Undergraduate Research

Yael Benvenuto Ladin '22

OUR Featured Researcher: Yael Benvenuto Ladin '22

Portrait of Yael Benvenuto Ladin.
Photo credit: Tanya Rosen-Jones

Yael Benvenuto Ladin (she/her) is a GSFS (minors in Hispanic Studies and Jewish Studies) conducting mentored research under Professor Greggor Mattson and Professor Grace An. Her project is titled “Birthing Behind Bars: Best Practices for Prison Doula Organizations". 

Please describe your project: 

My research is on best practices for and major obstacles to prison doula work. I am interviewing people who work at organizations that provide doula support (emotional, physical, and informational support) to pregnant incarcerated people, to gather information about their success, challenges, and strategies in response to those challenges in their work. 
Why is your research important? 

My research will serve as a resource for prison doula organizations as they continue to develop their programs and strategies for navigating prison systems, raise awareness of doula support in general and for incarcerated people specifically, and ideally lead to the creation of more grants and other funding that can be allocated to prison doula work. 

What does the process of doing your research look like?

My research primarily includes interviews with people who work at prison doula organizations and reading other research that relates to prison programs and volunteering, doula work, and prison doula work. I also write about what I read and about the interviews I do, and meet with my advisors to discuss my progress. 

What knowledge has your research contributed to your field?

My research aims to fill a gap in the current research on doula support for incarcerated people by focusing on the organizations that provide these services and how they operate. My findings will likely include explanations of the economic, institutional, and interpersonal factors involved in being a prison doula and operating a prison doula organization.

In what ways have you showcased your research?

I have not yet showcased my research because it’s currently in progress (apart from speaking about it at the OUR parents’ weekend panel). 

How did you get involved in research?

I got involved with research through my coursework and by working as a research assistant for Professor Greggor Mattson. My Feminist Research Methodologies class helped to get me excited about research and think about all of the different ways research can be done.  

What is your favorite aspect of the research process?

My favorite thing about my project is that it will have an immediate impact on the community that I am researching, which is very important to me. My favorite part about this work apart from that is meeting my interviewees and learning from them. 

How has working with your mentor impacted the development of your research project? How has it impacted you as a researcher?

I’m lucky enough to have two mentors/advisors for this project, and working with both of them has been an incredible experience that consistently pushes me to engage more deeply and pursue new lines of inquiry. 

How has the research you’ve conducted contributed to your professional or academic development?

My research has empowered me to seek knowledge in new ways, and to think about the ways in which I can contribute to the work (research and otherwise) that inspires me the most. It has also taught me valuable transferable skills including networking, conversational techniques for interviewing and honing my writing process. 

What advice would you give to a younger student wanting to get involved in research in your field?

Do it! Don’t be limited by a narrow idea of what research can look like, explore what interests you and forge your own path. Look for mentors in faculty and older students early and often.