Field Journal, 2022 Scholars, Week 2

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  • Last week the trainings and discussions we had cut across the disciplines. How does the interdisciplinary nature of this program, the fact that students are focusing on such a diverse range of projects, help you think about your project and/or your academic interests more broadly?
  • As you begin your individual research projects this week, do you anticipate any challenges in getting started? If so, what are they?

Please answer these questions by creating a post of your own! You should also respond to another 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 by Thursday. You should respond to another student’s response by Friday.

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Go to the profile of Julia Goralsky
8 months ago

1. Last week the trainings and discussions we had cut across the disciplines. How does the interdisciplinary nature of this program, the fact that students are focusing on such a diverse range of projects, help you think about your project and/or your academic interests more broadly?

My project is very much focused on the minute details of cancer genetics, and my academic interests also lie at the molecular and cellular level of biochemistry. Thus, it is very easy for me to get caught up in examining these scientific mechanisms from an objective point of view. I think being exposed to the interdisciplinary range of projects has really helped me to put my own work into perspective and visualize how even the smallest details of biological sciences can relate to meaningful lives, events, and cultures. This correlation has made me even more excited about the work I’m doing, but also interested in further studying the manners in which medicine can intersect with language, literature, and policy. 

2. As you begin your individual research projects this week, do you anticipate any challenges in getting started? If so, what are they?

I think my major challenge will be remembering the new protocols required for my project, especially pertaining to tissue cultures. Another challenge for me will likely be finding an adequate amount of pre-existing literature that I can use to understand my project. Aside from these, I am mostly just excited about the beginning stages of my project.

Go to the profile of Noah J Bergam
8 months ago

I want to echo the excitement you express in your answer to the second question. Starting a research project is daunting and overwhelming at times, but it's really an unmatched experience in the world of academics. Unlike starting a class, you don't have a syllabus that will tell you exactly where you go. To some extent, you decide the flow of ideas, the themes and the lessons and the discussion. I don't want to speak too much for bio labs, of course, but I imagine that beyond the more specific protocols the researcher really decides the meta-protocol, which seems like the fun of it. 

Go to the profile of Neha Mani
8 months ago

I relate, Julia! Sometimes, I also get very tied up in the details of my project but I'm working on using the perspective gained from trainings and hearing about others' projects to be more grounded in the broader field. I also share the struggle of remembering new protocols and have to keep checking back to my lab notes!

Go to the profile of Elianna Lee
8 months ago

Last week the trainings and discussions we had cut across the disciplines. How does the interdisciplinary nature of this program, the fact that students are focusing on such a diverse range of projects, help you think about your project and/or your academic interests more broadly?

The interdisciplinary nature of this program has really allowed me to think beyond the borders of specific "lenses" that I can study my subject in; I think it is very important to understand that, at any point, a field of study will involve many different areas of study. For example, though it is based in ethnicity and race studies, my project must also be considered through the lens of gender and sexuality studies and media studies. My project does not start and end in the same academic department, and the same goes for any academic endeavor I choose to pursue in the future.

As you begin your individual research projects this week, do you anticipate any challenges in getting started? If so, what are they?

I think one of my biggest challenges this far is being able to search for the information I need in the right way; for example, using specific phrases to get catalog results that are relevant to my project. Another challenge that I anticipate is being able to access media from the early 2000s, as those items may not be old enough to be archived, and may be more difficult to find on the internet.

Go to the profile of Julia Goralsky
8 months ago

I can definitely relate to your challenge of finding the needed information as well as the challenge of figuring out the best way to explore the extensive resources we’ve been introduced to. In a way though, I think this lack of easily available information could also force us to be a bit creative with our data collection, which overall could be a somewhat fun (although daunting) challenge.

Go to the profile of Noah J Bergam
8 months ago

There are pros and cons to having interdisciplinary cohort. On one hand, it's harder to immediately relate to the work that others are doing. To quote Femi, we wake up every day and go to war with ourselves when we do research, and everyone's battles look very different. As a result, though, it feels less like of a competition to get the most results and more like a shared journey. We have everything to gain from collaboration, whether that means trading skills, pointing out resources, or just conversing about the ideas we are working with. The exciting thing about such collaboration is that you might be quite surprised by what you learn. In that way, I really like the interdisciplinary aspect of the Laidlaw program. 

The biggest challenges for me right now are kind of the heart of my project: I need text data, and I need to implement certain methods to analyze that data. Thankfully, on Tuesday, I procured two century's worth of Supreme Court opinions and have started playing around with sentiment analysis on them. While that gave me a certain sense of satisfaction, I know that I have to do a lot more digging if I want to collect meaningful results. One promising development is that I have discovered some APIs from which I can extract opinion articles and social media, although I haven't used them in much depth yet. On a methodological level, I also need to build a stance detection model, which I know how to do in theory but will take some time in practice.

