“Post-Colonialism”: Traditional Foodway Loss and Health in Puerto Rico

Colonialism has displaced traditional foodways all over the globe. Moreover, even though we are in a mostly “post-colonial” world, colonialism and its effects still impact many countries. In the Caribbean, many countries have become independent, but some continue to have relationships with their previous colonizers. Puerto Rico, specifically, is still a U.S. territory and has been since 1898. Since then, traditional foodways in Puerto Rico have transformed through the decrease of subsistence agriculture as a result of U.S. intervention in Puerto Rican businesses. However, an issue that has been left unanswered by scholars is: How did U.S. colonialism over Puerto Rican foodways affect the health of Puerto Ricans? This project will analyze the health effects of U.S. colonialism on Puerto Rico’s foodways by relating foodway changes with an increase of food-related diseases in the country. Specifically, it will link high rates of obesity, diabetes, and cancer on the island to […]

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Comparative Study of Naming Choices of Chinese and Indian Americans

My research seeks to answer why different ethnic groups of Asian Americans adopt American first names at distinct rates; to what extent first names affect one’s identification with one’s ethnic origin; and how gender moderates the naming process. The project was motivated by personal observations: I found that my East Asian peers all have Americanized first names, while most of my South Asian peers have first names that signal their ethnic origin – a pattern I subsequently confirmed using the California Birth Index. The quantitative discovery intrigued me enough to engage in further qualitative research. Through in-depth interviews with first- and second-generation Asian Americans of Chinese or Indian descent, I seek to uncover the motivations and consequences behind different naming practices. Given previous literature’s findings on the adverse effects of racially identifiable names and name-changing as an assimilation strategy, it is particularly interesting how two groups of immigrants display distinct […]

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The Role of Episodic Memory in Learning

Studying learning is crucial to understanding the human mind. Currently, active research is being done on the relationship between cognitive processes and memory systems. While most studies focus on the systems individually, much recent research shows that human learning can be better explained by considering multiple systems simultaneously. We focus on the RLWM framework, which suggests that reinforcement learning (RL) and working memory (WM) both contribute significantly to trial-and-error learning. It takes into account the limited capacity of memory, more efficiently accounting for dependence of learning on the number of items learned in parallel than only considering RL to model behavior. Recent literature has shown that episodic memory (EM) contributes to learning alongside RL and WM. However, no study has examined the role of all three systems (RL, WM, EM) jointly so far. This project, therefore, aims to find whether EM affects RLWM learning and how it contributes to the […]

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The Involuntary Excluder Effect in Varying Group Size

When you get rejected by a member of your group, you may feel as if other members are also excluding you. Such a misconception in social exclusion is documented as the Involuntary Excluder Effect (IEE). Although IEE is known to be robust in one-person exclusion, its scope and mechanism remain unknown. Given the consequences of exclusion on ones emotions and workplace productivity, it is crucial to understand how IEE plays out in real-life situations. How does having more included or excluded members affect the level of IEE? What mechanisms explain it? In this study, I will measure the robustness of the IEE by varying the number of included and excluded members and test its mechanism by measuring how ones role as an included or rejected person changes ones construal of the ambiguous exclusion. This robustness check should increase the external validity of this research, given it is common for one-person […]

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Dirt, Concrete, and Shifting Inequities on Bay Area Highways, 1910-2020

Since their inception, the role and cultural significance of highways have aligned with contemporary issues of inequity and have been vectors of harm. I will analyze the history of the Bay Area’s highways and examine the inequity that shaped and was built into the public understanding of the highways, as well as the structures themselves. Three main eras I will focus on are: 1910–1940, when highways were novel and their place in culture was being constructed; 1941–1980, when they were used as a tool to reshape communities and the dynamics of urban-suburban relationships; and 1980–present, when the adverse consequences of living near highways has come to be more recognized, which increasingly informs attitudes toward them, particularly in the Bay Area. Using Geographic Information Systems tools, I will investigate the impacts freeways have on quality of life and compare those to the demographics most affected by highways today to understand current […]

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Increasing the Efficacy of Cognitive Reappraisal

I am interested in studying strategies to increase the efficacy of cognitive reappraisal, an emotion regulation strategy in which one alters thoughts about an event to modify one’s emotional response to that event. Cognitive reappraisal can be effective in down-regulating negative emotions in stressful, emotional situations. However, because cognitive reappraisal has been shown to deplete cognitive resources, implementing cognitive reappraisal can be difficult in emotional situations that are cognitively demanding. The project aims to study whether implementation intentions, a strategy known for its ability to automatize desired behaviors in goal achievement literature, can automatize cognitive reappraisal in the down-regulation of negative emotions. Over the summer, I plan to compare the emotional outcomes of cognitive reappraisal with cognitive reappraisal + implementation intentions in the presence of emotional stimuli to study whether implementation intentions will increase the automaticity of cognitive reappraisal, resulting in lower negative affect and less effortful regulation.

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Identity Politics Online: Evidence from Chinese Social Media

How do political parties influence online posting behavior? Previous research attributed an individual’s utility from posting online to two major channels: contribution to public knowledge and identity boosting. In this project, I will develop a model of demonization that analyzes how a political party, using posts on social media as signals, interacts with its supporters via these two channels. Using a set of state-sponsored posts and comments about the 2022 Ukraine-Russia Crisis from Weibo, one of China’s largest social media platforms, I will test how topic distributions of the comment sections, modeled using Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA), respond to different types of political messages from the state. This also determines how the comment section evolves if the state strategically alters from posting about the ongoing event to attacking opposing political identities, or vice versa. Furthermore, by tracking the social media profiles of commenting users over time, I hope to investigate […]

...Read More about Le Sun