Ashley Fitzpatrick, Undergraduate Anthropology Major and Graduating Senior, has been awarded the 2022 Shapiro Award at the Rice Undergraduate Research Symposium (RURS). The Shapiro Award is given in honor of the founder of RURS to the most outstanding student presenter at the symposium. Ashley competed on April 15th among 16 students who were nominated by departments/schools across Rice's campus. Ashley's presentation title and abstract can be found below. More information about the Shapiro Showcase and RURS can be found at the link below.
Student Experiences with Egg Donation
Abstract: As rates of infertility are on the rise, demand for assisted reproductive technologies, including egg donation, grows. Egg donation relies on the commodification of women's reproductive potential and has become a lucrative opportunity for students to finance their tuition or loans. Throughout the donation process, egg donors are subjected to serious physical and emotional risks-risks that are often glossed over by agencies and justified by the students' financial dependency. My research relies on a variety of qualitative research methods including interviews, digital ethnography via social media, and autoethnography to catalog and analyze the student donor experience. I have categorized my findings chronologically, from donor recruitment and screening to the physical donation cycle to post-donation reflections. My findings reveal common themes amongst student donors including financial motivations, discrimination based on mental health diagnoses, and diminished agency due to lack of resources and information. My research aims to elevate the stories of egg donors, centering donor safety and agency to empower women to make more informed decisions about their bodies.