Go to the profile of Peter McMaster
8 months ago

I think you touch on an important point regarding the program. Collaboration is key to research across all disciplines, and I think that part of the benefit of having an interdisciplinary group is that if you are having trouble with a particular aspect of your project that is outside your comfort zone or area of expertise, there is likely someone else in the program that is familiar with the problem and is willing to help. Therefore, since everyone is more or less working in a different area of research there will be little to no competition, but at the same time everyone is still afforded the benefit of collaboration. 

Go to the profile of Dave Banerjee
8 months ago

I agree with you Peter. Interdisciplinary work by definition demands collaboration. And collaboration seems key to making new discoveries. It's hard to discover something on your own, but with a solid group of collaborators, you can bounce ideas off each other and work multiplicatively more productive.

Go to the profile of Charlotte Hoskins
8 months ago
  • Last week the trainings and discussions we had cut across the disciplines. How does the interdisciplinary nature of this program, the fact that students are focusing on such a diverse range of projects, help you think about your project and/or your academic interests more broadly?

As someone who has a broad array of interests, I find the interdisciplinary nature of this program really exciting. As a Poli Sci and History major, I don't often find myself in conversations with others about computer programming or biology, so I am finding it very enlightening to be able to engage in these conversations and think about how I can apply my own knowledge and interests to other fields of research. In saying that, however, it is definitely hard sometimes to follow conversations when they go over my scope of general knowledge, but this only propels me to follow my curiosity and discover more about these differing subjects. 

  • As you begin your individual research projects this week, do you anticipate any challenges in getting started? If so, what are they?

As I have begun my research, I have realised that my time period is massive, and there are so many resources and ways to approach imperialism that is a bit overwhelming. The trouble I anticipate, knowing how inquisitive I am about things that interest me, is to choose a selection of sources and stick with that track and see what it reveals, rather than constantly going on tangents. 

Go to the profile of Fatima Ahmad
8 months ago

Hey Charlotte! I cannot emphasize enough how much I feel your second point about the wealth of resources and the feeling of being overwhelmed. Your plan sounds pretty solid to me and I hope it works out! I'm also trying to focus more on what the texts can reveal to me rather than going in looking for specific information. I found that the latter can really limit the depth of analysis within and between texts, so a more open approach is definitely helpful (kind of like reverse outlining).

Go to the profile of Harrison Gerson
8 months ago

Yes, curiosity is amazing! Applying other fields into research has been really interesting and exciting for me too. I've been thinking more about environmental biology as well as urban planning and cultural studies, as I've been looking into Singapore as a hub of ecotourism.

Wow! There are a lot of resources! That's a cool method to follow with finding your grounds. I usually like to see where different exciting sources lead, too, even if it involves something seemingly unrelated at first. I'm excited for our progress.

Go to the profile of Fatima Ahmad
8 months ago

I have been spending quite a bit of time thinking about majors these past few weeks. I’m interested in Middle Eastern+South Asian Studies (MESAAS), but also Political Science, and although a double major is feasible, it is not recommended by many MESAAS professors. They advise that Political Science and MESAAS inherently work against one another in the way the two disciplines are taught and explored. Thus, I began the process of weighing one against the other, picking one rather than the other. However, after speaking with an alumnus and with some students in our cohort regarding their own projects, I am able to better understand that it is what you take and apply from each field rather than making every aspect of the two fields work together. There are many projects exploring the intersections of law and science, media and heritage, literature and history, and although we can find similarities among each of these fields, it is “untraditional” to study them alongside one another. The interdisciplinary nature of this program makes these “untraditional” paths a reality and also a possibility for my future. It is from my peers that I was able to learn that (very generally speaking) you truly shape your own academic journey. 

This week was kind of a struggle because it just seemed like there was so much time and so little structure. However, as I went through the week I ended up setting goals and how to meet them. When I met with the mentor I was speaking of above, he asked me the very important question of what I will be contributing to this field of study, that is uniquely mine, and I now need to spend more time reflecting on that. What I had thought of before is not substantial enough, but I am glad to have been asked this at the very start rather than towards the end. Instead of working with a strict structure and themes, where I look for certain things, I am now reading the literature with a more open mind to find this “unique” take. Some initial ideas are looking at the role of women during the partition of 1947 in conjunction to how they are presented within Manto’s literature.

Go to the profile of Kelly Warner
8 months ago

Hey Fatima! I completely understand how you feel about having two academic focuses, where you feel as if you need to choose one or the other. I would agree that this program has altered my perspective and allowed me to think that I can use one discipline to better understand another. I think your academic areas of focus- MESAAS and Political Science- are really interesting and look forward to seeing how you will use them to gain a better understanding of both! 

