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. 2015 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

Applications for 2016/17 grants will accepted in fall, 2016

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

 2015-16 Steinhaus-Zisson Research Grant
Undergraduate Student Recipient

Kwang Choi '16
Visual Art

Submerging and Resurfacing:  Multimedia Investigation of the “Last Mermaids” of Jeju

Emerging from the depths of the Korea Strait unassisted by breathing equipment, the “last mermaids” of Jeju Island, the haenyeo—literally translating to “sea-women”—manually scour the ocean floor gathering edible sea-dwellers. This distinctly feminized tradition has positioned haenyeo, for centuries, as the breadwinners, flipping the gendered domestic roles of the Confucian patriarchal system. The oft-noted “matriarchy” of the Jeju family structure, however, falls far from the Amazonian fantasy of total agency and socio-political power. Although contemporary attitudes regard haenyeo as the symbols of Korean female independence, the complex social positioning of haenyeo culture reveals its frictional relationship to the dominant Confucian ideology of South Korea. Now, as the rapid urbanization and shifting economic tides pose a threat to their cultural preservation, the declining population of the remaining haenyeo continue to age without sufficient recruits to succeed their trade.

Through photographic narrative and video installations, Choi’s project aims to investigate the ambivalences in this condition of ephemerality—between bodily hardship and economic agency, between regional notions of womanhood and the national definition of femininity, between the preservation of tradition and reconciliation with new cultural possibilities, and between submerging and resurfacing—in order reengage and grapple with the transience of haenyeo culture.

2015-16 Steinhaus-Zisson Research Grant
Undergraduate Student Recipient

Noah Fields '16

“as I watch you, in fleeting glances, no talk is left inside me”

Noah Fields’s poetry collection even this poverty is a gathering of original translations, poems, and other lyrical pieces inspired by the Greek lyric poet, Sappho. The title, which comes from the fragmented final line of Sappho’s poem 31, alludes to the paucity of words that survive from Sappho’s output, as well as to the broader poverty of womyn’s voices in the literary arts persistent from antiquity to present-day. Fields’s poems explore the feminist and queer valences in Sappho’s work, placing Sappho’s verse in conversation with contemporary poets such as Wallace Stevens, Sylvia Plath, and H.D. The collection is not a translation per se but rather a response to Sappho’s words, with the goal of stretching the fabric of Sappho’s poems creatively to illuminate them in new ways through experiments in form, perspective, and transposition.  The Steinhaus/Zisson Pembroke Center Research Grant will support travel to Sappho’s home at Lesbos for continued research, as well as publication expenses.

2015-2016 Steinhaus-Zisson Research Grant
Graduate Student Recipient

Anne Gray Fischer
Graduate Student, Department of History

Arrestable Behavior: Vulnerable Women, State Power, and the Making of Law-and-Order America, 1932-1982

Anne Gray Fischer’s dissertation examines women’s sexual criminalization from the rehabilitative welfare state of the 1930s to the punitive carceral state of the 1980s. In this half-century, city and state law enforcement authorities shaped, and often derailed, the precarious lives of poor women by classifying them as “promiscuous” or “prostitutes”—two overlapping, often blurred, legal categories. Focusing on two major cities, Boston and Los Angeles, Anne explores how and why the criteria for a woman’s “arrestable behavior” changed over five decades, as dramatically new gender, sexual, and racial paradigms emerged in the United States.

Centered around the experiences and treatment of women in the criminal system—including policing, probation, incarceration, and parole—this project tracks the everyday practices of law enforcement authorities to underscore the political logic and functions of the sexual criminalization of women across the modern twentieth century. By restoring the lives of poor women flagged as “promiscuous” to the historical record and narrating the shifting racialized processes of women’s sexual criminalization, this project will reshape our understanding of the relationship of urban gender, sexuality, and race to the development of modern legal regimes and incarceration in the United States.

2015-2016 Steinhaus-Zisson Research Grant
Graduate Student Recipient

Lakshmi Padmanabhan
Graduate Student, Department of Modern Culture and Media and History

Representing Rape: A Visual History of Feminist Protest in India

Lakshmi Padmanabhan’s dissertation traces the visual history of feminist protest in India from the Partition of 1947 to the contemporary moment through photography and performance. The anti-colonial struggle for Independence led to the emergence of the sovereign nation-state whose boundaries are shaped by the sexual violence enacted on women’s bodies on either side of the India-Pakistan border. Since Independence, women have fought against the state’s use of sexual violence to establish sovereign power by staging public protests, occupying public space, and re-imagining the possibilities for democratic debate in India. Their history of dissent has challenged and re-written the laws around sexual assault and sovereign power, while their use of embodied forms of protest including starvation, nudity, and testimonial performances of collective public dissent have challenged the history of democratic debate in a public sphere that heavily circumscribes their movement and political speech.

