Meet the Researcher - Grace Bonnema

Breakout Room: 22

Grace_BonnemaResearcher Name: Grace Bonnema
Co-Presenter: Tushya Mehta
Title of Research: Narrative Processing of Music: How Culture Influences Our Perception of Music
Division Representing: Arts and Humanities
Institution: Michigan State University 
Institution Location: Michigan
Home State: Michigan
District Number: 8
Advisor/Mentor: Natalie Phillips
Funding Source: MSU Honors College Research Scholarship, NSF-Project funding (student stipend); National Science Foundation 

Research Experience: 
Grace Bonnema (Human Biology major and Honors College) is a sophomore at Michigan State University. Grace Bonnema has worked as a research assistant and co-lead of the Music and Narrative Group as well. She has received a number of University scholarships(Taylor Grainger Scholarship; Honor Credit Union Scholarship; Kendall Group Scholarship; and was the first runner up in the Miss. Mattawan Scholarship Program) for her academic success and continues to mentor incoming Honors College freshmen. Both volunteer as members of MSU's oldest Honor organization Tower Guard, a student organization dedicated to collaborating with the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities at Michigan State University.

Presentation Experience: 
Grace Bonnema has presented on diverse topics in the fields of Natural Science, Neuroscience as well as Arts and Humanities. She has used posters and power points to share their research and have a good experience in research-based writing. At MSU, Grace presented at the 2020 Mid-Michigan Symposium for Undergraduate Research Experiences on the Music and Narrative project. In 2019, Grace conducted independent research on the influences of music on stress and memory for which she gave academic presentations in front of faculty and peers.

Significance of Research:       
This presentation explores parts of a larger NSF-funded interdisciplinary study conducted at Michigan State (McAuley, TAP Lab; Phillips, DHLC lab), Princeton University (Lisa Margulis), and the Chinese University of Hong Kong (Patrick Wong). The study investigated if and when people imagine and/or hear stories when they listen to musical stimuli. One of the experiments had participants from across the US and Dimen, China listen to instrumental music and asked them to give a narrative to their story, if they heard one; a surprising number of people did. Many of the narratives had incredible similarities, such as the same topics, themes, and even specific words. The similarities in participant answers were often startling, and so were the cultural perceptions of different themes, like war. In many narratives, we observed that Western and Chinese listeners have contrasting stories around these themes and also reveal powerfully different moods while writing their narratives. For example, in two excerpts, western listeners wrote narratives that portray wars in the name of remorse (Keywords: battle, violence, sadness, fear) while chinese listeners portrayed wars in the name of national pride (Keywords: Excitement; Nationalism; victories). As we investigate these moments of cultural alignment and divergence in music inspired stories, we point toward an innovative model for linking specific structures and time-points in music to the kinds of stories people hear. Through this presentation, moreover, we aim to provide an understanding of when and why instrumental music yields culture-influenced narrative listening.

Uniqueness of Research: 
Combining methods from literary studies with cutting-edge scholarship in cognitive science, digital humanities, musicology, and neuroscience, this interdisciplinary work is a unique and valuable addition to more traditional works in Arts and Humanities.