Second Summer Laidlaw Scholars, Summer 2021

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Below you will find a series of questions that correspond to the weeks of your research or community engagement. Please plan to respond to one question each week for the six weeks of your Laidlaw project. During that period, please also reply to the summer post of another Laidlaw Scholar as well. Photos, video and multimedia are always welcome, and are a required component of your post for Week Three! 

Week One:
As you set out on your research or community engagement project, do you find yourself experiencing any worries or insecurities about saying something that’s already been said? How do we as researchers and/or volunteers learn to ignore those insecurities or, better yet, use them to our advantage?

If your project this summer differs from your project last summer, has last summer’s project influenced your project this year, and if so how?  If your project is different, what tools have you developed to help you work on this project?

Week Two:
Does your research incorporate any outside participation, such as interviews or ethnographic observation? If so, how do you plan on approaching research participants or spaces in an effective and, most importantly, ethical manner?  If you are not conducting ethnographic research, what communities do you engage in your research, and how have they informed your project?

How do you find your own self coming through in your research, if it all? Is your project more suited towards the invisibility of the researcher, or is it a project that would benefit from the researcher being more present (whatever ‘present’ means)?

If you are doing a leadership-in-action or community engagement project, how do you interact with community members, and what kind of conversations are you having? How do you connect with this community of people, and what common cause do you find?

Week Three:
What does a typical day of your research/community engagement look like? Aside from a narrative description, upload a photo, video and/or other multimedia!

Week Four:
What challenges and/or difficulties have you encountered and how did you go about resolving them? Speak to a specific challenge you have encountered and some of the ways that you tackled the problem.

Has your research or work in a community to this point introduced you to any new fields or topics that are of interest to you?   How, if at all, has your work narrowed since the beginning of the project?

Week Five:
What new skills and/or knowledge have you gained from your summer experience? Have you met anyone who has been instrumental in shaping/helping you conduct your project? Briefly, how has this person impacted you? What have you learned about leadership from this individual, and how might it influence your actions, work, and self in the future?

Week Six:
For your final post, upload a video presentation to our site. In your presentation, please discuss your project: why did you become interested in it, what was the goal of the project, what was its significance or impact (real or potential). Finally, please consider how your understanding of leadership (curiosity, empathy, teamwork, resilience, etc.) has informed your work or been deepened by your work.

Things to keep in mind while recording: do not speak too quickly! Try to record in a quiet space with minimum background noise. While you should not read from a sheet of paper, practice your speech a few times before recording. Also, be sure that you describe your project in a way that is accessible to viewers who are not experts in your field. Your video should be relatively short–2-5 minutes is ideal!

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 Diogene Artiles
about 1 year ago

My project this summer, like many others, took a sharp turn after the pandemic: I was originally planning on interning at the Instituto de Moreira Salles in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, working with residents of the comunidades -- Comunidade is alternate word for favela, which is now used less and less by activists due to its negative connotation. Comunidade emphasises the cultural importance and vibrancy of these informal settlements that comprise almost 10% of the Brazilian population -- of Rocinha and Maré, helping with the documentation of musical oral histories from local artists. As a huge fan of funk carioca, which was a genre birthed in the comunidades I was going to be working at, I was very excited! Luckily, I am able to continue my research on music and cultural markers of nationhood from home. This summer my adviser is Ana Paulina Lee, a professor in the Latin American and Iberian Cultures. We began researching Brazilian abolitionists movements in the 19th century, and I am focusing my research on race, sexuality, and performance study. I am interested in the evolution of national mythologies and symbols, such as a musical genre belonging to a certain group of people, such as funk from the comunidades of Rio, becoming an emblem for Brazil as a whole. Along the same vein, I am interested in the development of national imaginations, such as the theory of mestizaje in Latin America (the idea that all Latin Americans are of mixed Black, Native and white ancestry), which is far from fact. 

I began by looking at the Sabinada, a revolution in early 19th century Bahia that was a culmination of decades of regional neglect coupled with racial and economic animosity fueled by slavery. The leader of the revolution, Francisco Sabinó Álvares da Rocha Vieira, is an interesting and eccentric character, even having been caught in bed with a man at a certain point. I was shocked to see the pro-police agenda of the new constitution of the temporarily independent Bahia, and how many enslaved people rebelled against their masters during this time, prompting many to either be forced back to Africa or other parts of Brazil. The Sabinada was not an isolated event, as the early to mid-nineteenth century Brazil was marked by regional rebellions. I was interested in Bahia because it is home to the largest Black population in Brazil. 

To answer the prompt, my project this year does differ from last year’s project, but it follows a trend in my interest in critical race, gender and sexuality studies. Although I am generally interested in the development of pervasive ideas of sexual and racial stereotypes and how they impact interpersonal relationships today (which I began by looking at large moments of racial tension in Latin America,) I am working on honing in on scope and time period as my interests as large and spread throughout the continent. I even looked at queer poets in what is now Canada, as I am interested in cross-temporal trends. Last summer definitely helped me build the discipline and resources I needed to perform well this summer, which includes knowing how to build a bibliography, how to read in a disciplined manner, and where to find resources. I look forward to seeing how my research expands and grows in the next couple of weeks.

Go to the profile of Beatrice Shlansky
about 1 year ago

Hey Dio! I am so impressed by your research! I'm sorry that you are unable to actually travel to Brazil to complete your internship, but your project for this summer sounds really engaging. I'm impressed with the depth of your knowledge and how your research touches so many facets, whether it be Brazilian and Latin American music, history, race, language, or nationhood. It's incredible that you are able to dive so in-depth into this area, and I'm excited to see your project develop and hear more about the different pieces of history and culture you encounter. Good luck researching and I'm excited to learn more! 

Go to the profile of Beatrice Shlansky
about 1 year ago

This summer, I am working as the Community and Government Relations intern for the American Red Cross Greater New York Region chapter. The internship has been interesting so far, with the entire internship being completed virtually. 

My recent work centers around reaching out to New York City community boards and compiling information on their meeting times and elected officials. I am then working to get Red Cross volunteers up to speed on Red Cross programs so they can discuss them at community board meetings and elsewhere. The Red Cross is focused on COVID-19 relief currently, and one of their main programs currently is the NYS Fatality program, which provides assistance to families who have lost a family member to COVID-19. Through the program, the Red Cross helps direct families to mental health resources (i.e. grief counselors, spiritual support, etc.), legal support, and provides support for the family navigating hospitals, funeral homes, and the like. While this work is not exactly the most upbeat thing, I believe it is really essential and can directly aid New Yorkers. 

I feel a lot of insecurity in terms of the general situation surrounding the pandemic and the fact that I am not actually in New York City to complete this work though. The work is very centered and built up around the New York community board system and Red Cross volunteer systems, but as a non-native New Yorker (and someone working from hundreds of miles away) the work feels distant and foreign. I have not met my supervisor or co-workers in-person, so I feel an additional layer of anxiety that I am not fully understanding the task or project they need me to do. I mostly feel insecure that I am making a misstep or not understanding the needs of a community since I am not actually there. However, I think being aware of this is an important step, and I am working to ensure that I listen and work with my supervisors, volunteers, and co-workers so as to never make incorrect decisions or assumptions about the projects and people I am working with. I seek to be aware of my position and my ability to provide help, but with the understanding that those actually in the community can speak better on their issues and projects than I can. 

This project is much different than my previous project; this project is an internship versus an academic research project. I really enjoyed academic research and it is something I still wish to pursue! However, the past few months of isolation, politics, and racial issues in the United States have made me feel powerless, and I felt that pursuing a purely academic project might feel unfulfilling or self-centered. I don’t mean this as an affront to anyone pursuing academic research this summer, these are just my own thoughts and feelings about the past few months and how I have reflected on my own interests and abilities. I believe my talents and interests would best be used this summer in taking on some larger, more direct form of action instead of focusing only on an academic/historical issue. Last year’s project was influential for my own academic career and helped me discern my own academic interests, but I see this summer as an inquiry into how I can embrace leadership and the skills I’ve learned to meet greater community needs and affect change in our current mess of a world.

Go to the profile of Diogene Artiles
about 1 year ago

Hi Beatrice! I can definitely imagine how working on a project that was supposed to be so personal, like community work, is exponentially harder when you are neither a New Yorker nor physically in the city to meet the people you are working with. I am hoping that you are able to continue this work on-campus in the fall in the near future to supplement your online work. I am also excited to hear that you are working on taking this summer as a chance to expand your leadership. Best of luck continuing virtually! 

Go to the profile of Jake Fisher
about 1 year ago

This summer, I am interning for the Special Policy Advisor on K-12 Education in the Colorado Governor’s Office. As a native Coloradan and K-12 graduate of the Denver Public Schools, it has been especially rewarding to work on issues that matter greatly to me.

One of the most important projects that I am assisting with is the development of statewide guidance for reopening Colorado’s schools in preparation for the 2020-2021 academic year. The coronavirus pandemic has only intensified existing disparities in the state’s education system. Studies show that some students could backslide as far as an entire grade level in certain skills before schools reopen. To make things even more complicated, Colorado is home to three unique types of communities (rural, urban, and mountain) which each have distinct issues.

A surprising fact that I learned is that, even before the pandemic, over two-thirds of school districts in Colorado were operating on a four-day school week, all of which are rural and mountain schools. While Colorado’s economy ranks near the top of almost every measure, the state ranks in the bottom ten when it comes to statewide education funding. A recent study found that over sixty thousand students lack access to broadband in rural and mountain communities. In the absence of broadband service providers, the only way to access virtual learning at-home would be to purchase costly LTE hotspot technology. In urban school districts, over seventy thousand Coloradan students lack access to devices and the coronavirus pandemic has widened the achievement gap between both classes and races. Equity issues have long plagued Colorado’s schools, but the coronavirus crisis has illuminated the misfortunate ways in which only certain students are being adequately supported.

