What have I been up to?

31 Mar

Wow, it’s almost April! It’s been 4 months at StudyLA and it’s been a VERY hectic time. In fact, I never thought i’d make fun of my past PhD self thinking I was “very busy” with my dissertation.. Being a research associate at a rather small yet ambitious research center definitely gave some perspective on what “busy” can really mean 🙂

Some of my colleagues have been curious what type of things I do at my first “real” job post-PhD 😀 It’d say that overall, the activities would be similar to a postdoc. Here are some of them:

  • I was a lead on a community study in downtown Los Angeles (Pico Union), where I trained & supervised 34 undergraduate researchers in the field. They collected over 400 intercept surveys in under 2 weeks!! I was SO impressed by their work. All the data is cleaned and entered now, and some of these students may be using it for their final papers this Spring.
  • I’ve been one of the mentors for our 15 undergraduate research assistants as they prepared their posters for the Undergraduate Research Symposium at LMU. It was quite busy but extra fun (I LOVE mentoring students, you guys). Among other things, I did mini workshops on data analysis in STATA and on Chi2 statistical tests… which was particularly “fun” considering i’ve always used SPSS before and never needed chi2 for any of my dissertation work :D. I have to say- STATA has definitely grew on me. I may even like it more than SPSS *gasp*
  • I’ve also been learning a lot about automated report generation… StudyLA has a LOT of data- they’ve been collecting public opinion surveys of LA county residents for years now. If a sudden press release, or official study report is requested, how do you produce a professional-looking report of the necessary data ASAP? We use LaTeX, and it’s quite a learning curve. I simply never had a need for something like this before, as any data I had to prepare (for conferences, papers, presentations) didn’t require more than several charts. When you need a 200+ page report, however… automation is absolutely necessary 😀

 

Anyway! Our next big event is ForecastLA– the center’s annual conference exploring “civic and economic concerns, cultural identities, and levels of satisfaction of residents and leaders in the Los Angeles region”. I’ve already written a couple of articles for the corresponding ForecastLA 2018 book, topics including police use of drones and perceived quality of childcare accessibility in Los Angeles (not exactly my main area of expertise, but so good to venture out of it). I’m looking forward to this event, but also know it’ll be a crazy couple of weeks leading up to it!

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LAST BUT NOT LEAST UPDATE! I still keep active with the Science Communication Journal Club (https://twitter.com/scicomm_jc) and we are now doing podcasts!! The first one is now available: https://anchor.fm/scicommjc

For this podcast, my #SciCommJC colleagues and I interviewed the winner of our State Your Mission Challenge, who talked about using cosplay & nerd culture in science communication 🙂

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