Rising Senior Conducts Summer Research at Harvard Business School

As part of the 10-week Program for Research in Markets & Organizations, Adonis Brooks ’23 is seeing firsthand what it would be like to go on to a Ph.D. program.

By: Meghan Kita  Tuesday, July 19, 2022 03:23 PM

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Adonis Brooks ’23

Last year, Adonis Brooks ’23, a business administration and psychology double major, took Research Methods with Professor of Psychology Kate Richmond ’00 and loved it. She told him about Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) programs, and he began searching for and applying to any that seemed like a good fit. Ultimately, he was selected as one of about 30 Program for Research in Markets & Organizations (PRIMO) Fellows at Harvard Business School. 

“I’ve always been a curious person,” Brooks says. “Research gives me an opportunity to ask questions and find answers to them, and someone pays me on top of that. That is a dream job.”

Brooks is working with Harvard Business School Associate Professor Alison Wood Brooks (no relation), whose research deals with conversation. One of Brooks’ summer projects is participating in a study that evaluates the connection between eye contact during conversation and in-group feelings. He is also assisting Professor Brooks’ doctoral students with their research projects, which deal with managerial coaching, the relationship between mentorship and employee performance and the perceptions of employees of color who speak about race and racism.

The 10-week program also includes seminars, social opportunities and chances for participants to present their projects. PRIMO Fellows are encouraged to network and explore research opportunities beyond those they’re specifically working on, and Brooks is making sure to do that.

“I want to meet as many people as I can and figure out what my research interest is,” Brooks says. “These super-smart people here, I’m getting their feedback and suggestions. They’re helping me out with my senior thesis—I’ve been able to get the idea started and developed.”

His research goal for his thesis is “to examine whether racial code-switching enhances perceived intelligence for Black employees and students.” (In his thesis, Brooks will use Cornell University Assistant Professor of Organizational Behavior Courtney L. McCluney’s definition of racial code-switching, which is “one impression management strategy where Black people adjust their self-presentation to receive desirable outcomes [e.g., perceived professionalism] through mirroring the norms, behaviors and attributes of the dominant group [i.e., white people] in specific contexts.”) That thesis experience, along with his experience this summer, will help inform what comes next.

“By the end of this [summer], I really want to figure out whether I want to get a Ph.D. So far, I’m leaning towards yes,” says Brooks, who’s interested in industrial and organizational psychology or organizational behavior programs. “I didn’t really understand how much opportunity there is after you get your Ph.D. and the freedom research provides you.”