Undergraduate Research Assistant Program

HCAP Undergraduate Research Assistant Program

HCAP’s Asian American Communities Research Program pairs undergraduate students interested in conducting research with Asian American communities with a faculty mentor. HCAP’s undergraduate research assistants (URAs) engage in either a student-led or faculty-led research project on Asian American community research topics.

Through this program, HCAP seeks to expand research opportunities for underserved Asian American and other high-need students. These research experiences contribute to student learning: from expanding awareness and access to literature in a discipline; to increasing independence and ability to plan and execute research studies; to producing and presenting original and significant results and conclusions in both oral and written communication.

Cohort 1, Summer 2021


Sharlene Daba-ay

Sharlene Daba-ay is a Bronx native and Filipino American student who is majoring in Biochemistry and minoring in Asian American Studies. She is interested in the intersections of public health, research, and advocacy. In her free time, she loves to play video games or binge watch shows.

There have been several studies on the concept of colonial mentality. Among these studies, the definition of this concept is not consistent. Through my student led project, I examined previous works and conducted interviews with Filipinx Americans on what it means to have a colonial mentality and how it affects the Filipinx American experience.

See Sharlene’s project here.


Karen Lai

My name is Karen Lai. I am a Vietnamese-American student from Brooklyn, NY. I am also a junior at Hunter College majoring in Human Biology. Outside of school, I work with neurodiverse individuals and support them in achieving greater levels of independence at CAY Community Services. I decided to participate in the HCAP Summer Research Program to learn more about the Asian-American community by exploring difficult topics such as migration and its effects on the psyche. Since I aspire to be a Physician Assistant, this program has helped me to expand my humanity as I hope to help close the cultural gap between physicians and Asian patients in the future. And when I am not studying organic chemistry, I like to run and create art!

Xin Đừng Quên Nước (Please Don’t Forget Water/Country/Nation)” displays the psychological legacies of Vietnamese-American refugees post-Vietnam War while highlighting their resilience. Following the Fall of Saigon in 1975, about 800,000 Vietnamese people attempted to flee political oppression, poverty, and  war by sea in small boats. Unfortunately, many drowned or were captured, raped, or killed by pirates. Through animation and poetry, Karen Lai celebrates the strength of the Vietnamese-American community through the metaphor of bones of birds and wings of butterflies. She also honors the countless refugees who lost their lives during the migration with the animation in the center, which depicts a Vietnamese woman who is in water forever. 

See Karen’s project here.


Qianbing Chen

Qianbing is a Statistics major with a double minor in Mathematics and Classica Studies. She grew up in Brooklyn and lives in Dyker Heights. Her favorite color is green. She is a foodie. She wants to travel around the world in the future.

Our research group made a podcast for the project. The podcast is composed of interviews that we have conducted with 8 Hunter College students who have taken at least one Asian American course at the institution. The podcast talks about how having taken Asian American course has impacted one’s view about Asian Americans.


Daniel Iskhakov

Daniel Iskhakov is a junior majoring in political science and biology and minoring in public policy and Jewish Studies. He is a student athlete on the Men’s Cross Country and Track and Field teams at Hunter and works as a PCA at the Hospital for Special Surgery.

The project was a literature review of how Asian Americans are affected by biases in healthcare diagnosis. It is part of a broader scoping review by Beatrice Krauss on cognitive biases in diagnosis. The articles in this project underwent title/abstract and full text screening prior to analysis.

See Daniel’s project here.


Rudra Pandya

My name is Rudra Pandya. I am and immigrant from India and proud to be a member of the HCAP Team. I am a Senior at Hunter College majoring in Psychology. I work as a Pharmacy Technician and have been for the past 3 years. What interests me most about psychology is the complexity of the human mind and how everyone’s cognition, although consists of similarities, is ultimately different. I aspire to be a psychiatrist some day in the near future. When I’m not in school, at work or conducting research, my fun time consists of sports, television and admiring the beauty of nature. 

