Friday, August 26, 2022

URSP Student Ulda Maldonado-Arias Researches the Immigrant Paradox and Advantage

The research project I took on was to observe the immigrant paradox and immigrant advantage within the MSRP data set provided by my faculty advisor. The MSRP (Miami School Readiness Program) data set is 5-cohort, 14 year sequential project that observes children attend Miami Dade Public schools. This was influenced by my decision to join the honor’s psychology program at George Mason University. In this program as an undergrad, you choose to go through a mock thesis process. For three semester you must prepare a thesis document, propose it and finally defend it. During this process you will present to other in conferences/symposiums and work in a research lab.

During Covid-19 this was quite difficult because you could not really meet someone that shared your research interests in person. Not only that but a lot of research was put on hold. Finding someone who would be interested in mentoring you was quite hard. I didn’t lose hope and found Dr. Adam Winsler. I had learned about the immigrant advantage in my adolescent psychology course and found out that immigrants show greater resilience than U.S. born children, so I wanted to investigate that more. Dr. Adam Winsler loved the idea and explained some previous graduate students had also investigated the phenomena. After figuring out exactly what I was interested in, by examining various literature I decided to fill in the gap by looking at variation based on country of origin and solely compare immigrants to one another.

This project has lasted for about three semesters. In the beginning I spent 5-7 hours looking at the literature. During the summer and spring of 2021, I made drafts of my introduction/literature review. A total of 8 drafts were made! Dr. Winsler has helped with refining my writing skills which I am grateful for. Fall of 2021 it was time to defend and come up with the methods on how to go about data analysis for spring of 2022. I spent 8-10 hours on my project, as I was also applying for the OSCAR grant and the NCUR conference. I also went through a couple of versions for my methods section. Now it is finally spring of 2022 and I spend about 10 hours on my project a week. I have been cleaning data to make sure all the kids in my sample are included. Then data analysis has been done and interpretation of data. In a day I try to break time intervals for my project and schoolwork. If its exam week I reserve one day for my project and the other for studying.

This project has fit into my future plans as I wish to continue research on minorities within developmental psychology. This project will help open doors with all the skills I have acquired. I went from not knowing what a syntax file was in SPSS to knowing the difference between point and click and syntaxing (FYI makes the job easier). Next year I will be looking into graduate programs and this project will help with that by helping me refine my interests and stand out to schools. Now, that’s the long-term future, as for short term I hope to continue my project with different grade levels and hopefully publish before I end my undergraduate career as I work alongside the Winslab the research lab that has made this project possible

URSP Student Natasha Tagle Assesses the Redox Conditions in the North Pacific Ocean during the Warm Pliocene Epoch using Nitrogen Isotopes

Assessing past oceanic current patterns is very important to understanding and predicting the future of the Earth and its oceans. My research proposes that there was a deep-ocean current that occurred in the North Pacific Ocean. I used two core samples provided by the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP). The project consisted of crushing the samples, weighing them out in a centrifuge tube, acidifying, rinsing the samples, drying them in an oven, reweighing, and homogenizing the samples into a powder again. From there, the samples were ready for nitrogen isotopic analysis at the University of Maryland (UMD). Working through this research project has been very interesting, each day came with its own challenges. This made the pacing of completing the research a greater lesson in time management, as well as adapting to new work environments & problem-solving. 

For example, one day will consist of a meeting to debrief on any information I am unfamiliar with, work through a few steps in the lab to prep my samples, and then head to class. Next, I’ll be doing readings for research, and then work for my second job, aside from my project, school, and another job. I have valuable weekly progress meetings with the entire research group. As a result, I have been able to learn more about the other research topics the other students have been working on. The last biggest step for this research is having the opportunity to present my project at the Joint North-Central & Southeastern Section in April 2022 for the Geological Society of America (GSA). Thus far, I have gained much more knowledge throughout the process of having a research project than I thought possible, and am looking forward to any opportunities that may come forth as a result of this project