Field Journal, 2024 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? Will your research be part of a larger scientific study? Do you hope to produce an annotated bibliography that you reflect on down the line? 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!

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Go to the profile of Tara Isabel Dee Lago
12 days ago

My research is part of a larger scientific study on early life stress and memory. After studying early life stress's effect on social and short-term memory, I will continue assisting the lab in studying how early life stress reacts to certain drugs over the school year. Additionally, we are also experimenting with unsupervised learning methods and determining how an unsupervised learning model could characterize specific movements present in ELS and control mice.  

Early life stress (ELS) is one of the largest predictive factors for psychiatric and cognitive disorders. Because it is difficult and unethical to study in humans, mice are an alternative model to study the impact of ELS on the behavior and neurobiology of the brain. Our greater understanding of ELS can one day help develop drugs that target impairments in the brain, particularly in the hippocampus. 

Go to the profile of Laila Abed
12 days ago

Although I don't know much about neurobiology besides what we learned in Fro-Sci, your work sounds incredibly exciting! Especially because of how much stress is on the rise for early adults, this will be instrumental in supporting the youth & future generations who struggle with memory loss.

Go to the profile of Laila Abed
12 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? Will your research be part of a larger scientific study? Do you hope to produce an annotated bibliography that you reflect on down the line? 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.

As I approach the one-month mark of the Laidlaw program, my immediate expectations for my research on the MHNY project are to contribute significantly to the digitization and analysis of historical data for Queens. This involves gathering and analyzing census data, georeferencing, digitizing historical streets, and contributing to dataset publications. While I am focusing on 1880 Queens, my work is part of a larger study aimed at expanding our understanding of New York City’s urban development across all five boroughs by the 1940 census. I plan to continue this project, possibly through August/September before the big launch along with one of the RA's who is working on some of our case study stories. Along with my efforts to support the project and understand the street network development, I am curating an open-source annotated reference list on Queens (1850s-1940s) to share for the public to view and contribute to. Lastly, I am trying to participate in my version of a case study that emphasizes town(s) in Queens: Astoria (cultural preservation) & Jamaica (industry and transportation). 

  • 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 it explores how demographic shifts and industrial changes have shaped the urban landscapes of Queens. This includes the fact that we directly pinpoint residences and populations in the area to inform on urban planning, and future policies, and understand why certain areas looked and transformed in the ways they look today. Some examples include waves of immigration, changes in mobility, and/or a specific focus on a community. Researchers have already benefitted from Brooklyn & Manhattan and we hope to continue refining these details. I am continuously drawn to this project because it allows me to apply my academic interests in urban studies and sustainability practically, while also learning from a historical lens. I can pick up on GIS to see how reliable and beneficial it is as well as reflect on the nitty gritty visual changes I can trace on maps.

Go to the profile of Kate Jang
11 days ago

Laila, I admire how you're contributing to the effort to understand New York's boroughs through Queens. I am excited to see what you discover through your case study in Astoria and Jamaica – your research will definitely provide much needed insights into the state we live in.

Go to the profile of Kate Jang
11 days ago

My research this summer can be seen as the first part of a two-step research process. I am currently recommissioning a food radiation detector and writing a data analysis framework, aspects that will prove important in the next summer. During the second summer of Laidlaw, my group and I will travel to Kiribati in person, collecting radiation measurements in-situ. My other labmates are also working on projects that will all intertwine next summer to provide a complete view of the island, from the radioactive state of the food to elevation levels.At the end of the program, my aim is for a paper/poster about findings on the island.

My research on Kiribati – specifically, Kiritimati Island – matter because there are real, actual people involved. We do not know yet whether these people are consuming radioactive food on a daily basis, rendering this study urgent. Whenever there are implications on real people and real communities, it is undeniable that action has to be taken.

Go to the profile of Tara Isabel Dee Lago
11 days ago

Kate, I think it is amazing how your research is at the intersection of technology and advocacy! I really see the importance of helping people from under-represented and often overlooked communities while at the same time, developing critical cultural competency skills. I cannot wait to hear more updates about your work during our graduate mentor meetings :)

Go to the profile of Priyanka Mathews
11 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? Will your research be part of a larger scientific study? Do you hope to produce an annotated bibliography that you reflect on down the line? 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 current work is generating data that contributes to an ongoing research study exploring a new method of diagnosing preeclampsia. In the much longer term, I hope that this will be actually be implemented to diagnose the disorder, especially in the low income countries that suffer from a disproportionate number of deaths due to a lack of diagnosis. 

