photographs of each of these volumes and have worked with a team of volunteers and research assistants to create an index in Microsoft Excel that will serve as the foundation for a fully searchable database of these remarkable and comprehensive resources.

          This summer, the SURP research assistant(s) will work closely with me to index materials for the captured slave ship database. The student researcher(s) will examine nineteenth-century correspondence to identify key data points, including: the name of the captured ship, the date of capture, the name of the capturing vessel, the name of the court at which the ship was adjudicated, the number of enslaved Africans on board, etc., and add these entries to the expanding database. Since 2019, the Excel spreadsheet has grown to include more than 4,000 entries from 45 of the 89 volumes, but much work remains to be done.

          DESIRED STUDENT QUALIFICATIONS

          A strong candidate for this research would be a student of any CLA major with interest in the transatlantic slave trade and some experience in working with Microsoft Excel. An ideal candidate would have some previous knowledge of the history of the slave trade and would have completed some related coursework (e.g., HIST 308, HIST 303, or HIST 429) and would have some experience reading handwritten historical documents from the nineteenth century.

          Over the course of eight weeks in the summer of 2021, I will meet with the student researcher(s) on a weekly basis via Zoom to check on their progress, review their work and answer questions. The student(s) selected to participate in this project will be formally acknowledged for their contribution to the published database when it is complete. In addition, the student researcher(s) will receive mentoring and editorial assistance on their own written work with the goal of submitting a research article of their own or co-authored with me in a journal such as Slavery & Abolition, African Diaspora, or the Journal of Global Slavery.

          Number of Students: 2
          Director of Research & Internationalization

           

          Who’s in control? Pandemic related impacts on locus of control

            CONTACT

            Dr. Stacey Rucas
            Social Sciences Department
            srucas@calpoly.edu


            PROJECT DESCRIPTION

            Life history theory predicts that in stressed environments (e.g., resource poor, physical risk, socially stressed), individuals will develop faster life history strategies affecting behavior, personality, psychology, and physiology, in order to maximize inclusive fitness outcomes in a nonoptimal world, and that this may be reflected by variations in individual personality & behavioral traits such locus of control, which measures the degree to which an individual believes that fate is determined by themselves (internal) versus luck, chance or powerful outside forces (external). Previous research indicates that early Covid-19 quarantine had a strongly positive impact on external LOC scores compared to a previous population of college students. This new research seeks to expand this line of theoretical inquiry by assessing whether vaccines, past Covid-19 infection, and decreased face-to-face socializing is associated with locus of control measures in a way predicted by life history theory (LHT). This line of inquiry is significant since, as others have documented, implications of high externality in locus of control orientations are nearly universally associated with many critically negative outcomes such as depression, helplessness, cynicism, anxiety, hostility, low self-esteem, impaired stress coping mechanisms, lower health treatment uptake, and poor school outcomes. The proposed research will provide one student with the opportunity to engage with the entire, rigorous scientific research enterprise including hypothesis/prediction development derived from theory, ethical research considerations and human subjects applications, survey/research methods development, empirical and qualitative data analysis, visual data design and poster presentations at professional conferences in the fall and spring of the next academic year.

            DESIRED STUDENT QUALIFICATIONS

            Students interested in scientific based research in evolutionary ecology are encouraged to apply. Students should have successfully completed at least one upper division course in evolutionary theory as it applies to human behavior and one upper division empirical research methods course offered from a CLA department. Additionally, a course in ethnographic/qualitative data methods would be useful, though not required.

            Number of Students: 1

             

            Forest Plantation Transitions in the Peruvian Andes

              CONTACT

              Dr. Benjamin Timms
              Social Sciences Department
              btimms@calpoly.edu

              Dr. Jim Keese
              Social Sciences Department
              jkeese@calpoly.edu

              Dr. Andrew Fricker
              Social Sciences Department
              africker@calpoly.edu


              PROJECT DESCRIPTION

              Deforestation is a widespread problem in the Andes Mountains of Peru. Since the 1960s, and initially promoted by government incentives, Eucalyptus tree plantations have expanded rapidly throughout the region (Luzar 2007). Eucalyptus wood is widely used as a fuel source for cooking and heating in homes (both rural and urban), construction material, and for ceramic tile production. The people prefer it because it grows quickly, self-propagates after cutting, and burns easily. However, exotic Eucalyptus forests have led to environmental changes including water demands, degradation of soil quality, and damage to habitat for native species (Tovar et al. 2013). Within the past decade, there has been a shift toward promoting pine plantations by the Peruvian Ministry of Agriculture and supported by environmental NGOs. The impact of this shift is yet to be determined, and this project aims to address the expansion and impact of both Eucalyptus and Pine in the Cuzco Region of Peru from student-involved research on these programs and Geospatial research on quantitative analysis of land-cover changes related to the plantations.

