University of Georgia
March 2016
The world of CURO

Anquilla Deleveaux, a CURO student and senior genetics major, works on culturing plates with strains of salmonella in a microbiology lab in the biological sciences building. (Andrew Davis Tucker/University of Georgia)

The world of CURO

Research assistantship helps fourth-year student explore her passion.

The University of Georgia dedicates itself to research and discovery, not only through supporting professorial research projects, but also by providing numerous programs for undergraduate students through the Center of Undergraduate Research Opportunities.

CURO, as the center is known, gives students the opportunity to engage in faculty-mentored research regardless of discipline, major or GPA. The center provides numerous projects for students to choose from and has a step-by-step guide for finding and participating in research.

In 2014-15, 488 students completed 704 CURO courses with 302 faculty members from 83 academic departments. In 2015-16, one of those students will be Kala Payne, a fourth-year psychology major. She also applied for the CURO Research Assistantship, which is an opportunity for students to gain funding for their programs.

Payne entered college with credits from high school and wanted to fill her time with experiential learning. During her sophomore year, she heard about various studies and signed up to help in the psychology lab.

“Researching gave me a hands-on idea about what I like about the field of psychology,” she said.

Throughout her time there, she has been able to compare academic and applied research, giving her insight on what type of work she would like to do after graduation.

Payne is currently working on a new independent research project about maternal gatekeeping, a concept that a mother inhibits paternal involvement with childrearing based on her societal outlook of motherhood. She is hoping to find two paradoxical outcomes, the first that women who are high in maternal gatekeeping will experience extreme work-family conflict. She theorizes that in a mother with this type of outlook, her family will always infringe upon her professional life, and her children will never call their father though he may be available.

For her second hypothesis, she and her team believe that women who experience high maternal gatekeeping may have low family-work conflict because the mother will be acutely aware about not wanting work or family to conflict with one another. These mothers will be diligent about the separation of these areas.

With the help of Lillian Eby, a professor of psychology and director of the Owens Institute for Behavioral Research, and Melisa Mitchell, graduate adviser, Payne will begin her research shortly.

Studying the trajectory of women’s careers has always been of interest to Payne. She chose to conduct this independent study because work and family research has been a part of her life for a long time, becoming one of her passions. She said the intersection of work and family is something everyone experiences because one domain always infringes on the other.

This is not a widely studied field, Payne said, and by going deeper into her research, she believes there may be a way to aid in the eradication of this conflict.

Payne said that her research opportunities have impacted her life tremendously. For students looking to get involved, she said to “start early! The more research experience you have the more responsibilities the professors will give you.”

Many researchers are looking for younger students and are keen to hire first and second year undergraduates, she noted.

Visit to learn more about the studies and projects professors around campus are conducting.

— Samantha Keitt, UGA Division of Marketing and Communications