Our second student spotlight features Emily Perkins, who is a member of the Georgetown College of Arts and Sciences Class of 2014 majoring in Psychology. Her research explores the relationship between the Baby Elmo Program and parent-child interactions.
How did you become involved in research at Georgetown?
During a psychology class, one of my professors mentioned that he was looking for research assistants for one of his studies, and I decided to try it out, not knowing how much I would love research. It was a simple survey job, but it led me to apply for a summer internship at a lab at the University of Maryland, where I realized that I wanted to pursue psychology research as a career. Now I’m working on my psychology honors thesis in Dr. Barr’s lab, the Early Learning Project, and hope to become a full-time RA after I graduate this year.
What was your favorite part about the research process?
I have to say that I most enjoy the initial research design — picking what kind of study you want to do and how you’ll do it — and then, finally, writing the discussion, where you get to really think about what your data means in a larger sense. So far, working on my thesis, I’ve most enjoyed the logistical, design aspects and thinking about the implications of our work.
How was Georgetown able to support you during the research process?
My research mentor and thesis advisor, Dr. Barr, is incredibly supportive of her students and truly cares that they enjoy and become invested in the research process. I meet with her weekly about my thesis, and we email daily. She really promotes a sense of collaboration in the project, integrating me into the decision-making process, asking me what I think, and making me feel like a valued participant in the development of the project.
The Georgetown University Undergraduate Research Symposium, and the university as a whole, is committed to fostering interdisciplinary, intellectual dialogue. What is one experience that you have had at Georgetown that reflects this commitment?
In keeping with the general theme that my classes often overlap in subject matter, my thesis project relates directly to several classes I have taken. Last semester, I had the opportunity to take what I have learned in my thesis research about prison education and write a paper about the sociological implications of different types of classes in prison settings. At least in the areas I study — psychology, sociology, and education — there is a great deal of overlap and it’s easy to draw connections between classes.
Describe your research in one sentence.
Juvenile offenders are totally adorable with their babies.
What is your advice for other undergraduates who are interested in pursuing research at Georgetown?
I know it can be hard to break into the research scene at Georgetown, so I recommend that you talk with professors in your areas of interest and see if they’re doing research that you could help out with, even in a minor role. Psi Chi also hosts an annual undergraduate science research fair in the fall, where labs recruit research assistants, and I highly recommend that you attend next year.