Yoni Kurtz

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

I am a/an:

Undergraduate Scholar

Research Topic

History Society & Culture Sport and Exercise

Laidlaw Cohort Year

2022

University

Columbia University

I am from:

United States of America

I speak:

English Hebrew

My hobbies/interests are:

Baseball Basketball Podcasts Politics & current events Reading Skiing Volunteering Writing/blogging

Influencer Of

Topics

Rooms participated in:

Columbia University

Recent Comments

Jun 24, 2022
Replying to Fatima Ahmad
  • 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?

The biggest challenge I faced was that of specificity. Manto's literature is endless and what can be sought from his Partition stories is immeasurable. To narrow this down became difficult because along the journey of initially looking at what we can learn about the Partition from his literature, I began to criticize his works and writing, comparing the story of "Noor Jehan" in particular and the representation of women to his stories of Partition and how women were described differently then. As I approached my fourth week of research, I took a step back to analyze my methodology and what I had learned thus far. Shortly after, I came to the realization that in these past few weeks, I was engaging in an internal dialogue of sorts, a seminar that kept going and going with each new piece I read. My initial purpose for studying Manto was to showcase the importance of literature, and as I sat thinking about the past few weeks, I understood this point myself: the engaging of various texts, connecting ideas, criticizing whilst also appreciating, all of this his literature allowed me to do, and what the history of Partition could not- the humanizing of experiences. As such, my research took a drastic turn in these last 2 weeks. I began to look at my research on Manto as a case study of sorts in the larger question of how Pakistan's education system can be reformed, particularly in the way literature is taught and the types of literature schools choose to engage in. I have taken a look at the Single National Curriculum, still being developed by the government. It is my hope to continue doing research on education reform and its implications on Pakistani students to highlight my own research done on Manto and propose the benefits of engaging with, not only Manto's texts, but with a diverse array of literature which could allow students to have meaningful discussions, question specific ideas they hold, and progress as future leaders of a nation. I will also have the chance in the following week to interview the Minister of Federal Education, Shafqat Mahmood. I am skewing this research to moreso result in a newspaper/magazine article rather than a journal article. 

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

When first researching Manto, the stacks and Butler library were very helpful. As I began to narrow my topic, my graduate peer mentor was insanely helpful in making me think about what I am researching and how I can be more specific. She was also extremely encouraging and went above and beyond with also providing me with resources when my librarian was out for the summer. As I transitioned to the educational end of my research, CLIO and any other online database access has been great to read up on what reforms need to take place and what has already been done. 

Fatima,

I really sympathize with the feeling of having an internal dialogue as you encounter more and more text. For me, the process is reading through newspaper articles with shifting perspectives on youth baseball, and I find myself continuously asking whether there really can be a central narrative that unites these perspectives or not. It seems like when reading literature, which is usually even less objective than newspapers, you have run into similar issues. The way you chose to navigate these tensions by viewing yourself as part of them is fascinating. Good luck!

Jun 23, 2022
  • 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?

During the course of my project, I ran into the issue of finding quantitative data regarding participants in youth baseball. Though this was initially frustrating, it forced me to reconsider my research question, and move in a direction that focused more on media perceptions of youth baseball and race, through looking at newspapers and magazines. This helped give me a concrete place to look, as well as a firm research question that could be analyzed in any era for which newspapers are available, which is a much broader range than any of the limited qualitative data that I had found. 

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

I have found ebscohost's newspaper archives particularly useful, as I have been able to do advanced searches for certain keywords like "baseball," "little league," "youth," "people of color," and more relevant phrases to find newspaper articles in ebsco's vast archives that show the growth and decline of youth baseball in different communities over time.

Jun 16, 2022
Replying to Noah J Bergam

    Q1: I hope to write a paper, revise it for a couple of weeks after the program, and submit it to conferences or journals by the end of the summer. I haven't thought much about making an annotated bibliography as a deliverable, but I guess I already kind of have one in the works, and it could be a nice kind of blog post to go alongside the paper. If I don't "finish" my project in terms of running all the experiments I currently plan on running, I will definitely continue to work on it after this program. To be more specific, there are two sets of experiments I am working on:

    - Using automated stance detection to track the political undertones of Supreme Court justices' statements during oral arguments.

    - Testing the utility of my SCOTUS stance detection dataset as a pre-training task for other legal AI tasks like judgment prediction or similar case matching. 

    Q2: I think my research matters on both a social and a technical level. The Supreme Court's relationship with public opinion and the political undertones of its legal performance present fundamental questions and incessant tensions in American democracy. I think understanding those tensions makes us more active citizens. It gives us critical power. Furthermore, I think my project presents certain technical insights on the utility of "legal stance detection," which, as far as I know, is not a recognized legal AI task.

    I'd be really interested to see what your paper ends up looking like! I feel like Computer Science papers can often be very hard to read for those without intimate knowledge of the particular field, so I wonder how you will balance the technical side of your research with the important applications for American democracy that you underline here.

    Jun 16, 2022
    • 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? Will your research be part of a larger scientific study? Do you hope to produce an annotated bibliography that you reflect on down the line? 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'm not totally sure what my final medium for my project will be, but I hope to be able to write a research paper that includes a telling of the story of race and youth baseball, broken down by different eras and watershed moments. Since this is a historical project that is mainly timeline-focused, I have thought a little about a digital media project, but I'm unsure if that will be able to capture the full scope of the research that I have done so far/plan to continue doing. 

