Fifty Five Fund for Senior Thesis Research

Fiscal Year 2020-21




Date: November 1, 2021

Report prepared for: Princeton Class of 1955

Year established:1980 –Class 25th Reunion

Purpose: Princeton Senior Thesis

Fund Description: Provide grants to defray expenses related to Senior Thesis projects of unusual promise.


  2020-21 2019-20 2018-19 2017-18 2016-17
Book Value, May $102,309 $102,309 $102,309 $102,309 $102,309
Market Value, May $2,916,421 $2,094,690 $2,134,525 $2,146,396 $2,002,238
Appreciation $2,814,112 $1,992,381 $2,032,216 $2,044,087 $1,899,929
Income Available $ 116,989 (fy22)$112,401 (fy21) $112,401 (fy20)$108,077 (fy19)$87,328 (fy18)
Recipients to Date 1,366 1,335 1,271 1,217 1,161
Recipients Last Year31 64 54 56 50



Book Value: Gift amount vested in Princeton’s investment pool, before earning any return. This capital consists of the original contribution plus any other contributions to the fund, including matching gifts.

Market Value: Total value of the fund, including additions and appreciation.

Appreciation: Difference between book value and market value, indicating how much the fund has grown.

Income: Amount available for spending during the fiscal year.


Report prepared by: Eric Martin, Assistant Director, Office of Donor Relations, Princeton University 609.258.8947 or



Thank You Messages from Students


German Arrocha ’21

Thesis Title: El progreso acaricia tus lares: The Republic of Panama’s Fiscal and Institutional Decentralization


My senior thesis research focused on proposing a decentralization process for Panama's unitary institutional structure into a semi-federal system, particularly regarding the Executive. This work wouldn’t have been possible without the financial support of the Class of 1955 Senior Thesis Fund, whose contributions supported the completion of the “Federalism and the autonomy of local government in Panama” survey, conducted in the Republic of Panama throughout March 2021 with the help of the Princeton Survey Research Center and Cint. The data collected regarding Panamanian’s attitudes towards government performance and the prospect of institutional reforms provided invaluable insight into the relationship between institutional centralization and stark levels of socioeconomic disparity, highlighting negative externalities stemming from the country's institutional framework beyond the periphery. More specifically, this data helped illustrate the role of peripheral socioeconomic underdevelopment in increased intra-national national rural-urban migration, leading to over-competition for centralized resources and high levels of national socioeconomic inequality.


Marina Carlucci ’21

Thesis Title: “Policing Ain’t What It Used To Be”: An Analysis of Black Lives Matter Protests and Changes In Police Departments


For my thesis, “‘Policing ain't what it used to be’: An Analysis of Black Lives Matter Protests and Changes in Police Departments,” I wanted to interview former and current law enforcement officers. However, it can be difficult to reach and/or find law enforcement officers willing to participate. The funds I received from the Class of 1955 Senior Thesis Fund gave me the flexibility to be able to offer an incentive for officers to complete the interview, along with incentives for students to connect me with any officers in law enforcement that they know. Even though this might seem minimal, just by being able to offer an incentive, I was able to nearly double the number of interviews with law enforcement officers I completed, which made up a large portion of my thesis and allowed me to document some of the many opinions about police departments and the BLM protests of 2020.


Erika Escalona Barragan ’21

Thesis Title: Exploring the Impact of COVID-19 on Agricultural Workers and Production in California


As a recipient of the Class of 1955 Senior Thesis Fund, I was able to carry out my senior thesis this year. My thesis was about the impact of COVID-19 on agricultural workers in California. My thesis was about the impact that COVID-19 had on California’s agriculture. I was researching a very current topic, with new information about COVID-19 coming out daily. I’m especially grateful to carry out this thesis from the perspective of agricultural workers since I feel like they have a unique perspective on the impact that COVID-19 had on California’s agricultural sector. I conducted more than 20 interviews with agricultural workers in Santa Cruz County following the COVID-19 restrictions and were done through the phone. Every participant was compensated, and the interviews went for almost an hour. The funding made this possible, and every participant was very appreciative to be able to comment about this topic. This research is incredibly current, and I think it adds to the information that is coming out about this topic. Looking at the literature, I feel like the agricultural workers' perspective is lacking, but they are essential workers especially during this pandemic. Furthermore, I am incredibly grateful for the funding and glad that I was able to carry out a topic that means a lot to me and is current to our present-day issues.


