Beth Buchanan & Uyghur Bistro
Beth Buchanan

Beth Buchanan is a senior from Hanszen majoring in Psychology. She is a research assistant and lab manager in the Hebl/King Lab, led by Drs. Mikki Hebl and Eden King, and a research assistant in the WorKing Resilience Lab, led by Dr. Danielle King. Her research centers on workplace diversity and discrimination, work-life balance, and social class. She is currently conducting a Psychology honors thesis on income differences in college students' experiences with work and school. Specifically, her project focuses on how work and school experiences may conflict with one another or facilitate one another. Beyond research, Beth is a member of the Low Keys a cappella group and the Vice President of Psi Chi, the Psychology honors society. She also loves spending time with her cat, Boba!


October 28, 2021


Beth Buchanan & Uyghur Bistro


Brendan: This podcast is brought to you by the Office of Undergraduate Research inquiry into seconds you will be hearing from undergraduate students here at Rice University Research, or any type of creative work also exploring the Houston food scene, so stick around to find out what students are eating these days. My name is Brendan Wong

Nyla: and I’m Nyla Vela. We are your hosts. Joining us today is a senior majoring in psychology, welcome Beth Buchanan!

Brendan: How are you today.

Beth: Hi, it's great to be here.

Brendan: And where are you, where are you right now.

Beth: I'm in my off-campus apartment.

Brendan: Did you get through the storm okay?

Beth: Luckily, not bad for my apartment. Specifically, we never lost power or water. We were just out of Wi Fi for the week, which of course is not the worst problem to have.

So it was mainly just trying to entertain ourselves.

Brendan: And you’re a senior. I’m also senior, so I just, I must ask you, having our freshman year, getting started with Harvey, you know, what are your thoughts, what are your feelings, your emotions about this.

Beth: It's crazy to me how long ago Harvey was, and I think looking back, starting with Harvey, and kind of being introduced I'm actually originally from California being introduced to like the severe weather in Texas, that suddenly, and then to end kind of with this ice storm. I just, it's insane how crazy the weather here is and I think that really represents the last four years pretty well. So it's, it's been it's been a wild four years and I can't believe it was that long ago,

Brendan: people would not want to go through that anymore. I remember like freshman year the Houston Astros one, and that was a big day for the first time and that was the big and now.

Brendan: No words. And so you said you're living on your off campus, you're off campus permits to go to school, to do your classes are you still doing mostly online classes,

Beth: all my classes are online right now, I go to campus to take my Covid test every week, but also I go to coffee house, and I like to set up time especially in times like this week where the weather is really nice so.

Brendan: And so today we're here to talk about your thesis, the social sciences. So can you tell us briefly about what your work is like and get to it.

Beth: Sure. So, as I said I'm a psychology major, and so I have been involved in research and psychology, since my freshman year, and I started in Dr. Miki Hebl people as well as Dr. Danielle King. And they focus on diversity and discrimination research. And so I've gotten a lot of experience in that realm. And I also participate in Dr. Eden King’s lab, which is also known as the working resilience lab, and her research really focuses on fostering resilience in the workplace. And so in addition to those who lives and experiences really been defined.

Brendan: Yeah, So let's talk about thesis more about how that's going.

Beth: So, project focuses on college students experiences. So something I discovered, while doing research trying to figure out what I wanted to do thesis is that college students are more likely to be employed higher rate than they were 20 years ago and it's just so there's not a lot of research out there on what effect that has on students on you know being employed as well as classes. So I really want to kind of tell what those experiences. So I kind of took a lot of differences. So this was inspired by research on students and workers, just published in general. So, especially the fact that students are more likely to be employed So, looks at how students and students, different works, which I can't really explain it without just using the same words, but certainly not what happens there. So, work so conflict is, for instance, if you're working 20 hours to be able to. That would be an example. On the flip side, I was also looking at work, school facilitation, which is maybe you're working in a job that allows you to apply knowledge or skills engaged during class and then you can further apply that to a future career. So I was just looking at those two experiences and explanations and reasons for any difference there.

Brendan: Yeah, that sounds super interesting. I can see how I can connect that to my Rice experience. Now I’m curious about your research, what are the methodology?