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

Sadly, women’s health is too often ignored in medical research as a whole, despite being relevant to 50% of the population. I myself have experienced the effects of this first-hand, and the stakes are all the higher with a potentially lethal condition like preeclampsia. I am proud that my research primarily helps a group of people—women in low income countries—that are oft-neglected in medical research, and it is a promising pathway to tangibly help these women.

Go to the profile of Tara Isabel Dee Lago
10 days ago

Priyanka, thank you for bringing up a relevant point about disparities in medical research, especially in terms of gender. I remember watching a video (I think about Barnard research haha) and how most participants of studies have historically been men, which clearly skews sample sizes. As such, I really admire how your work is not only based in improving diagnosis but also potentially based in improving global health incomes for women in low income countries.

Go to the profile of Sciana Vertusma
11 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? Will your research be part of a larger scientific study? Do you hope to produce an annotated bibliography that you reflect on down the line? 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.

As I've been thinking about this question for the past few weeks, I've finally decided that my confirmed deliverable for this project in addition to the poster for our presentation will be a literature review. At first, I wanted to write a paper but I will need months longer of research in order to write a cohesive research paper on the topic. I want to continue on the research during the school year and especially next summer when I am not doing the second component of the Laidlaw Leadership Program.

  • 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 there are is not enough academic scholarship related to the Haitian Diaspora available to the public. Being the first Black republic in the world, Haiti is rich with history on leadership, politics, and human rights. Additionally, this position has also put a target on Haiti's back. Colonial/Imperial powers such as the United States and France have taken advantage of Haiti's resources and vulnerable position. My research question explores how the United States attempted to change Haiti's education system during their occupation of Haiti. This is significant because it's another example of how Haiti has lost autonomy to the abuse of power by other governments. In Haiti's case the United States isn't the only perpetrator but I used them as an example due to prevalent hypocrisy and false narratives within the United States government. This is a way to hold them accountable.

Go to the profile of Priyanka Mathews
10 days ago

I think you make an excellent point about how your work can hold the United States accountable for the role they had in Haiti’s loss of autonomy. I would hope that research like this can prevent incidents like this from happening again, but I fear that may be too naive! Regardless, it is important that the public be made aware of issues like this, as it is truly the only way for to improve the US’s treatment of foreign nations.

Go to the profile of Liam Stiles
10 days ago

Looking at expectations for STEM projects is always a bit difficult because regardless of your expectations, if the data is not interesting, the is not interesting. While this could mean more experiments with better parameters need to be completed, but sometimes projects just run their course. On the flip side, if the data is great, then that opens up a whole host of different opportunities. Currently, I am working on my project with a PhD student, but the approach is mostly at my discretion. I have some promising initial findings that suggest that my protein of interest may help to increase cellular migration, but I will need to continue into some more technically advanced experiments that involve creating a knockout cell line to see if those initial findings are supportable. If it turns out that they are, then there is a possibility that I could publish a paper on the topic.  

Since pancreatic cancer is often not found until it migrates to other organ sites, it is often a very challenging disease to treat. Due to this understanding, possible mechanisms that allow cells to migrate more effectively is important for understanding the overall scope of the disease as well as creating methods for earlier detection.  

Go to the profile of Sebastian Verrelli
9 days ago

I was not previously aware of this difficulty in treating pancreatic cancer. The work that you are doing seems remarkably important for not just pancreatic cancer but cancer pathology as a whole. Regardless of whether the data is promising, the work that you are completing will be invaluable to the development of our knowledge base. There seems to be a tendency in STEM to overlook or disregard work that does not produce the flashiest results. It is nonetheless important for opaque work to be done - finding a dead end signals tells us a lot about where future research should be aimed.

