Precious Hardy's SPUR Reflection

Precious’s SPUR Experience

Feature ImageThis summer the Society for Personality and Social Psychology granted me the opportunity to conduct research on an ongoing project at Northwestern University (NU). I have been fascinated and engaged in research for years and regularly seek out opportunities that not only enables me to further develop as a professional but as a researcher as well.

During my time at NU, I had the privilege to work with Dr. Wendi Gardner and graduate student, Alexandra Garr – Schultz. My experiences there has allowed me to improve and expand on some of my skills (e.g., analyzing large data-sets, transcribing, entering and coding data) and develop new ones (e.g., conducting research-based interviews and using web-based software). I also learned a substantial amount of information about applying to several different fellowships for graduate funding such as the National Science Foundation – Graduate Fellowship Program (NSF-GRFP) and the Ford Foundation Fellowship Program. The program provided me with a new perspective to conducting and examining research; it also connected me to a diverse team of researchers, future researchers, and friends.

My research journey begun with a lunch meeting at Evanston’s contemporary sandwich countertop-serve spot, Soulwich.  As Dr. Gardner, Alexandra, two other summer researchers, and I gathered around to place our orders we begun discussing our research interests, expectations, and lab projects. It was at this time that I became aware that I would be assisting on a project that aimed to examine positive identity development in bisexual individuals. By the time we reached our table we were all familiar with each other’s name and interests. Our lunch meetings became a weekly ritual of monitoring our progress, discussing faced challenges and potential solutions among other things. Once we finished lunch we were off to the lab.

My first assignment required me to familiarize myself with the topic. Needless to say, I spent many hours learning relevant terminology and reading research articles centered around identity denial and/or bisexual invisibility.

From then on, I coded previous data and performed face-to-face interviews with bisexual individuals. I assisted with data collection, entry, reliability checks, and analysis. In the lab, I learned about different software and/or platforms and their abilities to aid in research data collection, transcription and analysis. Those are as followed: 

  • Amazon Mechanical Turk: an online labor market in which researchers can recruit participants and/or conduct online research and experiments 
  • Qualtrics: a web-based survey creation, collection, and analysis software  
  • Rev: an online service that provides audio and video transcription

Overall, my experience has been an inspiring and amazing one and I have grown both at a personal and professional level. Although I am no longer at NU, I am still very much in contact with my mentors. In fact, I have decided, with the advice and help from my NU mentors, to create a poster to submit and present at the Midwestern Psychological Association (MPA) conference next year. The Society for Personality and Social Psychology does not require me to complete a poster but after the journey I had, why not.