Go to the profile of Andreas
8 months ago

I want to echo the struggle of having two academic focuses, and the doubt that can often crop up when talking to representatives from either field. I think it's important to remember that professors from a given department want to incentivize earning a degree in their department, and as long as your vision of how you can combine two potentially disparate areas of study is clear, you should really just pursue that goal. As someone who is hoping to earn a degree in Biology and East Asian Studies, I often find that people are confused at first about such a course of study, but if I can explain in detail and with conviction my reasoning behind that decision or a specific project that bridges that interdisciplinary gap, people are generally willing to support my endeavors. 

Go to the profile of Rosie Zhou
8 months ago

Thanks for sharing, Fatima! I really resonate with your feelings regarding what to major in. At this point, when people ask me what I want to major in, I just say "I don't know yet" because I've realized that my answer to this question has changed so much within the last year. And that's ok! We don't have to have everything figured out and have a clear path moving forward. I love your insight on "untraditional" paths and I hope to similarly find a path for my academic journey that may be "untraditional", but will allow me to combine my interests the most. 

Go to the profile of Kelly Warner
8 months ago

1.  I found the interdisciplinary nature of this program incredibly helpful in approaching my research, especially considering that my own project cuts across several disciplines. I think this was especially noticeable upon being assigned my personal mentors. For example, my personal librarian specializess in STEM disciplines, while my graduate student's focus is in communications and social sciences. I found this incredibly useful because it allows me to approach my research from a variety of perspectives and gain a more nuanced understanding of my research topic. 

2. The predominant challenge I anticipate in getting started is where to start with my research. Since my faculty mentor is on vacation this week, her instructions were to review study materials and explore the study's online resources and databases. My mentor said she would be available for any questions that we may have, however, I am/was hesitant to reach out with questions because she is on vacation. Dealing with this was/has been a challenge, in trying to maintain communication and move forward with my research, while respecting my mentor's personal time away from work.

Go to the profile of Sylvi Stein
8 months ago

Hi Kelly! I also had some challenges getting in contact with my mentor. I was worried to go down the wrong path without guidance at the very beginning of the project. I think some preliminary research would ensure that any questions you reach out with would be intelligent and not a waste of your mentor's time; I think that as long as you don't email every day, your mentor would respect your decision to take the initiative!

Go to the profile of Peter McMaster
8 months ago

1. When I initially heard about the different research projects being studied in the program, I was caught off guard. I assumed that most of the research would be STEM-based, so I was surprised to see that there were equal amounts of STEM and humanities projects. Hearing about these projects and going through the various workshops -- like the interviewing workshop -- helped me realize that may research skills translate across disciplines, and it would be useful to have skills that would commonly be associated with other fields, like programming, writing, and communication. Consequently, I've been thinking about my major and research project in a broader context, understanding that there are many skills that I can pick up on from my peers that could assist me in my own research. 

2. Since my advisor will be out of town for the remainder of the week, my biggest challenge will be becoming familiar with the software my group is using on my own, and using my resources to troubleshoot along the way. The data analysis tools we are employing are not commonly used, so it was a struggle to figure things out due to the scarcity of online resources. However, as I get more accustomed to navigating the software I will be using, things will progressively become easier and more natural. 

Go to the profile of Asher Baron
8 months ago

I honestly had the opposite experience to your point in #1 -- I had my head so buried in the humanities world that I had forgotten how many people were doing lab work/STEM projects! I totally agree that our skills can translate across disciplines, and I love your point that it could be useful to have skills commonly associated with fields outside of our own. 

Go to the profile of Sylvi Stein
8 months ago
  • Last week the trainings and discussions we had cut across the disciplines. How does the interdisciplinary nature of this program, the fact that students are focusing on such a diverse range of projects, help you think about your project and/or your academic interests more broadly?

Something we discussed this week in our grad student mentor programs was the idea of politics of location. I thought this idea was intriguing - certain disciplines and theories naturally favor different bodies and people in the ideas they present. I think that interdisciplinary study is incredibly important for the formation of ideas, but ultimately, in making claims, you have to be able to narrow your scope. Your claims should be partisan, our grad student mentor explained - only by acknowledging that all research will have a bias can we begin to work to overcome it. 

  • As you begin your individual research projects this week, do you anticipate any challenges in getting started? If so, what are they?

I am beginning to realize that every source - especially newspapers - is created with an agenda, conscious or subconscious. In researching the media coverage of sculptures and monuments, I have to also plunge into the history of the publication in which the write-up is appearing to dissect the "facts" for the angle from which they appear. This is difficult, and an in-depth project. It adds a series of steps to each stage that I did not anticipate.

Go to the profile of Denise Taveras
8 months ago

Hey Sylvi!! : D : D Your point on sources having different agendas has been something I have been struggling with as well. A lot of my archive is police reporting and we all know they have a very strong history of covering up their actions. I have to do a lot of work to see these biases and agendas. 

