Courtney Cowling

Courtney Cowling

Anahi Aken

Summer Research with the Undergraduate Research Academy

With the leaves beginning to change colors and the sun setting earlier, I’m frequently asked to reflect on my summer. This past summer I enjoyed hosting my out-of-state niblings, exploring Twin Lakes, and participating in UCCS’s Undergraduate Research Academy (URA). During the Spring 2022 semester, I applied for and was awarded URA funding, which paid me for doing summer research under the supervision of Dr. Tre Wentling.

I appreciated the flexibility afforded by the URA to study something I enjoy and something that contributes to larger discussions around transgender people. Not only does research experience look great on my resume, but I spent the summer focused on thought provoking research and building my research skills. I’ve always been interested in conducting qualitative research and analyzing what people have to say; however, I did not fully understand the importance of every single detail and decision throughout the process. It is astonishing the variety of participant responses you can incite solely based on the wording of an inquiry.

In comparison to other research projects that I’ve been involved in the URA program allowed me to have a different experience. For example, using data collected from Dr. Tre’s research, “Transgender Embodied States of Recognition,” I formed my own research question relating to social influences on embodiment. Specifically, I am investigating how positive and negative social interactions influence trans individuals’ physical embodiment. As someone who is interested in conducting research after graduation, I’ve appreciated the ability to work independently while having an advisor to guide and advise me as needed.

Overall, I found the funding from the URA to be greatly beneficial, personally. Moreover, I have high hopes my research will be a positive contribution to larger conversations regarding social interactions and its influence on embodiment practices among transgender individuals. I strongly urge WESTies, along with students enrolled in other majors, to explore the possibilities of acquiring URA funding. Not only does it allow one to have a more intimate understanding of and experience with research, it also funds research that may not otherwise be conducted at UCCS.