Research Grants and Internships

Research Grants and Internships

The Pembroke Center invites applications from current Brown students, from any concentration or field, to apply for our research grants and internship. Please see individual grant descriptions and guidelines. Students with projects appropriate for more than one grant may apply for multiple grants, although it is unlikely a student would be awarded more than one. 2014 grant recipients and project descriptions

Steinhaus Zisson Pembroke Center Research Grants
Helen Terry MacLeod Research Grant
Barbara Anton Internship Grant
Linda Pei Undergraduate Research Grant

The application deadline for 2015/16 grants is 4:00 pm on Friday, October 9, 2015.

Please submit application materials for all grants to:

The Pembroke Center
172 Meeting Street, Room 111
Brown University - Box 1958
Providence, RI 02912

or email to

Steinhaus/Zisson Pembroke Center Research Grants for Undergraduate and Graduate Students

The Beatrice Bloomingdale Steinhaus’33, P’60, P’65, GP’87, GP’91/Gertrude Rosenhirsch Zisson’30, P’61, P’63, GP’91 grants support undergraduate and graduate student research at the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women. Student research may be on any topic related to the work of the Pembroke Center, with preference given to research on women's education, health, community activism, philanthropy, and economic status, and women's rights and well-being in the United States and in developing countries around the world.

Undergraduate students are invited to apply for grants up to $1,000. Graduate students may apply for grants up to a maximum of $2,000. Application materials include:

  • a three to five page description of your research project
  • a letter of support from faculty advisor
  • amount requested and plan for allocated grant funds

The Steinhaus/Zisson Fund was provided by Nancy Steinhaus Zisson’65, P’91 and William Zisson’63, P’91 in memory of their mothers, Beatrice Bloomingdale Steinhaus’33, P’60, P’65, GP’87, GP’91 and Gertrude Rosenhirsch Zisson’30, P’61, P’63, GP’91, and the life changing education that they received at Pembroke College in Brown University. It was established in recognition of their family members who are alumnae and alumni of Brown University, including Margaret Steinhaus Sheppe’60, P’87, Harry R. Zisson’61, William Zisson’63, P’91, Nancy Steinhaus Zisson’65, P’9l, Laura Sheppe Miller’87, Michael B. Miller’87, Alex Zisson’91, and Emma Miller’16. These two women inspired a love of learning in their children and grandchildren, and a strong belief that education and self-improvement are important aspects of personal growth that do not stop with the end of formal schooling. They believed profoundly in women's rights and affordable education as a means to achieving these goals.

View a list of all Steinhaus-Zisson Grant Recipients

 2014-2015 Steinhaus-Zisson Research Grant
Undergraduate Student Recipient

Esme Ricciardi '15
International Relations

"Islamic Immigration, Sex Trafficking, and the Media: The Implications of Racialized and Gendered Trafficking Discourses in the Netherlands"

The Netherlands has traditionally had a tolerant and progressive society and has allowed immigrants to find safe haven within its borders. However, like many EU countries they have recently come into conflict with a group of new immigrants, many of them Muslims. In the early 2000s, Pim Fortuyn began a political party (the “Pim Fortuyn List”) to promote his anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, anti-EU, and anti-austerity platform and managed to gain major popularity, prior to his assassination. In the years following his death, the political atmosphere has featured growing hostility and contempt for Muslims and larger pushes to close borders.

Ricciardi’s thesis aims to examine the basis of this anti-immigration and anti-Islamic political climate in the Netherlands, and the EU as a whole, through analyzing the gendered media discourses around sex trafficking and terrorism. Her thesis will utilize the framework of "traffickingandterror" that was developed by Pardis Madhavi in order to demonstrate that protecting white women from brown men has been used as the basis for anti-immigrant sentiment. An in-depth case study will assess the specific case of the “loverboys”: Muslim men convicted of trafficking their ethnically Dutch girlfriends into prostitution.

2014-2015 Steinhaus-Zisson Research Grant
Graduate Student Recipient

Wanda Henry
Graduate Student, Department of History

"Searching the Dead and Burying the Bodies: Searchers of the Dead, Sextonesses, and Women Undertakers in England from the Sixteenth to Nineteenth Centuries"

Wanda Henry's project looks at the women who examined, counted, and buried the dead in England from Tudor plague epidemics to early Victorian cholera outbreaks.  Bills of Mortality contain the decisions made by women searchers of the dead, and those judgments influenced public health policy.  Women worked as searchers only temporarily in cities outside London, but within the greater metropolitan area, they obtained increasing responsibility through the politics of the parish to become sextonesses and pew keepers with multiple responsibilities, including witnessing baptisms and marriages.  Ultimately, these eye- and ear-witnesses to life and death in the parish disappeared as parish involvement in social administration at the local level diminished and an emerging professional identity excluded women.  Henry's dissertation considers the rise of searchers, sextonesses, and women undertakers as public officers in English cities, looks at how age and class complicated the gendered discourse, which criticized searchers, and argues that replacement of the women had little to do with medical training, occurred gradually from the 1820s in London, but gained momentum as rising population and fear of disease closed city churchyards.  The Steinhaus/Zisson Pembroke Center Research Grant will help support a trip to England in Jan-Feb 2015 to complete research.