The stakes are high and Coloradans rightfully demand that every child has access to a great neighborhood public school. After all, what is more important to a community than their children? As I noted earlier, equity issues are nothing new in Colorado, but the circumstances demand that the government respond effectively and efficiently. I have certainly felt preoccupied that if these issues were solvable, they would have been fixed years ago. My supervisor has helped me realize that every problem exists in a unique context. While the outlook appears quite grim, several factors might actually make certain issues more approachable. For example, some federal CARES Act funding is earmarked for rural school districts to expand broadband access in their community. This is an issue that would normally receive little political attention and may now result in the expansion of broadband that will serve rural and mountain communities for years to come.

It is quite unfortunate that some Coloradan students will ultimately end up losing as a result of this pandemic. I am proud to be serving on the team that will seek to minimize the amount of losses that the state will endure through the development of new and bold ideas.

Go to the profile of Jake Fisher
12 months ago

Week 2

After a mad dash to include new coronavirus relief and law enforcement accountability reforms, the Colorado state legislative session came to a close two weeks ago. The session came with its highs and lows. A sweeping law enforcement reform bill, hailed as one of the first in the entire nation, was signed into law along with a tobacco tax to fund preschool programs. Unfortunately, state legislators lacked the political support needed to extend the eviction moratorium, meaning that many Coloradans who have lost their job due to the pandemic may soon lose their housing, too.

As an education policy intern, my supervisor relayed her disappointment that there was no legislation on the subject of equitable school discipline. In the past week, my work has shifted from assisting with the creation of statewide K-12 reopening guidance to researching potential statewide policy approaches to reforming school discipline and slowing the school to prison pipeline. Study after study shows that suspension and expulsion are disproportionately used to punish students of color and that they don’t appear to have any sizable impact on discouraging misbehavior. In other words, they are racially biased and ineffective. Moreover, schools often rely on school resource officers and other law enforcement officers to enforce school disciplinary codes, which increases the number of students who are relegated to the juvenile and criminal justice systems.

I have learned a few surprising facts over the past week. In Colorado, corporal punishment (physical punishment) is explicitly allowed in public schools by state law. Courts may send children to juvenile detention solely for attendance issues. Studies show that juvenile detention, expulsion, and out-of-school suspension each drastically diminish the likelihood that a student will graduate from high school and make future imprisonment and criminal activity more likely. Inequitable school discipline is a major contributor to the school to prison pipeline.

These discoveries have made it abundantly clear to the Governor’s Office, that there needs to be legislation passed to reform school discipline. We are now in the process of soliciting feedback from the community. This week, my supervisor and I have met with community representatives from Human Services, Stand for Children, Americorps, Padres & Jovénes Unidos, and Democrats for Education Reform.

I look forward to seeing a bill that will increase discipline reporting, mandate equitable discipline reforms, ban corporal punishment, and prohibit imprisonment of truant students pass in the next Colorado legislative session. This couldn’t happen without the support and constant interaction with the community.

Go to the profile of Helen Ruger
12 months ago

Hi all, my apologies, I posted on the first year's channel a few times so I am a little late to posting here! 

I feel as though it is a common concern in research to find a way to contribute to the conversation that has been going on in a meaningful way, so there are worries about saying something already said. I feel as though last summer taught me to acknowledge these worries but not obsess over them, and instead put trust in your own ability to have a critical eye when interacting with other media. It helps when you come at a project with an attitude of questioning most material you read, and being almost contentious to allow space for new thought generation.

My project this summer is on the female body in medical literature in ancient Greece, so it is quite different from last summer! I think that the tools I've developed to work on this project are an increased confidence in my critical eye and ability to see nuance in the literature, which helps when broader challenges of the research process arise. I do feel as though the two summers are related in my interests more broadly in conversations around the problematic appropriation of Classics to support racist/sexist agendas and thinking about Classics as an intellectual space to critique society and think through systemic injustices (that Classics perpetuates). I am looking into how Greek culture (and female inferiority) was supported by subjective interpretations of "biological facts," but specifically researching women's reproductive agency (and lack thereof). 

Go to the profile of Helen Ruger
12 months ago

Week Two:

I am not conducting ethnographic research, but I have engaged with certain communities around my project, one of which is a graduate student mentor and group of first year Laidlaws. Another is family and friends, who have been incredibly helpful in asking about my project and allowing me space to (attempt to) articulate the place at which my thinking is for that day. For example, one time I was telling my grandmother about this section of a gynecology I am reading, in which the author says that during rape, conception can be obscured by mental resolve (i.e. a woman can "control" if she get's pregnant from rape), and my grandma told me about a recent politician Todd Atkin who said something similar. This helped me consider the stakes of my project. 

The question of visibility/invisibility of the researcher is interesting. I feel like we often have a sense that research should be this almost sterile practice in which we seek critical analysis and try and not "bias" our work. While I definitely agree that excessive biases in many forms of research should be avoided, it is not the case that personal assumptions or beliefs will not impact research in any way. As such, I feel like it sometimes is interesting and insightful when the researcher is present in the work itself. For Classics in particular, when a researcher is expected to write their race/class/gender out of their work it can be interpreted as classist/racist, etc. For me, given my identity as a woman, I think that I am personally interested in the conclusions and interpretations I am drawing about the history of reproductive agency. I feel as though the project could benefit from my presence as a person who has stakes in what an embodied experience of the "female body" is/was. 

Go to the profile of Diogene Artiles
12 months ago

Hi Helen! I think it's awesome that you framed your answer to the question by stating that you are interacting with communities as close as the ones in your own home. I think it is important to keep our loved ones engaged with the work we do, especially when they are able to contribute additional insight as your grandma did in the example you gave. It can give you the additional boost of inspiration you need to know that your work is able to permeate past just academic circles. Well done and good luck with your research!

Go to the profile of Diogene Artiles
12 months ago

My research this summer is not directly ethnographic, however, as my summer project develops into future projects, I will definitely be engaging with particular communities. I want a solid historical foundation of the ways in which sexuality and race have interacted in the colonial period and continue to interact today. I have begun to delve further into Gilberto Freyre’s 1933 work, “Casa Grande e Senzala,” which is one of the most formative historical books on the formation of Brazilian society. (Fun fact: Freyre worked under Franz Boas at Columbia). It is interesting to see Freyre construct a historical timeline that paints the colonization of what is now Brazil as a natural historical progression of the Portuguese’s historical interaction with the Jewish and Moorish people of the Iberian Peninsula. He argues that because of this historical “mixture” of both blood and culture, the Portuguese were more adept colonizers. This is rooted in sexual history, as Freyre has elaborate descriptions of the seductress North African woman bathing in a spring inviting an Iberian man, which translated to the sexualization of the Native American women of what is now Brazil. This historical fantasy reads as a sexual fanfiction from the white gaze, which informed the way many Brazilians, and to an extent, Latin Americans generally, interact with race and sex. 

As an extension of my historical work, I want to delve into ethnographic work by interviewing racialized people, particularly Black and Indigenous people, and their experience with sexual stereotyping and racism. I am interested to see how these colonial mythologies impact modern day interpersonal relationships, which can be translated to sexual stereotyping to the popular exclamation of having a race preference for dating (certain dating apps have race filters), and the historical weight that proclamation may carry.

Go to the profile of Diogene Artiles
12 months ago

Go to the profile of Beatrice Shlansky
12 months ago

Week 2 Post 

Hi all! I realize that I am a bit late for my second post and I apologize for that. I have been sick (not COVID-19 though, luckily!) so I have been stymied in my work and internship. I am getting back into the swing of things and have been working on updating the Red Cross's list of community volunteers these past two weeks. 

The Red Cross maintains a list of volunteers who perform various functions related to community outreach. There are "community engagement volunteers" who specifically focus on tabling events and communicating Red Cross messaging in their community. There are also community relations ambassadors who attend local NYC community board and community organization meetings as representatives of the Red Cross. We are dependent on these volunteers' ability to attend events and participate in their community to ensure community awareness and participation with Red Cross initiatives. We are working to ensure we have updated lists of these volunteers that want to remain in their roles. This project has involved a lot of emailing and calling.

In my outreach, I am finding that many of our volunteers are older, senior individuals and frankly, they are less technologically literate. Reaching out via email for the past two weeks has been unsuccessful in dozens of cases, so my supervisor had me start calling unresponsive volunteers this week. I have made more contact with people through this and it is easy to forget that email is not necessarily everyone's favorite mode of communication. 

This lack of access to and comfort with technology is also pushing me to have conversations with many of our volunteers about their engagement during the pandemic. Due to COVID-19, nearly all community board meetings, events, and gatherings are held online. I'm finding that many volunteers are not comfortable with this, and feel either intimidated or unsure of how to use these new meeting formats to participate on the Red Cross's behalf. Many have asked for additional training or information regarding these programs (like Zoom, WebEx, Skype) or how their community organizations are adapting to the pandemic. 

These conversations are pushing me to connect more with our volunteers and to ask for their feedback and ideas, as these are issues we did not necessarily predict. I'm unsure of how to conduct a training on these meetings since every community board or organization is using a different platform or has set-up online meetings differently. Further, since many are uncomfortable with online video platforms and I cannot complete an in-person training, I also need to think about how we can best even present a training in the first place. I am trying to be receptive to what our volunteers would find as best, and I am working with my supervisor to develop solutions and make sure our volunteers are ready and comfortable to help the organization. It will be a challenge, but I hope that through community feedback and conversations, we can develop solutions.

Go to the profile of Beatrice Shlansky
11 months ago

Week 3 

Working a remote internship means lots of time spent on my computer, and I've tried to create focused space for me to do so. Every member of my family is also working from home, so I've been working in my room lately in an attempt to create some privacy. Here's a time lapse of me working on a mapping project a few weeks ago! Peep the New York City themed candle gifted to me by my last internship. It's a nice reminder that the remote work I'm doing has direct affects and connections to a now distant place!

I'm not quite sure how to post this but here is my attempt:  https://drive.google.com/file/d/1S7VFGBmY_fd9fzhDJl6F0oJXZnwSLVG8/view?usp=sharing

Go to the profile of Helen Ruger
11 months ago

Hi! Hope you're doing well - loved seeing the time lapse of yourself working - seems like a lot of detailed and thorough research. I definitely can relate to the fact that my room seems to be a place of work now; and I love that you have an NYC candle to remember campus! 

