Summer 2020 Student Research Projects

Chris Agard, Senior, PPE
Supervisor: Adrienne Martin

The Climate Crisis Through the Lens of Distributive, Corrective, and Non-Exploitative Justice

A study of various different kinds of philosophical theories of justice related to the area of climate justice.

Above all, I learned the importance of specificity in research. I realized that climate justice is a large field and it took longer to develop a thesis question that I initially expected. I also learned that a significant amount of research necessary to answer a question in an informed manner. It is important to compile a lot of information before actually forming your own argument/opinion. Often times in this process I would get ahead of myself and begin to do work that required steps I had skipped. Luckily, Professor Martin made sure that I remained on track and stayed organized. Overall, I learned that the process is always longer than you expect it to be.

I really enjoyed the amount of freedom I had to choose any subject that interested me. I am passionate about my topic and I’m glad that I had the opportunity to explore it in such great depth.

Katherine Almendarez, Junior, Latin American Studies and Public Policy
Supervisor: Jennifer Feitosa

Team Diversity Training (TDT) Project

Worked on the initial steps of developing a 2-year long study looking for effective team diversity training.

A lot lot lot of knowledge in diversity work that will potentially be a career redirection for me. I learned to be more mindful, methodical, precise, and intentional with my language and writing. I learned a lot about democratic writing, teamwork, coding data/literature, strengthened my writing, faster reading skills, and a better idea of the importance of diversity.

I enjoyed having a cohort of students, especially the group at my lab, because we got closer and now we are friends.

Calder Altman, Junior, Philosophy
Supervisor: James Kreines

Unattainable Ideals and Recognition in Plato

Our research considers where humans gain value from, with two answers considered: internally derived value, or recognition from others.

We learned quite a lot this summer, both about the research and publishing process and about our own ways of thinking and logical reasoning. The second we owe largely to our professor, Professor Kreines, who would challenge us twice a week to justify exactly the point we were trying to make and how it connected to our larger thinking in general. Specifically, we both felt that the most growth in our thinking came by way of attempting to relate disparate points and theories to one another, an incredibly useful skill in philosophy and life. Of course, we also strengthened our reading, writing, and presentation skills, especially in a more formally academic context.

Having free range to explore a topic I am deeply interested in with an expert (my professor).

Amanda Avery, Junior, Psychology and Public Policy
Supervisor: Jennifer Feitosa

Team Diversity Training (TDT) Project

We read and analyzed a significant amount of pre-existing literature regarding diversity, teams, and emotion, and created what we found for best practices, a comprehensive model, produced several other papers relevant to our field, and submitted a grant proposal for the BLAIS award.

I learned so much on how to analyze sources more critically (coding 50+ articles for themes and extracting most relevant info quickly), balance several projects simultaneously, consolidate the points we are trying to get across in a persuasive manner for grant proposals, create models using the overlapping themes and info from the literature reviewed, work collaboratively to write research papers, edit dense book chapters and carefully review sources for an accurate reference list, write press articles about current events that impact our field.

I really enjoyed working with and getting to know an amazing group of women in the METRICS Lab, working on several projects at the same time, doing our daily zoom workouts and talking about non-work related topics to get to know everyone better, and most of all, diving much deeper into a field of research that I have become exponentially more passionate about with each week.

Michali Bachar, Sophomore, Economics
Supervisor: William Lincoln

My summer research has centered around understanding how immigration affects trade and vice versa in order to assist Professor Lincoln.

Through the summer research program, I have significantly improved my ability to conduct literature reviews, examine figures, and think more critically about the determination of which variables are exogenous and endogenous in a study since my literature reviews showed the differences in results it caused in other studies. Moreover, I have gained a greater appreciation for the meticulous nature of research and a deeper understanding of the economic relationship that I have been studying.

I most enjoyed the program’s commitment to enriching students’ experiences through the SRP lectures series, having the opportunity to delve deeply into an interesting topic, and the program’s flexibility for working at home.

Daniela Corona, Sophomore, Government / Data Science Sequence
Supervisor: Andrew Sinclair

Executive Organization of State Governments / State-level Administration and COVID-19: The Structure of Public Health

Looking into how state organization and centralization can affect accountability, responsiveness and COVID-19 outcomes.

I worked with Stata for the first time and put some of my coding skills into use. I developed some strong research skills and work habits for independent, unstructured work that will definitely be useful for online classes.

This was my first longer scale research opportunity. I am glad I decided to apply because I now know that I quite enjoy research and want to continue pursuing more opportunities like this! If/when campus opens up again I hope to apply to research institutes or keep working with my advisor on what I have from this summer. I enjoyed this program's independence and flexibility, it allowed me a real taste of what the life of an academic researcher is like.

