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.

Steinhaus/Zisson Research Grants
Helen Terry MacLeod Research Grant
Barbara Anton Community Research Grant
Linda Pei Undergraduate Research Grant
Enid Wilson Undergraduate Travel Fellowship

View the 2018-19 recipients' presentations here.

Grant applications are accepted in the Fall semester.  The deadline for 2019-20 funding is October 3, 2019.  Please see UFunds for additional information.

Apply for all Pembroke Center Grants using UFunds

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

 2018-19 Steinhaus/Zisson Research Grant

Graduate Student Recipients

Rehan Rafay Jamil 
Graduate Student, Department of Political Science

Social Policy and Changing Citizenship  Boundaries in Pakistan

States across the global south are designing cash transfer programs as a means to reduce poverty and offer social safety nets to previously marginalized populations. While the human development and poverty alleviation impact of these transfers is the subject of ongoing evaluation and debate, their wider political implications are a fertile area for further study. How do well-designed, rights enhancing social safety nets emerge in states in the global south? What consequences do these programs have for citizens who are engaging with state services and exercising rights for the first time? Rehan Jamil's dissertation seeks to address these questions by analyzing the political origins and impact of Pakistan’s largest safety net: The Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), the largest poverty targeted cash transfer program targeted exclusively at women in South Asia. This dissertation has two components. The first part will examine the political origins and design of BISP. The second part will examine the effect of the transfer on female beneficiaries’ citizenship practices and rights. The dissertation seeks to make a contribution to the study of gender, citizenship and social policy in South Asia, as well as a broader audience interested in the changing landscape of state-society relations and the political consequences of social policy interventions in the global south.

Kristen D. McNeill
Graduate Student, Department of Sociology

Gendered Evaluations, Gendered Effects: A Bank-to-Household Approach to Microfinance and Women's Economic Empowerment

Kristen McNeill’s dissertation research examines the interaction between gender and microcredit from the perspective of both borrowers and credit agents. While many claims are made about the impact of microfinance on gender relations and women’s empowerment, most are not rigorously supported by research permitting causal attribution to the money itself; as well, research typically begins and ends at the household door, examining gender dynamics upon receipt of credit and leaving the process of credit provision underexplored. Work in the sociology of finance has shown that access to credit is far from an objective, impersonal process; separately, studies of discretionary work evaluations have revealed extensive gender bias. As microfinance providers move away from group-based models towards individual loans, credit agents (mostly men) become the gatekeepers of access to these resources for borrowers (mostly women), suggesting the increasing salience of gendered biases and cultural constructions in discretionary evaluations of creditworthiness. Kristen’s work uses a combination of administrative, survey, interview, and ethnographic data collected with a microfinance provider in Colombia to examine the impact of microcredit on intrahousehold gender relations; the image of the ‘ideal borrower’ constructed by credit agents, and how this image affects access to credit, particularly for women; and how the processes shaping the selection of microcredit recipients might affect our understanding of their subsequent effects. 

Melanie White

Graduate Student, Department of Africana Studies

Afro-Nicaraguan Women's Art and Visions of Autonomy on the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua

Melanie's project explores how, in the face of rampant mestizo nationalism and gendered state racism, Afro-Nicaraguan women have been taking up a racialized and gendered politics of aesthetic production through which they emphasize their historical link to the Anglophone Caribbean and establish their belonging to a larger black women’s diaspora. The emergence of Creole women’s aesthetic politics of autonomy comes after a long history of state appropriation of Creole culture and livelihood for mestizo nation-building and profit, including tropes about blackness and black womanhood, tourism campaigns, and resource exploitation. By examining the visual art and life histories of three Afro-Nicaraguan women painters, June Beer, Nydia Taylor, and Karen Spencer Downs—as well as the lives and experiences of Afro-Nicaraguan women who witness their work—this study highlights the important gendered and cultural terrains of Afro-Nicaraguan social movement beyond the formal political realm. It asks how each artist speaks back to colonial narratives and visual tropes, and indeed the sexual and gender-based violence perpetrated by the state, state agents, and intra-communal patriarchal power; how Afro-Nicaraguan women’s visions of autonomous futures differs from the masculinist, formal political movement for autonomy on the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua; and the ways in which Afro-Nicaraguan women are fashioning a language that centers their own desires.

