Paper Archives in a Digital World: Researching at the American Association for the Advancement of Science Headquarters

Photo taken by author.

Photo taken by author.

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VIMS Research Project: Part 2

Project Results… Sort Of

So the rollercoaster that has been my research experiment continues. A few months ago, I ran my experiment (see the previous post for details) and got some unusual results. For some reason, when we did the plaque assay and stained the cells, we didn’t see clear, countable plaques. Instead, for most of the wells, there was a strange, “flushed-out” looking morphology. It appeared that there were areas that might be plaques, but they weren’t circular and distinct enough to count. Even the positive control exhibited this strange result. So, unfortunately, this meant that we weren’t able to get the data we needed to support or discount the hypothesis. But we didn’t stop there!

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A Rush of Participants at the Semester’s End

In this last week of classes, my calendar is adorned with different colors. Each one signifies a specific subject that needs attention—work, classes, fundraisers, etc. Sprinkled throughout is a theme of turquoise, a color that reminds me that the Healthy Beginnings Project will be seeing many family participants in the days ahead! Our flyer distribution in the Williamsburg area proved successful; our email inbox, Tribe Responses interest form, and our phone voicemail were met with many mothers who wanted to learn more about the study and sign up with their children. Thanks to funds from the Vice Provost Grant, I was able to ensure that we would have enough gift cards to compensate all of the upcoming participants.

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The Search for Participants

Since May of 2018 I have been involved in the Healthy Beginnings Project, a group of professionals and students whose work focuses on improving child outcomes, especially of children whose mothers are incarcerated. With this focus in mind and practice, Healthy Beginnings team members have established and been involved in various projects. I have been particularly focused on our current study on the William & Mary campus. In the study, mothers and their children ages four to six answer questions about their family and home environment, and participate in a discussion task while observed by research assistants. As a research assistant, I am prepared to run participants through the study. However, preparedness is not enough; one needs participants to run a study!

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La memoria histórica right outside of Madrid

After a quick four days in Torremocha de Jarama, I still cannot believe I was there, let alone that I am now back at William and Mary. It was a whirlwind of a trip, and I am glad to be writing this because everything happened so fast that I have yet to get a chance to reflect on my experience.

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Preparing for a Research Experiment at VIMS

Background

Next week, I begin my research experiment, and it has been nothing sort of a rollercoaster journey getting there. It began last year when I started volunteering at VIMS, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. My mentor, Juliette, has spent the last few years looking at the transmission and evolution of a particular virus found in many fish species. We started talking about the possibility of me conducting a research experiment. However, my spring and summer schedule made it impossible at the time, which was quite disappointing. But over the summer, she had another undergraduate student look at the transmission of the virus from dead fish to live fish and found there was a loss of transmission after several days.

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Breathing life into the memory of Spain’s Civil War

Sometimes I find myself wanting to begin this story with my study abroad experience in Spain this past summer, but in reality the independent study I’ve created this semester and my upcoming research trip back to Spain is the culmination of my academic passions of the past four years. This project really began with my early love for Brandon Stanton’s Humans of New York and my involvement with Humans of William and Mary. As early as my senior year of high school, I was beginning to hone in on what would become so important to me: the stories that shape us. Then, my sophomore year, during my study-away semester in DC, professor Chitralekha Zutshi introduced me to the field of oral history. Ever since then, any research project for any class I’ve taken revolves around the theme of oral history, and more recently, collective memory.

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Preliminary Fieldwork in Redfern and Waterloo

I am thankful that I had 15 days to conduct fieldwork in Sydney in August. While the majority of my dissertation fieldwork will take place over 9-12 months (hopefully starting in late Fall 2019), this trip was combination pilot study (to test potential validity of my site) and a preliminary dive into ethnography and interviewing. Some days though, I did have time to explore the citIMG_1415y and really “learn” my site in a way that is only possible through firsthand experience. Thankfully, another visitor to Circular Quay was nice enough to snap the photo to the left of me!

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Learning Sydney: Round 2

Since my inaugural trip to Australia last May/June, I’ve written my thesis and earned my master’s degree in Anthropology. The title of my thesis is The Gap on the Block: Subjectivity, Aboriginality, and Agency in Contemporary Urban Australia. My thesis explored the construction and maintenance of an Aboriginal subjectivity in a inner-city suburb (similar to our city neighborhoods in the States) of Sydney known as Redfern.

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Recruiting Study Participants

While we would all love to foresee and plan for every possible hiccup in the research process, we are still human, and thus we must continue to make adjustments all along the way to ensure the validity of our data and the ease of its collection. So, it is no surprise that after beginning a new semester of progress on my study, more concerns have arisen.

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