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Taking a qualitative approach to her study of transgender employees made University of Wisconsin Oshkosh senior Meghan Owen’s research process more personal and real.

Owens, of Waukesha, presented her research at the UWO Honors Research Symposia in early December, just before graduating with a human resources major and a political science minor.

Unlike others, Owens was paired with two advisers for her research project: Barbara Rau from the College of Business and Elizabeth Cannon from the LGBTQ Resource Center. Owens dove into the multi-disciplinary topic of transgender individuals at work, what it is like to transition (the process of changing one’s gender presentation) and how human resource employees can help this process go more smoothly.


She read post after post on an online transgender board about positive and negative experiences transgender individuals had at work. She documented their experiences and organized them into portfolios so she could later analyze them for patterns.

Owens also read all of the literature she could get her hands on that would create a foundation for her project. 

“What really upsets me and drives me to pursue research in this area is how bad it is for transgender people right now, 41 percent of transgender people attempt suicide at least once compared to less than 2 percent of the general population.” Owens explained.  “There were a lot of other shocking statistics like that also that looked at homelessness and poverty.”

These statistics kept Owens on track with to study and make gains for the transgender community.

“I put the statistics on a bulletin board next to my bed and sometimes when I thought this was a lot of work or I didn’t feel like working on it, I remembered why what I am doing is so important. Some people feel like they can’t go on another day, and that is a crime to me,” Owens said.

Through her qualitative research, she distinguished patterns and problem areas that occurred during the transgeneder transition process. From there, she came up with a set of recommendations for human resource (HR) managers and future researchers to further pursue.

“Something that was encouraging is everyone talked about HR as a major advocate for transgender people at organizations. That’s the next step to train people to deal with these situations because they are coming to us for help”.

Owens is planning to incorporate her research into her future endeavors. She recently accepted a position at UW-Madison in the office of the vice chancellor for research and graduate education as a human resource assistant. 

Other student scholars who presented their research at the symposia in December included:

  • Barbara Bass (chemistry major, neurosciences minor), of Homer Glen, Illinois, “The Chemistry of Iontrophoresis and Its Treatment of Breast Cancer.”
  • Amber Bergthold (English major, Spanish minor), of Ripon, “How Culture Has Shaped the Story of Snow White.”
  • Noah Borchardt (biology major), of Verona, “The Effects of Potassium Titanyl Phosphate Laser Treatment of the Vascular Architecture of Rabbit Vocal Folds.”
  • Melani Debish (nursing major), of Menasha, “Screening for Prenatal Substance Abuse.”
  • Tabitha Dorshorst (anthropology and kinesiology majors, neurosciences minor),  of Rudolph, “Frequency Distribution of Individual Traits within and between Populations of Different Ancestry.”
  • Abygail Grasee (nursing major), of Ripon, “Nursing and Patient Care at the End of Life.”
  • Monika Greco (philosophy and political science major), if Milwaukee,“Two Analyses.”
  • Gabrielle Hass (music industry-music business  and recording technology and vocal performance major), of Neenah,“Music Studio.”
  • Jamie Heberer (history major; German minor), of Cedarburg, “Rhetorical Analysis of FDR Fireside Chats and How They Played into the Neutrality Debate.”
  • Lauren Jares (elementary education major, language arts minor), “of Neenah, Educators Work with English Language Learners.”
  • Corissa Mosher (journalism major, political science minor), of Marshall, “Subjectivity and Ecofeminism.”
  • Kayla Newman (psychology major), of Hartford,“Placing Blame: Attributions for Acts of Infidelity and the Influence of Dark Triad Personality Traits.”
  • Clarissa Rueckert (nursing major), of Albany, “Cognitive Load Theory and Nursing Students.”
  • Jesse Schwartz (economics and finance major, German minor), of Neenah, “What Is the Impact on a Major League Baseball Player’s Performance the Year Following a Large Contract Negotiation.”


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