 Amital Haas ’21

 Thesis Title: To Walk Between the Raindrops: Navigating End of Life Communication in Israel


Thanks to the generosity of the Class of 1955 Senior Thesis Fund, I spent the months of June-August 2020 conducting interviews with Israeli palliative and hospice care professionals. I interviewed 31 professionals, including doctors, nurses, social workers, chaplains, psychologists, and music thanatologists. My research focused on the sociocultural dimensions of the end of life care, and specifically how professionals approach the subject of end of life with patients from diverse cultural, religious, ethnic, linguistic, and socioeconomic backgrounds.

 These interviews have formed the basis of my thesis, which is entitled “To Walk Between the Raindrops: Navigating End of Life Communication in Israel.” My thesis highlights three major communication challenges that my informants face: the concern that patients and/or family members do not want to communicate about the end of life; conflicts of interest between patient and family communication wishes; and the place of cultural sensitivity within the end of life communication. By looking globally at these communication challenges, I argue that Israeli palliative care professionals must construct end-of-life communication policies informed by competing for ethical and pragmatic considerations. In light of these competing considerations, the communication policies my informants adopt are diverse, reflecting divergent approaches to expressing care at the end of life.

 I believe that my thesis raises important questions about the end of life care, such as: what does the ideal end-of-life communication look like, when the end-of-life communication resists standardization? I am grateful to the Class of 1955 Senior Thesis Fund for making my research possible.


Joice Kim ’21

 Thesis Title: “The Future is Mutual Aid!”: Reimagining Solidarity and Support in a Time of Crisis


The summer after my junior year, I faced many questions and concerns about my senior thesis. Before the pandemic hit, I had wanted to use the summer after my junior year to travel to Los Angeles to carry out anthropological fieldwork. I originally wanted to look at the Korean American and Korean immigrant community and their relationships with other communities of color in the greater Los Angeles area. However, with the pandemic, this was no longer possible, and I had to return home for the summer. I was worried about coming home. Thinking that I would be doing thesis research, I did not find or look for work that summer, and the fund was really helpful for me and my family in allowing me to stay home and do preliminary research for my thesis without the stress of not being able to work. I was able to use the funds to pay for living costs at home, as well as purchase books to read ahead and do research for my thesis. While the nature of my senior thesis had changed dramatically, I am still using some of what I found to help me inform my new senior thesis topic on mutual aid. The fund itself helped allow me to do background and preliminary research for my senior thesis project as a whole, and I am really grateful for it.


Young Kyung Grace Lee ’21

 Thesis Title: Hybrid Organizational Culture: Postcolonial Modernity in South Korean Startups


My name is Grace, and I'm a senior from Seoul, South Korea in the sociology department. I wrote my senior thesis on hybrid organizational culture at Korean startups. I primarily drew on 30 in-depth interviews with employees and founders at startups in Seoul to understand the dynamics within the organizations. Support from the Class of 1955 Senior Thesis Fund was tremendously helpful in making the interviews possible! I used the funding for transportation to and from startup offices and for purchasing tokens of appreciation for the interviewees. For most of 2020, I was living at home in Korea with less stringent lockdown measures so I was one of the very few lucky seniors who had the opportunity to do first-hand ethnographic work at research sites, which, for me, was made so much easier and smoother with the 1955 Senior Thesis Fund. Through listening to the interviewees' narratives, I was able to glean unique insights into how perceived understandings of the US startup culture and traditional Korean workplace culture are hybridized at Korean startups, producing a hybrid organizational culture. Thank you again for your continued support for seniors!


