The University of Texas at Austin
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Natasha Sharma

Natasha Sharma
Major: 
International Relations and Social Work

Natasha’s undergraduate research topic is A Multiethnic Intergroup Forum to Address the Impact of the Media’s Stereotypes of Racial Minorities on Youth

“It has been interesting to see first-hand how intergroup dialogue can go a long way in fostering an understanding of diversity.”

Faculty Supervisor: Dr. Dorie Gilbert, Social Work

How did you initially get involved in research?

I took a class called “Foundations for Social Justice” last year, and I was intrigued by my professor’s research about art and community development in Mart, Texas. I asked her about the steps she took to start her project, and she encouraged me to pursue an Undergraduate Research Fellowship to research a topic of interest to me.

Briefly describe your research project.

My study evaluates the impact of intergroup discussion about race and the media on a university student’s racial awareness and sense of ethnic identity. Participants from different ethnic backgrounds meet to discuss topics related to racism, stereotypes and the media. I am comparing changes in racial awareness and ethnic identity from before the first session to after the third session. The study is based on a similar forum implemented at the University of Michigan.

What was the most rewarding part of your research experience?

The groups give students from different backgrounds a chance to discuss topics that are typically considered taboo. It has been interesting to see first-hand how intergroup dialogue can go a long way in fostering an understanding of diversity.

How has participating in research affected your undergraduate experience?

Participating in research has helped me grow both professionally and personally. Implementing my own study about the impact of race and the media has inspired me to incorporate research into my future career.

Do you think getting involved in research will be helpful to you in the future? If so, how?

In addition to introducing me to different career opportunities, research has helped me develop unique skills that will benefit me in the future. I have learned a great deal about budgeting, conducting assessments, and working with others, all three of which are crucial to work in the public service and non-profit sectors.

Research Week showcases the exciting work of undergraduates across campus and highlights opportunities for students interested in getting involved. Co-sponsored by the Senate of College Councils and the School of Undergraduate Studies, Research Week takes place April 15-19 this year. Take a look at the online schedule of events to find out more about Research Week events.