 
Go to the profile of Dave Banerjee
8 months ago
  • Last week the trainings and discussions we had cut across the disciplines. How does the interdisciplinary nature of this program, the fact that students are focusing on such a diverse range of projects, help you think about your project and/or your academic interests more broadly?

In today's world, there is no longer a such thing as a single discipline. All fields are deeply interconnected, adn thus, it is necessary that we approach academic work from an interdisciplinary lens. The interdisciplinary nature of this program is great because it can sometimes be easy to get laser focused on what you're researching and forget that there are other opportunities out there. Also, we can learn a lot from other people working in different fields. For example, the way a mathematician may approach a problem might be very different from how a physicist or a poet may approach that same problem. But these different approaches can all be useful. This is why collaboration between fields is so key. As of right now, my interests lie in physics, philosophy, and art history. I think the Laidlaw program has helped me gain insight into what researchers in non-physics field actually do. The Laidlaw experience has definitely broadened my perspective on different fields, and I can't wait to learn even more from my peers!

  • As you begin your individual research projects this week, do you anticipate any challenges in getting started? If so, what are they?

A big challenge I've faced has been the incomprehensibility of scientific papers. Some papers are just so confusing that it sometimes feels like a waste of time trying to parse through the information. The experience is frustrating, but I'm hopeful that in the future, as I continue to conduct research, the process of reading scientific papers will get easier and easier with more and more practice.

Go to the profile of Wena Teng
8 months ago

Dave! Like you, I am very excited to explore the intersections of my interests. For example, poetry has always fascinated me, and I read some pieces in the past about the relations between poetry and physics: two fields perceived to be very different. Similarly, I am sure there are many ways in which physics, philosophy, and art history are interconnected. Reading through papers densely populated with scientific jargon is definitely difficult and draining; I would recommend for you look into tools/chrome add-ons that highlight specific information or are helpful for note-taking. 

Go to the profile of Denise Taveras
8 months ago

1. I think having a lot of perspectives to bounce my idea off of has helped me see my research in a new light. I keep finding myself in the habit of looking at my research with an "either-o" perspective. I can understand things with a perspective focused on racism and police state violence or I can understand the community and resistance through music. Speaking ith other people hase helped me reorient myself into thinking about how these ideas are in conversation with each other.

2. One of my biggest challenges is getting access to sources that highlight the personal lives of the people I am hoping to get an insight on. Its important for my project to highlight the personal spaces of these people but for obvious reasons, that will be very difficult, especially if I have to see it through the lense of a system that has a history of dehumanizing the people that I will focus on. 

Go to the profile of Charlotte Hoskins
8 months ago

Hi Denise <3 I resonate with what you wrote about the "either-or" perspective about projects. I've found that because I've pivoted my project to look at literature from the 19th and 20th centuries, I'm tackling the "either-or" between history and literature as separate disciplines. But, much like you, I'm coming to realise that the two can interact and aid each other to bolster my research. I'm really excited to hear more about your research! 

Go to the profile of Asher Baron
8 months ago

    1. My project itself is quite interdisciplinary, so much so that my faculty mentor has constructed a list of databases covering fields that may be relevant to our work, ranging from catalogs of underground writings like zines to an oral history of hemophilia to the NAACP Papers. Such a wide range of relevant topics has given me a great appreciation for finding connections between seemingly disparate events or organizations! The program's diverse range of projects only extends my appreciation for these connections -- I hope to continue learning about my peers' research and learning how their work connects to or enters into debate with my own. 

      2. The same list of databases mentioned above has been both amazing in furthering my understanding of the wide field of harm reduction as well as highly overwhelming in scope. I anticipate this challenge of being overwhelmed to be a hurdle that I must continually navigate as I get started. Any one organization that I add to my team's project could have connections to hundreds of others, or provide a wide range of services necessitating further research, or serve a unique population, or have a tumultuous history with securing funding, etc: all facets that require my research attention and will likely overwhelm me! I hope to properly utilize the many databases by learning how to use effective search terms to find the information that I need. 

      Go to the profile of Yoni Kurtz
      8 months ago

      Asher,

      It sounds like you've been able to access some really helpful resources this week, great work on that! I definitely sympathize with being overwhelmed by the amount of information available in a specific field. One thing that has helped me has been meeting with my personal librarian, who is great at determining the best search terms to narrow down huge databases. Good luck!

      Go to the profile of Yoni Kurtz
      8 months ago
      • Last week the trainings and discussions we had cut across the disciplines. How does the interdisciplinary nature of this program, the fact that students are focusing on such a diverse range of projects, help you think about your project and/or your academic interests more broadly?

