When the country went on lockdown due to COVID-19, Lana Prieur knew her research would need a reboot.
Before the pandemic, Prieur, a junior psychology major in the School of Arts & Sciences, had planned multiple sessions of in-person group interactions, complete with EKG, EEG, and galvanic skin measurements for her research in the labs of Penn Integrates Knowledge professor Michael Platt.
Prieur is a foil fencer on the women’s fencing team, and for six-and-a-half years, a volunteer with Special Olympics. Based on her experience, Prieur believed that spectator and teammate enthusiasm boosted athletic performance. Originally, she had set out to see whether personality traits could be transmitted, perhaps from spectators and teammates, through physiological “synchrony,” or the coordination of physiological rhythms such as heart rate, between individuals.
But measuring synchrony, which has been associated with increased performance, required in-person testing with lab equipment. When Prieur realized the pandemic had rendered such experiments impossible, she began looking for alternative approaches and contacted her supervisor, Scott Rennie, a postdoctoral researcher in the Platt Labs.
From Mexico, Silvia Huerta Lopez is a 2016 graduate now pursuing an M.D./Ph.D. at Harvard University.
Asfari is one of 20 undergraduates in the nation to be awarded a 2023 Beinecke Scholarship to pursue a graduate degree in the arts, humanities, or social sciences.
Goldwater Scholarships are awarded to students planning research careers in mathematics, the natural sciences, or engineering.