My project with Professor Pell, Dr. Krauss and Daniel was to research cognitive bias in modern North American healthcare diagnosis. We conducted literature reviews to find corresponding research that met our criteria. We are currently still working on finishing our final project where we explore different cases of cognitive bias and how it impacted diagnosis and treatment plans. 

See Rudra’s project here.


Rochelle Chin

Rochelle Chin is currently a rising junior in the Class of 2023’s Nursing Honors Scholars Program. Rochelle grew up in Brooklyn and graduated from Bishop Kearney High School with an Advanced Regents Diploma with Honors as salutatorian and an AP Scholar with Distinction. Now at Hunter, she has been a member of the Hunter Upstanders Program, HBSON Nursing Students’ Press, Scholar Peer Leaders, Project Sunshine, and Pilipinos of Hunter. She has recently begun working at Thursday’s Child, an early intervention program for preschool age children diagnosed with Autism. Rochelle is thrilled to earn her nursing degree and hopes to pursue a career in pediatrics, midwifery, neonatal nursing, or home care. 

Our goal is to collect the history/ herstory/ theirstory of the Asian American LGBTQ community over the past twenty five years. Our research consists of reading and writing literature reviews, creating timelines and lists of notable leaders, and conducting interviews with key LGBTQ AAPI leaders, activists, and elders. This work will critically contribute to Glenn Magpantay’s book project, which aims to provide a comprehensive, easy to understand history of the struggles by LGBTQ AAPIs to build community and movement for social change.  

See Rochelle’s project here.


Noor Ali

Noor is a Pakistani-American. She is double majoring in Chinese and Psychology with a minor in Asian American studies. She is currently a senior. Noor enjoys research and volunteering, being an active member of the National Asian American Pacific Islanders Women’s Forum. She is also active at Hunter College, as a peer mentor in the Hunter Transfer Pipeline Program.

The LGBTQ AAPI community is often overlooked, and their needs marginalized. They suffer from invisibility, isolation and stereotyping. While there has been a fair share of news or scholarly articles, the literature is either too current or too academic for typical readers. Through the gathering of this research we hoped to assist Dr. Magpantay brings light to the issues, history, troubles, and success of the LGBTQ AAPI community.

See Noor’s project here.


Jingqi Liang

My name is Jingqi Liang, and I am a clinical psychology major with a minor in sociology. I plan to go to graduate school when I finish college, so I was so happy when I was able to participate in this HCAP program. This program provided me with the basics and fundamentals that would prepare me for future research. Even better, HCAP has allowed me to do research within my own community. Aside from my school life and this program, I am working as a behavior technician, teaching ABA to children with autism. When I am not working or studying, I spend most of my time sleeping or playing video games. 

This research project explored the topic of Asian American substance use prevention programs. After an initial search, researchers found that there were very little articles that address this topic. To gather more information on the subject, a systematic review was proposed. Within the two months that researchers worked on this project, a search string was developed with the help of a librarian, over 600 articles were reviewed on covidence by researchers, a PRISMA flowchart and data spreadsheet was created and an abstract and methodology were written. The abstract is the main finishing product that was submitted to an abstract conference. 

See Jingqi’s project here.


Brittany Moreno

Brittany Moreno is a Chinese-Mexican American and first-generation college student. She is a senior majoring in psychology with minors in sociology and Asian-American studies. During her time at Hunter, she has developed a greater interest in the issues that affect Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and plans to continue working with these communities after graduation. In addition to being a research assistant, Brittany is a peer mentor who supports transfer students in navigating their Hunter experience. Outside of school, she likes spending time with her loved ones, writing, and exploring the city.

The Seen, Heard, and Found podcast is a collection of interviews detailing the experiences of Hunter students who have taken Asian American Studies. We conducted eight interviews to learn more about how these courses have impacted them. From the interviews, we have seen students’ growth, heard their stories, and they found power in their identities. 

See Brittany’s project here.


