Undergraduate Research – Spring 2024

Undergraduate Research Symposium (URS)

Huge congratulations to the Transform students that presented their research at the Undergraduate Research Symposium this spring! We are proud to have our students  involved in such broad-based, multidisciplinary work.

Presenter: Shreya Harikumar

Presentation: Differences in Parent/Child Perspectives Surrounding Mental Health Within South-Asian Families in Utah.

Summary: The purpose of this study is to explore how intergenerational perspectives about mental health differ from parent to child and the effects of these differences, specifically amongst households with South-Asian immigrant parents and their second-generation children. Through this project, I hope to identify how these perspectives impact family dynamics and the personal mental health of household members.

Presenter: Alejandro Higuera Santos

Presentation: Exploring the Role of Counter-spaces in Supporting First-Generation Students in the Context of the University of Utah’s Campus Racial Climate

Summary: The purpose of this study is to investigate the impact of counter spaces in upholding First-Generation Students amid the University of Utah’s campus racial climate. The research emphasis is figuring out how certain places on campus, known as “counter spaces,” help First-Generation students. This study will examine the student’s experience to measure their views and the effectiveness of counter spaces as a response to campus racial climate. The
findings will provide valuable insights into the sign.

Presenter: Xochitl Juarez-Cardenas

Presentation: The Student-Parent Dilemma

Summary: I am working on student-parent research trying to find out how much support student-parents receive from the University of Utah. This project is intended for student-parents, staff, faculty, and professors who work at the University of Utah. The intention is to shed light on issues that student-parents experience when navigating college. This will lay the groundwork for further research as it relates to this population which could create solutions to
issues stated by student-parents.

Presenter: Terry Kim

Presentation: Post-intervention Assessments in the Couple-Based Diabetes Prevention Pilot Trial

Summary: The PreventT2 Together pilot trial began in January 2023 to examine whether delivering the adapted National DPP curriculum to couples will lead to greater engagement with lifestyle change and maintenance, compared to delivering to only the high-risk partner. Upon completion of the pilot trial in January 2024, our team conducted post-intervention assessments with all 12 participating couples (24 partners). This study implies the potential of a couple-based approach to implement the National DPP.


Presenter: Brooklyn Rapp

Presentation: The Psychological Impact of LDS Church Involvement Among LGBTQ+ Individuals

Summary: LGBTQ+ individuals face unique challenges, however, there are additional challenges faced by those who were raised in the LDS church. This research aims to understand the diversity of LGBTQ+ individuals’ feelings and experiences about church involvement, and to identify key factors that make individuals feel marginalized and stigmatized by their church experiences. The team wants to be able to offer meaningful guidance to LGBTQ+ Mormons and their families about how to promote long-term thriving.

Presenter: Perla Rivera

Presentation: Brujeria Activism

Summary: My research topic focuses on demystifying the “bruja”. I want to reconstruct the story of the bruja as an important part of understanding the long-standing oppression against Chicana and Latinx women. Additionally, I want to elevate the voices of scholars and activists who are representing the bruja as a symbol of empowerment and resistance. With my research, I will create a zine that centers brujeria as a spiritual knowledge that is rooted in
womxn liberation.

Presenter: Leslie Rodriguez

Presentation: Uncovering the Red Face Palm – A Decolonial Lens into MMIW

Summary: The purpose of this study is to raise awareness surrounding the MMIW movement and the impacts it holds on Native American/ American Indian women in the state of Utah. The MMIW phenomenon has held a Symposia Spring 2024 93 catastrophic impact across the North American continent spanning from the United States and Canada (Amnesty, 2007). Sexual, physical violence, disappearances, and homicides involving these women and girls are examples of the crimes that committed against them.

Note: Leslie's poster was selected for one of two Best in Humanities and Fine Arts Spring Symposium Poster prizes. Of her work, her mentor Dr. Elizabeth Archuleta said, "Leslie's honors thesis on missing and murdered Indigenous women is a critical issue that demands greater visibility and action. Indigenous women and girls face disproportionately high rates of violence, abduction, and homicide compared to other demographics in Canada and the United States.  Her work raises awareness about this crisis and is crucial for several reasons, including human rights, social justice, community impact, accountability and prevention, and cultural preservation. "

Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) Awards for Outstanding Research

Additionally, several Transform undergraduate researchers and mentors were honored at the Office of Undergraduate Research award ceremony this spring.

Lisa Diamond - Outstanding undergraduate research mentor award, School for Cultural & Social Transformation

"Professor Diamond’s dedication to mentoring student-scholars is exceptional. She models interdisciplinary excellence and creates innovative opportunities for exploration, discovery, and collaboration. We know that students who work closely with Dr. Diamond become rigorous scholars and thoughtful colleagues who are well-prepared to ask their own crucial research questions."

Jorge Jimenez - Outstanding undergraduate researcher award, School for Cultural & Social Transformation

Faculty mentor: Edmund Fong

"Jorge's honor thesis was truly exceptional. Through his community engaged work on the westside with University Neighborhood Partners (UNP), Utah Community Advocate Network, Raise Up Utah, and Hartland Community 4 Youth and Families, Jorge had become a key participant and organizer of the Glendale High School Movement, a historic campaign to build a high school located in the Westside. As you know, the Westside continues to be an underserved area. As Jorge wonderfully documented, the Westside had never had a high school built within the neighborhoods of Glendale, Poplar Grove, and Rose Park. The closest was South High School for about fifty years until it was chosen to be the only high school among four to be closed down in 1988, despite Highland High initially selected but withdrawn due to organized opposition by Highland parents and alumni. As Jorge writes in his thesis, “Since then, these neighborhoods have been searching for a better school alternative than having their kids bussed an hour across Salt Lake City to East High School. In the first half of the 21st century, behind the school choice movement (National Center for Education Statistics [ED], 1997, p. 3), the solution was to transfer students from the public schools to charter schools found on the Westside.” Examining this history through the lens of Critical Race Theory and other theories of resistance, Jorge wanted to tell the stories of grassroots communities in their effort to push for a high school of their own and address the disparities and inequities long confronting these communities. The resulting thesis was magnificent in its blend of participant observation and historical analysis–grounded in canonical social movement theories yet also crackling with the energies of people on the ground–a microcosm of more familiar dynamics we have witnessed nationwide. His work might well be the only documentation of this effort and therefore precious in its own right."