    • Why does your research matter? Explain the significance of the question you are investigating, and why you are interested in it.

    My research matters because it represents an untold perspective on an integral feature of everyday American life. Little League and youth baseball have been historically put on a platform as an essentially American establishment, and in light of that, youth baseball has struggled with social issues from Jim Crow to the War on Drugs to income inequality. In looking at the history of race and youth baseball, we can see American society and American childhood reflected back at us with the same concerning contours of other aspects of race history in America.

    Jun 09, 2022
    Replying to Neha Mani
    • 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?

    I think one ethical issue in scientific research is probably the way we respond to data — for example, if there are anomalies in data obtained from a certain protocol that has previously worked, then it can be easy to simply "ignore" anomalous data instead of exploring why that data was not consistent with the rest. Obviously, there are margins of error for every protocol, but this issue becomes problematic once that margin of error has been surpassed and inconsistent data is not investigated thoroughly. I think I'm doing due diligence to explore the reasons my data looks more anomalous in certain experimental runs and therefore I avoid any misrepresentation of my data. 

    • 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've considered approaching my research question from different angles and trying new methods to tackle the problem (e.g. screening different methods for each part of my protocol to see how I can best optimize my purification). These viewpoints have enabled me to avoid being caught in a cycle of repetitive experimentation, but rather have fostered more critical thinking.

    Neha,

    In a different sense, I've also had luck changing the way I "conduct experiments," which has forced me to think critically. On my end, it was changing from a data focused project to a historical perspective-based one, but it's interesting how the general concept of changing a method of experimentation to foster more critical thinking is applicable across such different fields. Good luck with the rest of your research!

    Jun 09, 2022
    • 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?

    In researching, I've realized that because my subject is baseball, many of the writers/researchers that I'm reading have a deep nostalgic association with the subject that they are writing about/researching. While this is sometimes helpful to me, since the researchers are often very thorough in preserving historical documents, it also means that they often have a tendency to whitewash elements of baseball history, or only research things that paint baseball in a positive light. This means that I often have to take a second look at the primary sources that these researchers are looking at to make sure they are portraying the whole picture.

    One other ethical issue that I have been grappling with is the involvement of kids in my research. Looking at patterns of youth sports participation is a delicate subject, because it involves looking for data about children's lives that is obviously usually pretty private. In response to this, all of the data sets that I have found ensure that any data is totally anonymous, using multiple steps of anonymity to make sure that no data can be traced bak to specific children or locations.

    • 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?

    Just this past week, I was having second thoughts about my research topic. I felt that all the reasons for race-based discrepancies in baseball participation had been thoroughly researched, and that I wasn't going to find any data about youth sports. After expressing these doubts to my mentor, he helped point me in the right direction, and I was able to sharpen my research question more towards how the history of youth baseball in America reflects America's historical racial dynamics. This reconnection has allowed me to continue on with my original topic, but in a new direction where I feel I will actually be contributing new research.

    Jun 02, 2022
    Replying to Asher Baron

      1. My project itself is quite interdisciplinary, so much so that my faculty mentor has constructed a list of databases covering fields that may be relevant to our work, ranging from catalogs of underground writings like zines to an oral history of hemophilia to the NAACP Papers. Such a wide range of relevant topics has given me a great appreciation for finding connections between seemingly disparate events or organizations! The program's diverse range of projects only extends my appreciation for these connections -- I hope to continue learning about my peers' research and learning how their work connects to or enters into debate with my own. 

        2. The same list of databases mentioned above has been both amazing in furthering my understanding of the wide field of harm reduction as well as highly overwhelming in scope. I anticipate this challenge of being overwhelmed to be a hurdle that I must continually navigate as I get started. Any one organization that I add to my team's project could have connections to hundreds of others, or provide a wide range of services necessitating further research, or serve a unique population, or have a tumultuous history with securing funding, etc: all facets that require my research attention and will likely overwhelm me! I hope to properly utilize the many databases by learning how to use effective search terms to find the information that I need. 

        Asher,

        It sounds like you've been able to access some really helpful resources this week, great work on that! I definitely sympathize with being overwhelmed by the amount of information available in a specific field. One thing that has helped me has been meeting with my personal librarian, who is great at determining the best search terms to narrow down huge databases. Good luck!

        Jun 02, 2022
        • 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?

        Working in a social science-related project, I was initially inclined towards traditional modes of researching: collecting documents, reading through them, developing a thesis, and then drafting a paper (updating as I go). But, being able to talk with students across different disciplines about their projects has opened me up to the possibility of using STEM-centric techniques for data visualization, and even discuss realistic strategies for potentially creating a digital humanities project. On the other hand, I've been able to talk to students who are pursuing literature or history research more similar to my own, and get both recommendations of helpful places to look for research and sympathize with each other's frustrations and challenges. I hope to continue dialoguing across disciplines, learning from students squarely in my field as well as those outside of it.

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

        My primary challenge this week has been determining the overall direction of my project. I'm excited about moving in a sociology direction that would use data about youth sports participation by location and ethnicity to analyze changes over time, but have been frustrated by lack of access to this data. Therefore, I am considering moving the project towards a more of a historical perspective, analyzing how perspectives on race-based participation in sports among different groups have changed over time.  Of course, this historical direction would have plenty of specific challenges itself, such as determining reliable places to look for these specific historical perspectives.