Iowa State student receives government fellowship for research in Japan

AMES, Iowa -- For Kari Terzino, this summer break from school will not be a summer away from learning.

In fact, this could be the summer she learns the most -- about her field of study, her future profession and herself.

In January, Terzino was selected by the National Science Foundation to receive a fellowship to conduct psychology research in Japan.

Next month, Terzino will board a plane and fly to Japan for two and a half months.

While there, the Port City, Ind., native will conduct research at Tohoku University in Sendai. She will be surveying students at the school and will compile and analyze her results when she returns to Ames.

This trip will allow Terzino to get involved in work that interests her -- on a topic that is largely unexplored. She will be studying how people in Japan define forgiveness.

"Everything we know about forgiveness is based on Americans, pretty much," she said. "There are a lot of differences between Eastern and Western culture and these differences will affect their perceptions of forgiveness."

Terzino's major professor for the last two years, Susan Cross, thinks Terzino is doing some important, ground-breaking work.

"Her work is in the forefront of social psychology," says Cross. "There is little empirical work on forgiveness and culture, and it is relevant to many prominent theoretical issues in our field today."

Terzino is looking forward to her first trip overseas.

"This will be a great experience for me," she said. "And it will help me get a better job when I'm done [with my studies]. If you look at someone's resume and it says 'international research,' that's pretty impressive."

Cross also thinks that Terzino's future prospects are good.

"I'm confident that she can become one of the leading researchers in the emerging field of cultural psychology," Cross said. "She is well grounded in the research in social psychology, and she will be prepared to bring a cultural analysis to this field."

This international, first-hand research will be part of her master's thesis before pursuing her doctorate.

Unlike other summer jobs, there isn't a lot of pay, but the NSF will provide Terzino with a plane ticket to Japan as well as money for an apartment and traveling expenses.

"It's a great program," she said. "They cover you pretty well for expenses."

The real payoff isn't money. It's the experience gained while pursuing her education.