Beth: Yeah! I used a Qualtrics survey. But instead of making it all just one time point I had students take five different surveys, the first one was a screening survey with demographic questions. And then, the next four were the same survey but taken every week. I was looking at whether financial security play a role in people's experiences with work school conflict and work school facilitation. So, my hypothesis there was that financial security may vary depending on the week. At the beginning of the month that bank account may look a lot smaller than it did the week before. And you know the day after paycheck, you may have a different perspective on how secure you feel with your finances. So that was my reasoning for 5 different surveys. That’s a method called experience sampling really getting at does this experience different based on when we measured this.

Nyla: Oh, I actually had one question for you. So you were talking about, I guess like the labs that you started your freshman year, and sort of going into your research. Now, I noticed that it had a lot to do with people in the workplace and things like that so I was wondering like what made you want to start doing that research and then how did that go into you doing research on it, even now as a senior.

Beth: So, when people think of psychology. They think from a clinical psychologist. And so, the research that I do sometimes do hard to explain, because it is psychology, but really, it’s just looking at work. And that's what industrial organizational psychology focuses on. So, I guess, to get back to your question, I started research in these labs, mainly because of Dr. Hebl I took her social psychology course first semester freshman year. Didn’t think I would Major in psychology at the time but pretty much class convinced me because especially her unit on diversity discrimination she's doing really really cool research in that realm. And so, when she was talking about that I just really wanted to be involved so I sent her an email and it's like any way I could be involved, I would, I would love to. And, you know, I think I, I saw industrial organizational psychology or like the psychology of the workplace, as almost an applied applied social psychology. So, really, and I still see it that way it's basically just a context to look at people look at their interactions and their experiences with various different life experiences. I think that everyone's faces but in the context of a workplace, that is something that everyone participates in, and that is actually where people spend most of their life. So I think it's just a good way to really see how people behave in an applied context. So, you know, I want to do it in the future.

Nyla: Yeah, definitely. Yeah, your research that's so interesting and it sounds like it's so like valuable, you know, this applies to everybody. It sounds like a super cool thing that you're doing sort of dipping into that a little bit more I was also wondering, after this thesis is done.

What kinds of things do you think people are going to be able to take from your research in specific?

Beth: Yes, so I can have my thesis, like I said, it's a pretty understudied topic in general, this concept of college students actually being employed members of the workforce is something that I don't think has quite entered industrial organizational psychology as a field. So I think that with that context this study is really one of the first to actually try to get a sense of college students experiences with work school conflict and work school facilitation. So I think that that is a huge contribution in and of itself just adding, you know, it's a very exploratory study because there isn't a lot of previous research. So the fact that is on this topic, I think, is a contribution. Beyond that, low income students are known as having this kind of silent identity or, you know, invisible identity, I think it's called, because that is not something that is easily apparent to other people. So I think that that was my kind of drive, in studying that population, specifically, and I think that because it is an invisible identity it is less common to research on low income experiences, so I think that, to sum it up, the basic two contributions that I see like this study having is mainly in looking at college students and how they experience jobs and work alongside school, but also specifically focusing on how that might differ based on income, yeah definitely that's that's a super fruitful research

Nyla: Yeah definitely! Brendan, Did you have any other questions?

Brendan: Yes! Given that we're all in college right now to see any connections between where your rice experiences were or is and how that connects to your research right now? Do you see any like personal connections there or like observations that, you know, maybe it's not necessarily something that you’d put in your thesis but just, I just see this connection.

Beth: Yeah I think so, I ended up getting an on campus job at Rice, and I think that that experience was really interesting because I was a student assistant role, working alongside people who were staff members at Rice, and I really saw a big difference between my experience working at that job, and their experience, you know obviously because I had this other facet of my life in school, alongside this job, whereas the staff members I was working with work was their entire life. And so I was, you know, while I was working on that job thinking about, you know, why specific experiences that there are for people who have to go to school while working at the same time. And one of the specific reasons that that is stressful. And so that's something that was like a “Me-search” thing. And I think that helped me to have a sense of what I wanted to do for my thesis, and what it really took was me kind of explaining that to my advisor, and I was like I don't know if there's a word for this but this is I explained to her what I was talking about. And she was like, Oh, I think there's something called work school conflict, you should look at it in the literature and then it turns out that there's research on this, this question that I had in my personal life, which I think is always exciting. And so, obviously, not as much research as certain other areas but I thought it was exciting that there was any because this was, you know, something that I was personally reflecting on. So, that I think that personal experience really inspires thesis in general, but another pointed its fruition I guess was something that we talked about in class. So I was in multicultural psychology which I think Nyla was in too? And that’s when I learned all this information about low income students or people in general and this sense of this invisible identity I think we even read research on low income support groups and college, and just really looking at Why is this not researched more, so I think that after that class and really had this mission to include economically diverse populations in general I think that should be true of research in the field overall and it's, it's really not and so that was something that I made my mission and I think I will add a future research I do I'm pretty passionate about that.