2014-2015 Steinhaus-Zisson Research Grant
Graduate Student Recipient

Rijuta Mehta
Graduate Student, Department of Modern Culture and Media

"The Repatriation Portrait: Women at the End of Empire, 1947-1953"

The Repatriation Portrait is a photographic history of the search and rescue operations targeted at women after the partition of India and Pakistan (1947-1953). In the absence of images that depict overt and illegal atrocity against women during the time of state foundation, Mehta's project focuses on photography’s role in rescuing injured women at a moment when rescue and rehabilitation were enacted lawfully but nonconsensually. How was photography used when the enemy states of India and Pakistan made a common decision to repatriate abducted women on both sides of the border and return them to their original households, without exception? Taking photography’s implication in state humanitarianism, in facilitating the law, she seeks to draw connections between violence that injures and violence that redresses, between the colonial power of segregation and the decolonial power of forced return. 

​Through an exhibit​ and a publication facilitated by the Steinhaus/Zisson Research Grant, Mehta will examine the contradictions of an indigenous feminism that was co-opted by the militarized state and a joint humanitarian operation that resulted in women’s nonconsensual repatriation of women.

2014-2015 Steinhaus-Zisson Research Grant
Graduate Student Recipient

Nicosia Shakes
Graduate Student, Department of Africana Studies

"Women’s Theatre and Feminist Activism in Jamaica and South Africa: A Study of Sistren Theatre Collective and The Mothertongue Project"

Shakes's dissertation examines Sistren Theatre Collective, Jamaica and The Mothertongue Project, South Africa as case studies for understanding women’s theatre-based activism as a component of feminist mobilization. She employs an interdisciplinary framework combining theatre and performance studies, gender and sexuality studies and political thought in order to assess how the two organizations engage in feminism through performance and social activism.  Her data collection strategies include textual and performance analyses, interviews, participant observation and archival studies.  Shakes compares and contrasts the organizations’ work in order to underscore the importance of approaching studies of Black women’s activism through multifarious lenses, while identifying similar trends. This research aims to contribute to an understanding of women’s performance as a site of feminist praxis in the Caribbean and Africa south of the Sahara.  More broadly, it is commensurate with an emergent body of knowledge on the significance of arts-based activism in democratic systems worldwide. The Steinhaus/Zisson Pembroke Center Research Grant will be used to travel to Toronto, Canada in the summer of 2015 in order to consult a rich resource of archival materials that are in the possession of Sistren Theatre Collective’s former Artistic Director.

The Helen Terry MacLeod Research Grant

The MacLeod grant supports undergraduate honors research on issues having to do with women or gender, or research that brings a feminist analysis to bear on a problem or set of questions. Students currently working on honors theses in any field are eligible to apply. The $1000 grant is to be used to further research.

Application materials should include:

  • a three to five page description of your honors thesis
  • a letter of support from your thesis advisor
  • a brief description of how you would use the grant funds, if awarded

The grant honors the life of Helen Terry MacLeod (1901-1994) who did not herself have a college education but who helped support the undergraduate, graduate, and professional school educations of her grandchildren, including Joan MacLeod Heminway ’83.

View a list of all Helen Terry MacLeod Research Grant recipients

2014-15 Helen Terry MacLeod Research Grant Recipient

Patricia Ekpo '15
American Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies

“Let's Be Very Public With Our Suffering: Tumbler's Online Depression and Its Queer Possibilities”

The social media site tumblr is an increasingly vital sphere of subcultural, queer, and feminist sociality and aesthetic production. Patricia Ekpo’s thesis focuses specifically on feminine, queer of color users who express themselves depressively on tumblr, that is through their lived experiences of depression as well as through larger formations of racial and sexual melancholia. She examines a queer depressive tumblr aesthetic that is formulated through the production and circulation of images and text such as somber selfies, landscape portraits of empty bedrooms, journal-like text posts, or pop culture objects. Ekpo analyzes these objects and the various ways that users enact radical vulnerability online as both a performance and resistive practice. She asks how this depressive aesthetic and practice is informed by earlier iterations of cyberfeminism and cyberutopian ideation and what it can contribute to conceptions of everyday queer utopia. How do depressed queer subjects form ambivalent, contingent orientations to the future that challenge accepted queer temporal frameworks? Finally, what personal and political purpose does this mode of expression serve?