Lakshmi’s project follows the history of these embodied protest movements that challenge the state’s deployment of sexual violence particularly the incidents of “custodial” sexual assault perpetrated and condoned by the state, to illustrate the ways in which feminist performances of protest serve as a model and archive of democratic participation that challenges normative conceptions of political speech. Additionally, the project takes up the visual mediation of these protests through photographs that re-stage these debates within the contemporary moment, and performances that document these protests to illustrate the ways in which photography, performance, and the moving image have been central to the formation of feminist publics and feminist genealogies of protest. 

2015-2016 Steinhaus-Zisson Research Grant
Graduate Student Recipients

Wages Due! A Digital Humanities Archive of the Wages for Housework Movement

Arlen Austin
Graduate Student
Department of Modern Culture and Media


Beth Capper
Graduate Student
Department of Modern Culture and Media

 Wages Due! is a digital humanities project that revisits the formation of the Wages for Housework movement of the early 1970s. The archive will make publicly accessible photographs, manifestos and extended theoretical texts, many of which are previously unpublished or difficult for researchers to access. In addition, Austin and Capper will conduct oral history interviews with key participants in the WfH movements in the United States, Italy, England, and Canada. The urgency of this project emerges in response to contemporary theorizations of affective and immaterial labor among scholars who have, to varying degrees, neglected the specifically feminist intellectual and political genealogies of these rubrics.  This digital humanities archive will present a broader view of the theoretical richness and socio-cultural diversity of the movement than heretofore available, and reflect the broad range of influences on which women in the movement drew: decolonial movements in the West Indies, welfare rights movements of the major northern metropolitan centers of the United States, Italian extra-parliamentary left movements of the 1960s, as well as the burgeoning women’s movements in northern Italy and London. Documents will be included from movement centers in New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, London and Padova authored by both the better-known campaign leaders as well as lesser-known figures, collectively authored and anonymous texts. The launch of this online archive will foreground the pertinence of the movement to current discussions of post-fordist labor practices, the politics of precarity, and a renewed interest in the “commons.”

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

2015-16 Helen Terry MacLeod Research Grant Recipient

Christin Aucapina '16
Public Health

Challenges on The Front Line: HIV Services Provided in Havana, Cuba

Aucapina’s Senior Honors Thesis, “Challenges on The Front Line: HIV Services Provided in Havana, Cuba,” seeks to understand how health care providers in Havana render HIV services. By conducting field research, her thesis will provide an overview of the different aspects that are taken into account in delivering HIV care. This research will incorporate an overview perspective of patient navigation through HIV services. By interviewing professionals that have direct contact with HIV patients, Aucapina will provide reports from the front lines of HIV treatment and an overview of HIV services in Havana. This information will provide a review of the different aspects that are taken into account in delivering HIV care with connection to gender, sex, and age. Her objective is to identify how health care providers render services to HIV patients, HIV outreach, and how Cuban public health accounts and accommodations for gender variation.

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

2015-16 Barbara Anton Internship Grant Recipient

Yacine Sow '16
Health and Human Biology

Project CARE Video Series: Encouraging Women to Make Contraceptive Choices while Incarcerated

Over the past fifteen years, the number of incarcerated women has increased by 153%. This exponential increase has been sustained by a jail and prison system designed for male inmates. US correctional facilities were not developed to consider women’s biological needs, role in the family, and how or why they commit crimes. Additionally, policies that have directly contributed to the exponential increase of incarcerated women already target a vulnerable population.  Compared to women in the general population, incarcerated women have a higher rate of acute and chronic diseases, substance abuse problems, and undetected health issues; which include reproductive health needs.

Women in correctional institutions have substantial reproductive health problems; yet, they are underserved in receipt of reproductive health care.  When women are released from prison, they have many competing needs for food, shelter, and safety; which often results in neglect of reproductive health care.   Thus, incarceration is an opportunity to provide reproductive health services to a large population of high-risk women who may not otherwise seek health services. The Project CARE Video series aims to facilitate the process of accessing contraceptives by providing materials that can help women decide which method would be a good match.  Because these women have disproportionate rates but yet are still underserved, it is important to evaluate what types of interventions will help incarcerated women make informed reproductive health choices.  

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

2015-16 Linda Pei Undergraduate Research Grant Recipient

Penelope Kyritsis '16
Postcolonial Legal Studies

Sexual Humanitarianism and the Politics of Pity and Control in Marseille and Athens

The term “sex trafficking” has gained significant traction in the past decade and is pervasive in the media, social and humanitarian debates and policy discourses. Indeed, it is very common to see the state, private sector and nonprofit organizations launching “anti-trafficking” campaigns throughout the world. Recent scholarship has critiqued a sex trafficking focus for being too narrow and obscuring issues of labor exploitation. This research complicates these debates by contextualizing sex trafficking policy and discourse without the current refugee crisis in Europe. The recent global concern around refugees has raised a new “moral panic” around more and more people being pushed into the irregular employment sector. How this concern around labor and migration will shift humanitarian interests in sex trafficking is a pressing question for scholarly inquiry.         

Kyritsis's senior honors thesis research builds on Nicola Mail’s concept of “sexual humanitarianism” (i.e. the management of sex workers and other sexual minorities through humanitarian interventions) in Marseille, France and Athens, Greece analyzed through the lens of postcolonial feminist theory.