Gender Studies in MINT

Valerie Ambrosi

Valerie Ambrosi Gender Studies in MINT
University of Freiburg
Department of Computer Science
Georges-Köhler-Allee 079
D- 79110 Freiburg

+49 761 - 203 54163

Email: valerie.ambrosi[at]tf.uni-freiburg.de
PhD Project: Neurofeedback-Mediated Modulation of Neural Correlates of Gender Stereotype Threat

Gender stereotype threat (GST), the fear of confirming and being judged by the negative stereotype that women have inferior STEM-related abilities, has been connected to the alleged underperformance of women in STEM domains. The neuroscientific studies devoted to GST reported that women under gender stereotype threat show heightened activation of the ventral anterior cingulate cortex (vACC), a brain region associated with the evaluation of social and emotional information. To further investigate the neural activation patterns in women under GST, and the functional involvement of vACC in particular, we will conduct an experimental fMRI study (3 T Siemens Prisma), testing STEM-related abilities in appr. 40 female students of the University of Freiburg (20 STEM, 20 Humanities) with or without induction of GST. In addition, participants will undergo subsequent training to modulate these activation patterns using real-time functional magnetic resonance imaging neurofeedback (rtfMRI-nf), a cutting edge technology based on instant visual feedback that allows individuals to modulate their own brain activity.
This interdisciplinary doctoral project tries to tackle the following questions: How is GST reflected in neural activation patterns in the brain? Are these patterns irreversibly fixed or can they be modulated? And does modulation of these patterns have, as a consequence, an influence on GST perception and STEM performance in women?

Curriculum Vitae

  • 02/2018-today: Doctoral studies in Gender Studies in MINT, Faculty of Engineering, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
    PhD thesis: ‘Neurofeedback-Mediated Modulation of Neural Correlates of Gender Stereotype Threat’ Interdisciplinary research project with theoretical background in Gender Studies and a methodological background in Neurosciences (fMRI)
    Since November 2019: Funded by a doctoral fellowship of the Landesgraduiertenförderung (LGF) awarded by the University of Freiburg.
    Since May 2018: Member of the BrainLinks-BrainTools Cluster of Excellence Graduate Program, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
  • 04/2019-10/2019: Research associate at Gender Studies in MINT, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
    Research on the above mentioned doctoral project
  • 05/2018-03/2019: Research associate at BrainLinks-BrainTools Cluster of Excellence, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
    Research on the above mentioned doctoral project
  • 08/2017-02/2018: Informal affiliation to Gender Studies in MINT, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
    Preparation and application for admission to doctoral studies at the Faculty of Engineering, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
  • 03-05 & 10-12/2015: Volunteer research assistant in the group of Laura Parducci, Department of Ecology and Genetics, Evolutionary Biology Center, Uppsala Universitet
    Training in PCR, handling and analysing delicate fossil tree DNA and integration in a complete different field of research
  • 10/2012-10/2014: International Master’s program Medical Neurosciences, Charité–Universitätsmedizin Berlin
    Degree: Master of Science, thesis: ‘Neuronal expression pattern of Drosophila melanogaster Ets96B during different developmental stages’, conducted at the Biomedical Center, Uppsala Universitet
    Training in various fields of neuroscientific research, ranging from MRI image assessment (Charité Stroke Unit, Berlin) to fluorescence-imaging of brain and neuromuscular junction of Drosophila melanogaster (Biomedical Center, Uppsala and CharitéCrossOver institute, Berlin)
  • 11/2010-06/2012: Student assistant, Institute of Neurobiology, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster
    Support of experiments with Drosophila melanogaster
  • 10/2009-08/2012: Bachelor’s program Biowissenschaften, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster
    Degree: Bachelor of Science, thesis: ‘Construction of wildtype and mutant BAC transgenes of the fas2 gene’, conducted at the Institute of Neurobiology, WWU Münster
    Focus on molecular neurobiology, training in basic molecular biological and genetic techniques (BAC recombineering, confocal microscopy, PCR) applied on the model organism Drosophila melanogaster

Publications and Talks
  • 03.07.2019: Presentation at the Science Slam! Freiburg 2019, organized by Wissenschaftliche Gesellschaft Freiburg, Universität Freiburg
  • 12.02.2019: Presentation at the group seminar of Prof. Dr. Dimitri Van De Ville, Campus Biotech, Geneva, Switzerland
  • 17.01.2019: Presentation at the "Kognitionswissenschaftliches Kolloquium", Prof. Dr. Evelyn Ferstl, Universität Freiburg
  • 16.11.2017, 01.02.2018, 28.06.2018, 04.07.2019: Presentation at the research seminar „Gender in Technology and Science“, Prof. Dr. Anelis Kaiser, Universität Freiburg
  • 2018: Poster presentation at the BrainLinks-BrainTools Annual Workshop 2018, Freiburg
  • 2016: Williams, Michael J., A. Klockars, A. Eriksson, S. Voisin, R. Dnyansagar, L. Wiemerslage, A. Kasagiannis, M. Akram, S. Kheder, V. Ambrosi, E. Hallqvist, R. Fredriksson, H. B. Schiöth. 2016.
    The Drosophila ETV5 Homologue Ets96B: Molecular Link between Obesity and Bipolar Disorder.
    PLOS Genetics 12 (6):e1006104.
  • 2015: Kufner, A., I. Galinovic, V. Ambrosi, C. H. Nolte, M. Endres, J. B. Fiebach, and M. Ebinger. 2015.
    Hyperintense Vessels on FLAIR: Hemodynamic Correlates and Response to Thrombolysis.
    American Journal of Neuroradiology 36 (8):1426–30.

Research Interests
  • Effects of Stereotype Threat on the Brain
  • Sex/Gender Differences in the Brain
  • Neuroplasticity and Adaption
  • fMRI and rtfMRI-nf