Campus fund boosts humanities research

UBC researchers in the social sciences and humanities are finding opportunities to undertake new research projects or projects outside their recognized fields of expertise with support from the Hampton Research Fund.

The fund was created by the university in 1994 to provide financial support to innovative research in the humanities and social sciences.

Drawn from an endowment created with funds received from the Hampton Place residential development, the Hampton Research Fund has grown from $300,000 in 1994/95 to its current level of $900,000 per year.

"The Hampton fund has been positioned to support bright new research ideas which may be perceived as too risky by traditional funding sources," says Prof. Tony Dorcey, chair of the Humanities and Social Sciences and Hampton Research Fund committee.

Tannis MacBeth, a professor in the Dept. of Psychology, is one of 24 researchers who received support from the Hampton Research Fund this year.

MacBeth will interview dozens of sets of identical and fraternal twins about the family environment they grew up in and the relationships they have, or have had, with partners. By analysing and comparing interview transcripts MacBeth hopes to take a step toward determining the relative roles of environmental factors and inborn characteristics such as temperament in an individual's ability to engage in and maintain close emotional relationships.

"This will be the first study of adult twins' attachment relationships using interview methodology," says MacBeth, who has undertaken previous questionnaire-based research on attachment relationships as part of the UBC Twin Project led by Psychiatry professors John Livesley and Kerry Jang.

Awards from the Hampton Research Fund are made to research projects in three categories: humanities, fine arts and performing arts; social science and economics; and applied interdisciplinary research and public policy.

Other examples of projects funded include Fine Arts Asst. Prof. Maureen Ryan's project "History and Trauma: Violations and Body Politics in Graphic Works of Theodore Géricault," and Economics Prof. Samuel Ho's project "Leaving the Good Earth -- The Transformation of Rural China."

Dorcey says first grants from UBC can allow researchers to establish a research program and gain results to prove the worth of their research to organizations such as the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).

The committee is also developing what Dorcey sees as an important role in helping researchers make their funding proposals more attractive to outside funding sources. Several proposals critiqued initially by the committee later succeeded in gaining funding from other sources.

The fund awarded more than $743,000 earlier this year. The $157,000 remaining will be used to support applications seeking funding under the SSHRC's Major Collaborative Research Initiatives program.

Adult twins who are interested in participating in MacBeth's research can contact her at 822-4826.