      Working in a social science-related project, I was initially inclined towards traditional modes of researching: collecting documents, reading through them, developing a thesis, and then drafting a paper (updating as I go). But, being able to talk with students across different disciplines about their projects has opened me up to the possibility of using STEM-centric techniques for data visualization, and even discuss realistic strategies for potentially creating a digital humanities project. On the other hand, I've been able to talk to students who are pursuing literature or history research more similar to my own, and get both recommendations of helpful places to look for research and sympathize with each other's frustrations and challenges. I hope to continue dialoguing across disciplines, learning from students squarely in my field as well as those outside of it.

      • As you begin your individual research projects this week, do you anticipate any challenges in getting started? If so, what are they?

      My primary challenge this week has been determining the overall direction of my project. I'm excited about moving in a sociology direction that would use data about youth sports participation by location and ethnicity to analyze changes over time, but have been frustrated by lack of access to this data. Therefore, I am considering moving the project towards a more of a historical perspective, analyzing how perspectives on race-based participation in sports among different groups have changed over time.  Of course, this historical direction would have plenty of specific challenges itself, such as determining reliable places to look for these specific historical perspectives. 

      Go to the profile of Wena Teng
      8 months ago
      • Last week the trainings and discussions we had cut across the disciplines. How does the interdisciplinary nature of this program, the fact that students are focusing on such a diverse range of projects, help you think about your project and/or your academic interests more broadly?

            For my specific research project, I am focusing on the humanities/social science: history, the law, and politics. In academia, the forms of humanities research are traditionally going through documents, living in the archives, and, ultimately, synthesizing the information into a paper.

      However, being in conversation with our multiplicity cohort, characterized by several disciplines, has allowed me to understand how interconnected our research and passions are. It has also provided new insights into the potential of intersecting different aspects of my interests and navigating my research through a multimodal approach. 

      For example, through conversation with my cohort, I'm inclined to see how my research can intersect with another field I am interested in such as Computer Science. Discussing research projects such as using computer models to interpret, analyze, and organize legal cases has inspired me to look into similar ways of intersecting STEM and the humanities.

      • As you begin your individual research projects this week, do you anticipate any challenges in getting started? If so, what are they?

      I have started to read papers, explore historical documents, and skim through public policy, but I am having trouble navigating between Chinese and English. Although I am well-versed in Chinese (debatable), it is harder to navigate "old Chinese." So, I am only trying to read and take notes on papers that would substantially contribute to my research. My amazing graduate mentor, Miguel, recommended I locate vectors of analysis in my project, so focusing on keywords like "gender," "performance," "bodies," and "the law" has been helping. 

      I'm excited to dive more into the archives next week, especially locating a copy of Xue Shaohui’s Daiyunlou Wenji! 

      Go to the profile of Harrison Gerson
      8 months ago

      Thanks for sharing, Wena! The advice from your research mentor makes a lot of sense. Keywords are really important and help me as well. If you have any tips for how to navigate the keywords, I’d greatly appreciate it. I know that there are specific ways to type out words that create more inclusive or exclusive searches. I find that I either find a lot of good sources or none at all when I am searching for keywords.

      The archives seem really cool! I have not gotten to them yet for my research, but I’m hoping to take a look soon! I’m excited to learn more from your project!

      Go to the profile of Harrison Gerson
      8 months ago

      The interdisciplinary nature of the program helps me ensure that I'm utilizing different avenues as I go through my research. For instance, I reached out to an environmental biology professor to hear her thoughts on some of my ideas, and it ended in a really interesting discussion about a potential case study to use to compare with ecotourism in NYC. I really appreciate the broadness of perspectives; it helps me think about my project from the science, investment, community, and tourist lenses. 

      The vastness of ecotourism challenges me and also excites me. The field is much larger than I expected, although many of the observations that researchers and consultants make about it are not in central locations. The research community is really spread out. Plus, many of the contributors to the field are not in traditional academic backgrounds, so it will be exciting to speak with them but also a bit of a challenge to perhaps understand their perspectives. I also really need to understand what audiences are attracted to different ego tourist ventures. On another note, I want to figure out if surveying tourists and/or community members will be an effective addition to my research project.

      Go to the profile of Neha Mani
      8 months ago

      Last week the trainings and discussions we had cut across the disciplines. How does the interdisciplinary nature of this program, the fact that students are focusing on such a diverse range of projects, help you think about your project and/or your academic interests more broadly?

      What I really love about the program is the wide breadth of research topics that students are engaging in. Similar to what Julia has written about how working in a lab tends to get us caught up in the minutiae of scientific experiments and data, sometimes it is better to get a more holistic perspective of the field. I've learned, through learning about humanities research through the trainings and conversations with my peers, that it is helpful to view your research through the lens of a greater, governing field. For example, my research is specifically in structural biology but it is also important to consider the broader implications of my research in how I approach tackling day-to-day experimental challenges. 

