Grace Kaste (She/Her)

undergraduate researcher, Columbia University
  • People
  • United States of America

About Grace Kaste

Research at the Columbia University Sabin Center for Climate Change Law in summer 2023. Studying sustainable development and economics.

I am a/an:

Undergraduate Leadership & Research Scholar


Columbia University

Laidlaw Cohort Year


Research Topic

Climate Change Law

Area of Expertise

Environment Law Politics

I am from:

United States of America

I speak:

English German

My hobbies/interests are:

Cycling Music Nature & environment Politics & current events

I am open to participating in mentoring/buddy programmes


Influencer Of


Rooms participated in:

Columbia University

Recent Comments

Jun 23, 2023
Replying to Joseph Karaganis

(Sorry for the late post! I put this on my to-do list, but I must have accidentally marked it complete because I lost track of it)

1. This is something that I've thought a lot about--since the bulk of my day-to-day research work involves interviews (and mostly preparing for them with background research), it's been difficult for me to plan out exactly how I want to present my final product. I'm thinking of writing a short paper in addition to the poster board, with an annotated bibliography that compiles all of the existing research that is relevant to my topic (LLM adoption in newsrooms). I haven't really thought about integrating my work into an academic environment that goes beyond Laidlaw, because my interview-based approach would require validation through the IRB for it to be published or released in an academic context (which would be virtually impossible at this point). However, I have thought about my project's implications on a more personal level--I see my work as having really pushed my interests further and helped me understand what the landscape is of this particular issue (one which I'm really fascinated by). The research I've done over the past month will definitely help fuel the work/research that I pursue next summer--my perspective on the topic is clearer and my questions are more focused.

2. My main questions surround the adoption of Large Language Model-powered chatbots (e.g. ChatGPT) by newsrooms and news media companies. I've mostly been looking at the way journalists conceptualize this integration process--and the norms, ethical considerations, and policy responses that have emerged. I think the topic is interesting because, while obviously timely (there's been a lot of buzz in news media about AI adoption, and a few companies have had widely publicized experiments with generative AI), it also ties into much larger questions about the way institutional norms and practices can be destabilized by the advent of new information technologies. On a practical level, the applications of my research seem pretty clear to me: a better understanding of this very odd moment in time (we are in the wild west of AI norm-creation) could help chart a clearer path forward.

This adoption of AI as conceptualized by journalists is definitely an aspect of AI that I haven't thought much about - since we really are on the frontier of this kind of tech, I'm realizing that norms and standards are being created organically and in a way that feels so unregulated. I'm definitely excited to see your research in terms of where the standard is being set, and to hear your take about where it might go from here. When you talk about the larger question of how institutional norms have been destabilized by new info technologies, I'd love to hear examples of past technologies that played this kind of role. I'm less familiar with this topic but I think this angle of historical trends is a fascinating one in terms of getting some perspective. 

Jun 23, 2023
  • I think the biggest hurdle, and potential next step, for my research is to create a more technologically advanced economic model. This past month has actually inspired me to learn to do this better, so this coming year I'm planning to take a GIS or econ modelling class to make my data more robust. For now, though, I'm writing a paper on the more simple model I've created, which I hope to present in the fall. 
  • I think this is actually something I've been struggling with -- my research topic seems tiny and niche, but has huge implications, and I want to get better at conveying this to people who aren't familiar with it. Essentially, I'm dealing with cap-and-trade programs, which are policies that states may adopt (beginning with California in 2008 and now with New York in 2023) to put a price on carbon emissions and gradually restrict how much may be emitted in that state. This is going to be our method for completely eliminating carbon emissions, so it's so crucial that we get this right. My project specifically is showing that California has essentially messed up their cap-and-trade program such that the price of carbon emissions is too low and entities in the state have been and will continue to be allowed to pollute too much. California is setting the precedent for other states like New York in terms of cap-and-trade program design, so I really want to be able to illustrate what CA got wrong and how NY can do it better. 
Jun 23, 2023
Replying to Sarah Bryden

1. Initially, I had framed my project around code-switching and the idea that when the rappers were changing languages, they were making a "switch" between two separate ways of speaking. Increasingly, however, my reading is leading me to think of multilingualism as part of one unified code. So for example, if a person speaks Maya and Spanish, they navigate the world with a distinct Maya-Spanish code that is always present, even if they are only using one language at a time. Thinking of multilingualism this way makes a lot more sense in the context of my project, because in almost all of the songs, rappers are combining both languages to tell a unified story. Also, particularly for the rappers who are natively bilingual, their speech/rapping/singing in both languages is actually "marked" as bilingual (with distinct pronunciations, for instance). 

2. Many of the resources we learned about in the beginning of the program, like Zotero and CLIO, have been very helpful. Surprisingly, I've also learned a lot about how the music is perceived from reading YouTube comments. I definitely didn't expect for this to be such a helpful way of collecting information, but reading through them tells me a lot about who is listening to a particular song (where they are from, what languages they speak, whether they understand the lyrics, etc.). 

Your project is so cool! Can't wait to see the final product. I think what you said in part 1 about multilingualism as one unified code is so interesting when you consider the ramifications for how the rapper perceives themselves. I've read about how people with multi cultural or multi ethnic backgrounds sometimes feel like they have to define themselves by just one part of their background, and I wonder if our common perception of "code-switching" as switching between two binaries as opposed to a holistic multilingualism perpetuates this. I'd love to hear more about this concept, and maybe this is unrelated but it also makes me wonder about the neurological processes going on here -- I wonder if the brain's language structure for multilingual artists is much more in line with this concept of one unified code. 

