Make The Connection

June 24, 2024 | By Cole Hatcher

Willow Bryn Rosser '26 is conducting psychology research as part of Ohio Wesleyan's Summer Science Research Program. (Photo by Paul Vernon)

Family Matters

Ohio Wesleyan Student Studies the Development of LGBTQ+ Families

Name: Willow Bryn Rosser '26
Hometown: Lakewood, Ohio
High School: Lakewood High School
Majors: Psychology and Studio Art
Minor: Black World Studies

OWU Connection Experience: Summer Science Research Program

Rosser is completing OWU's annual 10-week Summer Science Research Program (SSRP), exploring "Development in the Context of LGBTQ+ Families."

Rosser is being mentored by Krystal Cashen, Ph.D., assistant professor of Psychology, and says, "She (Cashen) has helped me understand the professional landscape in this field and given me some great networking opportunities!"

What I'm Researching

"Dr. Cashen and I are researching the impact of political context on family formation decision-making among LGBTQ+ individuals. We are hoping to learn about how LGBTQ+ prospective parents are responding to anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-abortion legislation."

Why It's Important?

"This is important because it allows us to academically validate real-world issues (and the lived experiences of LGBTQ+ people) by looking at the perceived impacts of legislative changes and using a mixed-methods research design to empirically evaluate them.

"This research also provides a framework to support LGBTQ+ individuals as they make family-building decisions, which is important due to the many barriers that prospective LGBTQ+ families face."

Predicting Outcomes

"Understanding the political climate and contextual forces that surround family-building decisions for LGBTQ+ people can help us predict health outcomes and support the well-being of not only LGBTQ+ individuals but also the children of LGBTQ+ parents.

"In addition to this overarching project, I am also working on developing research questions for an independent project, which will most likely explore the relationships between political climate, LGBTQ+ identity, and desired routes to parenthood."

Why I Chose This Experience?

"I chose this OWU Connection experience because I am interested in graduate school, and I felt like having some research experience would set me apart from other candidates down the road. I also care very deeply about the topic being researched."

My Favorite Moment (So Far)

"The SSRP experience has only just begun, but I am having an amazing time. So far, my favorite moment was probably when I set a blanket down outside and read journal articles all day. The weather was beautiful and I learned so much!"

I have learned a lot about reflexive thematic analysis and how to code qualitative data.

Willow Bryn Rosser '26

Lessons Learned

"I have learned a lot about reflexive thematic analysis and how to code qualitative data. I had never worked directly with this type of data before SSRP, and doing so has helped me discover how valuable and insightful it can be.

"Qualitative research is capable of revealing and validating the lived experiences of underrepresented individuals, and it encourages researchers to confront their cultural context through a social justice lens.

"While it is less generalizable, qualitative research is scientifically important because it helps us come up with research questions/designs for future quantitative research, and allows us to interpret quantitative findings more effectively."

My Campus Involvements 

"I am most actively involved with rugby, CoW (Citizens of the World Small Living Unit), and YDSA (Young Democratic Socialists of America). I am also a writing center tutor and a member of Psi Chi among other campus groups/activities."

Why I Chose Ohio Wesleyan?

"I was inspired to attend Ohio Wesleyan University by my high school teacher, 'Dr. G' (Charles Greanoff '81). He is an avid supporter of his students and suggested that I consider OWU (his alma mater) when I was struggling to decide."

My Plans After Graduation

"After graduation, I hope to start a Psychology Ph.D. program. OWU has helped prepare me to reach this goal by giving me an idea of what I want to study specifically, connecting me with faculty members across various fields, and providing research opportunities."