Field Journal, 2021 Scholars, Week 4

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  • While all Laidlaw Scholars will be presenting their research at the Columbia Undergraduate Research Symposium in the fall, what are the more immediate expectations that you have for your research? Are you writing a paper you hope to get published? Will your research be part of a larger scientific study? Is your research now the first phase of a project you’ll continue to work on throughout the year, and/or next summer? Now that we are nearing the one month mark of the program, please write about your expectations for your research.
  • Why does your research matter? Explain the significance of the question you are investigating, and why you are interested in it.

Please answer BOTH of these questions by creating a post of your own! Remember that you also should read your colleagues’ posts and write a response to at least one of their posts.

In responding to another student’s post, find a student’s post that you find interesting. Scroll down to the bottom of the entry and hit “Leave a comment”. Leave your reply in the box provided.

Remember: you should post your own responses and respond to another student's post by the end of the week. 

Ariella Lang

Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, Director of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships, Columbia University

I am a cultural historian by training, and I oversee undergraduate research and fellowships at Columbia. I also have the pleasure of serving as the coordinator of Columbia's Laidlaw program. Feel free to reach out to me if you have questions about coming to Columbia to pursue research and/or community engagement!

Comments

Go to the profile of Evan Li
25 days ago
  • I believe my research of detecting fallacious arguments is part of a larger project in the NLP community that aims to teach machines reasoning capabilities through language, which can be applied for good in many settings (e.g. chatbots and automatic monitoring of online forums). 
  • I think my research matters in two ways. First, manual human monitoring of online text content is unrealistic given the vast nature of the internet. AI-assisted monitoring of forums opens many possibilities for improving online discourse. Second, I am working on methods to train NLP models in low data settings, which key to sustainable and practical machine learning. 
Go to the profile of Angel Rose Latt
25 days ago

The potential outcomes and implications of your research sounds phenomenal and it is definitely attractive in this modern era! I'm curious to see how the training is going so far on the NLP models since it definitely appears like a challenging task, but I'm sure you know how to conquer it.  Best of luck on your ongoing research! 

Hey Evan,

I'm particularly excited about the significance of your research in the NLP community. One question I'd have would be: fallacious can, at times, be a vague term; how can programming determine which arguments are fallacious? Consequently, how would you plan to alleviate this issue through your code?

Super excited to see the rest of your research!

Go to the profile of Angel Rose Latt
25 days ago

While all Laidlaw Scholars will be presenting their research at the Columbia Undergraduate Research Symposium in the fall, what are the more immediate expectations that you have for your research? Are you writing a paper you hope to get published? Will your research be part of a larger scientific study? Is your research now the first phase of a project you’ll continue to work on throughout the year, and/or next summer? Now that we are nearing the one month mark of the program, please write about your expectations for your research.

The research I am working on focuses more on creating pipeline data analysis tools for the method of loci studies using data from current studies and hopefully for future studies to come. It is a part of the larger memory experts research that has been ongoing in the lab. My goal is to conduct my own study where the method of loci is used on more practical material to illustrate the potential it holds for academia and education. I would like to see how the memory palace can be woven into our daily lives, particularly for students.  

Why does your research matter? Explain the significance of the question you are investigating, and why you are interested in it.

As mentioned briefly above, the method of loci changes the way we approach education and memory. As seen with national memory competitors and participants in the pilot study who are learning the method of loci, our memory is pliable and adaptable, but also incredibly personal. By researching more about the method of loci, we can collect more evidence and information on its reliability and validity, its usefulness in a classroom setting, and implications it could have on the educational system. 

Hi Angel! Your project is so fascinating, and I think its interdisciplinary potential speaks to its importance. For example, in terms of my potential field, museums are often seen as pedagogical institutions. Therefore, understanding more about memory and the method of loci may be critical to crafting an informative and impactful experience for future museum-goers. I look forward to learning more about your work! 

  • While all Laidlaw Scholars will be presenting their research at the Columbia Undergraduate Research Symposium in the fall, what are the more immediate expectations that you have for your research? Are you writing a paper you hope to get published? Will your research be part of a larger scientific study? Is your research now the first phase of a project you’ll continue to work on throughout the year, and/or next summer? Now that we are nearing the one month mark of the program, please write about your expectations for your research.

I plan on writing a preliminary paper by the end of this research period. I do hope to get published, but I am also considering working on this project next summer and maybe refining my essay. There are definitely more avenues that I want to explore that surround my topic, and I am not sure if that is the most conducive to writing one paper or several. Regardless, I definitely want to have at least a rough draft and sizable bibliography by the end of the six weeks. 

  • Why does your research matter? Explain the significance of the question you are investigating, and why you are interested in it.

I believe that museums serve a critical function in projecting a sense of identity and solidarity to a larger community. Through the careful preservation, study, and presentation of important cultural objects, we learn more about each other and humanity as a whole. As a result, museums retain pretty revered positions in our society and are often seen as reliable sources for academic inquiry. However, as numerous studies over the history of museology have shown, museums are much less unbiased and unproblematic than we would initially expect. Museums have actively benefitted from or perpetrated imperialism, racism, sexism, etc. Recently, calls for social justice within museums have been amplified, and I believe my research is illuminating yet another avenue that museums can improve on. Due to the aforementioned influence of museums, these institutions have a social responsibility to grapple with the ethical issues that underlie their collections.