Ana Deckey, Junior, PPE
Supervisor: James Kreines

Unattainable Ideals and Recognition in Plato

Our research considers where humans gain value from, with two answers considered: internally derived value, or recognition from others.

We learned quite a lot this summer, both about the research and publishing process and about our own ways of thinking and logical reasoning. The second we owe largely to our professor, Professor Kreines, who would challenge us twice a week to justify exactly the point we were trying to make and how it connected to our larger thinking in general. Specifically, we both felt that the most growth in our thinking came by way of attempting to relate disparate points and theories to one another, an incredibly useful skill in philosophy and life. Of course, we also strengthened our reading, writing, and presentation skills, especially in a more formally academic context.

I loved having weekly discussions with Professor Kreines and Calder and learning in an environment that was independent of grades and purely project and curiosity driven. Academically exploration without the ulterior motive of getting a high grade was an enriching experience that deepened my understanding of philosophy and made it even more invigorating to learn. I learned new things about myself as a student and as an individual by challenging my mind and my knowledge of philosophy in a way that was not anchored to any constraints on the subject matter and was not confined to what I was lectured on in the classroom. Learning for the sake of learning gave me a refreshed outlook on classes this upcoming semester.

Chandlyr Denaro, Senior, Neuroscience / Cognitive Neuroscience Sequence
Supervisor: Catherine Reed

Neural Bases of Aging

Our research utilizes EEG and ERPs to examine the effects of aging on neural processing, and whether it effects neural processing similarly across cognitive tasks, or by targeting specific cognitive processing mechanisms.

Over the course of the internship I learned how to process data using MATLAB, how to run ICA (independent component analysis) on data, how to run various software programs within MATLAB, as well as how to conduct research remotely. I have gained skills on setting a schedule for working from home, as well as coordinating my remote schedule with others in my group. I have learned the basics of EEG and ERPs, as well as how to interpret results from EEG and ERP data. My perspective on EEG has changed drastically, especially in the area of it's usefulness, or how it can be applied to research questions. EEG does not have great spatial resolution, and I used to see that as a major downfall, however over the course of the experiment I have realized that EEG can answer very interesting questions about differences in cognition based on the timing of neural processes.

I really enjoyed getting to do research without also feeling pressure from school, and my favorite part of the program was getting to work my research partner, especially once we finished processing the data. Working as a team made the research much more enjoyable, and more manageable.

Benjamin Figueroa, Senior, Applied Mathematics
Supervisor: Mike Izbicki

Missing Content for Information Retrieval: An Analysis of Publication Bias in State-controlled Russian Media

Introduce the Missing Content task with the UN Parallel Corpus dataset as a baseline and then extend our model to historically biased news publications via the Missing Content task.

The skill that I improved the most was by far my python and general programming skills. As the majority of my day was spent coding, I quickly was forced to become extremely efficient with writing complex functions, importing and merging complicated libraries, writing well formatted and clean code, debugging myriads of problems, and outputting coherent results to the terminal. Furthermore, since my work was almost entirely on a remote server, I learned how to operate comfortably on a virtual machine interfacing via only the command line and simple GUI file editors. Additionally, due to the massive size of many of the files I was working with (over 85 Gbs in some cases) I learned how to parallelize my code and workflow over the entirety of the server’s 80 CPU’s and 8 GPU’s. The final main takeaway from my summer work was becoming more comfortable reading academic papers, as we read through a weekly research paper and critiqued its flaws and highlighted its successes with granular attention to detail. This weekly study became easier and easier as the summer progressed, and I am now much less intimidated by the paragraph long title names that begin almost every technical research paper.

The work I did over the summer was some of the most fascinating and intellectually stimulating work I have ever done in my life. My favorite part of this job is that I get to constantly discover and learn new things all the while pushing towards an end goal. Everyday is a challenge and often brutally hard. However, the satisfaction that I receive after each day of work is worth the immense effort I put in.

Anna Green, Senior, Government
Supervisor: Jack Pitney

My research project traces the history and endurance of Confederate monuments, along with scholarship on historical memory, to better understand the undercurrents of this issue and to examine the future of Confederate monuments, and monuments more broadly, in American society.

Throughout the research process, I learned a tremendous amount about this topic and found myself getting completely wrapped up in the research, to the point where I’d need to set aside times for reading and writing, or else I’d spend the entire afternoon reading articles. I was fortunate to pick a topic area that suddenly became extremely active this summer, which provided me with far more content and perspectives to examine. This experience allowed me to do a sort of “test run” for what my thesis-writing process will look like—I learned researching skills like time management, where to find resources, etc., though I also overcame what I would describe as a steep learning curve in this area of scholarship.

My favorite thing about the Summer Research Program was that it provided a community for us to get a glimpse of what life is like as an academic. While I spent my days doing self-directed research, Professor Pitney provided me with support and feedback, my research accountability group helped me to stay on track and the weekly SRP lectures expanded my knowledge of the research process, from identifying the correct databases, to presenting final findings.