Go to the profile of Helen Ruger
11 months ago

Hi everyone! A typical day of research usually entails waking up and running (to beat the summer heat!) before starting my day of research at my computer. I take most of my notes on Word, and read articles/literature through CLIO, so the majority of my time is spent taking notes or writing through my argumentative thoughts or reactions to primary sources. I try and take breaks whenever I feel as though the computer screen is too much, but for most of the day I have been using Word to narrow down my thoughts. At the end of the day, I like to write down some research goals/tasks for the next day and specifically what is immediate priority. Here is a picture of my desk! https://drive.google.com/file/d/1qyZDKd9YslWF-QdTnBcG3SM6tJ94fLp5/view?usp=sharing 

Go to the profile of Diogene Artiles
11 months ago

I hear you on getting tired of the computer screen! I definitely have to allow myself some space to take a break and maybe read a traditional book or condense my thoughts away from my computer screen. I miss the library!

Go to the profile of Herbert Rimerman
11 months ago

You use Word to organize your writing!? That's brilliant. I could never figure out how to make that work for me, and I had to switch to OneNote. What's your system?

Go to the profile of Diogene Artiles
11 months ago

What does a typical day of your research/community engagement look like? Aside from a narrative description, upload a photo, video and/or other multimedia! 

Researching from home has been a double-edged sword: I am able to work around a flexible schedule and plan according to my energy levels, but can be difficult because of space (nothing beats Milstein) and resources that a library can provide. I’ve worked around this by creating a routine that reinforces my research and my self-care this summer. This is what it usually looks like:

8:00-8:30AM - Wake up (sometimes snoozing)

8:30-9:15AM - Breakfast 

9:15-9:45 - Check emails and set up work station 

10:00AM-12:00PM - Active article reading

12:00-12:30PM - Lunch

12:30-1:30 PM - Work on bibliographies, annotation, and internalizing what I’ve read

1:30-3:30 - A combination of active article reading and looking through newspaper archives for key words and themes

I allow myself to be flexible even with the schedule that I’ve created above, as I know if I’m deep into reading an article and can hold off on creating a bibliography, or if I want to do more newspaper reading than academic article reading that day, I allow myself that flexibility. I track my progress not in terms of journals or articles I have gotten through (although the more you can read the more you will internalize), but instead measure my progress in the development of my research questions and ideas. Attached is picture of my desk! You can see things that are essential to my mornings: my oil diffuser, coffee, and my notebook.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/10Fb35sVY13dpZyUDRyGoWVJBdd4Q9962/view?usp=sharing

Go to the profile of Jake Fisher
11 months ago

Hi Dio, hope you are well! It sounds like you have a great schedule set up for research. Your work is always so fascinating and I can't wait to hear more about it in the coming weeks and months :)

Go to the profile of Jake Fisher
11 months ago

Week 3

In true bureaucratic fashion (haha!) I intern daily from 9am-5pm. My supervisor generally checks in with me each morning in order to let me know of any particular tasks that she has for the day. Usually, I spend my days researching a particular issue or topic and preparing a memorandum to send to her by the end of the day. On top of this, my supervisor invites me to attend about 5-10 of her (virtual) meetings each week that she thinks will be interesting. Last week, I got to join a meeting with the governor and my advisor to discuss ongoing efforts to reform school discipline!!!

Last Friday, I had the opportunity to write the governor’s talking points for the bill signing ceremony for the creation of a statewide Dolly Parton Imagination Library program in Colorado. It was surreal to see him speak the words I had written, which you can watch here: https://www.facebook.com/53481427529/videos/981440475621403/

Go to the profile of Helen Ruger
11 months ago

Hi Jake! I also try to set a 9-5 type of schedule for myself and it seems nice that your supervisor lets you know of any tasks for the day so that you have a focused day. I'm also glad you get to attend some of her meetings because it's always great to listen/hear from others and have some variety in your day as well. So cool that you are working so closely with these important education initiatives in CO! 

Go to the profile of Beatrice Shlansky
11 months ago

Jake!! This is incredible! I think that it is so great that your supervisor is giving you the chance to be so directly involved in your government's work. I feel that such an opportunity is so rare as an intern and I'm so glad to hear that you are getting so much about of this program during this difficult time of COVID-19. I hope your program continues to be just as rewarding! 

Go to the profile of Helen Ruger
11 months ago

Week 4: 

This is a great question because I think that so much of research consists of responding to difficulties that arise and working to adapt your initial image of the research process or reading materials. Some challenges that I have felt this summer are: working in my home and managing relationships with those in my house and my own research; finding the appropriate literature online, without access to a library; trying to find an argumentative angle on the topic I've chosen (i.e. what can I contribute to this ongoing conversation); managing the mental fatigue of intense research; and seeking clarity in my thoughts when I have a lot of reactions to literature.  I also think that the conditions this summer posed a unique challenge in my working/living environment and have allowed me to think more about the relationship between myself and my work, how I best think through ideas, and how to manage feeling overwhelmed. One specific challenge I encountered was not being able to access/find a particular text I needed that my mentor recommended (Plutarch's Advice about Living Well). I looked carefully on CLIO and on Google but still could not find it, so I finally reached out the the Classics librarian I was paired with last year. I am grateful that the Laidlaw program provided this connection and that the librarian was willing to help this summer as well.  

Yes, I would say that my research has introduced me to new fields of interest. Before this project I did not know anything about ancient medicine or reproductive rights in the ancient world. I have come to realize so much more how forces of natural philosophy, patriarchy, social imperatives, etc. intersect within medical literature. Medicine is a fascinating field through which to see social systems contingently implicated, particularly for an object like the female body (who is controlling her, how does her reproducing body interact with her healthy body, is there any possibility for agency). My work has narrowed greatly from the beginning of the project. For one, I began with a broad focus on women's bodies in Greek medicine in the classical period, but now am focusing more on Soranus' Gynecology (a specific text) which is a few centuries after the classical period of 4th/5th century BCE. Further, I initially was interested in broad concepts like "nature" "subjectivity" and how the female body is constructed by medicine with a particular social agenda. Now, I have a narrower focus on the female psyche in Soranus and the manner in which the mental interacts with the social. I am looking at psychic impact on the reproductive process and the terms with which female agency exists or is constrained in this text. 

Go to the profile of Herbert Rimerman
11 months ago

Helen, I love how introspective you are and how aware you are of your process as it happens. That's something I've done less consciously so far, but it hasn't resulted in any sort of schematization like you seem to be doing. You've inspired me to watch myself work this summer! I'm also interested in the way that your self-reflection mirrors the focus of your research re: "the manner in which the mental interacts with the social." Do you think that your contemplation of your own situation, your αὐτομετενθύμησις, if you'll forgive the neologism, has affected the direction your research is going?  

Go to the profile of Helen Ruger
11 months ago

Week 5: 

I have gained so many skills and new knowledge from this experience. Firstly, I have gained a much broader conceptual understanding of my subject matter and Greek history in general - the relationship between philosophy, medicine, and patients. I have broadened my understanding of forces of conflict that come together in a society, both in the past and in our time as well, namely issues of biological imperatives meeting social imperatives, how to question what is seen as objective, and how intersectional any investigation of a human should be. More specifically, I have learned more about the technique of “reading against the grain” because I am looking at the Greek language and asking questions about terms (like “sexism”) that are not as clear in the literature, so one cannot be anachronistic but still needs to be clear in one’s strategy and use of terms. I have developed more appreciation for the overall process of research and learned to manage my daily/weekly perspective on what is “productive,” and part of that has been me learning how to work through lines of complexity and seek clarity rather than seek a teleological end goal. 

The person who has shaped my project the most is my mentor, who has been immensely helpful with her guidance during this complicated project. She has challenged me to think in a new discourse and push my thoughts beyond a two-dimensional line of argument. I have learned from her that leadership is often about the words that are dropped in a conversation that are perhaps not intended to be the main point: you can lead as much with what is said in the “parentheses” of dialogue as you can with the first or last sentence. I will take forward from this project a new inspiration to challenge binary arguments in existing scholarship and seek complexity and nuance in my work, particularly around issues of gender. 

Go to the profile of Diogene Artiles
11 months ago

Helen, I am so glad you have been able to keep a strong connection with your mentor during the second summer of Laidlaw. Having someone to chat with about your ideas really makes your research worthwhile, so I hope to hear more about how your relationship with your research has been impacted by them!

Go to the profile of Jake Fisher
11 months ago

Hi Helen! It sounds like you have learned quite a bit from your project this summer. I especially appreciate the point you made about recognizing leadership in the "parentheses." This is an important point to make as we begin to acknowledge leaders who have not previously met the stereotypes that society has constructed for generations. Wishing you well!!

Go to the profile of Diogene Artiles
11 months ago

Has your research or work in a community to this point introduced you to any new fields or topics that are of interest to you?   How, if at all, has your work narrowed since the beginning of the project?

My research was originally very historical and literary, but I have recently delved into psychology. I am very interested in the way history informs interpersonal relationships, so I have been able to look at books such as The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D., to be able to learn more about the brain and trauma. I am excited to see my research go into the trauma of different power structures within our society, such as racism, homophobia and transphobia. Thus, my work has narrowed to be more focused on the way history and psychology are interconnected.

Go to the profile of Helen Ruger
11 months ago

Hey Dio! Yes, interdisciplinary work! It's so interesting to hear about your progression in research. I recall from last summer that your work then was also more historical/literary so it's exciting to branch into broader questions and themes. Something that your research is probably yielding is that while researching the human experience, and especially these themes of racism, homophobia, etc, you can use so many different tools and disciplines (like literature; psychology) to gain a fuller understanding of the picture. More layers of complexity and ways of coming at the problem will yield fascinating results. 

Go to the profile of Herbert Rimerman
11 months ago

Week 1

My research project this summer focuses attempts to identify and interpret the means by which the Hasmonean "king" John Hyrcanus (ruled ca. 134-104 BCE) incorporated the neighboring state of Idumea into his native Judean state after conquering the former.

To take the second question first, my experience last summer taught me that history research takes a lot of reading up front. I spent more of the research period than I would have liked last year reading and vetting my sources. This year, I spent the first half of my summer doing that reading and began my official research period in the second half in order to get the most out of my time with my advisor. My plan worked, and I was able to start discussing ideas right away rather than just looking for sources. I couldn't have used this plan, however, unless I had developed the source criticism skills last summer that I would need to find, vet, and annotate the scattered sources on my own. 