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

2018-19 Helen Terry MacLeod Research Grant Recipient

Marielle E. Burt
Gender and Sexuality Studies and Literary Arts

Directing Towards Social Dialogue

Marielle Burt is a senior concentrator in Gender and Sexuality Studies on the Honors Track. For her thesis project, she will direct Psychopsychotic , a new horror play by Alexa Derman (Yale ‘18.5) that investigates the horror of toxic masculinity through the lens of Ivy League dating culture . By directing this play at Brown, Marielle will explore the possibilities of performance as a tool for furthering social dialogues. The play sparks questions such as: Why do university policies and procedures normalize toxic masculinity? How do men in elite spaces employ liberal discourse to cloak toxic behavior? How are sexist microaggressions linked to gendered violence? How and why do women rationalize harmful male behavior? Marielle will also create an exhibit called Everyday Misogyny: A Story Project in conjunction with the performances of Psychopsychotic that will display stories written by Brown students about experiences of mundane sexism on Brown’s campus. Through community discussion forums after the performances, Marielle will invite dialogue about the complex impacts of toxic masculinity at Brown, and more broadly in elite, liberal environments. As the play is still in development, post-show conversations will encourage audiences to share not only what questions and ideas the play sparked for them, but also what they wished to have seen, or wished to have seen differently. This project will thus cultivate space for both the script of Psychopsychotic to grow, and for audiences to grow through the social conversations it provokes.

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.

he Barbara Anton Community Research Grant

Undergraduate students doing an honors thesis involving community work related to the welfare of women and children are eligible to apply for the Barbara Anton Community Research grant. 

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 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

2018-19 Barbara Anton Internship Grant Recipient

Sophie Kupetz '19.5

The History and Impact of "Prisoners Against Rape"

Sophie Kupetz’s honors thesis will explore the history and impact of the education and support group “Prisoners Against Rape” (PAR). Recognizing that they had both perpetuated and been subject to sexual violence inside and outside the prison walls, a group of men incarcerated at the Lorton Prison in Virginia founded Prisoners Against Rape in the 1970s. PAR members formed a partnership with the DC Rape Crisis Center in an effort to think critically about rape as an interpersonal and systemic crime, to unlearn patriarchal behavior, and to address rape culture. Sophie plans to use the Barbara Anton Internship Grant to conduct oral histories with people who were involved in PAR and the DC Rape Crisis Center. As someone who values popular education and strives to produce accessible work, Sophie's thesis will take both a written and a more dynamic, public facing form such as a podcast, digital archive or zine. She hopes her work can help people operating in different spaces - be it a university, a prison, or a high school classroom - learn about PAR’s work and examine and discuss how we, as a society, can address sexual violence in ways that do not rely on or perpetuate the Prison Industrial Complex.  

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

2018-19 Linda Pei Undergraduate Research Grant Recipient

Francesca Raoelison
Psychology/Business Entrepreneurship and Organizations

Preventing Abuse and Domestic Violence in Antananarivo – Madagascar

Francesca Raoelison wants to be an agent of social change. She plans on creating a Non-Profit Organization that will break the cycle of abuse in her country of Madagascar by providing students with the right tools to live healthy relationships. Francesca's job as a Sexual Assault Peer Educator (SAPE) has allowed her to participate in an educational effort that has impacted more than a thousand students on campus. Through classroom visits, workshops and interactive experiences, she presented material on sexual assault and consent, alcohol and substance abuse, healthy relationships and domestic violence to students, who are now better able to detect red flags in relationships, report incidents, and reach out to community resources. Francesca plans on providing this same kind of education, advocacy, and resources to her Malagasy community.


