Alisha Arshad

Student, Columbia University
  • Columbia University
  • 4057579697
  • People
  • United States of America

About Alisha Arshad

Hi! I'm Alisha, born and raised in Edmond, Oklahoma. I am a current first-year student at Columbia majoring in Human Rights and concentrating in Psychology. My research interests include the intersection of politics and psychology, which I endeavor to explore during my time in Laidlaw. 

I am a/an:

Undergraduate Scholar

Area of Expertise

Humanities Leadership Politics Social Sciences

Research Topic

History Media & Communications Politics Psychology Society & Culture

Laidlaw Cohort Year

2021

University

Columbia University

I am from:

United States of America

I speak:

English Spanish Urdu

My hobbies/interests are:

Art Badminton Chess Cycling Foreign languages Music Politics & current events Reading Travelling Volunteering Writing/blogging

I am open to participating in mentoring/buddy programmes

Yes

Intro Content

Research Proposal -- Political Science

Partisan Polarization and "Culture War" Issues with Professor Justin Phillips in the Columbia Political Science Department

Influencer Of

Popular Content

Topics

Channels contributed to:

Social Sciences Research

Rooms participated in:

Columbia University

Recent Comments

Jun 04, 2021
Replying to Dennis Zhang

What new ideas, challenges, or other issues have you encountered with regard to your project (this might include data collection, information that contradicts your assumptions or the assertions of others, materials that have enriched your understanding of the topic or led you to change your project, etc.)? How have these ideas or challenges shaped the bigger picture of your research? Has the scope or focus of your topic changed since you began this project? If so, how?

My project centers around the question of how participation is encouraged and framed (particularly for underrepresented populations) in the promotional materials of the All of Us research program (a US precision medicine initiative). One really fascinating idea and rather significant body of work that I’ve identified in my literature review is that of “biocitizenship.” There is no consensus on a singular definition for what it means to be a good biocitizen, but some examples (of arguments put forth by other scholars) include that one has a moral duty to learn about and act upon their genetic health risks, one has an altruistic duty to participate in genomics research as an act of solidarity, etc. As I’m parsing through this dense literature and trying to bridge what I’m seeing empirically with what I’m seeing theoretically, I think this larger body of work is definitely shaping how I understand the promotional materials and messages of the All of Us research program. It’s helped me see broader trends (as opposed to the individual nuances in rhetoric I’d been largely focused on earlier in the data collection process).

What research resources have proven particularly useful to you as you continue your research?

In addition to the invaluable advice and feedback that I’ve received from my research team, CLIO has been absolutely crucial for my research efforts. The ability to access so many different papers/resources (as well as customize searches) not only expedited my workflow but also increased the range of materials available to me. It’s really an incredible resource.

I agree, Dennis. CLIO is an amazing resource. It's helped me find so many databases that have been extremely useful in research!

Jun 04, 2021
  • What new ideas, challenges, or other issues have you encountered with regard to your project (this might include data collection, information that contradicts your assumptions or the assertions of others, materials that have enriched your understanding of the topic or led you to change your project, etc.)? How have these ideas or challenges shaped the bigger picture of your research? Has the scope or focus of your topic changed since you began this project? If so, how?

One significant challenge I faced was data collection of bills regarding LGBTQ+ rights, both negative and positive. Unlike other topics, this one is harder to narrow down, since many terms can be used to refer to the LGBTQ+ community, and because a large amount of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation is obscure. For example, a bill whose primary title and summary only describe an act for further defining what constitutes a charity can have a clause in small print indicating that contributions to LGBTQ+ organizations are not considered charitable donations. This situation is difficult, but it has directed me to other useful resources, like the Congressional Record, and it has made research much more rewarding.

  • What research resources have proven particularly useful to you as you continue your research?

Proquest Congressional is a LIFESAVER. I've used it to access Congressional Journals and the Congressional Record, which have been super helpful. Also, I've used Congress.gov to cross-check bills in certain years. It's an awesome tool and I definitely recommend it to anyone needing to search through federal legislation.

May 28, 2021
Replying to Eleanor Campbell
  • While all Laidlaw Scholars will be presenting their research at the Columbia Undergraduate Research Symposium in the fall, what are the more immediate expectations that you have for your research? Are you writing a paper you hope to get published? Will your research be part of a larger scientific study? Is your research now the first phase of a project you’ll continue to work on throughout the year, and/or next summer? Now that we are nearing the one month mark of the program, please write about your expectations for your research.
  • I may continue with my research after these 6 weeks, as this is a big project that will require ongoing commitment to bring the final product to fruition. We're still in more of the research and development phase of the project, but eventually my faculty mentor would like to create a pilot fellowship program, so there is a lot more content and logistical research to be done before then.
  • Why does your research matter? Explain the significance of the question you are investigating, and why you are interested in it.
  • When I first applied to the Laidlaw, this line in the project description caught my attention: "Universities have excelled in teaching liberal arts and STEM curricula. A critical need today is to also teach life and leadership skills to students to prepare them for a world that is transforming around us in an accelerated manner." This idea still motivates me as I research. I think we, as Laidlaw scholars, are uniquely attuned to the necessity of learning these soft leadership and life skills even as we study more traditional academic disciplines. Young leaders who are both knowledgeable and passionate about sharing themselves and their ideas with the world in a way that benefits the public good are invaluable, and hopefully this fellowship would help craft those leaders.