I often feel insecure about whether I will say anything new with my research. Bigger brains than mine have tried to untangle the contradictory and, by turns confusing and taciturn, sources on the events in question. Moreover, many of the best historians on the subject of this time and place are still working today. It's intimidating that the giants still walk among us, and I'm not sure I'll be able to fill the footprints they leave behind. But, as philosopher and historian R.G. Collingwood observed, no historical action can ever be exhausted for investigation. My hope is that I can look at the questions that scholars have already answered to figure out what questions these answers raise, and then answer these new questions instead of treading the same ground as those who came before. In this spirit, I spent this week retooling my research question based on the reading I've done and am moving toward a draft of my argument that I will discuss and revise over the next five weeks.

Go to the profile of Diogene Artiles
11 months ago

Herb, I can attest to the fact that your brain is just as big as the "big-brained" people you describe! It's awesome that you're already tackling these big ideas as early as your undergraduate years, and I can't wait to see how they develop as your years in academia grow. The fact that you're getting to join this conversation with a fresh lens makes it even more impressive.

Go to the profile of Helen Ruger
11 months ago

Hey Herbie, 

I love what you said in your reflection about how no historical action can ever be fully exhausted. I also relate to the fact that it's intimidating to follow and contribute to scholarship that has existed for so many decades prior to you, but I think it's important to keep in mind that the beauty of human interpretation is that each individual's perspective will and can add to an ongoing scholarly debate. I am confident in your ability to observe complexity and tension within sources and synthesize an argument that moves the existing conversation along. I also think it's great how you learned from your time last summer and are able to devote more time to questions that motivate thought rather than sources. 

Go to the profile of Diogene Artiles
11 months ago

This summer I’ve had the privilege of working with Professor Ana Paulina Lee. She has been instrumental in shaping the direction of my research this summer. Earlier this summer, I got to learn about her own research interests, which informed my interests. I got to take a look at Brazilian revolutions from the early 19th century to see the ways gender, race, sexuality and music (and even magic) interacted to form a more cohesive interpretation of contemporary Brazilian racial politics. I got to learn about the Brazilian’s separationist movement from Portugal and the consequent rebellions of different regions of the country, like the Male Rebellion in Bahia which was a revolt planned by African-born Muslim enslaved people, or the separationist movements of the South of Brazil. Not only did Professor Lee shape the content I looked at, but also the way I approached research: she gave me the idea of writing down what my motivation for doing research was at the beginning of the six weeks, and she told me to periodically return to this mission statement whenever the research process got tedious or repetitive. 

Also, Professor Lee shared some awesome resources provided by the National Library of Brazil, so I got to read a bunch of primary sources from the 19th century! In the future, I hope to diversify the media I consume and incorporate more video, film and art in the mix. In addition, I like the idea of keeping a motivational piece of writing at my side.

Go to the profile of Helen Ruger
11 months ago

Hi Dio, 

I'm so glad that you've established such a meaningful connection with your mentor! I relate to what you said about your mentor shaping not only the content but also your approach - I found that in my work as well, that it was often the subtle suggestions of contextualizing thoughts or methodological points that helped a lot. I love the idea of a mission statement to turn to at tedious moments - did you find that helpful/did your mission stay pretty consistent throughout? 

Go to the profile of Beatrice Shlansky
11 months ago

Week 4 

This question about challenges and difficulties really speaks to me right now as last week I had a real set-back in my work. I had been working to call hundreds of volunteers over the past few weeks to do check-ins and see if they wanted to continue their involvement with the Red Cross. I had been tracking the status of their involvement and responses in a large Excel document on my laptop. Last Wednesday though, my computer completely died and I lost pretty much everything on my laptop. This was a devastating loss of dozens of hours of work for my internship, on top of losing everything else from my photography to notes on my laptop.

There were lots of tears shed, and many calls made to the Red Cross's IT department and Apple support. I was able to recover an early version of the document, but unfortunately, I still need to restart the process of calling most of the volunteers again. Yesterday I underwent oral surgery though, so I have been in no position to speak well or talk over the phone to anyone. I have this week off to recover and rest, but the idea of re-calling all these volunteers next week feels daunting, and frankly, somewhat embarrassing. Many of the volunteers work during the day, so bothering them at work and/or leaving many voicemail messages already felt like I was burdening them. I feel even more bad that I will need to restart that process and that I wasted their time and energy.

The experience definitely has taught my the importance of investing in cloud backup services though! I am sure that the mishap will give me new opportunities to learn from my mistakes and develop resilience, and with the week off to recover from my surgery, I hope to take a step back and reflect on solutions and ways to get over this challenge.  

Go to the profile of Jake Fisher
11 months ago

Bea!! I am so sorry to hear about your laptop, that sounds so stressful. I’m hoping that if this pandemic has taught people anything it would be to be more empathetic. Sending you the best of luck as you work to recover your lost work.

Go to the profile of Jake Fisher
11 months ago

Week 4

One of my long-term projects for the summer has been researching and proposing potential solutions for the lack of diversity among Colorado’s teachers. This issue is a topic that was relatively new to me, but has been extremely surprising to research. While over half of students in the state are students of color, 87% of teachers are white. Of the state’s 178 school districts, 130 don’t have a single Black educator, and a third do not have a single Hispanic educator.

Strong research suggests that increased teacher diversity is not only beneficial for students of color, but actually improves student achievement across the board. One study found that having a Black teacher in third, fourth, or fifth grade increases a low-income Black student’s likelihood of graduating high school by 39%. In the education world, statistics like these make improving teacher diversity in Colorado a necessity.

The lack of teacher diversity in the state is simultaneously accompanied by a teacher shortage across Colorado, particularly in rural communities. I have found that there are a variety of proposals that can potentially make significant progress in solving both issues. Perhaps most intriguing are programs which work to transition paraprofessionals, who are far more likely to reflect student demographics, into becoming teachers through partnerships between rural community colleges and four-year universities.

I’m certainly looking forward into pursuing the issue of teacher diversity further!

Go to the profile of Jake Fisher
11 months ago

Week 5

My internship supervisor for this summer has greatly impacted me. At just 30 years old, Allie is by far the youngest of the governor’s senior policy advisors. Her portfolio of legislative responsibilities includes education, child welfare, as well as serving as the state’s lobbyist. Needless to say, she holds an important job in the Colorado political world that requires a depth of knowledge on a broad variety of topics.

Like many people in government, she works extremely hard. It isn’t uncommon to receive an email from her late at night, early in the morning, or over the weekend. She’s developed a wide network of connections across the Colorado political landscape which includes nonprofit advocates, retired policymakers, and government officials which she can leverage as new ideas and issues arise.

Having Allie as a mentor and supervisor has shown me that although she does bring her work home with her, it doesn’t really seem like work because she loves her job so much. Not to mention, that her work is meaningful and has the potential to impact thousands of kids every day.  Allie and this experience have solidified my hope to pursue a career in government.

Go to the profile of Herbert Rimerman
11 months ago

Jake, it's so cool that your internship supervisor has reinforced your passions! I'm glad that you are seeing the breadth and depth of your field this summer. I don't know much about state government, but I'm not surprised that it's such a complex operation. Have you learned how Allie became so knowledgeable and connected at such a young age? I'd be excited to hear what sort of impact policy advisors have on the legislative process and how their work differs from that of an elected official. With such a wide range of issues to know and keep track of this summer, have you changed your social opinions in light of seeing the moving parts of society come together? 

Go to the profile of Herbert Rimerman
11 months ago

Week 2

I got so caught up in my work last week that I forgot to make a post at the end of it. I'll post my second week's response now and do my third week's response later. 

My research is an ancient history project, so it doesn't engage with any living people directly. However, the sources are quite scattered across the field because the thing I'm investigating, while a somewhat popular topic of inquiry, sits at the intersection of at least two traditional sub-disciplines within the history of the ancient world. I've thus had to contact scholars across the globe to access resources, such as a review of household objects from the Galilee and an article on ancient practices of body modification that was not publicly available. All the researchers whom I've spoken to are really helpful with the information they offer, but my adviser gave me a quick primer on the etiquette of speaking to professional colleagues. There's a funny way that ancient historians have of speaking to each other that is simultaneously extremely polite and disarmingly informal, and I had to learn it rather quickly this summer in order to communicate effectively in the tightly knit community. The only ethical components to this work I can think of are that you shouldn't share the sources that a scholar sends you because they may not have been published in the form that you have them, and that you shouldn't plagiarize anyone's work. History, unlike archaeology, is slightly removed from the thing it studies, so there isn't a risk of disturbing a site of cultural heritage. I think the most you could do is write an offensive or poorly researched work, which will probably not be well-received in the scholarly community or even published. 

The question of whether a historian should come through in their research has been a question of debate for a long time in philosophy and historiography. It sort of depends on what you think "history" is. I subscribe most to R.G. Collingwood's theory, where "history" is the whole of past social human existence, more or less, and "History" is the scientific attempt to render the past intelligible ("science" here follows the Latin sense of the word and means any systematic means of inquiry with rules, conventions, and consistent internal logic). Archaeologists and some linguists also count as historians under this definition, which I think is great. One of the conventions of history as a science, much like philosophy, is that arguments rely on the evaluation of facts. Different people can look at the same set of facts and reach two different conclusions because the systems are not replicable, unlike natural science, so personal interpretations are a necessary driving force of history if you like Collingwood's appraisal. In this sense, I see myself coming through in my research because my argument is based on the conclusions that I draw, the way I piece together the information into a coherent and defensible narrative. I have to speak in some kind of first person in my work because it is so synthetic and methodologically focused, even though  many historians try to disappear from their accounts in order to make the conclusions they reach seem like unassailable facts. This is also a good way of writing history, but it doesn't work for my project.

Go to the profile of Devyani Goel
11 months ago

Oops, I didn't realise we had a channel all to ourselves and posted on the first years' channel last week! Will start with week two here :)

As someone who routinely looks at her research through the lens of policy, I think I benefit most from my work when I am free and able to engage with it in a personal manner. Though it's difficult to bring "myself" into research that is happening at a lab, now that I've been at my current lab for over a year, I've started feeling comfortable taking on more responsibility. I was also recently accepted into the Psychology Honors Program and will be working on my thesis for the next two years, which is another great way for me to bring a little bit more of me into the work I do at the lab.

