Anna Beninger ’09 Wins NSF Research Fellowship

Anna Beninger ’09 has been selected to receive a 2009 National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship award that, in total, amounts to $122,500 over the course of three years. She says she will use the funds to pursue a master’s degree in social and cultural psychology at the London School of Economics, and then a Ph.D. in social psychology at a yet-to-be-determined university in the United States.

The award, given annually, recognizes the abilities and accomplishments of students as well as their potential to contribute to strengthening the vitality of U.S. science and engineering enterprises.

“Throughout my tenure at CMC, I have been actively involved in psychological research,” Beninger says. “This year, I conducted an empirical honors thesis on the factors affecting the likelihood an individual would initiate negotiation for compensation.”

Beninger received the Berger Institute Research Fellowship to fund that study, and will present the results of her thesis at the UCLA Psychology Undergraduate Research Conference next month.

“I have also been conducting an ongoing cross-cultural study of women in academia and work/life balance that I began in the U.K. during the summer of 2008 on the CMC Uoroboros Research Fellowship,” she says. “Following graduation from CMC this May, I will collect additional data for this research in Australia and the U.S. and will present the U.K. portion of the study at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association in Toronto in August.”

Beninger credits her last four years at CMC as a truly transformative experience that has been instrumental in helping her lock in her career path.

“I arrived four years ago undecided about a major and will graduate in a few weeks confident about my future,” she says. “From the very beginning, I had the opportunity to explore a wide variety of interests; I happened upon psychology my freshman year and was hooked.”

According to Beninger, professor of psychology Diane Halpern was a key early supporter. “I began working for her my junior year and she has been my mentor ever since,” Beninger says. “Working with her has opened countless new doors for me that I never even knew existed.

“I joined her in Berlin her last summer to attend my first international psychology conference,” Beninger adds. “She has advised my various research projects and really encouraged me to challenge myself. She opened up her work and her life to me; without her, I would not be where I am today.”