Faculty Spotlight: Kathleen Underwood, Women & Gender Studies and History
What are your undergraduate research mentor experiences?
Student Scholars Day (both WGS and History), senior thesis projects (History and Honors), and presentations at scholarly conferences (WGS).
Would you briefly explain the focus of some of the most recent research you have mentored students in?
Three recent projects stand out. One student examined the “It Gets Better” video project aimed at young LGBTQ people for common themes and messages; another examined if and why women who come to GVSU planning to be doctors change their majors to professions that are seen as more family-friendly; and a third carried out oral history interviews with Japanese war brides in Michigan. All presented at SSD, and the first two presented at professional conferences.
Why is mentoring undergraduate research an important component of your work?
Working with students on research is one of the best ways to stay current with the most recent scholarship in my two fields. As I work with students to understand their research topics, I expand my own knowledge.
If a student is interested in your field of research, what are some suggestions or tips you might share with them to help them get more involved and/or better prepared to engage in this type of research?
Whether students are interested in historical research or gender-centered research, I always want them to be able to talk a bit about why they are interested in a topic, what they already know (or think they know) about the topic, and why they think it is important or significant (not just interesting). I love talking about research with students, even if it isn’t my field, and I am always willing to direct them to colleagues who can be even more helpful.
Who are some of your previous mentees, and what are they doing now?
Brittany Dernberger, Interim Assistant Director, GVSU Women’s Center; Garrett Sawyer, entering graduate program in women’s studies at University of Texas at Austin; Denise Ireton, PhD program at SUNY Binghamton
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