I do think that the most effective way I have of engaging with my work is when I consider the implications of it, especially since it relates so much to incarceration and the stigma associated with it. So while I have to be relatively invisible when conducting data, my presence definitely improves the project when it comes to analysing data and fitting it into broader channels of Social Psychology.

Go to the profile of Beatrice Shlansky
11 months ago

Week 5 

I've gained a lot of knowledge about non-profit work, but as I approach the end, I am finding that my remote internship has been somewhat unfulfilling and disappointing. I find it difficult to answer these questions since I have not really worked with many individuals beyond my supervisor or the quick emails and calls sent to volunteers. I am greatly appreciative of the opportunity to work with such a large organization like the Red Cross, but since the internship has been completely remote, my projects have been smaller as the summer has progressed, and it feels as if my supervisor is struggling to find things for me to do. It's shown me how much the Red Cross's government and community relations work has struggled under COVID-19, and how volunteer organization is a complicated and difficult process. However, I will be quite honest to say that I feel as if I have not learned as much as I would have in-person. Working remotely on government and community relations projects is obviously not ideal, but it's even harder when it's in communities that are so rooted in in-person interactions and the work is so distant and different from my life in rural Vermont. 

I'm greatly appreciative of my supervisor, Denise, in putting together projects for me though. I don't blame her for the lack of new work over the past few weeks, but I wish that there were greater opportunities to interact with other folks at the Red Cross or to hear about the work happening in other departments. In some ways, I feel burnt-out; not from too much work, but more so from the lack of new projects and lack of diversity in the work. I've pushed Denise for more work, and I hope that some new projects or things may come through in this last month. It feels at times that my position has been in a vacuum, and I complete my few tasks for the week without any/much interaction with anyone, even Denise at times. 

Regardless, I can say that I have learned a lot about what working remotely entails, as well as general knowledge and understanding of NYC political systems, community boards, and how to organize volunteer work. I envision that this might be helpful if I continue to pursue nonprofit work within NYC communities. 

Go to the profile of Herbert Rimerman
11 months ago

I'm sorry to hear that you didn't gain as much knowledge or experience as you might have in person. It's quite interesting that volunteer involvement has dropped off so much during the pandemic, when it seems like there is such a need for labor in healthcare right now. Do you think that Denise has taught you anything about leadership through this time of strange and uncomfortable adjustment?

Go to the profile of Herbert Rimerman
11 months ago

Week 3

My daily routine is shockingly boring to look at, now that I've documented it. I spend basically the whole day at my desk, reading, writing, and listening to lo-fi hip hop. I would like to go outside, but it's so hot where I am that I can't spend more than a few minutes in the open air without getting uncomfortable. 

I like to break my day into sections of a few hours at a time, during which I'll work in one language at a time. It's too difficult for me to switch back and forth between German, English, Greek, and Aramaic very frequently, so I'll do my German reading first, since it's the hardest, then the ancient languages, and finish the day with English when my language brain is tired. I find that I do my best synthetic, historical-type work when I don't think too hard about it and just let my brain wander, so I leave my writing to the very end of the day. I don't have a real 9-5 like some of y'all, probably because I'm so distractible. I'll get sidetracked reading about something interesting but not very relevant to my research and lose half an hour, so I'm often up late trying to finish my work for the day. 

Yesterday my best mask broke, so I sewed it back together. 

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1Muad9nTg2_2pyuFtnfmK8k45SiKfyOC9?usp=sharing

Go to the profile of Herbert Rimerman
11 months ago

Week 4

The biggest challenge I have faced on this research project was accessing resources. It honestly wasn't that hard once I knew how. The work of my research is pretty tough, of course, but so is everyone else's. There's really only one trick to accessing resources that Columbia doesn't have, and that's asking the authors of the relevant papers to share their work with me. Classicists and archaeologists are very generous with sharing their knowledge, so I've gotten everything I needed once I asked. Primary sources are a little harder to find because they may not have been published in many years. I had to hunt through the bibliographies of secondary sources in order to locate the work of this guy, Ptolemy the Historian. His work is commonly misattributed to other writers, so it was pretty difficult to find. After a lot of searching, though, I was able to find it.

Go to the profile of Herbert Rimerman
10 months ago

Week 5

I've gained lots of research skills from my experience this summer, most importantly extracting the relevant information from a source as quickly as possible because there are a lot of sources to go through. I've also learned how to develop a philosophy of history and apply it in my investigation of sources. My advisor has been very influential in shaping my project because he gave me lots of methodological reading that has shaped my philosophy of history and helped me direct my argument. His leadership style is very interesting, at least as a research advisor, because he basically met with me to draw new roads on my map and suggest new avenues I could pursue or to act as a sounding board. An overwhelmingly positive leader, he basically never told me no or that something wouldn't work, but rather laid out the potential benefits and challenges I could face going down a given road. I found this style of leadership very helpful because it allowed me to make more informed decisions than I would have even if he had passed a judgment on my ideas or questions. That type of open and inquisitive leadership is something I would like to emulate.

Go to the profile of Beatrice Shlansky
10 months ago

Week 6 

Hi all! Here's my final video presentation: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1eww3N5lRZNAZEl7C8A1pffT_DY-NBWG_/view?usp=sharing :) 

Go to the profile of Herbert Rimerman
10 months ago

Bea, I've really enjoyed following your posts this summer! It's been cool to see you confront your frustration and disappointment with your internship to turn it into a positive thing. You've paved new avenues for Laidlaw scholars by pursuing this internship, and even though it didn't give you the kind of immersive involvement that you were looking for, I'm glad that you were able to cement your leadership skills by putting them into action.

Go to the profile of Deborah Sofia Moreno Ornelas
about 1 month ago

Week 1

For my second Laidlaw summer, I’m doing a research project with a public-facing component focused on the “decolonization” of art history. Over the next month and a half I’ll be looking into Western-centered art historical narratives from the late 19th and early 20th centuries from a decolonial perspective and how ideas of modernity in art are inherently tied to colonialism. Conversations around the decolonization of art history are relatively recent and it’s an ongoing dialogue that is just starting to take flight, so there are a lot of knowledge gaps to fill and space for new ideas on what a decolonized art history would look like. Because of this, I would say that more than worried about saying something that has already been said, I’m worried about saying something that’s superficial and not convincing enough for a discipline that has relied on the same methods and narratives for a long time.

My project is completely different from the research work that I was doing last summer. I don’t really think my research project from last summer really influenced my project this year. I think over the past year I’ve become much more aware of the problem areas of art history as an Eurocentric knowledge-producing discipline and I’ve developed a sort of critical lense through which I think about art historical narratives now.

Go to the profile of Paul Hanna
15 days ago

This is a super cool project! As I learn more and more about art history, I think is is an incredibly topical issue, particularly because we have to examine the very language we use to discuss "art." 

I totally understand the worry about writing something that is surface level and that has already been said, but that's always the fear we have going into projects. The more you read and see, the more you'll come to understand where the gaps lie and where you can fill them! At the very worst, you can pose a new question to help us think about these issues in a different light--not all research need be answers.

Go to the profile of Anna Mishchenko
about 1 month ago

This Summer, I am investigating the gender gap in financial literacy, particularly among low-income college students. I began my first week by doing an overview of the already existing literature that has been published on this topic, and I was quite interested to discover the many studies investigating the gendered socio-psychological dynamics in financial decision making. Something that surprised me was that there is a persisting difference between men and women in financial literacy, where women get lower scores on financial literacy assessments across all age groups, socioeconomic classes, races, etc., but this gendered difference isn't necessarily a result of objective knowledge. Rather, it could be attributed to subjective knowledge, or the way women perceive their skills and their openness to taking on complex problems. I plan to continue research in this particular aspect of financial literacy to hopefully get closer to answering the following questions: What are other factors that contribute to less wealth accumulation for women? What are other factors that explain the persistence of the gender gap? I believe that spending some more time looking into why women, especially female college students, seem to shy away from learning more financial skills may help me direct the second component of my project, community engagement. 

This is a hot topic among financial literacy researchers today, and I've come across many studies that have been published within the last few months. I do worry that because of my limited econometrics skills, which are necessarily to performing many of the statistical analyses the researches use to measure the differences among gender groups, I may not be able to make as great of a contribution with my research. However, I think last summer's project taught me that contributing to the research community could take on many forms. I could study a factor that hasn't previously been correlated to gendered differences or I could apply a previously done study to the Columbia community to either reaffirm or refute those study's findings. I think these types of insecurities could be beneficial because they challenge researchers to be more pointed and innovative with their research questions.

Last summer, my project was quite different. I investigated the impact of artificial intelligence on bias in judicial decision-making. The greatest takeaway that i'm carrying on with me this summer is to not get discouraged if I have to shift my research question. Some tools I've developed are the ability to critically synthesize resources to answer a question as well as the ability to teach myself skills such as R-programming or some statistical analyses.

Go to the profile of Astrid Liden
about 1 month ago

Week 1: For my second summer Laidlaw Project, I have begun an internship with VIANYC (Venezuelans and Immigrants Aid), a non-profit organization here in New York that works with Venezuelan migrants in the area. My research and internship topics have to do with Venezuela migration and the impacts it has had both in Latin America and other regions of the world, specifically in the United States this summer. VIA works to help connect Venezuelan forced migrants with resources in the US, most specifically NYC. Due to the pandemic, however, their resources have been able to spread wider, and the online platform has been expanded to migrants in the United States but also in Spain, Argentina, and other countries. This week, I spent time meeting with the team and sitting in on various aspects of their programming: specifically two tutoring programs for Venezuelan migrant adult and kids, and I will continue to begin my work this week. This is similar to my work last year, which focused on the impacts of COVID-19 on Venezuelan migrants, but this year I am focusing more on the community-based response to a migration crisis. In order to more fully understand the complexities of the crisis, I am really desiring to put the people first. Listening to their stories, understanding their needs, and knowing their desires. In the United States, the recent development of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Venezuelans has made legal status a possibility, yet it is not the end. I am excited to get to work with VIA in learning more about immediate response to a migration crisis and the US immigration system as a whole!