Jun 23, 2023
  • One new idea that has become a theme for my research in the past few weeks is narrowing the scope -- as I try to create the first economic model I've ever done for the effects on the economy of carbon trading, it obviously becomes more difficult the more variables I add to the project. But beyond difficulty, I've also been realizing that if I narrow the scope of the model, the aspects that I do choose to include are emphasized and clarified, whereas if I were to incorporate every single tangent variable, the model becomes less digestible to someone who is not familiar with this research topic. This has reminded me that my ultimate goal here is to inform and influence people's view of this type of environmental policy, and I'll make more of a difference if I keep it a bit simpler. 
  • This sounds a bit basic but previous research papers published on my topic or adjacent topics have been so helpful. It wasn't until this program and talking to the librarians that I realized that these academic papers have to publish their methods and data such that anyone can recreate it. By looking at the data sets they pull, as well as imitating their economic models, I've been able to guide myself through the process for my own research as someone who is completely new to the process. It's made me realize a new dimension of academic papers and research databases: they're not only vehicles for the authors' conclusions but also guides for anyone else to challenge, recreate, and explore their research. 
Jun 07, 2023
Replying to Kira Ratan

1. Because my historical research involves looking through personal documents and archives, such as birth certificates/death certificates, family photographs and scrapbooks, as well as personal letters, I have to be very conscious of the ways in which the individuals and families intended for these documents to be used, and taking that into consideration with how I apply them to my own research. Additionally, because I am focusing on historical research of identities and historical and ongoing racial oppression in the film industry, I am balancing individual expressions of identity versus the distortion of said identities through media. 

2. As I have been conducting my research using primary sources, mostly, it has been helpful to incorporate scholarly articles (though there aren't many on my topic), especially articles written by my faculty mentor and colleagues she had worked with in the past, in order to develop the greater context around the historical research on individuals and their experiences in Hollywood, and have a foundation of knowledge for which I can base my findings off of. 

It's so interesting to think about using personal documents for research -- it reminds me of the ideas that Professor Klitzman had us think about with Henrietta Lacks. I feel like I always see research, whether it's on the social or medical side of things, as inherently good because it's in the public's interest, but then when you go behind the scenes you see the possible ramifications of appropriating materials for research without consent. I'd love to know more about what the process is like for obtaining/determining if you can use personal documents because it sounds like such an interesting ethical area. Your research sounds so fascinating and I can't wait to see what you find. 

Jun 07, 2023

1. 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?

The climate policy that I'm studying, "cap and trade," is a bit infamous because, when it was first implemented in California, it was designed poorly and incentivized pollution in lower-income communities. As New York state sets up its own cap and trade program, the state has pledged to differentiate the program from California's and avoid incentivizing these environmental disparities. Because of this tension, I'm doing my best to be critical of proposed cap and trade policies and any academic literature that seems to disregard or downplay its possible effects on lower-income communities, so that New York's program is held to a higher standard than California's was. 

2. 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?

Yes, I think that the alternative viewpoints I've encountered as I try to get a general sense of the academic literature in this field have been a huge help. They force me to challenge what I think I understand, and to read papers that seem to be the "consensus" in the field with a more critical eye. While I don't always agree with opposing viewpoints, some of them have actually inspired me to look into topics of disagreement that have then led me to my research question. It feels exciting to be studying a topic that is niche and recent enough that there are competing theories and unresolved academic arguments, because I then get to decide for myself where I might stand. 

Jun 02, 2023
Replying to Kashish Kumar

1.  Interacting with students from different disciplines has exposed me to a variety of perspectives, methodologies, and approaches to problem-solving in a research setting. This exposure has helped me think beyond the boundaries of my own area of research. It has encouraged me to consider alternative viewpoints and innovative solutions I might not have explored otherwise. The exposure to different research areas has encouraged me to delve deeper into topics outside of what I have previously been exposed to. This past week has been invaluable in shaping my academic interests and inspiring me to pursue interdisciplinary research further.

2. Strong communication with mentors and informed collection of data are key takeaways from last week that have guided my involvement so far. I have found that the universities computing and database resources are especially helpful to my area of translational study. Also, connecting with my mentor to discuss different methodologies under the same goal or research question has broadened my understanding of the field. 

I definitely agree with you about the importance of communicating with mentors! My relationship with my graduate mentor has been so inspiring this week, since she has been through these very same stages with her own research but did it recently enough that she remembers the most challenging aspects. Talking with her, like you said, has also broadened my understanding of the field, since her research has been in similar areas but has worked with different types of data and methods. It's been so helpful whenever I feel stuck. 

Jun 01, 2023
  • 1. During my meetings with my graduate student, I've been able to hear from the other Laidlaw students in my group about the early stages of their research. Each of our projects relates to law/policy in some way, but also focuses on completely different subjects. I feel like all four of us are at a similar stage, establishing preliminary background about each of our subjects. Because of this, hearing about their research process for grasping this background this week has helped me so much -- for example, they've reminded me to back up and ask broader questions when I get stumped, and inspired me to look at new resources when I hit a dead end. The diversity of topics is helping me to internalize the research process in general, instead of getting sucked into rabbit holes within my small topic.
  • 2. Our discussion with Professor Klitzman about research ethics has come to mind a lot this week. As he led us through demonstrations of ethical questions, he asked us whether a party involved should be required to disclose their intent to collect data or what a party’s responsibility to the community is as they perform and publish research. It made me realize the power of research and information, especially because it is almost impossible to always get the full picture. As I’ve started reading academic literature about the effectiveness of a type of environmental law, I’ve realized that the data presented is often manipulated, to the point that there are multiple papers that use the same data set to make completely contradictory claims about the effectiveness of this law. Environmental policy is a field where there is so much dark money on the side of fossil fuels, and it’s also a field where so much is at stake in terms of our planet’s future. Professor Klitzman’s lesson has stuck with me that there are often ulterior motives involved in research, and has caused me to be aware of the interests of the people whose research I read.