Erica Lee

Laidlaw Scholar , Columbia University
  • People
  • United States of America

I am a/an:

Undergraduate Leadership & Research Scholar


Columbia University

Laidlaw Cohort Year


Research Topic

Education Urban Planning

I am from:

United States of America

I speak:


My hobbies/interests are:

Pets Photography Running/jogging

I am open to participating in mentoring/buddy programmes


Influencer Of


Rooms participated in:

Columbia University

Recent Comments

Jul 02, 2023

Although the scope of my project itself hasn't changed, the pace definitely was altered as we realized that we needed much more teamwork to make our software work for our group than anticipated. It was very helpful to receive such patience and guidance from my fellow researcher and professor, and I realized that gravitational wave events happen much more often than I anticipated, and with different likelihoods of being black hole events. Therefore, my research is tiered by prioritizing certain events, which was so interesting to see! Also, the research papers written by my professor and his colleagues have educated me so much - I keep rereading them due to how dense and informative they are, but they gave me all the background I needed to be aware of how amazing a project I am assisting with. 

My own professors research, and recent LIGO findings or events detected at observatories have enriched my experience while researching, and given me all the knowledge I have needed! It is so unique having a mentor with the answers to my questions.

Hi Lucia! 

I totally agree about the importance of finding a pace within your team. I hadn't expected to find community and regularity during this short 6 week period, but finding a rhythm with my team members has been a really wonderful part of this summer. 

Jul 02, 2023

So sorry for the late post! I got confused with the weeks and did not catch up in time. 

With regard to my project, I encountered the new idea of marking yourself as a test subject. Prior to this research process, I had assumed that we were ‘not allowed’ as anthropological researchers to collect data on our own feelings and the ways that people approached us in the experiment. I had known that this information was meant to be included in the positionality and methods section of the paper, but being able to actually use it as data felt out of bounds. For me, this realization was part of a greater understanding that research is ruled by ethics and honesty, not rules — rather the rules we adhere to simply reflect the ethics conversations at play in the field of study. 

Of course for me the best resource thus far has been my fellow researchers’ field notes and observations. Having teammates as academic and moral supports during this process has helped me find motivation and meaning in the project. As I continue my research, librarian consultations have been especially helpful for me. Specifically, the Teachers College librarians have been fantastic resources when it comes to searching the mammoth of a database that is Educat+. 

Jun 20, 2023
Replying to Ariel Yu

1. My research will be in the form of memos. I'm currently working on two projects: the landscape analysis of narrative change organizations, and the history of a prison where solitary confinement was started. After archival research and synthesis, I expect to produce my research in two 2-3 paged memo analyses.

2. My research constitutes a small part of two larger projects. It will hopefully explain where the Square One initiative in the Justice Lab can fill in the gap in the current criminal legal reform activism, and will provide some historical contexts for an ongoing book project. I'm interested in such questions because I hope to contribute to the existing work of the Justice Lab as well as the current activism on criminal justice.

Hi Ariel, I definitely relate to your perspective on research filling the gaps in existing scholarship. Literature review is also a big part of my research, and scanning through these differences can feel tedious and unproductive, but knowing that there will be a tangible result definitely helps to motivate me, 

Jun 20, 2023

The format of my research has been a discussion topic for me and the rest of the undergrad scholars on the research team. For me personally, I left the format question until now because I felt that I needed to understand what I wanted to say before I could know who I wanted to hear it and how I could express it. As it stands, much of my research is about the relationships between evaluators and students in PBATs. At this point, I hope that my notes can help Professor Miranda’s larger body of research, and I’m considering writing a smaller report on my specific topic. A few members of the research team have agreed that we are willing to work in the weeks following Laidlaw, and I’m sure that we will sort out our exact plans in the coming weeks! 

My research matters because it will provide the basis for more qualitative and quantitative research into PBATs as alternative forms of exit tests. I know that there is little research done on these tests, as my mentor is one of the main scholars in the field. I think that PBATs are especially interesting because of the responsibility and work they put on the schools that administer them. While there is a great benefit, there is also a great deal of work necessary to run this system because the rules are not standardized and the tracks are individualized for each student. I think that writing more about the allowances and constraints of PBATs will pave the way for policy change. 