      As you begin your individual research projects this week, do you anticipate any challenges in getting started? If so, what are they?

      I've made exciting progress in a project related, but slightly tangential to what I had proposed. I think I will end up modifying my original proposal based on my progress this week. I am encountering challenges in optimizing my methodology for purifying my protein(s) of interest, so I am working on systematically screening a few different options to yield the best results. I am excited to continue working on the project!

      Go to the profile of Andreas
      8 months ago
      • Last week the trainings and discussions we had cut across the disciplines. How does the interdisciplinary nature of this program, the fact that students are focusing on such a diverse range of projects, help you think about your project and/or your academic interests more broadly?

      I wouldn't say that my current project is interdisciplinary (it is pretty firmly within the humanities in terms of both content and methodology), but I have loved talking to students pursuing projects in STEM-related fields since my research is ultimately related to how we talk about medicine and its place within a given culture. Bioprospecting, or the search for objects in the natural world from which drugs or other isolated biochemical products can be derived, is a potential interdisciplinary application of my research project, were I to reframe through the lens of contemporary geopolitics. In many ways, my focus on language, trade, and indigenous knowledge in South East Asia offers a premodern example of this phenomenon. 

      As you begin your individual research projects this week, do you anticipate any challenges in getting started? If so, what are they?

      I need to make sure I am reading things that are relevant to my project (and not just interesting). There is so much about the history of trade in South East Asia that I find fascinating that might not actually be super relevant, but I also find it easy to convince myself that any reading is good reading because it is giving me a greater wealth of knowledge to draw upon later. This may be partly true, but I noticed myself pull back from what I was reading several times to reassess its usefulness in the larger scope of my project. It's okay to not read everything, even if it seems useful, or even if it is cited many times (although this may be a good indicator of its academic influence). On the other hand, I found myself repeatedly drawn to a particular geographical hub of trade in the South China Sea that I had never heard before. I think it is challenging trying to stay within a narrow range of materials if there remains the hope (or the lived experience) that interesting and relevant topics/thematic material may lay just outside those self-imposed boundaries. 

      Go to the profile of Peyton Barsel
      8 months ago

      Hey Andreas, 

      Not to be a bad influence, but I'm a big proponent of the "any reading is good reading" philosophy. I think you're absolutely correct that assessing readings is a crucial component of zoning in on the scope of what you'd like to study. Still, you'd be unable to do that without reading material outside of the scope. I am working currently on reading more sources rather than focusing solely on what I know is relevant because I would like to broaden from what I "know to be true" to material that challenges the views I already hold in the present. Good luck going forward and I'm looking forward to seeing where your work goes! 

      Go to the profile of Ashwin Marathe
      8 months ago

      Hey Andreas! I completely relate to your point on reading works that are most relevant to your project. I have found myself sometimes veering off into literature that is really interesting to me, but may not add direct value to my project. That isn't necessarily bad, as it still informs my knowledge on the topic, but I definitely understand what you are saying about that. I also think it's really hard to not read everything and I need to learn to skim to make my research more efficient. 

      Go to the profile of Jonathan Truong
      8 months ago

      1. Last week the trainings and discussions we had cut across the disciplines. How does the interdisciplinary nature of this program, the fact that students are focusing on such a diverse range of projects, help you think about your project and/or your academic interests more broadly?

      My research project is, by design, interdisciplinary, operating at the nexus between traditional narrative theory and theories of new digital media. I knew from its very outset, then, that the project would require me to accommodate both classical and emergent methodologies, beyond even the domain of narrative analysis. Over this past week of the program, this interdisciplinary understanding of the research has turned into an antidisciplinary posture. In studying the serialization of Twitter fiction, for example, I’ve begun to research the financial motives behind serialization and the promotional aspects of social media. This kind of economic consideration is nontraditional—but how can the revival of serialized fiction via Twitter be contextualized without it? As I've come to understand these past two weeks of the program, confining research to singular disciplines often stops us from pursuing the more interesting questions

      As you begin your individual research projects this week, do you anticipate any challenges in getting started? If so, what are they?

      Identifying a gap within the scholarly conversation surrounding my research topic has been challenging. In my readings this week, I realized much has been said already about serialization in Egan’s Twitter story “Black Box,” particularly with respect to temporality and reader interactivity. My (ambitious) hope is that I can refine some of the broader claims made about Egan's story, especially because the "multifocal" approach of existing scholarship leaves room for more particular inquiry. 

      Hi Jonathan!

      I loved our conversation last week about your work, and I'm still very excited to see where it goes. Every additional dimension I read of your project interests me further, and this one was no exception. I hadn't even thought of the economic dimension of social media, but with content being monetized the way it is today, it seems like an essential aspect to it. It also raises the interesting opposition of an evolution in the art/literary form vs. its potential warping due to economic reasons. In any case, I'm glad you're deviating from a purely literary standpoint into an economic one—I think it will make your work even more compelling, and I can't wait to see where it goes!