Jean Luo ’21

Thesis Title: Maximizing Social Reward: Positive Verbal Reinforcement Shapes Confirmation of Interpersonal Expectations


With the Class of 1955 Senior Thesis Fund, I was able to run 3 online behavioral studies for my thesis, allowing me to design my experiments and see them come to fruition despite the limitations the pandemic has placed on research in the past year. I am so grateful for the opportunity these funds have given me to pursue my research ideas, and they've allowed me to find a topic I'm passionate about exploring further after graduation. More specifically, my thesis explored the motivations people may have for confirming other people’s stereotypes and expectations, as I was interested in studying the role that social reward, in the form of positive verbal reinforcement, plays in stereotype internalization. My results have supported my hypothesis that social reward may lead people to confirm interpersonal expectations, particularly in the competence domain, as one study showed that participants given the social reward after answering competence leading questions had significantly higher competence self-concept following the interaction than participants not given the social reward. By better understanding the motivations and mechanisms behind stereotype internalization, we can come closer to recognizing the strong yet subtle forces that stereotypes play in our daily lives, helping us to break free of their detrimental effects.


Kiersten Marr ’21

 Thesis Title: Extricating hybrid hypotheses: a comparative analysis of two-step task modeling algorithms and assumptions


The senior thesis is the benchmark of our opportunity to explore our academic interests. My research is on determining the optimal computational models by which to analyze data from a task that looks at the learning of choice preference. These models are often used to characterize psychiatric symptoms such as compulsivity, and as such, we must be using algorithms that accurately capture the behavior, especially when these behavioral trends are suggestive of symptoms and are often used to localize the origins of psychiatric deficits in the brain. Given the pressures of the COVID pandemic and my subsequent inability to be on campus for thesis research, I would not have had the opportunity to pursue this work in the fullest depth since I would have had to take the summer to make money to support my living expenses. The Class of 1955 Senior Thesis Fund allowed me the financial flexibility and consequently the time that enabled me to complete this project and be fully focused on my academic interests, which I hope will someday help me to get into graduate school in the same discipline. I couldn’t be more grateful!


Jazzmin McMyers ’21

 Thesis Title: A New Normal: The Effect of Demographics, Media, and Social Networks on Coronavirus Vaccine Decision-Making


Thank you so much to the Class of 1955 for the generous funding given to me for my thesis research. My project was on vaccine hesitancy and surveying the population to understand the different factors underlying whether an individual decides to receive the coronavirus vaccine. I used my funding to pay participants upon completion of my survey. This allowed me to better understand attitudes driving vaccine hesitancy and ways to combat it. Without this funding, I would not have been able to collect nearly as much data as I was and I am thankful for all of the support I received for my thesis.


Ali Munson ’21

Thesis Title: Exploring the Drivers of Noradrenergic Release in Associative, Cerebellar-Dependent Learning


Amid the abrupt, chaotic stop to the semester last year, I was brainstorming with my advisor and mentor in the lab as to how I can continue to be involved with the research process remotely over the summer. We decided it would be beneficial for me to gain some software experience and try to recreate half of the setup that is required for the experiments I would have been carrying out. Luckily enough, most of the equipment and build could be done remotely! With this, I decided to apply and received the Class of 1955 Senior Thesis Fund. This supported the materials I needed (and had sent to my apartment) and my living expenses for the summer. The past year and a half have thrown us all for a loop, but this project was a great distractor and helped me get through the difficult times by stimulating my creativity and engaging me in work I had never done before. I sincerely thank the alumni who support the Class of 1955 Senior Thesis Fund! This experience would not have been made possible without it.


James Packman ’21

 Thesis Title: Formulation and Validation of a Scale of Anti-Semitic Stereotypes (SASS)


The very generous Class of 1955 Senior Thesis Fund allowed me to continue my research on anti-Semitism and the precise nature of anti-Semitic stereotypes. To assess the predictive validity of our new scale, the Scale of Anti-Semitic Stereotypes (SASS), we assessed whether SASS scores correlated with 1) implicit associations about Jewish people, measured via Implicit Association Tests (IATs); 2) blatant dehumanization of Jewish people, measured via the Ascent of Man scale (Kteily et al., 2015); and 3) people’s estimations of the number of Jewish people in various fields/professions. 