Go to the profile of Eva Brander Blackhawk
24 days ago

this sounds like such a cool and important project! It reminds me of some of my own work in that there's this balance between academia and Columbia but also the research I'm doing and my personal connection to it. These institutions definitely hold a lot of power and reckoning their history is super important work!

Go to the profile of Eleanor Campbell
24 days ago

So cool that you're likely continuing this research next year, Jacqueline! I'm interested to hear what your plans with it are and if you're planning on traveling to do fieldwork related to your repatriation work. Hopefully you'll get some on the ground experience with museums that are consciously grappling with systemic imperialism, racism, and sexism or even the opportunity to help reform those that aren't.

Go to the profile of Eva Brander Blackhawk
24 days ago

I'm planning to create a collection of creative essays and illustrations and try to integrate some of the cultural knowledge and words I've learned. I'm hoping to create the image of what I hope the language and future will look like for my communities. A lot of my work this summer is also getting background and context for next summer when I plan to be actually in the community and hopefully able to learn more of the language. I don't yet have enough language to do something like an illustrated children's book but I would like to make something like that next summer. The project has already been so rewarding personally and I've learned a lot about how my family history connects to the larger context of the tribe/region and nation. 

I think the most beautiful thing about my research is seeing the resiliency of culture and language and the people attached to it. A big part of the genocide and assimilation was removal from family and language and so reconnecting to that feels very important. 

Go to the profile of Jeffrey Xiong
24 days ago

Hi Eva! Your work is super inspiring and I think that sort of "future-imagination" (not sure if that's a word) of language is really important, especially as many descriptive efforts of linguists tend to imagine languages in isolation and apart from development and usage. Your plan for next year sounds super engaging -- especially having a children's book! -- and I can't wait to learn more about it!

Go to the profile of Adina Cazacu-De Luca
24 days ago

Eva, I love your children's book idea. It's outside the traditional academic paper in the best way...it'll reach perhaps the most important audience (new language learners!). I know it's still far in the future, but have you thought about a story for the book? Would it be a primer for any child to learn basic words in Shoshone/Shoshone culture, or would it be more focused for kids with Shoshone heritage to start reconnecting, or maybe something else entirely? Which book appeals to you more? More generally, what are your thoughts on who should revive a language? How do you balance keeping the language alive by reaching as many people as possible vs. preserving a cultural tradition? I would love to talk more about what you've discovered so far in your research!

Go to the profile of Hassan Javed
21 days ago

Hi Eva! From what I have read, your determination for your project is very pure and inspiring. I personally hope to benefit from your works by educating myself more on the resiliency and dynamic of Native American culture and language. Also, my project this summer is also based on gaining context for next summer so I definitely relate to your approach. 

Go to the profile of Roberta Hannah
24 days ago
  • While all Laidlaw Scholars will be presenting their research at the Columbia Undergraduate Research Symposium in the fall, what are the more immediate expectations that you have for your research? Are you writing a paper you hope to get published? Will your research be part of a larger scientific study? Is your research now the first phase of a project you’ll continue to work on throughout the year, and/or next summer? Now that we are nearing the one month mark of the program, please write about your expectations for your research.

I've been actually trying to figure out what my "outcome" will be given that this is not my own project; this means I can't publish a paper or have some form of a "traditional product". My goal is to get my advisor as far along in her book as possible and continue that work into the fall because I plan to work with her then as well. What I want coming out of the summer is a better understanding of the approaches I want to take with possible research topics. Learning about the quantitative aspects of qualitative work has broadened my view of what I might be able to do in future projects. Also, the work I'm doing is giving me ideas of research for next year, so if I can have a clear research plan for next year, that would be great.

  • Why does your research matter? Explain the significance of the question you are investigating, and why you are interested in it.

My research gives new perspectives to the lives of Black LGBTQ+ people, which have been historically been either ignored or represented through the eyes of outsiders to the community. There is immense value in having an insider perspective and using that nuance to come to new conclusions about the lives of the community members. By studying their lives, we can then apply these themes to other fields (like medicine, politics, etc.) to improve the conditions that community exists in.

Go to the profile of Dennis Zhang
24 days ago

Hi Roberta! You're doing some really important research, and I'm curious how you'll apply the approaches you learn this summer moving forwards. In regards to your first bullet, I'm wondering if your advisor has specifically assigned you any parts of her book project that you're able to really take ownership of. Even if the project as a whole is not of your design, really "owning" and over-delivering on discrete sections of the book could really impress your advisor and convince them that co-authoring a paper (etc.) with you might be a good idea in the future (if that's something that interests you)!

Go to the profile of Faith Andrews-O'Neal
22 days ago

The idea of your work applying to other fields is such an important perspective! There are so many ways in which research in the humanities and social sciences can be interdisciplinary, and valuing the voices of the marginalized is something I think the hard sciences could do a lot more of. 

Go to the profile of Jeffrey Xiong
24 days ago
  • While all Laidlaw Scholars will be presenting their research at the Columbia Undergraduate Research Symposium in the fall, what are the more immediate expectations that you have for your research? Are you writing a paper you hope to get published? Will your research be part of a larger scientific study? Is your research now the first phase of a project you’ll continue to work on throughout the year, and/or next summer? Now that we are nearing the one month mark of the program, please write about your expectations for your research.