Go to the profile of Valeriya Zherebtsova
10 days ago

  • The first summer is dedicated to preparation of the equipment for the in-situ measurements that will happen next summer. While there is no actual research conducted in the first summer, there are still many small but important projects, such as finding the most cost-effective decisions, learning how to operate all the equipment, and preparing to analyze all the data that will be obtained next year. Another side of the project - bureaucratic - is not as exciting, but is still highly necessary. Since we are going to another country, we need to obtain a special permission from the government to conduct our research. This might include meetings with country representatives, writing proposals about our research, and collecting all the documents that are needed for applications.
  • More than 60 years ago 33 nuclear weapons were tested in Kiribati. And since then almost no research has been openly conducted to find out whether it is safe for people to live there. There are just a few reports that do not specify much data, since they were conducted simply to get rid of the necessity of solving the problem with radiation on the islands. Therefore, the information in these reports might have been manipulated and is not credible enough. The most disturbing part is that people, including small children, are still living on some of the islands, and it might be dangerous even to consume locally grown food and seafood from nearby areas. Thus, our research will primarily focus on the detection of the radiation in the food. In addition, due to climate change, the land is going under water. This issue needs to be solved immediately, because people are living there and we can’t let their homes disappear. Moreover, even after so many years, the land is still radioactive and once it is under water, the ocean currents will spread the radiation even further. So, we are also planning on measuring the elevation of the land using the drone with the LiDAR system.
Go to the profile of Tatum Hubble
10 days ago

Thank you for highlighting the essential behind-the-scenes tasks involved in research, Valeriya. It is important to acknowledge that research is often not a straightforward process yielding immediate, clear results. Instead, it requires a great deal of hard work, persistence, and attention to detail to achieve meaningful outcomes. Recognizing this reality underscores the dedication and effort that go into producing high-quality research. I understand that the anticipation can be challenging, but I am confident that your research will yield fruitful results in the end. This will undoubtedly prove to be a precious experience for you, and I cannot wait to hear all about it!

Go to the profile of Tatum Hubble
10 days ago

I am humbled to report that my work is already making a positive impact on the organization and treatment of patients at the NewYork-Presbyterian Congenital Heart Center Program for Pediatric Cardiomyopathy, Heart Failure, and Transplantation. Updated genetic testing has been initiated for several patients, allowing for more personalized treatment. Additionally, communication among physicians has improved regarding treatment plans, thanks to discrepancies I identified in patient charts. As an undergraduate student, I did not anticipate the extent of the influence I could have so quickly.

My initial goal was to write a research paper upon completing my data collection, focusing on the treatment of children with cardiomyopathy. Dr. Teresa Lee, my mentor, has graciously offered to assist me in the writing process in the months following my stay in New York. The paper will aim to analyze which demographics of children are most commonly restricted from sports and whether these restrictions align with the updated 2024 AHA Athletic Guidelines.

The relationships I have built while working at NewYork-Presbyterian have opened numerous opportunities for me to continue this project and related work in the coming years. I am grateful to the Laidlaw Network for providing me with the chance to form these valuable connections.

I believe the work I am doing is vital not only for the children currently being treated within the program but also for the future of the community. While I am not directly testing the children, my efforts encourage physicians to tailor care to each child's needs, enabling them to lead more normal and comfortable lives. Evidence shows that children thrive when given the opportunity to participate in athletics or be part of a team. Personalized treatment is essential for these children to experience normalcy outside the hospital, fostering their development into successful young adults who can significantly contribute to the community. As someone who grew up receiving medical care for Pulmonary Valve Stenosis and benefited from the opportunity to play competitive sports, I am driven to help as many children in similar situations have childhoods defined not by their diagnosis but by their potential and growth as individuals.

Go to the profile of Shreya Karnik
10 days ago

So excited to see how your research turns out Tatum! I'm interested in your clinical approach to your research and what results the different demographics of children will yield.

Go to the profile of Shreya Karnik
10 days ago

For my research this summer I hope to be able to complete a literature review regarding my topic. This research is not something I imagine I will continue working on next summer but I can certainly see how ideas I am exploring now will be useful to take note of for next summer. Currently I am working on drafting my paper and gathering sources.

I believe my research has significance because ti allows for an exploration into the complicated relationships that exist between patriotism, veterans and incarceration. Since veterans are often incarcerated for violent crimes and for drug possession I think exploring why this happens and what the links are between violence while serving and violence towards communities is compelling. 

Go to the profile of Hanna Partovi
10 days ago

I'm really looking forward to seeing your research Shreya!! Your topic seems fascinating and very important!

Go to the profile of Valeriya Zherebtsova
10 days ago

Shreya, your research sounds really exciting. You are right, it is very important to complete a literature review before starting the actual research. Your research is definitely highly important for our society, and I am very excited to hear what are the methods of your research. I am looking forward to hearing about the results and reading your paper!

Go to the profile of Hanna Partovi
10 days ago

My research works for the Justice Lab, specifically on the Research Team for the Square One project. We are working on first conducting interviews, and secondly I will help in making interview summaries to gather the important data points given to us by the interviewees. This work is done with a final goal on incorporating these new findings in the CRJ Roundtable taking place in the fall. The Research Team hopes to on one hand improve the roundtables and also point out new questions that have been brought up/have not yet been answered by the work done thus far. 

