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Honors Research in Humanities & Social Sciences

The Leonetti/O'Connell Honors Research Program in Humanities and Social Sciences offers juniors and seniors the opportunity to go beyond the scope of Marlborough's traditional curriculum, to design and pursue an original independent research project.  Honors Research students pursue their intellectual passions while gaining real-world experience as scholars, developing their critical writing, public speaking, and data analysis skills. 


They do so under the mentorship of an academic expert in the field as well as Marlborough's Dean of Student Research. Recent mentors have come from research institutions around the country and the globe, including the University of Virginia, Harvard University, Swarthmore College, Georgetown University, Washington and Lee University, UCLA, UCSD, USC, Rutgers University, the University of Texas at San Antonio, the World Bank, the London School of Economics, the University of Sydney, and Georg-August-University Göttingen.  We really appreciate our mentors' generous gifts of their time and expertise!

Due to the impact of COVID-19 on the 2020-2021 school year, we have pivoted from our traditional Celebration of Innovation model to create a digital Poster Presentation event.


Live presentations will take place on Wednesday, April 28, 2021 from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Please scroll down this page (below the intro video) to find links to each student's individual Zoom Room, as well as to their posters and pre-recorded introduction videos. 

Thank you for supporting our amazing students!

Want to speak with Dr. Atwell? Having trouble viewing the student presentations? Please join Dr. Atwell's Zoom here.

Research Projects

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Adeline G. '21

Religious Studies/Sociology

Accurate Perceptions?: Comparing Young Christians’ Beliefs and Attitudes about Premarital Sex to the Perceived Ideas of Non-Christians

Join Adeline's Zoom here.

Watch Adeline's prerecorded introduction here


View Adeline's poster here

Mentor: Dr. Melinda Denton, Associate Professor of Sociology and Labatt Scholar, The University of Texas at San Antonio

I loved analyzing the data collected through my survey. The most interesting thing I learned was that the opinions of Christians about premarital sex are incredibly diverse and wide ranging. I also enjoyed reading "Unprotected Texts: The Bible's Surprising Contradictions About Sex and Desire" by Jennifer Wright Knust. Through her book, I learned of the different biblical stories about premarital sex and how some of these stories can be interpreted in such a way where they do not condemn premarital sex. It has been interesting to see how certain Bible verses are more influential than others just because of the amount they're quoted throughout religious practice and in society. In terms of research skills, I gained the ability to write a survey and edit it so the questions are asking exactly the type of information I want to study. This eye for clarity will definitely help me with any academic endeavors I face in the future.

Next Steps: I will be attending Tufts University next year. I hope to double major in religion and mathematics, as well as continue some research in the Social Sciences. I also plan to continue with a study similar to this one in the future, but with focus on a different aspect of Christian beliefs instead of premarital sex.

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Anika V. '21


Racist Motivation of Criticism of Rhythm and Blues/Rock and Roll From 1952-1958

Join Anika's Zoom here

Watch Anika's prerecorded introduction here


View Anika's poster here

Mentor: Dr. Jack Hamilton, Professor of American Studies and Media Studies, University of Virginia

The most important thing I learned this year is that in Humanities research, you can never become too attached to one narrative or argument, because there is always another perspective you haven't yet read that will challenge the view you have built up to that point.

Next Steps: I plan to the University of Michigan in the Fall and possibly pursue another humanities research project while I'm there.

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Bella W. '21

Gender Studies/African Studies

A Comparison of Sexual Enslavement Under the Sokoto Caliphate and Boko Haram

Watch Bella's prerecorded introduction here.

Watch Bella's prerecorded video poster presentation here


View Bella's poster here

Mentor: Jacob Zenn, Fellow in African and Eurasian Affairs, The Jamestown Foundation, and Adjunct Assistant Professor of African Armed Movements and Violent Non-State Actors in World Politics, Center for Security Studies, Georgetown University

Seeing the clear connections between the Sokoto Caliphate and Boko Haram's infrastructure for maintaining sexual enslavement as an institution was fascinating.

Next Steps: I will be attending Barnard College in the fall, where I plan on continuing my research, hopefully with the Barnard Center for Research on Women.

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Chela S-T. '21

Art History/Asian Studies

The Creative Climate for Chinese Contemporary Artists Working In and Outside China: Told Through Artworks by Zhang Ding (张鼎) and HuiMeng Wang (王卉萌)

Join Chela's Zoom here

Watch Chela's prerecorded introduction here


View Chela's poster here

Mentor: Dr. Géraldine Fiss, Associate Researcher in East Asian Languages and Cultures, University of Southern California

The most interesting part of working on this project was the interviews! I had the opportunity to speak with an incredible party of curators and artists that have changed my life and perspective forever.

Next Steps: I intend to continue my study of art history next year at Yale.

The artists' websites: &

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Emma Y. '21

History/Asian-American Studies

野球:Japanese American Baseball in California

Join Emma's Zoom here

Watch Emma's prerecorded introduction here


View Emma's poster here

Mentor: Dr. Michael Mullan, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, Swarthmore College

As a Japanese-American and baseball fan, I have spent my life regaled with stories about Ichiro Suzuki's legendary rookie season or how Nomo-mania gripped Los Angeles. But prior to this project I knew little about the prior history of Japanese American baseball. It has been fascinating to dive deep into the roots of Japanese American baseball, and to discover the critical role the sport played in the assimilation and cultural consciousness of so many Issei communities.

