Joseph Karaganis (He/Him)

Student, Columbia University
  • People
  • United States of America

I am a/an:

Undergraduate Leadership & Research Scholar


Columbia University

Laidlaw Cohort Year


Research Topic

Anthropology Artificial Intelligence Ethics European Social and Political Studies Society & Culture

Area of Expertise

Economics Politics Social Sciences

I am from:

United States of America

I speak:

English French

My hobbies/interests are:

Basketball Foreign languages Gym Martial Arts Politics & current events Technology Travelling Writing/blogging

I am open to participating in mentoring/buddy programmes



Channels contributed to:

Social Sciences

Rooms participated in:

Columbia University

Recent Comments

Jun 30, 2023

I'm fascinated by what you have to say about your leadership experience as a researcher in a collaborative lab setting. It's a very different kind of leadership (much more horizontal) than I think a lot of us are used to, and yet it seems like learning to operate within those environments is a crucial skill that helps across any number of topic areas. As someone who mostly worked independently this summer, I feel like I emerged with a very different vision of what my leadership could be--one that might have been challenged, or at least transformed, by work that was more socially interdependent.

Jun 21, 2023
Replying to Kayla Pham

    Since starting my project, I have primarily encountered experimental data that contradicts my assumption. Initially, I set out to find polaritonic recycling in MoS2 (molybdenum disulfide). For more context, a polariton is essentially a particle that is half-light and half-matter. The light aspect of the "particle" enables it to move incredibly fast, while the particle aspect allows for extraction for modern technologies. However, after reviewing relevant data about MoS2 that might have indicated polaritonic recycling, it turns out that the electron transport found in the material is likely normal diffusion - which is not the purpose of the overall investigation. In addition to this, the material MoS2 was producing data of poor quality. Thereby, it was necessary to switch to a higher quality material - WSe2 - that was meticulously grown and cultivated in another lab at Columbia. However, many of the same problems that were occurring with MoS2 are also occurring with WSe2 - hindering the discovery of polaritonic recycling in a transition metal dichalcogenide (TMD) - known for their unique ability to self-hybridize (form polaritons without external cavities). Nonetheless, the investigation will persist but likely at a different angle to find polaritonic recycling. The most valuable resource through this process has been others. Whether it be people in my own lab or others in the department, perspective and expertise has been incredibly useful in progressing in my own investigation.

    I really resonate with the collaboration that you bring up here--it's important to know that as part of a major research university, we have access to a huge range of resources that can often make our research more efficient and productive: it's just on us to reach out. As students, this can often be intimidating, but it's also true that we occupy a special place in the academic environment--as people keep telling me, "Everyone is willing to talk to a student." We should take advantage of this privilege because it's not something we'll have forever!

    Jun 21, 2023

    1. One of the biggest challenges I've encountered in my interview-based research is finding people who are willing, able, and interested in talking to me. I've already sent out at least 70 or 80 cold emails, but the vast majority of people haven't responded--and many of those who have responded don't have the time or availability to speak with me. This challenge has forced me to become more creative in the way I reach out to people--I've started soliciting potential interviewees from the people who have responded to me, and I've expanded my search to include not only journalists but also academics working in the field of journalism and communication studies. This process has expanded the breadth of my research, and slightly reshaped the focus: instead of using interviews as a way to extract particular facts and information (as in investigative journalism), I'm using them to form a conceptual base that can help frame the questions I'm asking about AI integration.

    2. CLIO has remained an incredibly valuable tool that has enabled me to quickly access vast resources of information--much of my scholarly background research has stemmed from articles, journals, and databases that I originally found on the service. In particular, I've started using Leadership Connect, which allows me to quickly access the contact information of popular journalists who have worked for major publications: this has made the grind of searching for emails on the internet that much easier (although it has not eliminated it entirely, since many freelance and online journalists are not covered).

    Jun 19, 2023
    Replying to Sarah Bryden

    1. By the end of the six weeks, I plan to have an annotated bibliography and a well-organized document with all the translated lyrics. I plan to write a paper in the future, because I think doing so would help me organize my thinking, and would also let me share my work more efficiently with people. It also feels like the more I learn about my topic, the more questions I have, so I would definitely love to continue working on my project throughout the year. For example, interviews with rap artists and rap fans would be incredibly helpful. Also, there are so many interesting elements of the music that I'm intentionally de-prioritizing right now in order to focus on the lyrics, such as the accompanying music videos. Looking more closely at these elements is a bit outside the scope of a six-week project, but would definitely be rewarding in the future. 

