Elizabeth CarpenterLaidlaw Scholar, Columbia University
- Columbia University
- United States of America
I am a/an:
Area of Expertise
Laidlaw Cohort Year
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My hobbies/interests are:
I am open to participating in mentoring/buddy programmes
Rooms participated in:Columbia University
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?
A few weeks ago, we discussed interdisciplinarity; while then I reveled in it, the monkey's paw has curled and I've realized that being properly equipped to discuss an interdisciplinary topic means doing a lot of reading. I'm having to become a relative master of topics like land reform, indigenous rights, common pool resources, and nahua ethnographies, and that's only to get started! I need a solid base before I can continue or posit new ideas, since I don't want to risk missing something crucial that fundamentally pulls the rug out from under any model or claim I stake. Overall, doing this preambulatory research has shown me that I'll be entering not one conversation but many, even though my project is relatively specific, due to its interdisciplinary nature, so I need to be relatively well-versed in the language of every conversation I'm joining. So the scope of my project has changed in terms of time: this will likely have to continue throughout the year (something I've already discussed with my faculty mentor), and this summer (which I foresee continuing past the six weeks...) I'll really just focus on developing a theoretical framework or solid basis from where to depart as the year continues. The "problem" with just reading, however, is that it's not exactly productive—on Tuesday, I spent about three hours combing through books on land reform, but from their relation to my project and what I can extrapolate from them I will likely only be able to yield a paragraph. So one of the challenges will definitely be to stop equating productivity with advancement: my research is progressing, even if there isn't a paper by the end of summer to speak for it.
What research resources have proven particularly useful to you as you continue your research?
I truly can't sing Zotero's praises enough. I've been using it as pretty much my foremost tool in organizing and annotating my research—I haven't opened a Google Doc in weeks. It's easy to use, has an incredible amount of functionalities, and helps me keep everything in one place. If there's anything concrete to have come from this summer, is that I am now STRONGLY a Zotero convert.
I so agree with you about Zotero. I never used it during the year and now I use it every day and will continue to for the rest of my academic career. I also relate to the productivity and advancement idea. I spend a lot of time with spreadsheets without seeing some sort of tangible result but we just gotta persevere because our work is valuable and we are doing great.
1. One thing that was difficult for me to comprehend was the application of my seemingly tedious spreadsheet work to the larger project. I was also being ask to create a lot of visuals and diagrams for processes that I didn't actually understand. A recent meeting I had was very helpful because my faculty mentor really liked the work I'd done and explained that it was making tons of data into something comprehensible to non-researchers. I now better appreciate my contributions to the team.
2. I have mostly used resources provided by my mentors like project briefs and surveys they've done. Linkedin learning has also been very helpful in learning new Excel and Powerpoint skills.
I am writing a project brief and creating data visuals for the rest of. my team to use during different reports and powerpoint presentations. I will not be doing further research once the 6 weeks are over but I will be meeting with the team afterwards to present my findings and hopefully meeting with the ACERS partners including the University of Ghana and Ghana Health Services. My work will be used in their larger work.
My work is significant because I am elucidating the adaptive strategies that health centers use to deal with supply chain issues for essential medicines. This will allow our implementation strategies to be adjusted and also give us the ability to make informed recommendations for GHS.
The interdisciplinary nature of this program has been very interesting for several reasons. For one, I am able to learn about different methods and approaches to data from their projects. While I cannot always apply their methodology to mine, it allows me to visualize my data in a different way and consider my project through new lenses. '
In starting my research this week, I anticipate having difficulty with grasping the scope of the project and applying my own set of skills to the work so I can be a valuable team member. A lot of my work includes data analysis and visualization which I do not have a lot of experience with so I expect to have a lot of learning and catching up to do this week.
-How has my understanding of leadership changed?
I think that the major change that has happened for me from these workshops was understanding that there isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to lead. In media, we see a lot of leading from the front and that is usually what is taught as the best way to lead. A lot of my natural instincts encourage me to lead gently rather than loudly which I always thought meant I was not a "born-leader." This week I learned that my leadership strategy is valid and effective just like anyone else's but that it doesn't hurt to try out different approaches and see which ones you prefer.
Challenges and first steps:
The project that I joined is a massive effort that works with many organizations and has been going on for several years. As a result, a main challenge for me will be trying to grasp the many different components of this project so I can better figure out where my part fits in. Therefore, first steps for me will include tons of reading to get up to speed and coming up with concrete, specific questions to ask my mentor during zoom meetings.