Brown And Lin Receive President’s Award For Collaborative Research And Creative Work Award

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Michael Ogawa (left) and President Rodney Rogers (right) congratulate Susan Brown and I-Fen Lin on their award.

For the last three years, Drs. Susan Brown and I-Fen Lin, professors in the Department of Sociology, have been working with two graduate students on a National Institutes of Health-funded research project on gray divorce and well-being. Using a collaborative approach, Anna Hammersmith and Matthew Wright, both Ph.D. candidates in sociology, have been integrated into all stages of the research process.

Brown and Lin said the students are now “independent scholars, posed to embark on their own research careers.”

In recognition of this effort, they received a President’s Award for Collaborative Research and Creative Work at the Faculty Excellence Awards April 9. The award recognizes innovative research and creative work conducted by faculty members in collaboration with graduate students. The $5,000 award included $2,500 for continued collaborative research activities with BGSU graduate students and a $2,500 cash award.

“Anna and Matthew have been an integral part of this project since the very beginning,” Brown and Lin wrote. “Both their assistantship work and professional development have been supported by the grant. Through our project, they have developed the key skills necessary to be successful family demographic researchers: complex data management, sophisticated statistical analysis and clear communications and writing abilities. Additionally, they have learned how to mentor undergraduate students in research, which strengthens their skills as teachers and scholars.”

The students were part of the decision-marking process at every stage of the research project. Earlier this year, they began a joint paper examining how gray divorce, widowhood and partnering are linked to psychological well-being that stems from the project.

“They analyzed the data, drafted a manuscript and submitted it to the national association for presentation as next spring’s annual conference,” wrote Brown and Lin. “Thus, we have come full circle. Three years ago, they were building their research skill set. Now, they are prepared to conduct rigorous, independent research that will move the field forward.”

In addition to research training, Hammersmith and Wright have gained experience mentoring undergraduate students and networking with leading aging and family scholars.

“In the highly competitive academic job market, candidates must demonstrate excellence in both research and teaching,” Brown and Lin said. “By working for several years on our NIH-funded research project, both Anna and Matthew have blossomed into independent scholars and mentors who excel at conducting cutting-edge research.”

In support of Brown and Lin for this award, Wright wrote that his experience has been instrumental to his professional development.

“Now that I have graduated from BGSU and become a faculty member, the skills I gained have become all the more apparent to me,” he said. “I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with such productive scholars and for the experiences working with them on the grant project provided me.”

Hammersmith noted a similar experience, writing, “I feel confident that the skills, research and relationships that I have cultivated through my work on the grant project will play an important role after I finish my degree and continue my development as a faculty member or researcher at another institution.”