Sook-Lei Liew, a Ph.D. student in occupational science with the Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, received a three-year award from the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program.
The fellowship was given to moe than 950 U.S. students across various fields of study in science and engineering.
Liew, one of four USC students who received the award, will explore how cultural experiences affect the neural networks that help a person to understand individuals from different cultures.
To test her research, Liew plans to use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), a brain imaging technique that can visualize which parts of the brain are active during a particular task, according to Lisa Aziz-Zadeh, assistant professor in the Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, who has a joint appointment in the Brain and Creativity Institute of USC College and is Lei’s faculty mentor.
“Lei’s study is fascinating because it investigates how culture, race and experience interact with cognitive processes such as action observation and intention understanding,” Aziz-Zadeh said.