Two psychology graduate students win NSF research fellowships

Two UC Santa Cruz graduate students in the developmental psychology program have been awarded prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships.

The fellowships will provide Madeleine Kerrick and Grace Sumabat-Estrada with three years funding for doctoral research.

Kerrick, who is working with professor Avril Thorne, will conduct a longitudinal study of the prenatal experiences of a diverse sample of first-time mothers. Her study focuses on women’s experiences during prenatal visits with primary care providers, and will follow women from their second trimester to postpartum.

Her research aims to understand how interactions with prenatal providers, a neglected context in studies of maternal development, relate to a sense of maternal self-efficacy postpartum.

Sumabat-Estrada, who is is working with professor Margarita Azmitia, will conduct intervention studies with ethnically diverse samples of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) students at a community college and a four-year university.

Her study focuses on how a sense of belonging and affiliation with one’s ethnic heritage is associated with students’ academic self-efficacy, well being, and academic motivation. Her project aims to increase understanding of the STEM experiences of mixed-heritage students, one of the fastest–growing demographics in the U.S.