Nyla: Yeah, definitely. Also, I have to say that I've never heard the term “Me-search”, I think that is so funny and I will definitely start using that in regular conversation it is so good!

Beth: Yes, I think, kind of remember when I first heard it is definitely in lab. So talking about how you researchers come up with ideas I think it was either Dr. King or Dr. Hebl mentioned me-research as one of the ways that you can come up with ideas, which is pretty cool.

Brendan: Yeah, that's great that you have this mindset going into research and kind of how you want to push research and also I also do think that for a population that's under-studied that it's super valuable to our overall understanding of different income levels as well. I'm curious, given that we’re in a pandemic, you did talk about how you're using surveys right now do you feel like, if there were no pandemic you to approach this question a little differently. And if so how.

Beth: Sure, I'll say that for psychology research. Generally, especially in industrial organizational psychology. We were lucky enough to be able to continue researching during the pandemic, because we don't necessarily have a lab that we're going into to perform experiments most of our experiments are done via surveys and via you know statistical analysis that we continue on our computers, which I think is great because I got to continue to be involved in research and start my thesis during the pandemic. So, I guess, one way that it did change is, I started coming up with my idea and kind of settling on this work school conflict idea, and that was February early March so about a year ago, when I was still you know fully in person at Rice to, you know, and had heard about Covid but it wasn’t, you know, taking over the world yet. It was a conversation with my advisor and I, she, she asked me. So do you want us to stay with this idea that you came up with, or do you want to research something specific bout COVID and experiences with it. So it was something I wrestled with for a while, and I kind of settled on continuing with my original idea as planned, but I don't think it is something that I could ignore. Just because I think there are differences in people working remotely or in person or going to cost us remotely were in person. And I thought that that might be a meaningful difference, that would be interesting to, to look at. So, the way that changed was I included more questions about people's experiences with COVID and how, what their work and school lives were like during covid specifically.

Brendan: super interesting. What you said just reminded me early on people were talking about kind of who are essential workers or non essential workers and hazard pay. So, there definitely is so much, you can expect from your thesis and from your college student population, but could you remind me if you're using, rice students or like nationwide?

Beth: Yeah, so this for this study we specifically recruited from nationwide population, my reasoning, there was that I thought would be interesting to look at rice, specifically but I know that we're very specific experience of a very small and private and high ranked school, so I kind of was interested in what is the experience in a public university in California or Florida and is there a connection between this. So I think that that's, that was my rationale, and I was lucky enough to have some people recruit. That was very successful.I would also be interested in looking at Rice specific students but for this project specifically I chose to go with a nationwide sample.

Brendan: In terms of timeline: It’s March, what progress or what stage are you at in your thesis?

Beth: So right now I’m in data analysis. And just fisnishing it up. I'm working with the graduate students, with creating graphs to display the data, and also I haven’t got a chance to explore the data on COVID or salary specifically or differences in job title that might be another project, but also would be interesting to explore here. So, yeah, hoping that data analysis will be finished soon.

Brendan: Yes. That’s always what I’m most excited about which is writing up my results. So what do you think the rest of the timeline is for you?

Beth: Yeah so the next part is my manuscript, getting to see this study, actually completed which is super exciting. Also defending my thesis as just a chance for me to present the research. It's not as high stakes. and we've actually just submitted to the APS conference. So hopefully that gets accepted!

Brendan: Well since we do work at OURI I guess we have to plug RURS! Do you plan on doing that? It seems like your project would be a standout!