I'm not exactly sure what the long-term implications of my project will be, but I am hoping to write up at least a case study or even a paper, perhaps following my subjects into the post-COVID-19 world in the fall. Next summer, I aim to cover trans rights in China itself (motivated in part by my oral history interviews), so I presume the direct aims of my research will change, but the core methods will probably remain the same.

  • Why does your research matter? Explain the significance of the question you are investigating, and why you are interested in it.

This particular project matters a lot because there is literally no literature specifically on trans/nonbinary Chinese-Americans. Even expanding to trans/nonbinary Asian-Americans in general, the literature base is still incredibly small. The community is also especially vulnerable during the pandemic, at the intersection of the rise in sinophobia/anti-Asian violence, transphobic violence, and economic instability. Large-scale studies on the LGBTQIA+ community and the Asian-American community also tend to neglect trans/nonbinary issues as well (e.g. the landmark 2004 report on the LGBTQIA+ community, consisting of over 3000 people, had 14 trans people total included), so it is important to illustrate the particular struggles of this community.

Go to the profile of Dennis Zhang
24 days ago
  • While all Laidlaw Scholars will be presenting their research at the Columbia Undergraduate Research Symposium in the fall, what are the more immediate expectations that you have for your research? Are you writing a paper you hope to get published? Will your research be part of a larger scientific study? Is your research now the first phase of a project you’ll continue to work on throughout the year, and/or next summer? Now that we are nearing the one month mark of the program, please write about your expectations for your research.

My research is a part of a larger study, but is also something that could be published in a journal as its own discrete paper (depending on how things progress the rest of this summer). In regards to the former, part of my project is the drawing out of “themes” and “codes” that can be useful in other sociological sub-studies that rely on interviews; I hope to contribute to the "larger" study in this way. In regards to the latter aspect, I’m currently exploring where my work is theoretically situated in the current literature (in the hopes of writing up a paper) and am excited to see where the next couple of weeks will take me research-wise.

  • Why does your research matter? Explain the significance of the question you are investigating, and why you are interested in it.

The specific question I am investigating is how the All of Us research program (a major NIH-funded precision medicine initiative) rhetorically frames participation in the program through its social media presence. Some well-established rhetorical frameworks that I’m considering in this investigation are that of “biocitizenship” and “personalization.” However, these frameworks do not heavily consider recent genomic medicine initiatives and, specifically, the All of Us research program, which uniquely returns clinically-relevant research findings to participants at a massive scale. Thus, the significance (and theoretical contribution) of my work is how current theory resonates, or fails to fully account for, a unique case study in not only biomedical research but also precision medicine research (a more specific sub-field). This is super interesting to me because precision medicine is something that will literally shape (and already has been shaping) the health care that we and our families receive; to see the dynamics of how it plays out live, albeit virtually, is fascinating.

Go to the profile of Avi J Adler
24 days ago

Hey Dennis! That sounds really interesting. I never think of something like health care to be framed or influenced by social media presences. However, it sounds like from your research that the two are very much connected. It is really incredible to think about the vast implications of minute influences on something like health care. Considering it's such a crucial part of so many aspects of our lives (as is social media), it is overwhelming to think of the implications. I can't wait to see how you're research goes, and I hope to read your article/publication in the near future!

Go to the profile of Avi J Adler
24 days ago

While all Laidlaw Scholars will be presenting their research at the Columbia Undergraduate Research Symposium in the fall, what are the more immediate expectations that you have for your research? Are you writing a paper you hope to get published? Will your research be part of a larger scientific study? Is your research now the first phase of a project you’ll continue to work on throughout the year, and/or next summer? Now that we are nearing the one-month mark of the program, please write about your expectations for your research.

Over the past few weeks, I have worked with other members of the Barnhart Lab to develop a protocol for whole-brains imaging. This has involved testing different staining techniques, varying incubation periods and changing the concentrations of specific chemicals. Although the trial-and-error format can sometimes be frustrating, developing this protocol has given me insight into the basics of scientific research. In addition to being crucial to my project, this protocol will also be used by other members of the Barnhart lab. It will assist ongoing research into morphology of the Drosophila visual system and other related studies.

In the coming weeks, as Summer A draws to a close, I am expecting to review initial data. I currently have experiments in the works that will hopefully provide images that quantitative data can be extracted from. Although limited, these data should point us towards a more definitive conclusion. Although I have no set plans, I hope to continue my work from this summer in the near future.

Why does your research matter? Explain the significance of the question you are investigating, and why you are interested in it.

My research will add to a growing body of knowledge about proteins and genes implicated in Parkinson's Disease, a widespread neurological condition that millions suffer from around the world. In trying to understand the cellular functions and implications of two specific proteins (PINK1 and Parkin), my research will be able to shed light onto Parkinson's at a cellular level.

In addition to the practical applications of my research, I believe that knowing more about the things and processes happening around oneself is always insightful. Often viewed as esoteric distractions, it is these random pursuits of knowledge that drive the world forward. For example, we have recently witnessed this exact phenomenon with mRNA and COVID-19 vaccines. Only through research and investigating the mechanisms of cellular function were scientists able to produce vaccines at such a rapid pace.