Eleanor,

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

May 28, 2021

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

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

May 21, 2021
  • What are some of the ethical issues that you are grappling with in your research? What are some of the ways in which you are responding to these questions?

My task of research under my PIs involves mostly database scavenging for subsidy media coverage, so I believe there are not many ethical issues I currently have to grapple with. However, one potential concern in the overall research project we are doing includes an ethical side for firms; do they ethically use the subsidies given by the government for ESG goals (eg. increasing employment within the region, committing to environmentally friendly production, etc.)?

Furthermore, a potential ethical concern is the intent behind media—journalism can often be used for ulterior motives such as political campaigns, and it is important that I keep that in mind as I note key numerical details from articles. A way I'm counteracting this is looking for multiple articles which cover the same subsidy in order to gain a more nuanced perspective.

  • As you continue your research, have you considered alternative viewpoints in your investigation? If so, how have these alternative viewpoints enriched or changed your project?

My research project involves collecting data first BEFORE exploring various viewpoints. Economics at the academia level involves extremely heavy math, making it very logic-oriented and, at times, not open to alternative viewpoints. However, I do plan to consider alternate viewpoints as I work with my PIs to explore the next steps of this paper once the raw data has been sorted out.

Joachim, the point you make with media literacy is interesting! Although I am examining congressional journals, I am often reminded of how differently media can portray issues, especially controversial ones like abortion, for example (a topic I'm researching). In seeing this phenomenon, I am all the more cautious about how I consume information and where I consume it from (lots from fast social media, so I hope to be as careful as possible!). 

May 21, 2021
  • What are some of the ethical issues that you are grappling with in your research? What are some of the ways in which you are responding to these questions?

Some of my research is examining abortion bills produced from the 1950s to the 1990s. It is quite interesting how many different stances there are on abortion, ranging from completely banning it, to banning late-term procedures, and to allowing it almost completely. Through researching these bills, I've discovered numerous ethical arguments that surround abortion, many of which are based on moral, religious, psychological, and philosophical viewpoints. Although I may have my own stance on the issue, I try my best to look at the bills neutrally while researching, although that is quite difficult! 

  • As you continue your research, have you considered alternative viewpoints in your investigation? If so, how have these alternative viewpoints enriched or changed your project?

I am still working on procuring data for my research, but I hope that further analysis allows for alternative viewpoints to come up!

May 13, 2021
  • Last week the trainings and discussions we had cut across the disciplines. How does the interdisciplinary nature of this program, the fact that students are focusing on such a diverse range of projects, help you think about your project and/or your academic interests more broadly?

I think that the interdisciplinary nature of Laidlaw is helpful as different research projects will require different methodologies; for example, humanities will most likely be more qualitative than the quantitative nature of STEM research. Consequently, as someone who is researching economics—which settles in the awkward in-between of humanities and STEM— I can learn methods from my humanities-oriented peers as well as methods from my STEM-oriented peers and possibly apply it to my future economics research projects.

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

My main job under my faculty is to work on scavenging for media coverage in Lexis Nexis. Thus, I anticipate one of my main challenges to be how to efficiently find media coverage on each individual subsidy case. Another challenge may be efficiently executing one of my other main tasks, which is identifying the type of media coverage; nowadays, journalism and political coverage get conflated so it may be hard for me to distinguish between the two.

Joachim, 

I think it's great that you'll be learning from both humanities and STEM perspectives! I hope to do the same as my research project takes a both qualitative and quantitative approach. 

May 13, 2021

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

Participating in an interdisciplinary program allows me to expand beyond the typical boundaries of both my research project and academic interests. I am not only focusing on specific subjects but I am exposed to others, which creates a powerful learning experience, broadening my worldview. For example, when thinking of Political Science from an interdisciplinary point of view, I not only take into account one dimension of it (political institutions and actors, etc.), but other factors such as economy, psychology, and more. This multidimensional view for subjects allows for more innovative, critical, and creative thinking and problem-solving, which could aid me in both my research project and academic pursuits.

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

I have already begun my research! I did anticipate a challenge in finding House and Senate journals last week, but that was resolved over the weekend!