Jun 10, 2023
Replying to Dongfang Linda Qu

1. I haven't been thinking about the ethics of my research yet because I have not engaged with data collection; rather, I've been mostly reading prominent secondary scholarship in my fields so as to understand major points of contention and interest. Perhaps that will become important when I choose among a sea of historical records a few astrological segments to analyze, but then I think my metric would be for the purpose of making comparison between both European and Chinese cultures, i.e., records with temporal proximity that shed light on the psyches of ancient/medieval Chinese/European mindsets about future divination and the political impacts the results would make. 

2. Since my project is comparative in nature, I've been thinking nonstop about ways in which I would position European and Chinese perspectives as alternative ways to interpret the stars as political signs. So far, it has only enriched my project because this interdisciplinary approach has enabled me to understand different facets of human nature; to paraphrase Professor Kou, my mentor, the act of reading signs is human nature, and everything becomes readable in our post-modernist time. In this way, I've been considering also a modern reading of the act of star reading in the ancient times as a semiological act that embodies the spirit of our time. 

Your point about the timeliness of research definitely resonates with me. Considering the temporality of perspectives also comes into play during literature review, and I have found myself questioning how the temporality of research articles influences their reputability and influence in their field. 

Jun 09, 2023

With my research, reviewing my mentor’s IRB standards has approached the question of ethics. For example, as researchers we are unable to conduct our own interviews, but we are able to write thick description about our fieldwork. Within our data collection, there are no records beyond our own notes, so there is a pressure to create the most accurate report of events as possible. Simultaneously, we acknowledge that due to our unique positionalities, it is near impossible to create completely unbiased research accounts. The responsibility with which we have to approach our note taking and later accounts of our fieldwork raises many questions of ethics. Moreover, within the school we study, we have also stepped in as classroom helpers, tutors, and test proctors, in order to give back to the community, and this decision is another example of owning our positions as outsiders and dedicating ourselves to the betterment of the community that we are imposing upon. 

As I continue research, I have exchanged notes with other members of the research team. When viewing the same classrooms and interactions, it is interesting to see what each person tracks as a notable event. Considering the overlaps in fieldwork notes is valuable to the interpretations we make, and being able to have conversations with one another about the disparities has revealed the subtle nuances of the community we are researching. The same differences in opinion have arose during qualitative coding, and noting these differences and how they affect our larger body of research has helped me understand the alliances and limitations of ethnography as a mode of research. 

Jun 06, 2023
Replying to Joseph Karaganis

1. Working in an interdisciplinary environment can be really motivating--I've been exposed to research methods and topic areas that differ completely from my own. Yet there is often a surprising degree of overlap, even with the most disparate research projects--I've encountered projects that use the same broad methodology as I do but with staggeringly different results. One of the things my time at Laidlaw has shown me is the immense diversity of thought present in different methodological approaches to social science--some veer closer to STEM, others remain firmly grounded in the qualitative work present in the humanities. This diversity is a great strength, and I think it helps me frame my project as part of a larger conversation between different fields which each do their best to accurately frame and analyze the intricacies of human social experience.

2. I've been thinking a lot about how my research could one day intersect with various leadership roles in the policy world. I'm studying an emerging and evolving social phenomenon, and as someone who hopes to be able to shape the way that phenomenon is talked about in the public sphere and in the context of government regulation, I've become conscious of how my research serves as a foundation and background to those interests. I think that this perspective reinforces my drive to pursue my research in an ethical way (avoiding biases and working within the best available norms) and to shape it in the service of whatever public good it might be useful for.

Hi Joe, I definitely have similar reflections to you on the purpose of our research. With my faculty mentor, I have discussed what the culmination of my final project may look like, and at this stage in the research process, It is hard to determine who I want speak to before I know what I want to say. The way that we choose to disseminate research is certainly a question of ethics and equity, so I am really interested to see all of the ways in which we decide to share our findings at the end of the program. 

Jun 06, 2023
  • Interacting with other members of the cohort has made me feel a greater sense of community as we approach similar questions of ethical research and position ourselves in specific academic niches. In meetings with my mentor group, it has been wonderful to voice concerns and try to answer each others questions as we try to navigate methodologies to conduct research and literature review with.
  • As I continue my individual research, the leadership workshops alerted me that I need to work more on my leader from within, and as I conduct independent research and asynchronous work, I have found discipline in time management to be a constant struggle. I have been able to find more balance through routine and speaking to librarians and mentors, but it is definitely an ongoing projects.