Go to the profile of Astrid Liden
about 1 month ago

Week 2: Continuing my work with VIA this week, I was able to see much more into the personalized and human-centered approach that is needed in response to a humanitarian crisis. I was able to help to interpret for Soporte Entre Pares, an initiative that connects Venezuelans to resources in community. I was not just translating but was truly learning from the needs and experiences of these migrants, many of whom are forced migrants. Being able to see the effects of forced migration, not just in the moment, but even years later, shows just how much of an impact the work of VIA has in the lives of migrants and how much of a community-based response is needed. A conversation I had with the co-founders of VIA and my supervisors is the emphasis put on the PERSON of the migrant, beyond just a statistic. Coming into this summer, I wanted to move beyond just the study of migration or academic discussions that see what the future of migration holds. Rather, I wanted to SEE it. I wanted to meet migrants and see their realities. Just in these conversations, I see how even big successes for the Venezuela community, like Temporary Protected Status (TPS), is still not enough because so many either don’t qualify, don’t know how to apply, still live in a limbo, or realize this is only temporary and can be revoked. Seeing this personal impact of legislative decisions is extremely important, not just to my project this summer, but also to my long-term goals.

This week, I also worked more on the bazaar initiative for the end of the summer. VIA is looking to expand from last year’s event. I am using my own knowledge, personal connections and experiences, and language skills to be able to communicate and help plan this amazing event that will both educate the general population about the Venezuelan migration crisis and also support migrants directly. I have been reaching out to the Mayor’s Office, local NGOs, and other possible partners to make this a strong community and educational event for Venezuelans. I have had a great time working with VIA, meeting the community, and learning more about the realities of a situation that is often glossed over.

Go to the profile of Anna Mishchenko
about 1 month ago

Week 2: This past week, I began to incorporate outside participation in the form of interviews with professors whose expertise in finance, sociology, and gender studies helped me hone in my research point of entry. I hope my community engagement will contribute to delivering financial education effectively to female college students, so I've begun to extend my research beyond understanding the factors that initially contribute to the gender gap. Now i'm beginning to look into ways in which financial literacy can be presented to my target audience. Many organizations exist that use workshops, programming, and newsletters to educate women about budgeting, saving, investments, and credit; however, these methods aren't necessarily tailored for college students, and as I continue conversing with my peers, I've discovered that many students prefer more modern platforms, such as social media, to get their information. I found in my research that women may tend to perform lower on financial literacy exams because of their lower self-confidence and lack of motivation, so I hypothesize that creating virtual resources on a platform that my community already engages with extensively may help motivate women to access educational financial resources. 

Go to the profile of Darwin Arias
about 1 month ago

Week One:

This summer, I will do a research project with the same research team I worked with for my first Laidlaw summer in 2019. This research team, the Sleep, Mind, & Health Research Program at the Columbia School of Social Work, focuses on the social determinants of health and understanding its relationship with sleep, mental, and cardiovascular health among racial/ethnic and immigrant communities. My first summer, I read a lot of the literature on the social determinants of health and did a research project on the relationship between acculturation stress and comorbidity in a sample of NYC Latinx adults, and how this differed among foreign-born and U.S. born Latinxs. I have since been working as a research assistant and learned so much about research methods in public health, social work, and clinical intervention research. Our most recent project involves the development of a cognitive behavioral therapeutic mobile application for insomnia for Latinx immigrants, of which is at last complete and will undergo a randomized control trial beginning this summer. I am excited to be able to finally pursue research questions that I have been interested in for a while. I hope to take this summer to develop my research question around the relationship between environmental (neighborhood safety, neighborhood walkability) and cultural (acculturation, discrimination, acculturation stress) factors with leisure time physical activity in a sample of NYC Latinxs, and how this is moderated by psychosocial factors such as social cohesion, self-efficacy, and/or social support. This is important because of previous research that finds low levels of leisure time physical activity among low-income racial/ethnic communities, and because of the role of physical activity in preventing heart conditions, diabetes, and obesity (diseases that are disproportionately affecting low-income communities of color). I am interested in this in particular because of my own interest in exercising, healthy diets, and cardiovascular health. I am a big advocate for physical activity among my own community due to my own experiences with physical activity among Latinx immigrant communities. I also hope to be able to further the literature on these outstanding questions surrounding the effects of psychosocial factors on physical activity, and to tie together my = interests in social determinants of health and medicine.

         To answer this week’s questions, I did not have as much concern about researching something that has already been looked into. I think because of my extensive work with my research team, they often make me think about research as how can I further the research that has already been done, or how can I build off of findings to come up with new questions. They often make me think about the “why?” aspect to findings that have already been published of which allows me to come up with good questions and potential hypotheses. I started off my literature search for physical activity & neighborhoods, and found that there are outstanding questions remaining surrounding how psychosocial factors moderate the relationship between environment/cultural factors and physical activity. Although there is research already published surrounding these relationships, I hope to now look into the remaining relationships that have yet to be looked into, as well as build off of other studies that have already been done and have remaining research to be done. To answer the second question, yes, this year’s project is different in that I am looking at physical activity rather than at comorbidity measures. I realized from my last project that this year I wanted to do something that was more applicable to public health and medicine, and something that included my own hobbies/interests. I hope to be able to use my research as a way to inform myself more on physical activity and the social determinants of health in Latinx immigrant communities, but also to motivate me to find ways to engage with the community and advocate for physical activity.

Go to the profile of Darwin Arias
about 1 month ago

Week Two:

My research question does not incorporate any outside participation directly as I will be working from a study data set that has finished with participant recruitment. However, I also plan on looking at focus group transcript data that includes qualitative information on the effects of the pandemic on Latinx participants from NYC, as well as engaging in community events with my research team that for right now consists of participating in presentations on sleep health for the Latinx community and for high school students. I plan to approach these spaces in an effective manner by making sure to be considerate of cultural values and ideas that may not align with my own. I am already conscious of this due to my own experiences, and hope that continuing interacting with the Latinx community and that by analyzing this qualitative data, I can be better at handling or thinking about interactions with an open mind.

I find myself to be very integrated into my research question(s) due to my own Latinx background and experiences. I think this project definitely benefits from me being more present as it allows me to think about my research in a way that is aided from my own knowledge on what kinds of factors, values, or behavioral patterns are present within these Latinx spaces. Of course, I am always conscious that some of my experiences cannot be applicable to everyone, and try to approach this research with a very open mind. Being a Spanish-speaker additionally helps in analyzing transcript data for focus groups that were conducted in Spanish as there are often connotations that are not captured accurately in translations from Spanish to English, which benefits the accuracy of captured data. Lastly, as I am also participating in some community engagement through my research team and hopefully at the conclusion of my research question, being Latinx and a Spanish-speaker helps a lot in connecting with community members as they are often prone to opening up and having a sense of trust when interacting with another Spanish-speaker. I hope that additionally this helps in the dissemination of resources and how applicable these resources are for people.  

Week 2

At this early stage of my project, my research hasn’t yet incorporated any interviews nor ethnographic research. However, I do think that community engagement is at the forefront of my mind when planning and working on my project (even if I’m not directly interacting with them, at least not yet). One of the main objectives of my project is to turn my academic research into a public-facing project that makes the conversation around “decolonizing” art history and the art world more accessible to people outside academia or elitist art spaces. If these dialogues stay exclusively within communities of people that have specialized art knowledge or who are part of high-class and predominantly-white circles in the arts, what’s the point of talking about decolonization? It defies the whole point.

I’d say the community I’m trying to engage with outside of academia and people in the arts, is the general public, whether that is museum-goers, art aficionados, or just regular folks who every so often run into art in their lives. I aim to start dialogue, make clear connections that are often ignored, and make the discourse of decolonization accessible to art-loving people who are excluded from the same elitist art world that perpetuates Eurocentric and othering art historical narratives.

Week 3

At this point in my research project, I’m still spending most of my time reading and reading and reading. The first couple weeks I was mostly reading on decolonial theory and art historians whose work problematizes Eurocentric art historical narratives. I was also looking into the Annenberg collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, an art collection made up of late nineteenth and early twentieth century Impressionist and post-Impressionist works valued at roughly $1 billion and considered one of the largest and most important gifts to the Met. I’m now shifting to digging deeper into the Annenberg collection and the history of the reception of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism - I’m looking into when and how these movements became a favorite of critics and the general public and why it is valued as it is today. I’m trying to bring attention to what in art history is being pushed aside or ignored in glorifying “masterpieces” like those in the Annenberg collection.

Throughout the day I read, add to my annotated bibliography, scribble notes and ideas in my notebook and a few different Google Docs. If it’s Wednesday, I meet with Professor Gamer, my project supervisor, in the mid-afternoon and spend the rest of the day making sense of my meeting notes. She usually refers me to some useful sources or gives me some feedback, so I use that to redirect where my project is going.

Pictured here: the pile of books that sits next to my desk (and which I’m in the process of reading!) + my long collection of sources in Zotero.

Go to the profile of Isaac Pope
19 days ago

Week 1:

During my last summer of research, I worked with an experimental physics group building a dark matter detector. This summer I have switched to an astrophysical observation group. Both groups are in the field of high energy astrophysics and both are led by the same professor. As you can imagine, my previous research involved more hands on technical work. I was... building stuff. I am now spending all of my time in front of a computer thinking about physics problems and conducting data analysis. The switch from the one group to the other was naturally brought about by the pandemic. Without access to a lab, more could be done in the group that relied solely on computers even before the pandemic. Luckily, I also enjoy this type of research more. With many observed astrophysical sources to analyze, I am able to take on my own projects rather than work as an assistant.