      Go to the profile of Aryan Ghotra
      8 months ago

      1. I think that the interdisciplinary aspect of this program has led me to realize the broader implications of my research. Initially, I was very concerned with discovering more about microautophagy and the unfolded protein response, but I was failing to see why this research should be done. The seminars in this program allowed me to step back and look at my project as a whole and determine how this research can help humanity. This reflection has been especially important as often, the number one question asked about your research is how can it help society?

      2. Currently, one of the biggest challenges is quantifying the images. It requires programming and research into what methods are most appropriate and valid. I am struggling on how make my current method more efficient but maintain the same precision and accuracy I am achieving. 

      Go to the profile of Akshay Manglik
      8 months ago

      Hi Aryan - I appreciated seeing how you described your work at our group meeting yesterday! I'm interested in what you mean by "quantifying the images" - do you mean interpreting your results more precisely, or conducting image analysis (esp computer vision)? Both of those seem like interesting routes for your research, and I'm excited to see what you do!

      Go to the profile of Rosie Zhou
      8 months ago
      • Last week the trainings and discussions we had cut across the disciplines. How does the interdisciplinary nature of this program, the fact that students are focusing on such a diverse range of projects, help you think about your project and/or your academic interests more broadly?

      Like others, I came into Laidlaw thinking most of the research projects would be STEM-related, and I was surprised and delighted to learn that there were so many humanities-based projects. As someone who is much more drawn to the humanities, I sometimes find it hard to follow/understand STEM research. After learning about others' projects, though, I've realized that everything is actually more interconnected than it may seem, and different fields intersect in many ways. My project and broader academic interests will definitely require me to view things through an interdisciplinary lens - combining scientific research and data about climate change with policy and law.  

      • As you begin your individual research projects this week, do you anticipate any challenges in getting started? If so, what are they?

      I anticipate that I will face the challenge of understanding legal jargon while reading sources. Although I'm familiar with some legal terms, I've been confused sometimes when reading materials for my first project with the Sabin Center. But I know that there is an abundance of people at the Center who can help me understand key terms and concepts.

      Go to the profile of Elizabeth Carpenter
      8 months ago

      The interdisciplinary nature of this program has been very interesting for several reasons. For one, I am able to learn about different methods and approaches to data from their projects. While I cannot always apply their methodology to mine, it allows me to visualize my data in a different way and consider my project through new lenses. '

      In starting my research this week, I anticipate having difficulty with grasping the scope of the project and applying my own set of skills to the work so I can be a valuable team member. A lot of my work includes data analysis and visualization which I do not have a lot of experience with so I expect to have a lot of learning and catching up to do this week. 

      Go to the profile of Peyton Barsel
      8 months ago
      • Last week the trainings and discussions we had cut across the disciplines. How does the interdisciplinary nature of this program, the fact that students are focusing on such a diverse range of projects, help you think about your project and/or your academic interests more broadly?

      The interdisciplinary nature of this program is incredibly helpful to my own project. For instance, there are people in the groups I have been working with that are studying literature and Supreme Court cases, both topics that relate to what I'm studying but not directly. Through listening to them work through what they will be continuing with their projects going forward, I was able to frame my research question in a new light. Now, I have shifted some of the work I'm doing to be more outward-facing to provide the public with more actionable ways to combat political polarization and address the Culture War. 

      • As you begin your individual research projects this week, do you anticipate any challenges in getting started? If so, what are they?

      I anticipate that my scope is too large and I may have a problem with how to package the information in a way that is both helpful and accessible in such a short period of time. I think I need to remain honed in on a smaller research question in order to provide a meaningful result. 

      Go to the profile of Elianna Lee
      8 months ago

      hi peyton! I definitely resonate with having a scope that is too large- hopefully through more readings, you can hone in on one element to research in depth. What I have found to be helpful is to seriously reflect on why I want to do this project, and the people who have come before, and what makes my work different.

        Last week the trainings and discussions we had cut across the disciplines. How does the interdisciplinary nature of this program, the fact that students are focusing on such a diverse range of projects, help you think about your project and/or your academic interests more broadly?