Go to the profile of Eleanor Campbell
24 days ago
  • While all Laidlaw Scholars will be presenting their research at the Columbia Undergraduate Research Symposium in the fall, what are the more immediate expectations that you have for your research? Are you writing a paper you hope to get published? Will your research be part of a larger scientific study? Is your research now the first phase of a project you’ll continue to work on throughout the year, and/or next summer? Now that we are nearing the one month mark of the program, please write about your expectations for your research.
  • I may continue with my research after these 6 weeks, as this is a big project that will require ongoing commitment to bring the final product to fruition. We're still in more of the research and development phase of the project, but eventually my faculty mentor would like to create a pilot fellowship program, so there is a lot more content and logistical research to be done before then.
  • Why does your research matter? Explain the significance of the question you are investigating, and why you are interested in it.
  • When I first applied to the Laidlaw, this line in the project description caught my attention: "Universities have excelled in teaching liberal arts and STEM curricula. A critical need today is to also teach life and leadership skills to students to prepare them for a world that is transforming around us in an accelerated manner." This idea still motivates me as I research. I think we, as Laidlaw scholars, are uniquely attuned to the necessity of learning these soft leadership and life skills even as we study more traditional academic disciplines. Young leaders who are both knowledgeable and passionate about sharing themselves and their ideas with the world in a way that benefits the public good are invaluable, and hopefully this fellowship would help craft those leaders.
Go to the profile of Alisha Arshad
24 days ago

Eleanor,

I definitely agree. Soft skills are a must-have, especially in leadership. Empathy, communication, and more all translate to better leadership in school, work settings, and even in the lab. 

Go to the profile of Alisha Arshad
24 days ago

My research will be contributing to a larger ongoing book project. With regard to the project itself, it is not the first phase, but what exactly I am researching is a relatively new segment of the project! I am researching national bills while most previous research has been done on specific states. As for expectations, I hope to finish most of my primary research within these six weeks, which I think I am on track to do. 

There are several questions the projects seek to answer, but one interesting one is looking at whether the litigation of social issues began at local, state, or national levels. As we all have seen now, laws for social issues can be seen in every level of government, but it is interesting to investigate how/when/where/why exactly this movement was created. It is definitely relevant to current times, seeing as partisan polarization is more prominent than ever. 

Hi Alisha! Your work in going through national bills sounds so interesting — and definitely feels incredibly relevant to our current political climate, as you're saying. I'm very intrigued at this idea of tracking how current contentious social/political issues evolved in the national legislature over the last few decades, to bring us to where things are now. Good luck with the last two weeks — I would really love to hear more at some point!

Go to the profile of Adina Cazacu-De Luca
24 days ago
  • While all Laidlaw Scholars will be presenting their research at the Columbia Undergraduate Research Symposium in the fall, what are the more immediate expectations that you have for your research? Are you writing a paper you hope to get published? Will your research be part of a larger scientific study? Is your research now the first phase of a project you’ll continue to work on throughout the year, and/or next summer? Now that we are nearing the one month mark of the program, please write about your expectations for your research.

For the next few weeks, I'll continue working on taking NMR spectra of lead compounds (and hopefully soil compounds as well). Lead NMR is not commonly used in environmental analysis, so the project (hopefully) could be helpful to other environmental chemists. For this reason, I'd like to write a paper for publication summarizing my findings. That said, we began running samples this week, and sample analysis will likely not end by mid-June. So, I hope to continue with this work until the project reaches a natural stopping point. That said, towards my original goal of creating a lead exposure map, I will be working with high school students to collect samples and map lead concentrations, leaf absorption of lead, and air pollution in New York City Parks in the second half of the summer. Understanding the value of green spaces quantitatively has not been extensively researched in urban environments, so while we hope to collect as much valuable data as possible, just establishing a protocol for future years to follow would be a success. In this way, the second project for this summer will be part of a larger scientific study. Additionally, we hope to use the data we collect to inform policy recommendations for City Hall. This process will likely last into the school year. I'm not sure which (if either) of these projects I will continue throughout the year, but next summer I would like to ask the same questions about environmental contaminants in an international setting. 

  • Why does your research matter? Explain the significance of the question you are investigating, and why you are interested in it.

A third of the world's children have lead blood levels that exceed health effect limits. In NYC, the number is around 10%. Environmental contaminants, despite their adverse health impacts, aren't understood as well as other risk factors (smoking, diet, etc). Moreover, even though lead paint and gasoline were phased out decades ago, they linger in the atmosphere in soil, making contamination far from a problem of the past. In order to reduce the number of children exposed to lead, we first must understand 1) where exposure is happening, 2) the underlying environmental and biological mechanisms of exposure, and 3) who is most affected. My work hopes to build new understanding in these areas. By using nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy to understand the structure of lead compounds in soil, we can better predict the bioavailability of lead-contaminated soil in parks. By systematically sampling NYC parks for both lead and air pollution, we can understand how parks protect us from or enhance our risk of exposure, and consequently advocate for measures that minimize risk.

Go to the profile of Nicole Wolff
23 days ago

Hey Adina, I think it's so exciting that there are two very different facets to your project, and especially exciting that you'll be able to engage NYC youth with the second half of your research. I can't wait to see what you do next summer, and where in the world you apply the techniques from your first summer. Good luck!!!

Go to the profile of Nicole Wolff
24 days ago
  • While all Laidlaw Scholars will be presenting their research at the Columbia Undergraduate Research Symposium in the fall, what are the more immediate expectations that you have for your research? Are you writing a paper you hope to get published? Will your research be part of a larger scientific study? Is your research now the first phase of a project you’ll continue to work on throughout the year, and/or next summer? Now that we are nearing the one month mark of the program, please write about your expectations for your research.

