Denise Herd, Professor

Closed (1) Changes in the Portrayal of Gender and Sexuality in Rap Music

Closed. This professor is continuing with Fall 2017 apprentices on this project; no new apprentices needed for Spring 2018.

Descriptive analyses of changes in how sexuality and gender have been depicted in rap music over the previous decades (1979-2009). The project explores rap music lyrics to examine depictions of courtship, romance and sexual relationships in the genre since its inception in the late 1970's through the contemporary period. Research questions include how larger forces such as commercialization and changes in the music industry have affected how love and sexuality are portrayed in the music. The project is situated within larger concerns about the public health implications of portrayal of sexuality, substance use and violence in rap music particularly as it affects young people.

The major tasks for the project include reviewing and analyzing rap music lyrics from different time periods, library research, data coding in SPSS and assisting with manuscript preparation. The learning outcomes include helping students master the following types of skills: qualitative data analysis; conducting literature reviews; analyzing and organizing data; and publication-related skills.

Qualifications: Required: excellent writing and organizational skills; major or background in social sciences; basic computer skills and knowledge of applications. Desirable: experience with rap music; experience with statistics and data bases

Weekly Hours: 6-9 hrs

Closed (2) Racial Differences in Trends of Marijuana Use

Closed. This professor is continuing with Fall 2017 apprentices on this project; no new apprentices needed for Spring 2018.

Currently African American youth have among the highest levels of use of marijuana use in any American racial or ethnic group. However in the past, their rates of use were considerably lower than those in other groups. A key goal of this project is to examine racial differences in changes in marijuana use over time among American adolescents. We will examine literature and research data on marijuana use among African American, Hispanic and White teens from the 1980’s to the present. The goal will be to explore the impact of social factors such as changes in family and youth norms, economic shifts, the Drug War, and recent campaigns to legalize marijuana on changes in teen drug use patterns.

The major tasks for the project include conducting literature reviews using electronic databases, reviewing and analyzing statistical data from different time periods, and assisting with manuscript and research proposal preparation. The learning outcomes include helping students master the following types of skills: conducting literature reviews; analyzing and organizing data; proposal writing and publication-related skills.

Qualifications: Qualifications: Required: excellent writing and organizational skills; major or background in social sciences; basic computer skills and knowledge of applications. Desirable: experience with statistics and databases.

Weekly Hours: 6-9 hrs

Open (3) Changes in Alcohol Use in Hispanic Youth

Open. Apprentices needed for the spring semester. Please do NOT contact faculty before February 5th (the start of the 4th week of classes)! Enter your application on the web beginning January 9th. The deadline to apply is Tuesday, January 23rd at 8 AM.

In North America and Europe, alcohol use among young people has declined over time. Since the 1990’s fewer adolescents are using alcohol regularly, binge drinking or reporting getting drunk. In the US, these changes are attributed to changes in laws regarding the minimum drinking age and similar policies. However for African American youth, the decrease in heavy drinking has been far less and rates of drunkenness appear to have either stayed the same or actually increased.

Latino youth are one of the largest and fastest growing ethnic minority groups of adolescents in the US. Yet little is known about changes in their drinking patterns over time. While very early research suggested that their alcohol use was lower than White adolescents, recently they were viewed as at a higher risk of alcohol use. Given that African American and Latino youth share similar health risk factors related to social disadvantage it is important to determine whether they share similar disparities in drinking trends compared to White adolescents.

This project will explore the literature on Hispanic youth drinking trends from earlier to contemporary periods. We will examine literature and research data on alcohol use among Latino teens from the 1980’s to the present. The goal will be to explore the impact of social factors such as acculturation, immigration and nativity status on drinking patterns. We will also consider the role of media and targeted marketing on drinking behavior in this population. In addition we will examine whether there are subgroup differences in drinking behavior as Latinos are a diverse group with roots in Mexico, Latin American, and the Caribbean.



The major tasks for the project include conducting literature reviews using electronic data bases, reviewing and analyzing statistical data from different time periods, and assisting with manuscript and research proposal preparation. The learning outcomes include helping students master the following types of skills: conducting literature reviews; analyzing and organizing data; proposal writing and publication-related skills.


Qualifications: Qualifications: Required: excellent writing and organizational skills; major or background in social sciences; basic computer skills and knowledge of applications. Desirable: experience with statistics and data bases.

Weekly Hours: 6-9 hrs

Open (4) The Role of Alcohol, Racial Differences in US Coming of Age Movies

Open. Apprentices needed for the spring semester. Please do NOT contact faculty before February 5th (the start of the 4th week of classes)! Enter your application on the web beginning January 9th. The deadline to apply is Tuesday, January 23rd at 8 AM.

Movie portrayals of alcohol and tobacco have been shown to influence drinking and smoking among teens. Recent studies show that films targeted to African Americans have more influence on their smoking behavior than mainstream movies. The reasons for these differences are not known. The focus of this project is on comparing portrayals of alcohol use in coming of age movies that are targeted to African Americans as opposed to those considered mainstream. The project will explore whether alcohol is portrayed in similar or different ways in the two groups of films to determine if teens in different racial groups might be receiving different social messages regarding the role of alcohol in social life.



The major tasks for the project include researching films, reviewing and, coding a selected group of films and assisting with manuscript and research proposal preparation. The learning outcomes include helping students master the following types of skills: qualitative research skills, conducting literature reviews; analyzing and organizing data; proposal writing and publication-related skills.


Qualifications: Qualifications: Required: excellent writing and organizational skills; major or background in social sciences; basic computer skills and knowledge of applications. Desirable: experience with film studies and databases.

Weekly Hours: 6-9 hrs