“My time in the University Honors Program so far has given me the opportunity to find areas of interest beyond my major, which is in the STEM field, and has taught me how to think critically about my own perceptions of the world.”
In this edition of the UHP Student Spotlight, Anisha Gupta tells us about the original research she has been working on that focuses on the special significance westernized cultures place on the death of pets. Her research has also recently been selected to be presented at the annual Undergraduate Honors Symposium, being hosted at UNC Greensboro.
UHP: Anisha, can you tell us more specifically about the focus of your research and what inspired you to explore this topic?
AG: My research focuses on the significance of the way people in westernized cultures grieve the death of their pets. In the Honors seminar, I wrote my research paper for, my peers and I had already discussed the concept of animal death and I felt driven to continue with the topic due to the multitude of roles non-human animals play in human lives. I have never owned a pet myself so I was specifically interested in examining the details and implications of this grieving process from an unbiased perspective.
UHP: Very interesting. Pets really do become a part of many people’s families. What do you hope to learn from your research?
AG: I hope to learn more about how domestication will evolve in the distant future and how far humans would take the infliction of anthropomorphism onto other species. In relation, I am intrigued by the idea of pet aesthetic and the variation of power distance between humans and non-human animals throughout different cultures.
UHP: That sounds fascinating. How about presenting the research? What do you hope to gain from sharing your findings at the Honors Symposium?
AG: Through presenting my work, I hope to find areas of improvement within my research that I would not have been able to catch beforehand. I also look forward to evaluating myself on effective communication, especially since the topic I chose to research is so subjective.
UHP: How would you say your time in the University Honors Program has prepared you for this experience?
AG: My time in the University Honors Program so far has given me the opportunity to find areas of interest beyond my major, which is in the STEM field, and has taught me how to think critically about my own perceptions of the world. The Honors seminar I took last semester (Representing Animals), as well as the seminar I am currently taking (On the Human), have definitely developed my confidence in analyzing literature and subject matter that pertain to the social sciences.
UHP: Both of those classes sound really exciting! What would you tell other University Honors students about how to prepare for a research presentation such as this?
AG: Start preparing your materials early and reach out to your professors for help! Be sure to reevaluate your work and consider any valuable additions you can make to your research without drastically changing it.
UHP: It really is invaluable to ask for focused guidance and support early. What would you say is the best bit of advice you’ve ever received?
AG: Don’t leave an opportunity unexplored.
UHP: That can lead to all sorts of discovery. Anisha, thanks for answering these questions for us and best of luck to you at the Symposium. We’ll be cheering for you!