              DESIRED STUDENT QUALIFICATIONS

              For the summer research program, one student researcher will work with Dr. Timms and Dr. Keese to conduct a thorough review of the literature to examine the political ecology of reforestation using species of both Eucalyptus and Pine in the Andes and other regions of the world. Required skills include attention to detail and ability to research, read, and annotate journal articles and government reports. Preference is for students with intermediate to advance Spanish reading comprehension, but not required. Finally, a passion for working in the Andes of Peru is looked upon favorably.

              A second student researcher will work with Dr. Fricker and Dr. Timms to use remote sensing and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to determine if the area of forest plantations in the research area has increased or decreased over the past several decades. Required skills include coursework in GIS and/or Remote Sensing. Preferred skills include basic proficiency in either Python or JavaScript and a willingness to learn more. Finally, and again, a passion for working in the Andes of Peru is looked upon favorably.

              Number of Students: 2
              When applying to this project, please be specific as to which position you are applying.

               

              An Experimental Study of Racial Discrimination in Housing Perceptions

                CONTACT

                Dr. Amber Williams
                Psychology and Child Development
                awill138@calpoly.edu


                PROJECT DESCRIPTION

                Research shows that Black homeowners are routinely discriminated against at every stage of the home buying and selling process in ways that compound over time (Korver-Glenn, 2018). This includes lower appraisals for homes owned by Black people compared to homes owned by White people (Howell & Korver-Glenn, 2018). However, this effect has not been examined experimentally, controlling for confounding factors like neighborhood characteristics, region, and home quality. This study aims to examine how people may assess a home’s worth when the only difference between the homes is that one is owned by a Black family and the other is owned by a White family. This work is important to research given that it examines (1) levels of housing discrimination and prejudice in participants who are likely to either be homeowners or potential homeowners, and (2) the extent to which such prejudice results in the devaluing of a home owned by a Black person, thus contributing to compounding discrimination that affects Black people’s levels of wealth, which has a number of further downstream consequences. Participants will view a home with the only difference being the types of photos in the home. There will be three between-subjects conditions: one home with photos of Black people, another with photos of White people, and another with “neutral” photos (e.g., plants/abstract). Participants will then answer questions about their assessment of the quality and worth of the home. We will collect data online and anticipate that we will primarily be analyzing this data over the summer.

                DESIRED STUDENT QUALIFICATIONS

                Students who will benefit most include students who are interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in psychology, especially social and/or personality psychology. Preferred, but not required, qualifications include students who have taken PSY 329, PSY 333, and STAT 217. Having taken a course including topics like racial prejudice and discrimination would also be beneficial. Students’ responsibilities will include (1) data management and analysis, (2) conducting a literature search and summarizing articles, (3) helping write the method and results section of the study 1 manuscript, and (4) helping develop and plan the next study. Students will be provided with extensive training in each of these tasks. Students who are motivated and competent will also have the opportunity to co-author the paper, both for presenting the findings in San Francisco for the Society for Personality and Social Psychology conference and for publication at a peer-reviewed academic journal.

                Number of Students: 1

                 

                Mapping Part of the Fair Machine Learning Debate: An Application of a New System for Dialectical Argumentation Diagramming

                  CONTACT

                  Dr. Ava Wright
                  Philosophy Department
                  avwright@calpoly.edu


                  PROJECT DESCRIPTION

                  In this research project we will develop a system for mapping debates and then apply that system to map part of the debate about fairness in algorithmic decision-making systems developed via machine learning. Debate mapping, unlike argument analysis, is primarily concerned with relations between arguments, the dialectic of claims, objections, responses, rebuttals, etc. The main logical relations in a debate map are support and dispute, rather than deductive ones such as validity, and every claim in a debate map is defeasible in the sense that it might be defeated by some further objection. In the first part of the project, we will develop a fairly rigorous system for the theory and practice of debate mapping with an eye toward its eventual computerization. We will test and critique some existing systems. In the second part, we will then apply this system to manually map a fragment of the debate concerning the fairness of algorithmic decision-making systems developed via machine learning. These include systems such as automated resume screeners, loan application reviewers, recidivism risk predictors, etc. Many AI ethicists and others worry that these systems may make decisions that are unfair because they are created by training on historical data that may be systematically biased against traditionally disadvantaged groups. The relevant debate about fairness in philosophy and in the law is extensive, but much of it remains disconnected from the fair machine learning debate. I am particularly interested in connecting some past debates in philosophy or the law with current debates about fair machine learning, but the exact scope (and even topic) of our debate map is still to be worked out.

                  DESIRED STUDENT QUALIFICATIONS

                  Philosophy or political science students with an interest in law and/or the ethics of artificial intelligence would be ideal candidates. A background in logic, or computer science or some coding experience or interest would be helpful for the project, but is not necessary.

                  Number of Students: 1

                   

                   

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