Questioning and researching the faults in the criminal justice system, especially through interactions with individuals who have been involved proves crucial in revealing its macabre truths. Effectively, the work I'm doing with the Justice Lab focuses on engaging in dialogue with the public to promote narrative change through truth telling. One primary focus is that of a "racial reckoning" which consists in pointing out and thinking of ways to eliminate racial injustice in the US' Criminal Justice system. Research must be done in order to begin enticing more tangible change in the form of policies and influencing lawmakers to change the current system.

Go to the profile of Liza Paudel
9 days ago

Hanna, your research project sounds incredibly fascinating and equally as important in its consequences. I am also in a similar phase of my research project with the Living Lab, where, rather than conducting interviews, we collect data on VMI and perception. I find interview assessments fascinating, and would love to learn more about the approach. I hope that the roundtable becomes a memorable learning experience for you, and I am excited to hear more about your project (and findings) during the research symposium in the fall. Good luck with everything! 

Go to the profile of Sebastian Verrelli
9 days ago

I am planning to write a paper. Up until now, the work that I have completed has largely been catching up with discourse in the field of ethics. Ideally, my contribution will combine two perspectives on ethics. First, I will attempt to discuss normativity from the perspective of naturalism. I will then combine this with a moral theory that emphasizes the importance of identifying exemplars of goodness. I do not believe I will be able to finish the paper by the time my stay on campus ends, so I hope to continue my work throughout the summer until I have a polished piece that I may call my own.

Exemplar naturalism is an ethical framework that is endowed with extraordinary practical facets. Sometimes ethical thought is so abstracted from human action that it is no longer is clear that such thought is worth considering. Contemporary ethics inspired by Aristotelian thought, like the exemplar moral theory I discuss, maintains a groundedness that is not adequately considered by consequentialist or deontic theories. It also seems to describe an intuitively appealing way that we may develop certain traits in ourselves, looking to those we admire. 

Go to the profile of Justin Chen
9 days ago

Sebastian, this work sounds fascinating and I am excited to see how it progresses throughout the summer. Hearing from our discussions with Nox, and these field journal entries, I continue to learn more about Exemplar naturalism through your project. Keep up the great work!

Go to the profile of Liza Paudel
9 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? Will your research be part of a larger scientific study? Do you hope to produce an annotated bibliography that you reflect on down the line? 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.

Some immediate expectations I have for my research project is to begin data collection. We have completed setting up the experiment, and are now ready to recruit participants and begin collecting data. Our research is a part of a larger scientific study on human cognition, specifically in areas of perception, attention, visual mental imagery, and imagination. I do plan on working on the research project throughout the year, with the expectation of finishing data collection by the end of August, and then data analysis and concluding the project by November. I plan to stay in the Living Lab for all of next year, and will either join a different project for the next summer, or conduct my own independent project. 

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

The overarching question for our research project is "can we know what you know?" Essentially, are we able to understand the subjective experiences of a person? This research question aims to answer many fruitful questions, whether on a smaller scale or on a larger scale. In terms of a smaller scale, we will determine if the iSDT (introspective signal detection theory) model holds validity, and if it can surpass the current SDT (signal detection theory) model. Validating the iSDT model can help bridge the gap across studies of consciousness, metacognition, and visual mental imagery. On a larger scale, understanding subjective experiences can be immensely helpful for the scientific community, as well as in various settings, such as the for physical or mental health care -- where, for example, a doctor is able to better understand the subjective experience of pain that the patient self-reports. In other words, it may be able to provide a measure of verifying introspective subjective measures. 

Go to the profile of Liam Stiles
9 days ago

It seems like you are moving in a promising direction on the experimental set-up, and I look forward to seeing how your work progresses. The future directions also seem quite interesting. 

Go to the profile of Justin Chen
9 days ago

On top of presenting my research in the Research Symposium for the fall, my immediate expectations are to complete a psychology literature review and finalize my pilot experiment to conduct with my faculty advisor in the fall as well. This summer is the first phase of my project that I will continue through the school year and possibly into the next summer as well (abroad in another country). At the one-month mark of the program, I expect to continue my literature review and complete it by the end of the three months of this summer. 