From 1995-2007 the Pembroke Center awarded Helen Terry MacLeod funds as a prize for an outstanding undergraduate honors thesis that addressed questions of gender or women, or that brought a feminist analysis to bear on a topic of study.

The Barbara Anton Internship Grant

Undergraduate students doing an honors thesis involving an internship or volunteer work in a community agency are eligible to apply for the Barbara Anton research grant. The thesis and community work must be in some way related to the welfare of women and children, and the $1000 grant used to further research.

Application materials should include:

  • a three to five page description of your honors thesis
  • the name of the community organization with which you are working
  • a letter of support from your thesis advisor
  • a brief description of how you would use the grant funds, if awarded

The grant commemorates Barbara Anton’s many contributions to the Pembroke Center over nearly two decades as director of the Pembroke Associates organization.

View a list of all Barbara Anton Internship Grant recipients

2014-15 Barbara Anton Internship Grant Recipient

Elaine Hsiang '15
Health and Human Biology

"Mapping (Un)Safe Spaces: Trans* Health and the Affordable Care Act"

Despite its recent recognition by health care providers and public health researchers as an area of need, the specific, diverse range of health care needs experienced by LGBTQ populations has been grotesquely ignored. Of particular note are the rights and regulations surrounding trans individuals seeking medical and/or social acceptance and visibility.

In a 2003 article in Sexualities, Steven Epstein describes the recent phenomenon of “state-centered” LGBTQ health advocacy as a form of health activism in the US. Epstein is cautious about a more inclusive biomedical politics, since the adoption of state policies that work to include “special populations” may have the harmful consequence of remedicalizing bodies. Using a historical approach to looking at LGBTQ health since the advent of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, Hsiang aims to analyze how treatment of queer identities as a “medical problem” has changed throughout recent history. A centerpiece of her project will be mapping and cataloguing same-sex marriage laws and LGBTQ health policy across the states. Hsiang will further explore Epstein’s hesitation by evaluating the progress of two states, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, in improving sexual minority health through close collaboration with Fenway Health (Boston, MA) and the Rhode Island Public Health Institute (Providence, RI).

The Linda Pei Undergraduate Research Grant

First awarded in 2008, the Linda Pei Undergraduate Research Grant supports an undergraduate research project related to issues of women’s empowerment such as gender equality in the workplace, access to reproductive health care, and women's political leadership. Research projects related to women in developing countries, such as micro-finance and access to education will also be considered. The $1000 grant is to be used to further research.

Application materials should include:

  • a three to five page description of your research project
  • a letter of support from your advisor
  • a brief description of how you would use the grant funds, if awarded

The grant honors the life of Linda Pei ’67 (1944-2007). Linda was born in China and grew up in Tokyo. Her parents sent her to the United States for schooling at the age of sixteen. She graduated from Brown with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, earned a master’s degree in teaching from Wesleyan University, and completed a master’s degree in business administration at Stanford University. She founded the Women’s Equity Mutual Fund in 1993 to advance the social and economic status of women in the workplace by bringing to bear the collective power of individual and institutional investors. She also founded a program to integrate entrepreneurial learning and microfinance in a small community in China.

Click here for a list of all Linda Pei Research Grant recipients

2014-15 Linda Pei Undergraduate Research Grant Recipient

Chanelle Adams '15
Science and Technology Studies

“Gender, Health, Commodity, Power: Mapping Medico-Botanical Knowledge Practices in Northern Madagascar”

Adams posits that natural resource extraction and epistemic violence are enacted upon the Malagasy people and environment by international corporations and NGOs under the rubric of development and environmental conservation. The colonial impulse to taxonomize creates reductive databases of the rich flora for pharmaceutical applications, ignoring the cultural and social components of the materials. While the protection and understanding of these natural resources is important for a global database of medicine, it is even more vital for local people who depend on the forest as their primary sources of healthcare and associated culture.

The research of Adams's senior thesis in the Science & Technology Studies program is situated within the traditional healthcare system of northern Madagascar, called “pharmacie gasy.” Her inquiries trace a complex network of culture, tradition, power, health and knowledge between the marketplace and rural surrounding areas. Even though this knowledge, specific to a unique geographic and cultural locale, cannot be applied more broadly, it has the right to integrity and deserves to be rigorously discussed and documented within its own socio-cultural environment – knowledge on its own terms. This collaborative project will work alongside practitioners of this medico-botanical knowledge (most of whom are women) to map and archive these networks of knowledge.