So far, I have developed an efficient method for searching X-ray telescope catalogs given a coordinate and a search radius, and I determine this coordinate by mapping the 90% credible region of a gravitational wave event. I expect to spend the rest of the summer continuing to write code to search for halos in a set of images. I also plan to contribute to a paper that my research group is writing and will likely be finished by the end of the summer. In the fall, I expect to have access to data from a telescope that has taken many more images, and would like to apply the analysis method that I'm perfecting this summer to those images. I would definitely like to stay in my lab for the next academic year, and next summer, I'm hoping to continue my work at an X-ray observatory.

  • Why does your research matter? Explain the significance of the question you are investigating, and why you are interested in it.

My project is finding X-ray counterparts to gravitational wave events, such as black hole-black hole mergers. Finding these counterparts lets us determine the precise location of black hole-black hole mergers. These locations show us how black holes are distributed in the universe, and whether patterns exist for their distribution. They can also show where exactly black holes merge in galaxies, a question which I find incredibly interesting! Overall, my research helps a larger goal of creating a map and building an understanding of the universe. 

This is really cool, Nicole! If you found a pattern to black hole distribution in the universe, what do you think this would mean? Would it suggest/help confirm some of our ideas about how elements and stars formed (ie., perhaps many high-energy stars all formed at the same time, such that they also burnt out at the same time, or something else)? What got you interested in researching black holes?

  • While all Laidlaw Scholars will be presenting their research at the Columbia Undergraduate Research Symposium in the fall, what are the more immediate expectations that you have for your research? Are you writing a paper you hope to get published? Will your research be part of a larger scientific study? Is your research now the first phase of a project you’ll continue to work on throughout the year, and/or next summer? Now that we are nearing the one month mark of the program, please write about your expectations for your research.

My immediate goal is to write a paper that expounds on the conclusions that I have been coming through during this research project, which I am hoping to be able to submit for publication. Based on my graduate student mentor's advice, I've been looking at submission guidelines at some undergraduate journals to get a sense for the length I could aim for, which has given me some structure to write, even though this of course is not for an actual class. My hope is to be able to finish this paper by the end of our six-week research period, though I am really keen to build on this work over the course of the next year, and eventually, I hope, move into the space of public humanities, to make Mahadevi's writings more accessible to broader audiences.

To pursue this, I realized I would like to be able to strengthen my own Hindi background, so that I am more comfortable engaging with her writings in their original form and with the Hindi scholarship on her literary contributions. For the second half of this summer (after getting advice from Professor Rakesh Ranjan, who runs the Hindi-Urdu Language Program in the Columbia MESAAS Department), I will be taking an intensive Hindi course at the American Institute for Indian Studies, housed at the University of Chicago (virtually, given the pandemic!); after that, I hope to take Professor Ranjan's Hindi seminar next year, which offers students a chance to bring their own Hindi-related research interests into the class and work on them with faculty guidance. I think this could offer me a chance to engage more closely with Mahadevi's poetry (since my work this summer has been more focused on her essays), and also on the connections between her poetry and that of the 16th Century Indian female poet-saint Mirabai, which was something that has intrigued me during my readings this summer, but that I haven't been able to fully explore as it fell outside of my current research question. I'm definitely hoping that spending this time focused on studying Hindi formally again (after many years of not being able to do so!) and engaging with Mahadevi's work will allow me to extend this project on her into the second summer of Laidlaw!

  • Why does your research matter? Explain the significance of the question you are investigating, and why you are interested in it.

I think my research offers a chance for us to reconcile two 'sides' to a rights debate that seem to be often pitted against one another by present-day activists and scholars: the cause of anti-colonial or racial justice — i.e. dignifying a non-white, non-western community — and the cause of equal rights for marginalized communities, such as women. Mahadevi was an individual who was a staunch activist for both causes, the cause of Indian independence and of women's rights, and in her essays, both in her political work and in her personal life. I think her arguments are incredibly compelling, and demonstrate why voices like hers are needed to truly grant Indian women equal rights and dignity: she has pointed out that these two 'sides' that have been the most prominence — Westerners advocating for colonialism to 'protect Indian women' and orthodox nationalists opposing any reform to 'undermine colonialism' — reduced Indian women to 'objects' and 'symbols' within Hindu marriages, when instead they should have been allowed to develop individuals with agency. As a result, I think she has powerful ideas to offer to us in the present-day (this point about treating those at the intersection of two marginalized identities as individuals, not symbols, I think can certainly apply outside women in Hindu marriages in early 20th C. British India), and that these should not be overlooked solely because the majority of her writing was in Hindi, or because she was one of the few Indian women of her time who was able to claim a place in the public sphere.

Go to the profile of Mia Richmond
22 days ago

Hey Mrinalini! I am also thinking about submitting a different piece to an undergraduate journal as most of my current work is part of a larger project in the lab that might not have a concrete outcome within the 6-week time frame of the first Laidlaw program. Taking a Hindi course for the second part of summer sounds like it will open up a lot of doors to engage with Mahadevi’s poetry, especially given that you are planning on continuing this for the second summer of Laidlaw. I completely agree that Mahadevi’s individuals should not be overlooked, and believe that your project is incredibly important in making her writing more accessible. Looking forward to following your work!