Maria Gutierrez-Vera, Junior, Public Policy and American Studies
Supervisor: Andrew Sinclair

Black Lives, Black Deaths, and Black Protest: Political Scientists Respond (Anew) to a Persistent Challenge

This research aims to define and categorize the approaches cities take to “defunding” their police forces amidst what has been a turbulent, and unprecedented time of unrest.

This project allowed me the opportunity to familiarize myself with the many processes behind public administration research, as well as the importance of building a wide breadth of knowledge on your chosen research subject. As I continue with this project, I will also have exposure to the processes of academia and conference presentations in political science.

I really enjoyed the weekly workshops, especially the one on writing CVs and using LaTex!

Leyna Hong, Sophomore, Economics and Psychology
Supervisor: Jennifer Feitosa

Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale (BARS) Project

We created a coding schema to observe teamwork behaviors in an ongoing research project measuring team membership loss in teams.

This program served as an introduction to IO Psychology, and I now have a newfound interest in team studies and team diversity. I also had the opportunity to work on small projects beyond my main BARS Project, including writing critiques, a commentary, and a newsletter. I have also gained countless other soft skills and insights into team studies, particularly diversity in the workplace.

I especially liked having a team of fellow student researchers because I was able to experience what it's like working with a team, as though I was in a "real" internship.

Teslin Ishee, Junior, Economics and Psychology
Supervisor: Jennifer Feitosa

Team Diversity Training (TDT) Project

In our lab, we researched the interplay between diversity, teams, and emotions and how these subjects can be incorporated into an integrative training framework that will be developed in the coming years, and a best practices paper for training.

This was one of my first experiences with coding, so I learned how coding for Psychology meta-analyses works. I also gained better writing skills from writing a variety of different types of pieces from commentaries, to newsletters, to grants, to research articles. I enjoyed writing in different voices. I definitely gained research skills and a stronger knowledge of how to dig deep and find solid data and information to back up my arguments. My projects forced me to think out of the box and expand beyond what I might normally think of when writing papers. I also have multiple chances to have my name on a published paper for the first time which is very exciting.

My favorite part about the research lab was having a CMC community to connect with everyday. During this pandemic, it was hard to imagine myself back at school, but with SRP, I got to connect with people who I haven’t spent time with, and deepen my connection with my Professor. I really appreciated having a community of research assistants who could speak openly about the issues and changes that were constantly happening around us. I also appreciated that the research that I was doing clearly had a purpose, and I could see how it connected to the greater picture in America. Given the Black Lives Matter Movement, diversity research is even more vital than ever, and I was very proud to be researching this important topic.

Adrienne Kafka, Senior, Psychology and Dance / Leadership Sequence
Supervisor: Jennifer Feitosa

Team Diversity Training (TDT) Project

We spent the summer doing an in-depth lit review and analysis in order to outline best practices and create a framework for a team diversity training grounded in theoretical research that incorporates emotional regulation. In addition, we completed a variety of side projects and learning exercises (ex. practicing reviewing).

I have learned a lot about the research process. I have gained skills regarding lit search, lit synthesis, coding, research-paper writing, and grant writing. Additionally, I have come to understand that the research process is long and tedious, but it takes time to form conclusions from what seems like infinite data, and that’s okay! There is always more out there.

My favorite part of SRP this year was my lab’s virtual community. Professor Feitosa and our lab manager, Ally Davis, did a wonderful job of creating a virtual environment in which we were able to foster a sense of community, teamwork, accountability, and fun.

Caitlyn Louzado, Senior, Economics and Psychology
Supervisor: Stacey Doan

Differential Associations among Inflammation, Memory, and Depression in Black and White Young Adults

My research consisted of investigating how IL-6, a proinflammatory cytokine, affects the working memory and depressive states of African-American and White-American college students differentially, adversely affecting African-Americans.

Through my SRP research, I learnt many new skills with varying degrees of specificity. Conducting HRV Analysis led me to learn a new software that I otherwise would probably never come across. I learnt how to read an ECG, identify artifacts and correct for discrepancies in the data. Though this is a highly specialized skill, it is definitely one that I will use in the future, especially if I continue down a research path. Conducting research, both for the research paper of IL-6 levels in college students and for my own literature review of sleep consistency, I learnt how to use all the resources we have available to us in a more efficient manner. In the beginning, I felt like I was extremely broad and had to skim through many papers to find what I was looking for. But as I conducted more and more research, I was able to get a good grasp on using large databases such as PsychINFO and Google Scholar to my advantage. Additionally, the subject of sleep being so relevant to my own life, my own knowledge base about the topic has increased and I have been able to implement some of the practices I read about. While researching the determinants and the predictors of good quality sleep, I was able to relate it very strongly to CMC’s sleeping culture and hope to eventually integrate my findings into student life.