Enid Wilson Undergraduate Travel Fellowship

The Enid Wilson Undergraduate Travel Fellowship supports travel expenses for innovative research by undergraduate honors students from any department pursuing work related to women and gender.

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

Click here for a list of all Enid Wilson Undergraduate Travel Fellowship recipients

2018-19 Enid Wilson Undergraduate Travel Fellowship Recipients

Makedah Hughes
Comparative Literature (Literary Translation)
French and Francophone Studies

“Mauve(2010): A Translational Exploration of the Linguistic Constructions of Blackness”

Makedah Hughes is particularly interested in expressions of Black French/Francophone identity in literature and oral history, the agency of Black women in their visual representation, and the future implications of language generation in Black Francophone spheres. Her thesis, "Mauve (2010): A Translational Exploration of the Linguistic Constructions of Blackness,” is a translation of the prose-poetic parole of French Senegalese author Fatou Diome, whose work is illustrated by Moroccan artist Titouan Lamazou. Makedah’s thesis will interrogate Diome’s use of the temperate color mauve to conceptualize her identity, as well as the translator’s role in communicating the evolution of Diome’s words across space (the linguistic frontier between French and English) and time (between the Negritude Movement of the 1930s and the present). Her thesis sits at the intersection of critical race theory, oral history, literary theory, and comparative linguistics. It will attempt to destabilize the essentialization of Black womanhood by exploring how Diome makes malleable the rigidity of the French language to express her unique Black identity.

Caroline Mulligan

English, History

Landdyke Legacies

For her honors thesis in the English Department’s Creative Nonfiction Writing Program, Caroline Mulligan is writing an exploration of the Women’s Land Movement, a moment in history when women, primarily lesbians, began creating female-only communes. These “Women’s Lands” were an attempt to build societies outside of patriarchal influences. Though most Lands have long since shuttered, a few do still exist. Caroline’s project, tentatively titled Landdyke Legacies, asks a series of questions about the past, present, and future of the Movement: What historical traces remain of sites that were often deliberately secluded from mainstream society? How do extant Women’s Lands stay relevant to younger women, particularly when queer youth increasingly view gender and sexuality as fluid categories? And how can recording this history help build a world where generational divides have been bridged, where queer youth connect with the LGBTQ+ past, where lesbian culture is regarded as a distinct entity that can exist in tandem with a pan-LGBTQ+ movement, and where history is simultaneously remembered and recognized as a living concept? Caroline plans to use these grants to visit a Land in order to get a more intimate understanding of the cultures that exist today.

Andy M.T. Pham
Ethnic Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies

Pushing for Purity: Conceptions and Consequences of Cleanliness during the US AIDS Epidemic of the 80s and 90s

Andy’s honors thesis in Ethnic Studies will critically examine visual representations of AIDS and communities affected by or perceived as in close proximity to the syndrome. Through a deployment of cleanliness as an analytic, “Pushing for Purity” seeks to understand how distinctions between clean bodies and dirty bodies were racialized, gendered, and sexualized during the historical iteration of the Epidemic to create hierarchies of social redeemability and biological deservingness. These conceptions of cleanliness have worked to perpetuate heteropatriarchy and racism and mark women, queer people of color, and those at various intersections of marginality as structurally vulnerable to HIV/AIDS while also rendering them culturally stigmatized as socially unredeemable and undeserving of care. With the support of the Pembroke Center’s Enid Wilson Undergraduate Travel Fellowship, Andy will investigate the conflicts within and counternarratives of AIDS organizing coalitions through an analysis of AIDS activist videotapes. His research will focus on women and queer people of color, groups whose experiences of government negligence and scientific violence are normalized and omitted from the dominant narrative of the AIDS Epidemic. Andy hopes for his work to contribute to larger conversations about reimaginings of new worlds where nobody is considered unredeemable or undeserving of compassion and care.