Solveign wearing medal after winning second place at the Big East Symposium
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College Senior Solveig Baylor (C’22) Awarded Second Place for Interdisciplinary Research at Big East Research Symposium

Solveig Baylor (C’22) won second place at the inaugural Big East Research Symposium, an event designed to highlight the value of undergraduate research, for her project titled, “Women’s Autonomy and Inheritance Law in India.” 

In addition to Baylor’s award, Matthew Greer-Gentis (MSB’22) received an honorable mention and Georgetown students participated out of 55 participants.

Interdisciplinary Interests

Baylor and Greer-Gentis after the awards ceremony at the Big East Research Symposium

Since her sophomore year, Baylor has been interested in applying her double major in economics and philosophy towards research. During the summer of 2022, Baylor conducted research with the Seven Pillars Institute for Global Finance and Ethics where she learned how inheritance law can be a powerful means of transferring assets for women in the developing world. 

The senior says that her coursework also helped her answer the hard questions she is attempting to answer. Advising Dean Jessica Ciani-Dausch, says that she has witnessed Baylor’s knowledge base of the two subjects deepen and grow while at Georgetown.

“It’s really exciting to see now how she is connecting those studies to advance our understanding of how policies impact women globally,” says Ciani-Dausch. “I have no doubt that she’ll continue to make great contributions in the years ahead.”

Baylor is a recipient of a Provost Distinguished Undergraduate Research Fellowship, through the Center for Research & Fellowships (CRF), which funds summer research for Georgetown’s most engaged and experienced undergraduate researchers. This fellowship enabled her to “independently design and pursue a question that would become a critical learning experience for [her] professionally and personally.” 

At least one representative from each of the four main undergraduate schools participates in the Big East Research Symposium. 

At the conference, Baylor presented research on how mandating daughters’ equal intestate inheritance rights affected different types of women’s autonomy in India. Baylor explains that the 2005 Hindu Succession Act Amendment (HSAA) required nationally that in cases where there is no will present, a fairly common circumstance in under-developed rural areas, daughters must receive an equal inheritance share as sons. 

To complete her research project, Baylor used the India Human Development Survey to create indices for women’s household, personal, and financial autonomy. Theoretically, greater access to assets would increase women’s autonomy. However, Baylor found three channels that complicate this theory: the power dynamics of extended families, cultural differences across regions and economic incentives of asset transfers for the poor. 

Five Georgetown participants during the Big East Symposium. From left to right: Solveig Baylor, C’22, Alanna Cronk, C’23, Matthew Greer-Gentis, MSB’22, Julia Alvey, NHS’22, Advait Arun, SFS ’22

“I found that many regions saw increases in household and personal autonomy, but some actually saw decreases in financial autonomy,” Baylor explains. “I also found that women with a marital relationship to the male household head (wives and daughters-in-law) saw decreases in personal autonomy while a woman’s natal relationship (daughter) related to her increase in financial autonomy.” 

During the event, judges grade how clearly posters are constructed and displayed, if there is sufficient background to understand the problem or hypothesis, as well as how the presenters engage the audience. Baylor’s project was one of the best at the competition.

Baylor says that Georgetown was instrumental in her success at the Big East Symposium, as well as her overall research journey. 

“Without Georgetown’s research grants, I may not have pursued research at all,” she explains. “My first research project was supported by the Royden B. Davis Fellowship, without which I could not have afforded to do independent summer research. Last summer, I received the Provost Distinguished Undergraduate Research Fellowship through the Center for Research and Fellowships. The generous funding, faculty support, and peer community created an experience reflective of my Georgetown education.”

Martin Ravallion, Ph.D. and Edmond D. Vallini Professor of Economics, mentored Baylor while she was a student and later when she worked with his as a teaching assistant.

Shareen Joshi, who served as Baylor mentor throughout her project, began meeting with Baylor when the senior reached out after noticing so many similarities in their research interests. Baylor says that Joshi’s mentorship has been invaluable, a feeling mutually held by Joshi. 

“Solveig Baylor’s passion for research is matched by an incredible personal commitment to learning complicated research methods,” Joshi says. “She is also remarkably conscientious in thinking about the real lives of people who are impacted by the policies she studies. It was a pleasure to work with her — I learned a lot!”

Additional Honorees

Greer-Gentis, a finance major with a government minor in the McDonough School of Business, earned an honorable mention for his project “Congressional Financial Transaction and Options Analysis During the 116th Congress.”

“As a finance student hoping to pursue a job in government post-grad, it was fulfilling to apply my finance major through the lens of government work,” says Greer-Gentis. “I would say my experience within the MSB senior thesis course really helped and gave guidance and feedback for my project! As a really small senior thesis cohort, I personally felt that there was more room for collaboration, discussion and pursuing self-interests.”

Greer-Gentis, who was also a Provost Distinguished Undergraduate Research Fellow, says that he felt very supported by  his advising dean Brancaforte, Lauren Tuckley and William English, assistant professor in McDonough School of Business. 

-by Shelby Roller (G’19)

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