Go to the profile of Rizwan Kazi
17 days ago

I really can't wait to read your paper; growing up in a South Asian household, I've been exposed to Indian and Bengali literature through the bedtime stories my mom and dad would read me, but with no academic exposure whatsoever. I think your project goes far in opening up an untapped world of literature and our understanding of it.

Go to the profile of Mia Richmond
22 days ago

While all Laidlaw Scholars will be presenting their research at the Columbia Undergraduate Research Symposium in the fall, what are the more immediate expectations that you have for your research? Are you writing a paper you hope to get published? Will your research be part of a larger scientific study? Is your research now the first phase of a project you’ll continue to work on throughout the year, and/or next summer? Now that we are nearing the one month mark of the program, please write about your expectations for your research.

So far, most of my research has involved recruiting participants from the REDcap database, scheduling studies, running studies with children (aged 5-8) over Zoom, and entering and checking data. Although the lab has several ongoing projects, I have been primarily involved with a study examining children’s responses to people who are curious about religion versus science. This study takes approximately 30 minutes to run over Zoom and involves measuring the child’s attitudes about the character (consisting of questions about whether a certain character is good or bad, nice or mean, and whether their behavior is good or bad and right or wrong). The study has six different conditions, which vary depending on science vs. religion and curious vs not curious and knowledgeable vs not curious and knowledgeable). I am hoping to continue working with the Social and Moral Cognition Lab throughout my time at Columbia and am interested in pursuing my interest in moral psychology in my own time as well. As my primary research interests involve perceptions of punishment and applying restorative justice principles within the criminal justice system, I have been doing a lot of reading in my own time to deepen my understanding and am planning on getting in contact with digital scholarship services at the Columbia Libraries to talk about the possibility of creating a website or starting a podcast. After the presentation in our first week of the program, I have been thinking a lot about how to make research findings engaging and accessible to the public. I will also be participating in a summer program with the Center for the Science of Moral Understanding that begins mid-June which involves group research projects and learning about different research processes and methods specific to moral psychology. As an undergraduate, the opportunity to hear from the guest lecturers is very exciting and I hope it will allow me to explore possibilities within the field of moral cognition. I will also be attending a crash course in R workshop in June to learn skills important for data cleaning that aren’t covered by traditional statistics courses as well as Tidyverse and language-based methods.

Why does your research matter? Explain the significance of the question you are investigating, and why you are interested in it.

The Social and Moral Cognition Lab conducts a lot of research with children to investigate how different age groups reason differently, make moral decisions, and think about people who are different from them. Childhood is an incredibly important phase in human development and research can provide great insights about how cultural and social rules are absorbed and learned by children. For example, research shows that children can actually display a sophisticated understanding of moral transgressions and punishments, and studying how children think about those administering these interventions can reveal how our conceptions of justice and fairness are rooted in ontogeny as opposed to which beliefs are learned. As a psychology and philosophy major, I am fascinated by moral change, perceptions of punishment, and the psychological roots of inequality. More specifically, I am hoping to pursue research on how to apply moral psychology to implement restorative justice principles within American jurisprudence. If we learn about children’s perceptions of incarcerated individuals, we can examine how social psychological processes contribute to inequality.

Go to the profile of Chloe Gong
18 days ago

Hi Mia! Your research sounds super interesting, and you do a great job of showing its significance! I love that you are already thinking of ways to make your research more accessible to the public through mediums like podcasts and websites. I'm looking forward to hearing your presentation during our group meetings!

Go to the profile of Faith Andrews-O'Neal
22 days ago
  • While all Laidlaw Scholars will be presenting their research at the Columbia Undergraduate Research Symposium in the fall, what are the more immediate expectations that you have for your research? Are you writing a paper you hope to get published? Will your research be part of a larger scientific study? Is your research now the first phase of a project you’ll continue to work on throughout the year, and/or next summer? Now that we are nearing the one month mark of the program, please write about your expectations for your research.

In the immediate time frame, the work that I am doing with Professor Paredez has been mostly helping her with the final phases of her own work. While I may not be working on a paper that will be published, I am keeping in mind the seminars we had early on in the program, and learning that the work I am doing contributes to a larger cultural and historical conversation, one which I am able to help facilitate by providing my perspective as a young woman of color, something that feels especially pertinent when working on a project called the American diva. Seeing the way in which this project incorporates pop culture as well as one's personal life story is something I think about as I imagine my second summer.

Why does your research matter? Explain the significance of the question you are investigating, and why you are interested in it.

This is a question I have to ask myself often as I go about my research sometimes. When surrounded by talented people working on individually-led projects about issues that can help literally save the world, it can feel like the work I'm doing matters less. Then, I am able to remember that the pursuit of knowledge and understanding the world around us, not just scientifically but also culturally and socially, is so important. What drew me to the project is the fact that I have long believed in the importance of giving platform to the people who helped shape the way I view the world today, and divas are a large part of that. The chance to study their impact throughout modern history, as well as analyze the ways in which diva has been made to be a negative thing in spite of their positive impact, is something that touches a formative part of my experience growing up consuming their songs and shows and watching them on talk shows. 

Go to the profile of Bryley Williams
20 days ago

Hi Faith!