I believe the greatest tool I have developed in taking on my own project is that of communication. I have a monopoly on all the information about my project; I cannot rely on anybody else to communicate the results or to reach out for help on certain problems. This also leads to some pressure however. I am fully responsible for my own analysis and the conclusions I make from it. It is somewhat frightening to think that not only could I say something in a group meeting that is incorrect, but I could possibly publish a paper that says something incorrect. I would think I share the opinion of most people here that that is more worrying than the thought of, as the prompt brings up, saying something that has already been said. However, that might just be because I am in STEM, where I can quite easily state something objectively wrong. For me, the worry of saying something that has already been said is nonexistent. There is no problem in coming to the same conclusion as somebody else, as long as you come to that conclusion in a different way. Because I have data privately owned by my group, it is impossible for me to say something truly unoriginal.

Go to the profile of Paul Hanna
15 days ago

Week One:
--------------------

The very name of my project includes "leadership-in-action." At the onset, as I look to starting, I am nervous about applying the leadership skills I learned over the course of the last year in an environment that is wholly professional and not academic. I think it's definitely easier to use leadership training in a context where people are similar (i.e., college students), so I worry about attempting to be a leader within teams that are all more experienced than I am, and within my interactions with my target communities. Feeling like a small fish in a big pond is one way to describe this, but I think the nervousness extends further into a general worry of being given so much responsibility as a college junior. However, I recognize that there are simple ways to reinterpret my fear, most simply, as a learning experience. Though largely self-guided, I know that this is an open environment, and that I will have the chance to reach out to other people at the company for guidance, whether that is just a best-practice for sending an email or advice on navigating my future professional careers. So, while this is unexplored territory, I am excited to bushwhack my way through and learn as much as I possibly can.

Last year, I researched the socio-political effect of Napoleon and its prevalence within two works of fiction: War and Peace by Tolstoy and Le rouge et le noir by Stendhal. This year, though I am not a researcher anymore, I find that there are commonalities between my two projects. Tortoise Media is a media company dedicated to creating slow news and uplifting minority and marginalized voices. I will primarily be communicating and reaching out to communities and charities in an effort to bring them to the platform and give the issues they have concerns with a voice. My project last year and this year both center around the topics of political representation within written media or literature--Napoleon naturally appeared in so many works because he was largely influential, but also because he could dominate the cycle of news (let us not forget Le Moniteur Universel, the official government newspaper and propaganda spreader). Those in power tend to make the rules because they have this unfair influence, and Tortoise Media is a company that recognizes that and actively tries to work against it. In terms of working on this project, I think I've developed a keen eye for identifying overt or covert political sentiments in text, and I hope that will lead me to stringently examine news articles from other sources and determine what issues ought to be focused on, and how I can better target communities that are ignored.

Go to the profile of Malia Simon
14 days ago

Hi Paul,

It's really cool to hear about what you're doing this summer. I similarly have transitioned from a research space to a professional one, so I relate to the concern of adjusting to being a team member. I think it's so important to have experience with different roles in our academic lives and to not always be the loudest voice in the room. It can even feel weird and wrong sometimes and like you're not contributing enough, but I think that is accomplishing the goal of pushing yourself outside your comfort zone.

I also think that's a really great point you made about identifying political sentiments in text, because that is definitely something you have to train yourself to do (and I think academic research is a great way to do so). It seems so important to keep in mind that agendas exist in every sphere of the word and workplace, so we should never lose that discerning eye.

I'm excited to hear about what you're doing throughout the summer!

Go to the profile of Malia Simon
15 days ago

Week One:

My project this summer is quite different from my project last summer, and anything I have ever done for that matter. This summer I'm taking an internship at Honeysuckle Media, a social justice-oriented digital magazine that produces articles about traditionally taboo topics such as drug use, sex workers, and the LGBT community. I certainly think my research last summer has influenced my thinking when it comes to this internship. Specifically, I think in Laidlaw Summer 1 I had to learn the value of editing and being patient in the process of a project (previously, I have tended to be a bit hasty when it comes to calling a work complete). Last summer I ended up creating my own deadlines for multiple drafts along the way rather than just one final deadline, which was helpful when it came to keeping myself on track.

While working at a magazine is very different from doing research in some sense, in another sense it is pretty similar. I'll also have to stick to multiple deadlines and understand that a first draft is never the best draft. Especially now that I'm working for a real established media company that has a larger goal of helping the community and publishes pieces on potentially sensitive topics, I want to be very thoughtful about what I write. I feel more motivated than ever to only write what is true, and to write it in such a way that will not be misinterpreted (I have come to believe now that it is the job of the writer to make herself clear). This will require fact-check myself, and perhaps most importantly being open to feedback and not getting attached to any one thing I say.  When it comes to the concern of "saying something that's already been said," I do worry about accidental plagiarism from time to time. I think the best way to get around this as researchers/interns is to consume a lot within the field we in which we are working. It is just as much our job to read and listen as it is our job to speak and write. I plan to familiarize myself with the articles of other team members and even other magazines to hopefully avoid this problem. Very excited to get started on my first piece.

Go to the profile of Arya Rao
12 days ago

Hi Malia! It's so cool that you've transitioned from a research role to a writing role-- writing is such an important skill for researchers! I'm excited to hear how your experience last summer compares to your experience this summer as we progress.

I'm curious about the difference in approach between writing on a topic as a researcher vs as an author in a magazine, specifically with respect to the role of opinion. As researchers, we tend to write mostly objectively, but I imagine that as a writer, you do not have the same constraints. As you present topics for an informative purpose, I'm interested to see how you balance opinion and objectivity. Looking forward to reading your articles this summer!

Go to the profile of Isaac Pope
13 days ago

Week 2:

Scientific expertise has many divisions. Even within the realm of high energy astrophysics (my current field), there are tens if not hundreds of subdivisions with respective experts. So as I study and analyze my astrophysical sources, I cannot hope to be all knowing even in respect to my own project. For this reason, my group and I continuously engage and collaborate with a network of astrophysicists with similar interests brought together from multiple universities and institutions. In this way we fill in the gaps any one of us has in our applicable knowledge. We help each other not just for the greater good of science, but also with the expectation that we will also receive help when needed. Not only does this method of collaboration act as a source for answers, the separation in each groups expertise fuels constructive feedback. Collaborators sometimes ask us questions we would not think to ask ourselves and I think that is the most valuable aspect of collaboration.

I definitely think my project, even my field, is more suited toward the invisibility of the researcher. If you look at any scientific research paper, "I" is forbidden and everything is written in the past tense, separating the information in the paper from the researcher. I think this is the case because science follows the maxim that the universe works the same for everybody; there is nothing to gain from including one's self in one's scientific research (unless one's self introduces some sort of bias, but that doesn't seem to happen in physics at least).

Go to the profile of Malia Simon
9 days ago

Hi Isaac,

It's interesting you bring up how first-person pronouns are typically forbidden in scientific research papers, and it totally makes sense that this is the case. Even though we know that we are all human beings and therefore no one can achieve objectivity, I think it is great to have as an ideal (and that seems to be a major pillar of science). I'm curious is you see more "subjective" layers to science behind the scenes. Since you are in communication with other astrophysicists, do you ever feel that they take personal/moral issue on scientific debates? Do you feel this is always harmful, or can it sometimes be valuable too?

Go to the profile of Arya Rao
12 days ago

Week One:

During my first summer and throughout my time at Columbia, I have worked on a project investigating the genetic basis of toxin resistance, using the case of parallel evolution across insect taxa of resistance to cardiac glycosides in the sodium potassium pump to extrapolate larger principles of adaptive evolution. Turning away from more traditional basic science research, I am now working in a more translational space, understanding adaptive evolution in the context of infectious diseases by investigating non-coding minor Ebolavirus (EBOV) variants. 

EBOV is notoriously difficult to study; given this, researchers are interested in devising in vitro methods to evaluate EBOV. One such model is a minigenome system: by introducing each of EBOV's components to a system individually, we can see how they each work without risk of infection. I am interested in using the minigenome system to characterize EBOV variants that arise during infection, but that do not occur at  >50% frequency (minor variants). I am specifically interested in those variants that differ from the reference sequence in non-coding regions-- differences do not occur in protein-coding regions, but instead occur in other regions with unspecified function. We suspect that these non-coding minor EBOV variants have an effect on host transcription and translation during infection. While working in person at the Broad Institute this summer, I hope to understand what, if any, effect these variants have on host transcription and translation.

While this work has some of the same basic principles as my previous work (adaptive evolution), I will use entirely different techniques. I will hone my wet lab skills, learning how to design and implement transcription, translation, and luciferase assays. This project integrates my interests in evolution and medicine; I'm looking forward to diving more deeply into this intersection this summer!

Go to the profile of Isaac Pope
10 days ago

Week 3:

I usually get to my office in Pupin between 9:00 and 10:00 am. I ready my desk by simply taking out my computer and my notebook. That's about all I need to conduct my research (occasionally I'll have to expand my thoughts out onto a blackboard). I have a few projects, so I usually don't have to think too hard about what I need to do at the start of the day.

My research seems to be divided into to three parts: 1) reading 2) analysis 3) communication. #1 consists of reading research papers, textbooks, online physics material (aka Wikipedia), programming tutorials, and GitHub pages. For #2 I am preparing my data and executing programming scripts on it to squeeze something meaningful out. I also try to write down the steps I have taken but I am not the most organized; that will probably come back to bite me later on. A lot of the scripts are already written for me, I just have to figure out the sequence of steps I need to take to run them in the correct order. For less general processes that haven't already been automated, I have to write my own code. Sometime you can find me in front of a blackboard scribbling out equations I don't fully understand and then turning them into code. Nothing makes you feel smarter than writing on a chalk board... While reading usually happens before analysis, #3 is happening throughout the day. Not only am I communicating my results when I have or I think I have gotten something useful out off my data, I am asking questions as well as answering questions when my research partners need my help. A lot of my communication happens in Slack, where we divide up all of the projects and topics to have organized discussions that we can also look back at whenever we need. And because I am in the office, I can always quickly get help from people who are also there. Luckily I have an amazing grad student who seems to know everything.

I get lunch around 1:30 pm and when I get back to the office I usually work until sometime between 5:00 and 6:30 pm.

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1INqdJgjcZ06YLM4QwD1F5wL04mAoA1sT?usp=sharing 

Go to the profile of Daiki Tagami
9 days ago

Hi Issac, I enjoyed reading your daily routine at Pupin. I'm currently working remotely from Japan, so I don't have a fixed schedule at the moment, but I hope everything goes well with your research project. I look forward to hearing your stories once we return to campus!

