As a queer person in STEM, Debbie Nguyen (she/they) always gravitated towards topics related to the LGBTQ+ population. In addition, their personal experiences growing up in religious spaces as a Vietnamese-American planted a seed of curiosity about the effects of religious and ethnic identity on anti-LGBT stigma. Nguyen is currently a senior (‘22) majoring in Psychology and minoring in Chemistry. She plans on applying to public health and health psychology Ph.D. programs in the future, with an aspiration to become a professor, medical scientist, and/or a public health advisor. Thus, research has become an integral part of their life and has allowed Nguyen to gather meaningful results that propels their dream to educate the public on queer issues.
The first step in their research journey has been a project on anti-LGBT attitudes and the factors that affect them. This past year, Nguyen completed a project titled “Prejudice Towards LGBT Men and Women Varies by Religiosity and Social Dominance Orientation.” This was a 3-part study that she has been working on since the Spring of 2020. “I’ve often wondered the extent to which different internal identities affect how we view others… LGBTQ+ individuals are not often studied, especially in comparison to their non-LGBTQ+ counterparts”
The first part focused on ethnic identity and religiosity, comparing anti-LGBT attitudes among Southern California college students, while the second part looked at the anti-trans attitudes before and after a class presentation from a trans rights activist, Jessica Lynn. The final and most instrumental part of the project was understanding how anti-LGBT stigma is affected by certain factors on a much bigger scale. In order to gather data for this final piece of the puzzle, Nguyen needed to be able to gather a large sample size to find statistically significant results, which proved to be difficult with no support in funding for the experiment.
Nguyen came across the Scholarly/Creative Grant from the Center for Undergraduate Excellence (CUE) as she prepared for final parts of their experiment. These grants support creative or academic projects which can be used for purchasing necessary equipment, facility rentals, travel expenses, or in Nguyen’s case, studying a large sample size of over 2,000 individuals from Amazon Mechanical Turk. The funds
propelled the final stages of their research, and Nguyen was able to present this project as an undergraduate representative of Crean College of Health and Behavioral Sciences. Furthermore, she is now working on a manuscript to publish their findings and contribute to the psychological research community.
“This project marked the beginning of my passion for independent study. Working in Dr. David Frederick’s lab has been essential to how I view psychology and my own potential for impacting others through research.” With the completion of their initial research project, Nguyen explains how that experience gave them the confidence to take on the Psychology senior thesis, in which she is running a study on student healthcare satisfaction and accessibility. “I hope that my research can be a part of a larger movement to increase queer Asian-American voices in Science.”
If you are interested in finding out more about the Undergraduate Scholarly/Creative Grant, go to our website! Applications for the spring 2022 cycle will open up in March, and the deadline is April 8, 2022. These grants are given out every semester and fund numerous projects in addition to conference travel fees across campus. All researchers and/or those engaging in other scholarly creative projects are highly encouraged to apply in the next cycle for a chance to receive up to $1,000 dollars towards their project!
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