I love what you said about the importance of understanding the world through cultural and social lenses; pursuing this kind of knowledge is so worthwhile. The project you are working on sounds fascinating, and I am really excited to learn more about what you've learned. I also think that looking at an intersection between pop culture and personal life sounds like a really meaningful way to spend summer 2!

  • While all Laidlaw Scholars will be presenting their research at the Columbia Undergraduate Research Symposium in the fall, what are the more immediate expectations that you have for your research? Are you writing a paper you hope to get published? Will your research be part of a larger scientific study? Is your research now the first phase of a project you’ll continue to work on throughout the year, and/or next summer? Now that we are nearing the one month mark of the program, please write about your expectations for your research.

My more immediate expectations are that by the end of the summer, I will have a paper written for peer review using the data I am currently collecting and analyzing. My research will be part of both a paper of its own and a larger study on overall macroevolutionary trends which my advisor has been performing. 

  • Why does your research matter? Explain the significance of the question you are investigating, and why you are interested in it.

My research matters because the underlying evolution behind avian cognition is largely unknown, yet birds are capable of astonishing intellectual and social feats. Birds like crows or parrots can solve puzzles, use tools, recognize people's faces, and form extensive social networks. Many of the underlying mechanisms seem convergent (meaning that they independently evolved, yet used similar structures or mechanisms to get there) to those underlying our own intelligence and behavior. 

Go to the profile of Hassan Javed
21 days ago
  • While all Laidlaw Scholars will be presenting their research at the Columbia Undergraduate Research Symposium in the fall, what are the more immediate expectations that you have for your research? Are you writing a paper you hope to get published? Will your research be part of a larger scientific study? Is your research now the first phase of a project you’ll continue to work on throughout the year, and/or next summer? Now that we are nearing the one month mark of the program, please write about your expectations for your research.
  • Why does your research matter? Explain the significance of the question you are investigating, and why you are interested in it.

My research investigates Chinese foreign policy in view of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and due to the depth of this topic, my current investigation is part of a project that I plan on working on through the upcoming year and next summer. My investigation is currently looking at the economic, social, and political impacts of Chinese investments in developing countries, and while I am able to cover these three areas of research through analyzing literature and BRI case studies, I plan on studying particularly the political and social impacts of Chinese foreign policy on the ground. So, a more immediate expectation that I have for my current research is to use it as a framework to connect next summer's findings to contextual literature when I am able to cover the topic on the ground. In that view, I aspire to write my current research as a paper that I plan on getting published. 

My research matters because in my summer breaks, I would return to my underdeveloped Pakistan, where I firsthand saw the negative impacts of BRI. The War on Terror left Pakistan politically and economically unstable. Amid this, foreign direct investments lingered, so when Pakistan’s government formally announced the $47 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in 2013, Pakistanis like me were overjoyed. Being part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) CPEC promised much-needed economic revitalization for Pakistan. Till date, over $28 billion in Chinese loans have been injected into Pakistan, but, time has revealed CPEC’s failure in stimulating Pakistan’s economic growth. Take, for instance, the Gwadar Port: CPEC’s unofficial poster child of the initiative. Due to China’s agreed 91% share in profits, the port offers little economic viability for Pakistan. If Pakistan is not able to repay these predatory loans, it risks losing territorial control over Gwadar to China. Yet, Pakistan is not an anomaly; BRI currently operates in 68 countries, like Sri Lanka and Kenya, wherein it relies on similar techniques. So through my research, I plan on shining light on these element of neocolonialism.

Go to the profile of Bryley Williams
20 days ago
  • While all Laidlaw Scholars will be presenting their research at the Columbia Undergraduate Research Symposium in the fall, what are the more immediate expectations that you have for your research? Are you writing a paper you hope to get published? Will your research be part of a larger scientific study? Is your research now the first phase of a project you’ll continue to work on throughout the year, and/or next summer? Now that we are nearing the one month mark of the program, please write about your expectations for your research.

I am spending this summer building a foundation for research that I would like to continue through the school year and into next summer. Right now, I am working on an annotated bibliography, which will likely end up turning into an historiographical essay, in order to collect sources and have a solid background going into (hopefully!) some field work. My end goal is to produce a paper, but that will likely not happen until next year.

  • Why does your research matter? Explain the significance of the question you are investigating, and why you are interested in it.

Even though I am focusing on a specific place and time, I think that the themes of memory, trauma, and both the endurance and revival of culture are relevant and meaningful beyond my particular subject. Studying these topics allows me to understand humanity better as a whole. In addition, I am reading much about how Western paradigms of memorialization are often imposed upon Cambodia, which often does not serve to facilitate memory-building in a culturally appropriate or natural way. Understanding the damage that international efforts can cause, even under the guise of "helping," has been significant beyond the scope of my project.

Go to the profile of Suan Lee
20 days ago

Hi Bryley! Your work on memory, memorialization, and trauma sounds fascinating and reminds me of some of the questions I grappled with in a course called "The Ethnographic Imagination" this past spring. I'd love to hear more of your thoughts on this over lunch, and I'm super curious what kind of field work you have in mind as well!

Go to the profile of Suan Lee
20 days ago

1. My research is part of a larger, ongoing initiative that has many moving parts. While I plan to continue my work for at least the rest of the summer, my expectations for the Laidlaw period includes digitizing important paper/microfilm archives so they can be accessible to people who are not on campus (including me later this summer!), and developing a strong understanding of at least two figures (John Dewey and Charlotte Perkins Gilman) in the larger network of influential intellectuals I've been trying to map around the figure of B.R. Ambedkar. 