    2. My research topic connects to several broader sociopolitical issues, most clearly a global trend of Indigenous hip hop, which is happening all across the Americas, as well as in Asia, Australia, and even some European countries. Often, this music is a highly political mode of self-expression tied to issues of language preservation/revitalization, sovereignty and land back movements, systemic injustices and violence, and the cultivation of pride in Indigenous identity. Maya and Quechua hip hop both serve as examples of grassroots efforts to handle these issues, and so are important to consider as we move towards a more equitable/just future. 

    I connect with the feeling of uncertainty that you kind of point to when describing the future of your project--when research seems like it could be an ongoing (or even indefinite) process, it's hard to say when it's time to stop the generative research process and to begin compiling a final product (those two things will often overlap significantly). It can also be really hard to determine what that product should look like, how it should be organized, etc... I really like the way you are thinking through these things, and I think a translation document is a really interesting way of organizing your work (which, by the way, sounds super cool).

    Jun 19, 2023

    (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.

    Jun 07, 2023
    Replying to Grace Kaste

    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. 

    I resonate a lot with your second answer because it's definitely true that significant academic disagreement can make questions feel unapproachable or even unanswerable. There is something very challenging about that, but also empowering--which you mention. I think that looking into research that comes to different conclusions (or starts from different premises) can be a very rewarding experience, even if it destabilizes some of the methods of thinking that we were using to get to our answers. Learning how to synthesize competing viewpoints is a necessary part of navigating academic environments, and that is even more critical when it comes to research that has political and economic implications (like yours). 

    Jun 07, 2023

    1. My research mostly consists of interviews, which are always attached to larger social and ethical questions about the relationship between the interviewer and interviewee. In the context of my own work, this has not been a huge issue--I am interviewing adult journalists who are entirely aware of how I intend to use their answers, and who themselves have a good deal of experience conducting interviews. Since my interviews don't involve personal information, navigating issues surrounding appropriate topic areas has also been easier. Still, I think it is important for me to consider how I take in the information I'm given--am I representing their answers, and their ideas, faithfully? I hope that I am, but that reckoning is a continuous process that will involve close and careful examination of the conversations I've had and the ideas I've taken away from them.

    2. I've actually encountered quite a few--I've realized that as I conduct interviews I've been constantly exposed to new ways of thinking about and conceptualizing my research. My topic has become broader, more nuanced, and more complex with each conversation, since the people I've talked to have each brought their own perspective and ideas to the mix. I'm not entirely sure how to incorporate these ideas into my work all the time--it can be very daunting to shift focus this far into my research, and I'm not sure that I totally will. But my topic's edges have become increasingly blurred as new tensions and insights have infiltrated my project. I'm trying to embrace this change because I think it is part of a necessary process of intellectual growth and self-reflection. But that doesn't mean it isn't intimidating.

    Jun 02, 2023
    Replying to Benjamin Oren Goldman

    1. My interactions with fellow researchers involved in a wide range of fields have created an exciting and beneficial environment for my own work. Some of the interdisciplinary skills I have learned from these interactions, such as locating sources efficiently and placing them in conversation, have directly helped me in my literature-review process. Additionally, conversations I've had with other students have certainly drawn me closer to a much broader range of interesting questions, especially those relating to equity in today's society. Finally, I have gained a deeper understanding of the underlying shared framework of inquiry that all projects use.

    2. Shared messages from both the graduate students and and the faculty panelists continue to resonate with me. Their strategies for approaching unfamiliar fields, deciding on an interesting but tractable research question, and most importantly, their clear enthusiasm for their fields have helped me to overcome some initial challenges in my project. They also have provided an important reminder that research is driven by one's personal motivation, whether that's a drive to change something broken in society, or to simply understand an interesting phenomenon. It's important that we keep our intentions and principles in mind when doing research.

    I really resonate with your comment about the "interdisciplinary skills" that exist across different fields--one of the things I've noticed is that a lot of the ways that I've thought about or approached past research have carried over into my Laidlaw project, despite different topic areas or methodologies. There are some research norms and skills that are universal--this makes them just that much more foundational and valuable.