One of the aspects of the Summer Research Program that I think I gained the most from, is working so closely with my Professor. Though we work in the same lab during the school year as well, I have never got a chance to spend so much one on one time developing my research interests and understanding the work that she does as well.

Nicolas Maramica, Sophomore, Science Management / Neuroscience Sequence
Supervisor: Alison Harris

Influence of Autistic Tendencies on EEG Correlates of Body Movement Perception

This research used electroencephalography (EEG) within a non-clinical college sample to examine how autistic tendencies affect brain activity associated with observation of emotional and emotionally neutral body movements.

During my research, I learned many things. I learned that science is very unpredictable. There were many outcomes that we were hoping to have, many of which did not come to fruition. There were other outcomes that occurred that we never imagined we would see. Additionally, I learned how to analyze brain scans in order to get insight on cognitive functions and draw conclusions based on the information. I also learned that scientific research can be extremely fun. Whether I was having conversations with Professor Harris or sitting through a Wednesday presentation, I found myself constantly laughing and having a great time, while still learning more than I ever thought I would.

I liked how we were in a community of students and faculty who loved doing research and learning. This was definitely evident during our Wednesday presentations and everyday with my faculty advisor.

Nandeeni Patel, Senior, PPE
Supervisor: Lisa Koch

The International Politics of Regional Missile Defense - Strategy and Data

Analysis of the implications of governmental and public beliefs about the Iron Dome.

I learned how to critically analyze government documents and statements, how to categorize information via coding systems for ease of analysis, and how to verify claims with multiple sources. I also learned the importance of categorizing information and the benefits of narrowing the scope of research in order to remain focused on what is possible given time constraints.

I thoroughly enjoyed the weekly lectures and learned a lot about the reality of research and how to be successful in the field of research.

Daenerys Pineda, Junior, Government and Economics
Supervisor: Lisa Koch

The International Politics of Regional Missile Defense: Strategy and Data

I collected and analyzed data on global RMD purchases and deployments, focusing on NATO policy towards Russia.

I learned how to find useful sources for data collection, how to efficiently collect that data, and how to fact-check one-line claims from newspaper articles. I’ve gained knowledge about a specific topic in Government/International Relations and am now thinking about the delicate balance between security and crisis.

I liked the weekly lecture series because it gave me specific tools and advice for the goals I was trying to achieve for research.

Lilian Rangel, Senior, Psychology
Supervisor: Jennifer Feitosa

Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale (BARS) Project

The BARS Project aims to create an objective, reliable measurement for team behaviors that can be used to measure teams’ ability in experiment measuring team membership loss.

This project gave me the ability to learn how to approach a project in the first place and showed me how before even starting a project, there must be multiple, extensive states in order to get started in the first place. The project has not only guided and showed me how the entirety of a research project is done, but the lab I was working in also exposed me to other aspects of research. These mainly were how to write an article critique, how to write an article commentary, and how to write a newsletter. These related projects showed me the vast amount of work that can be done in research, and has strengthened my experience and writing skills in the context of research.

My favorite part of the program was its ability to give me a wide perspective of what research is like as a whole. I was not only tied to the work from my project. Instead, both the lab and program were able to give me additional, small projects that gave me multiple perspectives on what research is like. This allowed me to gain a better sense of what working on research is actually like, and it gave me a multitude of skills that I wouldn’t have gained otherwise, even if I was solely working on the summer project by itself.

Jatin Suri, Sophomore, Economics
Supervisor: William Lincoln

Exploring Topics Relating to International Economics - How Does Trade and Migration Serve as a Catalyst to the Spread of Disease

Writing literature reviews as well as creating the base for potential research studies for topics in international economics.

I think a large part of my experience over the summer was the realization of how much work you must do before you even have a research question or have collected any data. For instance, reviewing the literature, and really narrowing down potential topics. Otherwise, you would be conducting an experiment without any real purpose of it having meaningful implications.

My favorite part of the SRP was definitely the research talks. I would like to thank the professors for their great advice on research in academia. I learned a lot about time management, finding sources, using R markdown, and publishing in journals to just name a few.

Siki Wang, Senior, Pure Mathematics / Computer Science Sequence
Supervisor: Mark Huber

Analyzing the Effectiveness of Robust Estimators for Monte Carlo Data

The goal of this research is to understand the effectiveness of robust estimators.

This experience gave me a broad overview of how mathematical research is being done. I learnt the fundamentals of R and gained experience in reading math research papers.

Even though my knowledge is pretty limited in the topics I worked with, I was given a considerable amount of freedom to play around with new theorems, verifying/proving conjectures, which was very cool.