2. It is critical that the ideas of Ambedkar, a change-maker and trailblazer outside the Western tradition, receive the same due recognition and academic insight his American and European intellectual forebears receive at institutions like Columbia. I am fascinated in studying Ambedkar both as a formidable legatee of some of the most prominent Western thinkers, and as an original intellectual in his own right. Because of his ideas about radical democracy and engagement with social justice movements beyond his own anti-caste mission, Ambedkar appeals to me as a multidimensionally fascinating figure with a legacy that stretches far beyond India and his own lifetime. 

Go to the profile of Chloe Gong
18 days ago

My research this summer is part of a larger project in my lab focusing on antigen-specific immunotherapy for Type 1 Diabetes. I will continue working in this lab during the fall semester, and I'll be building off of the work that I'm currently doing. My future goal is to have my research credited in a publication. Although my current research mainly focuses on interactions between immune cells, the proof of concept could potentially impact future animal studies and even clinical trials. I am particularly interested in immunology and autoimmune disorders because I know people who struggle with these diseases and oftentimes there isn't a direct cure for them. 

Go to the profile of Victor Jandres Rivera
18 days ago
  • While all Laidlaw Scholars will be presenting their research at the Columbia Undergraduate Research Symposium in the fall, what are the more immediate expectations that you have for your research? Are you writing a paper you hope to get published? Will your research be part of a larger scientific study? Is your research now the first phase of a project you’ll continue to work on throughout the year, and/or next summer? Now that we are nearing the one month mark of the program, please write about your expectations for your research.

The research I am conducting is part of a larger project that has been going on for years. Professor Miranda has been collecting data on measures NYC Internationals Schools Network is taking to help English learners succeed. They have always been a vulnerable population because many are refugees, victims of human trafficking, came to the United States without their parents, or have some other complicated legal background. However, none of them are proficient in speaking, writing, and reading in English. The COVID-19 pandemic offered another complication for students that have already dealt with so much to continue their education. We are looking at exactly how this pandemic is affecting them, and the hope is to publish policy recommendations the schools and even the government could utilize in order to change xenophobic education practices still in place in New York City. I am actually going to continue doing research throughout the school year in the fall, so any presentation would be a summary of where I am in the research process instead of a final and conclusive list of findings. 

  • Why does your research matter? Explain the significance of the question you are investigating, and why you are interested in it.

The research is important because current education policies in New York City systematically harm vulnerable populations. New York City does not make exemptions for students with complicated legal and linguistic barriers to their education. For example, an Internationals School in Flushing took in many students that were unaccompanied minors detained at the border. These students come to the US and many have to find and pay for their own housing while also trying to attend a school in a language they do not speak. However, New York City only provides funding for students graduating within four years of arriving at their high school. This means that many schools intentionally turn away these students because a drop in their graduation rate harms their prestige and possibly their funding. This enforces education inequality in the city because the poorest and least educated students are being denied an education. There are many other policies that motivate schools to turn away students. The Internationals school in Flushing takes in these students because they know that they are their last hope, but this also means that they will lose funding and possibly be relegated to the status of being a “focus school”. Other factors such as sub-type comparisons promote racist and classist ideologies, but I’ll leave it at that for now because I feel like I am writing too much for people to read for a single discussion post, and I am rambling. In conclusion, the team I am working with has the goal of getting this information released in order to change school and even government policies. We even did extra research on the sense of belonging and immigration patterns during the pandemic for NYU and the Internationals Schools Network for an educational rights report presented at a seminar. The data and research is being applied to many different areas because the hope is that these stories and the data from them can be applied to presentations, publications, and forums across different areas of human rights, ethnicity and race studies, education and urban studies, and other areas.

Also I know I posted this is late because I keep forgetting to transfer them from my google doc but honestly if anyone wants to know more feel free to contact me.

  • While all Laidlaw Scholars will be presenting their research at the Columbia Undergraduate Research Symposium in the fall, what are the more immediate expectations that you have for your research? Are you writing a paper you hope to get published? Will your research be part of a larger scientific study? Is your research now the first phase of a project you’ll continue to work on throughout the year, and/or next summer? Now that we are nearing the one month mark of the program, please write about your expectations for your research.

Based on my current progress, I expect that my research will show that media coverage can be an effective accountability mechanism for firms to meet their job creation target when given a subsidy. I plan to help my professors finish the raw data this summer for our research, then potentially help with the paper if possible.

  • Why does your research matter? Explain the significance of the question you are investigating, and why you are interested in it.

My research is extremely important in investigating whether firms are actually committed to ESG goals. Often, there is a negative portrayal of the media. Consequently, it is important to evaluate whether media coverage can actually bring a positive effect in holding firms accountable to create jobs for the communities around them.

Go to the profile of Rizwan Kazi
17 days ago

I expect to be publishing the paper I am writing right now and the research at large would be playing a role in my faculty mentor's book. I hope to continue this research over the next couple of months to completion.

My research matters because it gives us a better understanding of China, the global economy, and trade disputes at large. A couple days ago, with running some minute data, I found that Democratic administrations are more aggressive in their trade policy at large, but when Republicans control the White House, they direct their aggression at China.