JiaYi Xiao

How did you decide on the topic of your research?

 I am a student-athlete on Georgetown Women’s Golf Team, and therefore have always wanted to do research on sports-related topics. I was initially going to look at the differences in community sports development between China and US, but gave up on that topic since I found out later that community sport was in its very preliminary status in China.

     Playing golf has greatly changed who I am and how I tackle with daily matters, so I thought it might be a good alternative to focus on the psychological influence of sports instead of its community aspect. That was how I came up with the idea of conducting research on how sport participation affects people’s mental health in China.

How did you become involved in research? 

I applied for 2014 McDonough Undergraduate Research Fellowship.

What was your favorite part about the research process?

My favorite part of the research was conducting the focus group in Foshan, China. Since I had not taken any Marketing class at that point, setting up a focus group and being a moderator was a great challenge for me. I did a lot of research on how to effectively prepare for and lead a group of people, and I remember how nervous I was that day. Fortunately the focus group turned out to be great and I collected many valuable insights on the topic that I focused on.

What was the most challenging part of the research process?

Like I mentioned above, using marketing research methods that I haven’t tried or learned before was quite challenging. What’s more, at the beginning of the research I needed to distribute some paper questionnaires to students from a local university. It was hard to break the social and psychological barriers to talk to those people that I didn’t know and to encourage them to answer the survey. Throughout the process I needed to talk to different people and deal with emergencies. I have learned a lot on how to interact with others.

What was the most unexpected part of the research process?

I didn’t expect to learn so much through the research process.

How was Georgetown able to support you during the research process?

I have received a lot of support from Georgetown, especially from MSB. I was required to find a faculty mentor to assist me throughout the process, and he was very helpful in recommending research methods. I also received research grant from MSB, and with this grant I was able to reach out to a larger population and to validate my data.

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?

My research itself has reflected this commitment. Even though it was supported by MSB, my research wasn’t entirely focused on the business industry. However, my mentor and other MSB faculty were very supportive and helpful along the way. What they were really looking for was the process and experience of conducting a research.

Describe your research in one sentence.

My research was about how sport participation affects people’s mental health in China.

What is your advice for other undergraduates who are interested in pursuing research at Georgetown?

It might sound intimidating and challenging to come up with a research idea on your own and actually conduct a research, but it is much easier if you break it down into smaller steps and really committed to each of them. Conducting a research is a really good way to apply what you have learned in school as well as to learn outside of the classrooms.


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