Rachel Tieu

Rachel Tieu is a senior majoring in Computer Science and minoring in Mathematics and Asian American studies. She is passionate about using technology for social good and hopes to make an impact in her local community. Rachel wants to use technology to amplify the voices of those that are underrepresented. She is currently volunteering to bring computer science programs to underserved schools. In her free time, she enjoys photography, journaling, and listening to music. 

The Seen, Heard, and Found podcast is a collection of interviews detailing the experiences of Hunter students who have taken Asian American Studies. We conducted eight interviews to learn more about how these courses have impacted them. From the interviews, we have seen students’ growth, heard their stories, and they found power in their identities. 

See Rachel’s project here.


Michelle Chen

Michelle is a senior graduating in Fall 2021. She is part of the Muse Honors Scholar Program and Thomas Hunter Honors Program. Michelle is a Psychology major with double minors in Asian American Studies and Media Studies. Alongside the HCAP URA project, she is working on her honors research thesis, which investigates how the COVID-19 pandemic affects the academic self-efficacy, college adjustment, and perceived social support of first-generation and non-first-generation college students. Post-graduation, she plans to attend graduate school and hopes to work as a mental health practitioner in the future.

This project is a systematic review of literature on substance use prevention programs for Asian American adolescents. We utilized the systematic review management system Covidence to filter and determine determining relevant articles for our study. A PRISMA flowchart illustrates the different phases of the literature review process. A total of 12 articles representing nine unique prevention programs were identified, which suggests the need for more research on the topic of Asian American adolescent substance use prevention.

See Michelle’s project here.


Devashish Basnet

Devashish (Dave) Basnet ’22 is a Jeanette K. Watson Fellow, Eva Kastan Grove Fellow, Mellon Public Humanities Scholar, Roosevelt Scholar, Phyllis L. Kossoff & Thomas Hunter Scholar who grew up in Nepal. He is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science, with minors in public policy, human rights, and Asian-American Studies at Hunter College in New York City. Devashish has worked in the non-profit and policymaking sector, specifically working towards migrant and vulnerable refugee protection policy with the International Rescue Committee in New York and Arizona, and currently serves as a lead student organizer for the Student/Farmworker Alliance. After serving as a Human Rights Legal Fellow at Justice Centre Hong Kong, a policy and legal services-oriented organization serving asylum-seekers and broader migration policy implementation throughout Asia, Devashish has joined the renowned Fund for Peace, a cutting-edge think tank in Washington D.C. researching nation-state fragility, forced displacement and electoral crises, and is currently supporting unaccompanied minors and deportation defense in Texas with RAICES. At Hunter, Devashish serves on the Roosevelt House Student Advisory Board, sits on the University Student Senate (USS) and serves as the current President of the Hunter Undergraduate Student Government.

My HCAP project titled “Beyond the Himalayas” is a multi-media narrative piece and personal oral history website that contains a series of interviews, images, art scans, and maps to capture what it means to be a Himalayan Sherpa beyond Nepal. Asian American communities in the United States are a mosaic of migration journeys that force many to transplant culture, heritage, identity, and belonging. This site explores how the Himalayan Sherpa community in Woodside, Queens engaged with transplanting their culture and preserving their cultural identity.

See Devashish’s project here.


Bomi Kim

Bomi Kim is a senior at Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing and part of the Class of 2022. She is also a member of the Nursing Honors Scholar Program. Bomi comes from a Korean immigrant family and grew up in Queens. Beyond graduation, she plans to work as an RN and possibly go back to school to become a nurse practitioner. In her spare time, Bomi enjoys walking her dog, listening to music, and watching K-dramas. 

The project is about breast cancer education for Asian women in the U.S., and specifically focuses on the effectiveness of breast cancer education on increasing mammography uptake. Through a literature review, relevant research articles were extracted and summarized. The findings were then compared to an ongoing breast cancer educational program for Korean American women. 

See Bomi’s project here.