Go to the profile of Malia Simon
9 days ago

Week Two:

My internship will involve a great deal of interviews and observation of people--I have been told I will have story assignments that involve going out and participating in community events with a journalistic eye/interviewing people. Figuring out how to engage with community events respectfully as a journalist can be a tricky thing to navigate. On one hand, you have the agenda of your story, and that is of course at the forefront of your mind. On the other hand, you don't want that hunger for a good story to disrupt from the naturalness or intimacy of an event. The last thing I would want was for people to feel put on the spot in vulnerable moments. Just as an example, I may be assigned to a story on Pride events, which I'm really excited about. But I want to be careful to get full enthusiastic consent from anyone I interview since the history of Pride can be a vulnerable topic for many.

In terms of the "invisibility" of myself as a journalist, this is something I think about a lot. How much is this "about me?" It seems clear that I wouldn't be so interested in this project if it weren't about me at all. On the other hand, as a matter of fact these are not my stories. They belong to the people who have lived them. I've come to the conclusion that at least in journalistic writing, your "voice" takes the form of structure and selective choices in a story. So rather than feeling the need to insert your own personal language etc.,  you can exercise creative choice by crafting the story in what you feel is the best, most compelling way.

Go to the profile of Paul Hanna
5 days ago

Hi Malia!

I think you're definitely right--the agenda of journalism is always a hard one to juggle with wanting to report a truth. In all actuality, it is always the outrageous and over-the-top articles that do well, and we seldom see "news" that is unremarkable. Because of that, it is definitely easy to get into the habit of pushing a narrative, even if subconsciously!

Though, I think of writing news similarly to going on a lot of dates--you sort of try things out, and if it feels wrong in on the first date, it's probably not going to get better! There are obviously exceptions to this, but I think it's a fun comparison to think about. I'm excited to see how your internship pans out as the weeks progress!

Go to the profile of Daiki Tagami
9 days ago

Does your research incorporate any outside participation, such as interviews or ethnographic observation? If so, how do you plan on approaching research participants or spaces in an effective and, most importantly, ethical manner?  If you are not conducting ethnographic research, what communities do you engage in your research, and how have they informed your project?

Since I’m doing a theoretical research, my research project does not incorporate outside participation, such as interviews or ethnographic observation. However, our project requires a fast processing computing power, as our codes take extremely long time to run, so I am using the Columbia University’s HPC facilities.

How do you find your own self coming through in your research, if it all? Is your project more suited towards the invisibility of the researcher, or is it a project that would benefit from the researcher being more present (whatever ‘present’ means)?

I’m not sure if I answered this question correctly (I think I didn’t really understand this question in detail), but I think this project is more suited towards the invisibility of the researcher. It is important for everyone to be able to get the same results when we create and prove new theorems, so instead of trying to make myself being present in my research project, I’m trying to make myself be invisible from the project, so that the results can be applied to all people regardless of their background.

If you are doing a leadership-in-action or community engagement project, how do you interact with community members, and what kind of conversations are you having? How do you connect with this community of people, and what common cause do you find?

I’m working under a professor, and instead of working in a community, I’m in charge of all the things that I do to do my research. While I don’t have to interact with many people to corporate, I must think about the best resources that I can use to maximize the things that I can do in a limited amount of time.

Go to the profile of Darwin Arias
6 days ago

Week Three:

A typical day of research/community engagement for me looks like me sitting at my laptop reading a lot of research articles, learning about coding, participating in meetings, and completing remote research tasks for my research team. My schedule varies everyday due to the tasks and meetings I have for that day, but usually begins with me continuing with my research project where I last left off and working on the respective section of my research poster (background, hypotheses, methods, results, discussion). I meet with my graduate student mentor(s) about twice a week to discuss my research question, what I have found through my literature search, and what the next steps are in progressing with my project. I spend a lot of time looking through the literature as often I find new articles that change the trajectory of my research. Reading more articles often leads me to want to learn more about other studies, how these studies were conducted, with what populations were these questions looked into, and how I can use this to add on to my project. My team meetings are really interesting as I am learning more about clinical intervention research as my team begins its randomized-control trial for a digital therapeutic for insomnia in Latinx adults and as we finish up the pilot study for this mobile application. My internal team devotes time to work on professional development among ourselves and to partake in community engagement projects, of which our last involved giving a presentation to high schoolers on the importance of sleep health.

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1IqjVBGst81CtnjIIStfVxfkAA2tAixin?usp=sharing

Go to the profile of Malia Simon
1 day ago

Hi Darwin,

It is cool to hear about how your research project is coming along on a day-to-day basis. I really relate to the feeling of reading sources and getting inspired in all different directions--sometimes to the point of it being a little overwhelming. How do you handle that feeling (if you have it as well) of wanting to include so much in your paper, yet knowing you need to stay on course?

Go to the profile of Arya Rao
6 days ago

Week 2:

How do you find your own self coming through in your research, if it all? Is your project more suited towards the invisibility of the researcher, or is it a project that would benefit from the researcher being more present (whatever ‘present’ means)?

Science, by nature, is objective, and therefore sometimes impersonal. It is therefore particularly rewarding for me to be working on a project that has a distinctly human impact. Ebolavirus impacts millions worldwide; to lend a hand in efforts to fight it reminds me of the place of the self in research. Research can remain objective while being motivated by empathy. 

In addition, my lab has >60 people. Most labs are far smaller; my Columbia lab has 4 people. Working in such a large and tight-knit community has taught me that though research is objective, the perspective of each individual researcher is unique and valuable. 

Go to the profile of Isaac Pope
3 days ago

That is crazy to think you are working in the same lab as >60 other researchers and that you still say it is tight-knit. I would be interested in knowing how you go about forming relationships with all of these people.

Go to the profile of Paul Hanna
5 days ago

Week Two:

If you are doing a leadership-in-action or community engagement project, how do you interact with community members, and what kind of conversations are you having? How do you connect with this community of people, and what common cause do you find?

So far, I've been curating a list of effective nonprofits in New York City and Michigan (where I hail from!) in an effort to begin conversations with these communities. My conversations so far have been limited, but I have been crafting different ways to interact with these nonprofits to get in touch with marginalized communities. So far, we're trying to even out representation, ensuring that no single sector is more represented than the other, and ensuring that we have a variety of perspectives within each sector, crafting dialogues between those who are privileged and those who are less so. I find that communication is a careful line to tread--trying to navigate not seeming sketchy when you're trying to do good, but keeping it concise enough to pique the interest of very busy nonprofits. 

I am finding, however, that the cause is shared--many of these NGOs and Nonprofits are advocacy groups; they exist to give marginalized people a voice. Because of that, we share a common cause, and I am hopeful about future communication with them!

Go to the profile of Isaac Pope
3 days ago

Week 4:

My biggest challenge during my research this summer has been keeping a strict schedule. I do not have close supervision and I rarely have strict deadlines. If I wanted, I could do my work in bed instead of going to the office since almost everything I do is on the computer. In this lax environment, it is sometimes difficult to come to work at a set time and work for a set amount of hours. In order to resolve this issue, I sat down and wrote an hour by hour schedule for my day. It is nice to receive notifications reminding me of what to do; without it it is much easier to make excuses and put things off. I have not organized myself enough to the point where I schedule the actual research tasks I need to do each day, and I feel as though this is a much needed next step to become even more productive.

I think the most interesting topic I have encountered during my research is frequency analysis. Using a mathematical method known as Fourier transformation, we can separate out signals from data and conduct statistical tests on them. Although I am using this technique for specific astrophysical tasks, it seems I could find a use for it in any field. I am happy I have added it to my mathematical toolbox, and I can't wait to see where else I find a use for it.

It seems as though my work has widened rather than narrowed. As I have become more adept at my research, my supervisor has given me more tasks. I was recently asked to help with another project on a completely different astrophysical source, so I am gaining more exposure to the different types of sources.

Go to the profile of Kate Marsh
2 days ago

Hi Isaac! I too am doing remote work and finding it hard to stick to deadlines, but something that has helped is weekly meetings and deadlines with my supervisor. I think implementing goals for each week has really helped me stay motivated. 

Go to the profile of Kate Marsh
2 days ago

Week 1

As I start out on my project, I've been doing a literature review, guided by my internship director. I haven't as much been worried about saying something that's already been said as much as I've been interested in how the voices of people I'm researching do not seem to be in any of the articles. As someone who grew up in Texas and Louisiana, it is almost comical finding different contradictions in the literature I've been reviewing. For example, the very sterile depiction of how people in West Texas use wells instead of hooking up to a public water system was fascinating to read in an academic context, because I felt like it left out a lot of the reasons my grandparents have told me that they use a well on their property. 

This project is very different from my last summer's project. Instead of researching law and policy, I'm doing scientific research into water quality. While so far this summer has been a lot of reading, similar to my project from last summer, I have switched from dense legal review articles to dense scientific articles. I think it's been interesting seeing how both are hard in different ways. They use completely different jargon and techniques, and it's interesting to see how these completely different disciplines are very interested in a lot of the same questions. In my research, the question "how do we fairly distribute safe water?" has come up both summers. Last summer we tried to answer that question with laws and policy, and this summer it's the actual implementations of that policy: what water filtration systems are needed, where are they needed, and how expensive are they for the customer. I'm looking forward to exploring these nuances more.

Go to the profile of Malia Simon
1 day ago

Week Three:

A typical day of my internship starts with  logging onto the editor's meeting, where we talk pitches, current events, and SEO for about an hour and a half. Next, my primary editor will email me an assignment for the week, on which I'll try to start preliminary research. This involves looking through other publications, scanning what's already up on the Honeysuckle sight, and just a simple Google search. If the piece requires interviews, I'll research the interviewee extensively beforehand and make a plan of interview questions.

If this doesn't fill my day, I'll start writing the piece and email a draft to the editor. Typically, a piece undergoes three to four rounds of editing before the final draft is published to the website, and then further publicized on social media. For the multimedia element of this ost, I've included a link to my most recent article for Honeysuckle's Pride Issue:  https://honeysucklemag.com/7-lgbtq-comedians-snl-crashing/