Next Steps: I plan to major in either American Studies or Ethnicity, Race and Migration at Yale University, where I hope to continue researching baseball's immense cultural impact.

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Phoebe G. '21

Holocaust Studies/Psychology

Transgenerational Trauma in Relation to the Holocaust

Watch Phoebe's prerecorded introduction here

Phoebe's poster - coming soon.

Mentor: Prof. Dr. Maria Pohn-Lauggas, Professor of Multimethod Social Research, Georg-August-University, Göttingen

The most interesting part of working on my Honors Research project was talking to people about their first-hand experiences and getting to ask the specific questions I was curious about.

Next Steps:  I will be attending Washington University in St. Louis next year and I plan to continue my research related to the Holocaust.

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Ana Cristina C. '21


Oral Accounts of the Spanish Civil War and Post-War Periods in Xátiva and The Costera

Join Ana Cristina's Zoom here

Watch Ana Cristina's prerecorded introduction here


View Ana Cristina's poster here

Mentor: Dr. Pamela Radcliffe, Professor of History, University of California, San Diego

This year I learned about how even when there are deep divisions in a society, it is human nature to come together in order to survive a horrific period. I certainly have learned to greatly value the time spent with each and every person I have had the privilege to interview. I have grown to appreciate the life lessons that these stories have provided for me and I increasingly believe in the necessity for other people to record the stories of their own families. I have learned to not take the same basic things for granted, that the many people I interviewed could not access. 

Next Steps: This fall I will attend the University of Chicago double majoring in economics and art history. I will continue my studies of the Spanish Civil War in the research department at the University. I also plan to conduct additional interviews this summer after my graduation.

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Arianna L. '21

Art History

Western Art's Prized Object:  The Female Nude and Its Reclamation 

Join Arianna's Zoom here

Watch Arianna's prerecorded introduction here


View Arianna's poster here

Mentor: Dr. Elliott King, Associate Professor of Art History, Washington and Lee University 

While I learned so many interesting things about art history while doing my research, I think the most important thing I learned was about the expansiveness of research. I continued to find more and more things to be interested in that I wanted to research while working on my project.

Next Steps: I am going to college at University of Chicago next year. Although I am not completely certain of my plans for future studies, I have thought deeply about continuing to research this topic in college, as there is so much that I found that I simply do not have the time to research now. These topics continue to interest me, and I am sure I will revisit them during my time in college.

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Betsy B. '21

Cultural Property Law/History

Identity Politics in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Weaponization of Cultural Property by Serbian Nationalists in the 1992 Siege of Sarajevo

Watch Betsy's prerecorded introduction here

Watch Betsy's prerecorded video presentation here.


View Betsy's poster here

Mentor: Kate Fitz Gibbon, Editor of Cultural Property News, and Partner, Fitz Gibbon Law, LLC

My Honors Research project has given me the sense of closure that I needed as I graduate from Marlborough and begin new endeavors in college. So many of the skills that I have learned throughout my time at Marlborough came together in this project, and I am proud of the final, scholarly contribution I have made to the community that has given me so much.

Next Steps: Although I am unsure of where I am going to college next fall, I plan to continue my study of international relations and cultural property law that began with this project.

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El B. '21

Social Psychology

Uncovering the Similarities and Differences in Chinese Adoptees Living in Multiracial Families

Join El's Zoom here

Watch El's prerecorded introduction here


View El's poster here

Mentor: Dr. David Brodzinsky, Professor Emeritus of Developmental and Clinical Psychology, Rutgers University

The most important thing that I learned while working on my project was realizing how diverse the adoptee experience is.

Next Steps: I will attend Carnegie Mellon University in the fall.

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Izzi K. '22

Gender Studies and Circus
(Honors Special Studies Project)

Dorian: An Artist's Manifesto

Watch Izzi's prerecorded introduction here


Watch Izzi's original performance piece here

This year I learned how to think critically about my circus art in the same way I think about essays I write, and how to combine academic research and art in a valuable and informative way.

Next Steps: l plan to participate in the Honors Research in Humanities program to conduct a research project exploring the intersection between circus and gender theory.

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Yasmine V. '21

Gender Studies/Middle Eastern Studies

Trends in Iranian Feminism in Iran and the West

Join Yasmine's Zoom here

Watch Yasmine's prerecorded introduction here


View Yasmine's poster here

Mentor: Dr. Roksana Bahramitash, Visiting Scholar at the Chair of Islam, Globalization and Pluralism, University of Montreal

I learned that being patient with myself and keeping an open mind is one of the most essential parts of being a good researcher. During my research process, I had to encounter and confront many of my own biases present from my upbringing. Having the ability to slow down and learn from mistakes not only helped me with understanding the nuances of Iranian feminism, but has also helped build the foundation for any type of research I plan on doing in the future.

Next Steps: Although I haven't made any definitive plans of where I want to attend next year, I plan to study Middle Eastern Studies or Feminist and Gender Studies in college.

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