        With my research project in particular, I think the interdisciplinary aspect is inextricable. In one of my conversations with my graduate student mentor this week, he mentioned the importance of locating your work in the context of the field it pertains to; the conversation helped me realize my project lies at the intersection of economics, political science, anthropology, and history, as well as the subfield or category of indigenous/ethnic studies. Though this poses a methodological challenge—as the methods used in these fields are not always similar, and not always compatible, as they focus on obtaining different types of results from different types of data—the methodological puzzle is one I'm excited about completing. Using oral histories, for example, not to complete an anthropological/historical survey but rather to develop principles of governance to then be compared to an economic framework seems quite unorthodox, but I think it's a chance to broaden the reach of each of these fields as well as my perception of it. This brings me to my main point about interdisciplinarity: there is something incredibly freeing about it, as it allows you to escape the confines of a narrowly-defined field and look in other places for answers that a conventional methodology might not necessarily be able to access. The central work to my research, Elinor Ostrom's Governing the Commons, is testament to this: Ostrom is a political scientist, and she used methods in her fieldwork that did not look like orthodox economic data collection, and ended up winning a Nobel Prize in Economics (2009) for her work, since it took the discourse of collective action beyond the centralization/privatization debate that traditional economics was embroiled in. All the most worthwhile work cuts across disciplines, and this is something I'm excited to bring out in my own work (and, of course, always makes me glad that I don't have to choose between disciplines).

        As you begin your individual research projects this week, do you anticipate any challenges in getting started? If so, what are they?

        This might seem quite blunt, but I think my main challenge is in terms of "where to go." I've spent this week familiarizing myself with the framework laid out by Ostrom—its main points, its main questions, and its main takeaways. Now, I need to shift gears into how exactly to apply what I have learned to my own project. Luckily, my faculty mentor has put me on the track of moving to familiarize myself with the indigenous literature (ethnographies, land studies, etc.) that exists about the region I am focusing on. This means a lot of reading and not a lot of writing, so a forthcoming challenge might be a more internal one—feeling like I am doing work or achieving something despite producing nothing. The shift away from the productivity mindset and more toward the field of "all research goes through this literature review process" is one I'm glad I have my faculty mentor for, and one I'm excited to embark on even if it does entail many an hour in the Butler Stacks.

        Go to the profile of Jonathan Truong
        8 months ago

        Hi Ale!

        So excited to see how you navigate the "methodological puzzle" of interdisciplinary research—a puzzle that I will also be completing in the coming weeks. I relate to the challenge of recognizing achievement/progress without actually producing anything. I also have familiarized myself with a governing framework for my research last week, so the project for this week is approaching the primary work I'm focusing on through a more comprehensive and broader theoretical lens. Like you, this means many more hours reading (and thus not producing anything), but I'm excited to see where this work takes us this week!

        Go to the profile of Akshay Manglik
        8 months ago
        • Last week the trainings and discussions we had cut across the disciplines. How does the interdisciplinary nature of this program, the fact that students are focusing on such a diverse range of projects, help you think about your project and/or your academic interests more broadly?

        I think the interdisciplinary nature of the program helps me better appreciate my own interdisciplinary project. My project combines psychology and neuroscience research with computational techniques, and it's interesting to see how other people have combined disparate fields into their own unique analyses (e.g., Ashwin's project, which combines an economic lens with a religious/caste discrimination lens when examining the farmers' protests in India).

        • As you begin your individual research projects this week, do you anticipate any challenges in getting started? If so, what are they?

        Biggest challenge in getting started is the lack of topic knowledge but I'm quickly building that up right now. Something especially challenging is getting used to the jargon used in the field -- even if I understand the underlying material, I want to get to a point where I can express my thoughts using the type of precise scientific language that others use in order to facilitate better understanding of my own project and other projects. A big part of that for me has been reading papers (which is helped by something my lab does in their weekly meeting, where we review papers of people in the lab that are about to publish).

        Go to the profile of Ashwin Marathe
        8 months ago
        • Last week the trainings and discussions we had cut across the disciplines. How does the interdisciplinary nature of this program, the fact that students are focusing on such a diverse range of projects, help you think about your project and/or your academic interests more broadly?

        I think it is really beneficial to be exposed to such a wide array of research interests because it allows us to see just how much passion people have for different subjects. I have learned a lot from the research my peers are completing simply from listening to them talk about it. It is also beneficial because you can bounce ideas off of other people who may have a more objective view of the subject since they may not be studying it. It's really exciting to hear the work others are doing in their own field! 

        • As you begin your individual research projects this week, do you anticipate any challenges in getting started? If so, what are they?

        The main challenge will be contacting individuals to interview. I am going to have to find centers of research in India that I can work with to conduct interviews. Then, I will have to design my questions and think about the communities I am interviewing, making sure that my project actually helps them in some way. I think setting up the oral history will be both extremely challenging but also very rewarding if it produces a tangible product in the end. 

        Go to the profile of Aryan Ghotra
        8 months ago

        Hey Ashwin, your method for collecting data sounds really interesting, Perhaps you could think about surveying populations and providing a statistical measurement of who agrees/disagrees with the government's new approach to farming. One of the most provoking questions in your project for me is how will you adequately and equally represent different populations in India such that it minimizes overrepresentation and biases? I think it could also be interesting to consider how the phrasing of questions could polarize someone towards one side. Regardless, I'm excited to see where your project goes!