Narra Moreen, a child psychology undergraduate student at the Institute of Child Development, recently received an Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) grant. UROP provides University of Minnesota undergraduate students the opportunity to work on a research, scholarly, or creative project with a faculty mentor.
Moreen is currently working with Richard Lee, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Psychology, on the complexity of identity. Specifically, she is conducting a qualitative project to better understand the effects of multiracial identity development in college students. Moreen hopes to gain insight on the factors that influence the way students view their identities and how these factors influence their beliefs now.
With the UROP grant, Moreen will receive a research scholarship of $1,500 for 120 hours of research and expense funding up to $300. Below, Moreen provides more information about her research interests and her current project.
What made you want to study child psychology or early childhood?
When I first started college, I had no idea that the child psychology major existed. I started out as a neuroscience major because I was interested in the brain and understanding the biological basis of behavior. While I still find this interesting, I quickly realized that the program I was in was not the right fit for me. I also wanted to learn about the social and cultural influences on behavior, as well as individual differences. A friend of mine told me she was taking a child psychology class and it sounded interesting to me, so I signed up for the Introduction to Child Psychology class the following semester. I was hooked immediately! I loved the intersectional lens that child psychologists use, taking into account research from many disciplines including sociology, biology, anthropology, and more. Additionally, I’ve always loved kids and found human development interesting but had never learned about it in an academic context, so this major was a perfect fit for me.
What kind of research are you involved in?
I am currently working on a UROP (Undergraduate Research Opportunity) under the guidance of Richard Lee, Ph.D., and Christine Wu, a graduate student in his lab. I find the complexity of identity fascinating. As a biracial individual, I have experienced firsthand the malleability and confusion that comes with having a biracial identity in a racialized society and have met a number of students who have similar experiences as me. The multiracial population is quickly growing, yet very little research on normative identity development in this population exists. I am conducting a qualitative project to study the effects of the college transition on multiracial identity development in college students, a population that traditionally experiences personal development in many areas. I hope to gain insight into factors that have influenced the way these students view their identities as well as how these factors influence their beliefs now.
What do you find most interesting about child development?
One of the most eye-opening things I have learned in the major is how applicable the study of human development is to many other areas. For example, I did not realize how much social policy impacts children and families, or how different environmental factors can greatly influence children’s health and personality development, resulting in different outcomes for children. Although learning about theories is fundamental to studying development (and many other areas), I’ve found that learning about real-life applications of these theories is what has caused me to develop a deeper passion for human development and is what continues to drive me towards developing a career in this field.
What are your plans for after graduation?
After I graduate in the spring, I would like to take a year or two off to work before applying to graduate school. At this point, I am leaning towards pursuing a Ph.D. to continue researching identity development in minority populations, particularly in the multiracial population. However, I am still exploring and open to opportunities that may come my way this year!
How would you describe your experience at ICD?
I have had a wonderful experience at ICD! Coming from a bigger department, I found that I have made acquaintances quickly in the child psychology major because students often have multiple classes together. Professors are accessible, friendly, and want to help you succeed. I have been happy with the variety of classes available in the major and think that classes complement each other well. I always feel comfortable and at home when I walk into ICD’s building, knowing that everyone there is passionate about the same things as me.