Beth: Yes. I think it’s a great opportunity for students. I was supposed to go was it last year we were supposed to record our video, but that never happened, and I'm looking forward to going to getting to experience.

Brendan: Alright, we did our plug! That's all.

Nyla: One question that I had was now that we’ve talked about your senior thesis and we talked about the research that you've done previously your campus and stuff. What is life look like for you do you think, post graduation. What are you looking to do. Are you looking to grad school?

Beth: Yeah! Definitely grad school, So, right now I’m in the position of having acceptances. You know, going on a bunch of virtual visits. So, yeah, the programs were all in industrial organizational psychology and all PhD program. So I’ll be at one of those for grad school.

Brendan: Are there any mixed feelings going into this new phase?

Beth: Mostly excited and hopeful to do some things in person, kind of experience that side of grad school because I’ve heard virtual is very tough. So, I hope to spend time physically there.

Brendan: So can you tell me a little about the different levels of support you’ve gotten? where you got where you are also for applying for grants. So let's start with your thesis and research in general.

Beth: So much support through my undergrad experience and I had professors, see my interest in research and see that this is something I wanted to do after college, getting the opportunities that would specifically help me to follow up skills that were important for graduate school. So I really appreciated them for doing that because I got a chance, specifically to help with writing projects for publication submission for one of my professors and actually also going to be presenting at another conference for a separate project with my faculty advisor. So, those experiences, not only look good on a CV or a personal statement, I think they also gave me a chance to see what those sides of the research process looks like. Because I think that those are pretty major parts of the research process, and not have a chance to do that so I'm grateful to them for opening those opportunities to me and you know, reaching out when they were available. But beyond that, they're also huge mentors in terms of applying to grad school, my meetings with my honors thesis advisor Dr. King, include, you know, talking about the project and then also include talking about grad school and talking to her about what schools I was applying to. And what I should do for a personal statement and all these things that can be pretty confusing, is you don't have someone in the field who kind of knows what schools are looking for. So she was there to just be a guiding force and answering the questions I had, and let me know specifically which programs would have people that are doing, doing research that I find exciting and interesting. My faculty advisors have been there with me every step of the way, not just, you know, writing letters of recommendation which are of course appreciated but also looking at my materials and telling me what I should add to my personal statement.

Brendan: Yeah, mentorship is like making or breaking your relationship with you thesis but also postgrad plans.

Beth: Yes.

Brendan: But yeah. That's great that's awesome.

Nyla: Yeah, I guess one question that, especially with someone like you who's like, you know, just so successful as a senior you've done amazing work you've done so many things with rice. What kind of advice would you give to like maybe a freshman who's just starting out or research or who hasn't done any research and wants to get into it.

Beth: Yeah. I think the first and most important advice I have is just try and try to get involved as early as you want to be involved. So I felt pretty not confident that Dr. Hebl would want me to work in her life as a freshman, I know I didn't have this methodological or statistical knowledge yet, so kind of sent an email saying, I know you probably wouldn't want me to work this semester but maybe after I have some of some of these classes, and you won't be in the lab, but she's like no I want you now. I think that never hurts to try and if you really want to see what research looks like I would recommend just trying it and I know plenty of people who tried it and decided, you know what maybe I don’t like this and that is equally helpful in figuring out what you want to after graduate school. And for me, I was the person who loved it, and I'm so grateful that I reached out that early because that is the reason that I was able to form this close relationship with professors to do research that I found exciting and interesting. And to do that for four years. And so I think it can be really scary as a freshman, because you know imposter syndrome is real, especially at Rice and you feel like there are other people who would do a better job than you, but as you say that research is something that is in your future. You know, you get started as soon as you want to. And just try. There's no harm in reaching out and maybe the professor will be taking in and wants to the lab or maybe something will happen.

Nyla: great advice I love that its so so good. Yeah, Brandon Did you have any follow up questions.

Brendan: Yeah, so you're also a senior. I’m a senior. And you spent these past four years to research, you know, I'm always very curious about where you were also involved with outside research because I know your undergrad experience Research stuff they played a huge role in it, but maybe it wasn't the only thing?