 Implicit Association Tests (IATs) assessed whether participants more quickly associate the category “Jewish” with ideas of “competence” and the category “Protestants” with “incompetence.” An additional IAT examined associations between “Jewish” or “Protestant” and being “warm” or “cold.” We hypothesize that higher SASS scores will correlate with stronger associations of "Jewish” with "competence” and “cold,” reflective of the ambivalent stereotypes about Jewish people as intelligent but untrustworthy. Contrary to our hypothesis, participants more strongly associated “Jewish” with both “incompetence” and “cold.” This result indicates a vague, undifferentiated antipathy towards Jewish people, as opposed to a more specific view of Jewish people as high in competence but low in warmth, as posited by the Stereotype Content Model (SCM; Fiske, 1998; Fiske, Cuddy, Glick, & Xu, 2002; Fiske, Xu, Cuddy, & Glick, 1999). Additionally, we used the Ascent of Man scale (Kteily et al., 2015), to assess participants' tendencies to blatantly dehumanize Jewish people. As predicted, there was a correlation between SASS scores and dehumanization scale scores. Finally, we asked participants to estimate the number of Jewish people in various fields/professions. Overestimates of Jewish people in fields such as government, banking, and entertainment predicted higher SASS scores. Senior thesis funding allowed us to conduct this research to determine the predictive validity of our scale.


Will Randall ’21

 Thesis Title: The Not So Evil Eye: Strength, Size, and Social Implications of Implicit Gaze Beams in Attention Modeling


The Senior Thesis Fund was very helpful for my research in the last year. I'm a neuroscience major, and my thesis was supposed to involve in-person research on human subjects at the Princeton Neuroscience Institute. Because of the pandemic, I was forced to adopt all of my experiments to be posted online on a website called Prolific. There, people from around the world can do my experiment in exchange for payment. The Senior Thesis Fund gave me the money to pay for these subjects, allowing me to collect data while we were all quarantined at home. It was extremely useful, and I am so grateful to them.


Alejandro Roig ’21

 Thesis Title: Seis Ensayos de la Realidad Lingüística Española


I am deeply grateful for the support of my senior thesis work. Princeton’s liberal arts tradition has reinforced a tendency of mine to understand a problem from as many angles as possible. Getting trapped in one subject matter tradition limits the interpretations we tend to approach the world with, based upon the lens that has historically dominated a particular field. That is why I pride myself on studying economics issues with a sociological lens, studying linguistics issues with a neuroscientific lens, and studying literature with an appreciation of mathematics. I deeply believe that if you look closely enough or far back enough, these divisions blur into one another, providing a more holistic, and hopefully realistic, way to understand and address any issue. My thesis is similarly a project of synthesis, attempting to compile related anecdotes in Spanish-language history. This compilation is an attempt to understand more broadly the way that language acts upon societies, rather than the more typical understanding of societies creating language. The support I was provided with was decisive in allowing this work to exist. In addition to the ability to purchase source materials to work with, it allowed me to purchase visual arts materials including canvases and paints. Visual arts is one of my preferred mediums of expression. When I am discussing the nature of language, doing so in a typically written language format like an essay can be confining. Painting on canvas allowed not only for the manipulation of symbols to express my convictions, but also, serves as a semiotic laboratory where I end up learning new things. Once again, I am deeply appreciative of the support that Princeton and its donors have been able to show me.


Hannah Slabodkin ’21

 Thesis Title: Probing Aldh1a3 Mechanisms of Action in Breast and Sarcoma Cancers


This past summer, I was fortunate enough to receive funding from the Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) to cover expenses related to my senior thesis. OUR’s generosity enabled me to purchase software that I would not have otherwise been able to afford, especially with the financial strain imposed by COVID. The use of this software (e.g., Graphpad, MedCalc, and Stata) was essential to my research methods. Not to mention, I was able to allocate a considerable amount of OUR funding to secure housing throughout the summer. This was especially important given the cancellation of the molecular biology department's Summer Undergraduate Research Program, through which I expected to remain on campus.


Thea Zalabak ’21

 Thesis Title: Building Empathy to Motivate Successful Communication


As a recipient of the Class of 1955 Senior Thesis Fund, I am incredibly grateful for the assistance that this funding has provided for my ability to conduct experimental research. I am writing an experimental thesis in the psychology department under the advisory of the Princeton Social Neuroscience Lab on empathy and communication success. Over the past year, my funding has allowed me to support my research and personal living expenses both on and off-campus due to pandemic restrictions. These resources have helped me to adapt to new ways of conducting human subject research in a socially distanced, virtual world. I sincerely appreciate having been allowed to grow as a researcher and spend the last year exploring my research interests and my goals for future research beyond graduation.










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