My research is significant because understanding the way forgiveness intersects with acculturation, religion, and health can help deeply understand the Asian American identity. Also, through focusing on forgiveness, I have found my question has taken on a new form of questioning the foundations of the Korean diaspora in the United States and the ways forgiveness can take shape in this context. Mental well-being as well is emphasized as the positive impacts of forgiveness may further destigmatize this concept in Asian American communities. I truly believe more research in this area will create a more comprehensive overview of the Asian identity, frequently neglected in academic spheres.

Hi Justin, your project is very impressive and your focus on the Korean diaspora in the U.S. is a very interesting subject to focus on. It sounds like you're operating at the intersections of many disciplines (history, psychology, and religion---to name a few), I think interdisciplinary research often denotes the innovative quality of the research and I am excited to see how you bring your own ideas into this broader conversation of Asian American identities. As you've said this is a very neglected area in academia and I believe your work will be a very impactful contribution!

My research is a part of a larger study on political polarization. Presently, I am writing a case study to investigate if the paper’s thesis resonates with what we observe on the state level. By the end of this summer, I will have finished the case study, depending on what I find I could be interested in writing a paper to summarize my findings. The significance of my research is in how it can allow us to understand the current atmosphere in U.S. politics. This is especially poignant in the abortion debate which has life-altering ramifications but is often plagued by misinformation. As women’s bodily autonomy slips through their fingers and into the hands of the state, we must understand when this process began so that we can work to reverse it. 

Go to the profile of Erica Kokor
7 days ago

Your research is so important in today's world, I'm excited to see what you unearth in the conversation of abortion, bodily autonomy, and women's rights as a whole! And if you end up writing a paper, I'd love to read it

Go to the profile of Erica Kokor
7 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? Will your research be part of a larger scientific study? Do you hope to produce an annotated bibliography that you reflect on down the line? 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.

Some immediate expectations I have for my research are getting any travel plans set in stone & fully calibrating the telescope/fixing any bugs in the software. However, this is only seen as the first of two summers, the second of which my research group will travel to the South Pacific and take on-site radiation measurements. Here, I'll be able to capture celestial objects from the equator! At the end, I hope to produce a paper potentially accompanied by video documentaries from both summers. 

  • 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 data we're collecting next summer affects real populations. The question we're investigating is whether or not the radiation levels in food on Kiritimati Island (where nuclear testing was done post WW2) are higher than the regulated levels set by the International Commission (100 mrem/year). If there is, we'll be able to take action and potentially help future generations!

Go to the profile of Hannah Smith
7 days ago

Erica, I really like the idea of a video documentary to accompany your research paper! I think that would be a great way to display what you’ve worked on in a more visual way than a paper would be able to show on its own.

Go to the profile of Hannah Smith
7 days ago

For my final deliverable, I originally planned to write a research paper. However, I think it will be more feasible for me to write a film review. I need to do more research on what a formal film review looks like, but this style of writing will allow me to combine the books and articles about the time period that I have read with an evaluation of a specific film that I believe encapsulates my thesis. Eventually, I would like to write a more formal research paper on my topic as a part of a larger project, because there are many topics related to what I’m focusing on that I would like to look deeper into and bring together in a new way.

The question I am investigating is how films made during the Exclusion Era used portrayals of gender and sexuality to rationalize exclusionary policies towards Chinese Americans. This question is significant to study because it is important to understand how media can both reflect and create stereotypes about marginalized groups, as well as how this may influence the way that people perceive them. Being aware of how media, specifically films, can influence us in a political and social sense is important in combatting stereotypes we may be presented with. 

The idea that film, and in general art forms, can be tools for both positive and negative social change is a fascinating one. We see and hear very often references to art being a "voice for the voiceless" and a tool for self-expression that is accessible to even the most dispossessed of people, but we don't talk nearly enough about how the same power can be reversed to maintain stereotypes and other forms of injustice. I'm excited to see how your research pans out!

I plan on developing a paper as the culmination of my research. Within this paper, I hope to capture some of the discourse surrounding the expansion of civil society across the world and some of the efforts that governments have undertaken to regulate these important pillars of society. In addition, I plan on synthesizing findings obtained from conversations with industry experts to understand some of the adaptive measures that civil society organizations, particularly non-governmental organizations and philanthropic organizations have taken in response to these challenges. 

Research into CSO adaptation matters because for better or for worse, governments are working to curb the power and influence of these organizations. They do these for range of reasons, from security concerns to concerns about the power CSOs have to uproot established social and political orders. Because this is such a growing challenge, it is important to understand how CSOs are adapting to this and what they can do to make it easier to carry out their activities in their respective areas of operation.