Beth: I am involved in an acapella group. you know I loved singing in high school that was something I wanted to continue to do I'm so glad that I was able to do that at Rice, and also just the people I met through that are all amazing. I think I formed a really great relationships with them. And then in addition I also am working with Psi Chi, which is the psychology honor society. And we also plan a bunch of events for psychology majors or people who are thinking of majoring in psychology, that's been exciting because I think that psychology is one of the larger majors and because you have so many options in terms of electives. Sometimes I don't know that someone's a psych major until I’m in a class with them and I'm like wait. I'm sorry. You know the vision, with psi chi, is to create more community within the psychology major and I think that we've done, we've done that pretty well. And we've also held events. We had one recently, you know, kind of tied into this whole podcast and my experiences behind it. One is called undergraduate research opportunities panel. So we had some professors who are in charge of clouds we have some graduate students, and we had some undergraduate students we've got different perspectives on research and how to get involved and what it looks like to be involved in research because I think that can be kind of confusing if you haven't done it before. And, you know, other other panels are pretty helpful and informational so yeah I had great experiences beyond research I feel like I've had a pretty holistic rice experience and gone to do fun things that I enjoy and, including research.

Brendan: Truly so multitalented. that's the thing about rice. Is that like your experiences can, maybe overlap with research but also outside of it, there's so many different things that can shape your experience and also that panel you're talking about it, there are just so many different opportunities to learn about a field at any more often the less that people just aren't aware that these panels are happening with these talks are happening. And so, that's great, there's this whole department and this podcast in general is trying to get students more engaged to research but knowing that it's such a daunting process all along.

Beth: Yeah, that's great I think that you know this podcast as well as the department. In general, I like the mission that you guys have because as a freshman, I was also, I knew that professors were doing research.

I didn't know what that looks like and what an undergraduate could could do for them and it just was so out of my wheelhouse. I felt so new and foreign that I had no idea what it looks like. And so I think that having these opportunities to talk more about what it does look like, what does a research project look like I think that's a great chance for people to kind of get a sense of what what it looks like before they get involved, to kind of inspire people to be involved.

Nyla: Yeah, I think even tying a little bit into research, whenever I think about myself as a freshman, I knew a lot of Rice students were like, oh I did research in high school and I was a part of this lab or whatever and I was like that's the thing that people do and no one told me about it like that was insane. And so coming in with like this completely different I guess experience level than some students are right. I felt completely unprepared to be able to emails professors and be like, Hey, can I join you lab or whatever just like you were saying earlier, and so sort of this is like underrepresented students that maybe don't have the same opportunities as others to, you know, do research prior to, like the university level. So yeah, I think it's just as important, and it's such a crazy thing for people to come in and realize that there's so many opportunities for that. So yeah, I totally agree and I think everything you said it was totally true.

Brendan: So, do you plan on singing in grad school? Do they have a capella groups?

Beth: I think. I had a visit recently for a program. So people mentioned that there were some grad students who were involved in a dance group on campus, while they were in grad school, so I think that the main obstacle is specifically would have a singing group, like if I have the time to do that. I would love to stay involved.

Brendan: So before we ask you the final curve ball question: any last thoughts?

Nyla: I think I’m ready to ask the curveball question!

Brendan: So here it goes: having been at Rice for four years, we are curious to know where in Houston did you have the best meal?

Beth: Oh My goodness, such a hard question. A lot of good ones. But the best overall, so I was actually in this Sociology class called Muslims in American society, and for that class we had a project where my group focused on Uyghurs in China and I don’t know if you’ve heard anything about that situation but its terrible, it’s a genocide. Part of the project was talking about the Uyghur culture so we got to go to a Uyghur restaurant in Houston and it was SO good. We got to know the owners really well. So overall very educational and the food was delicious.

Brendan: That’s great that you got to experience more about Uyghur culture, and what a timely and relevant topic. Great answer. Do you remember the name of the place?

Beth: Oh goodness, I do not. I think it did have Uyghur in the name. But I will let you know.

Brendan: Alright that’s perfect! So from your thesis to you favorite meal, we talked so much today, so Nyla and I just wanted to thank you for joining us today and we hope the rest of your thesis goes well!

Beth: Thanks its been great to talk to you!

Brendan: Take care and stay safe, bye bye!