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Research Assistantships (Spring 2012)

This page lists previous research opportunities.  They are over now.  While, you can’t apply to do things that happened in the past, you can see what was once offered.

Chemistry

Adelina Voutchkova

Our project aims to address the urgent need to develop environmentally benign synthetic methodologies for the fine chemicals industry. Specifically, we are exploring new classes of catalysts that improve atom/energy economy, allow the use of renewable feedstocks and minimize the toxic waste streams released into the environment. Currently, the group is examining the electronic and steric effects of various metal oxides supports on homogeneous catalysts and nanoparticles in order to identify interactions that are particularly beneficial to catalysis. Such interactions could be tailored to facilitate a variety of otherwise challenging synthetic and energy-related transformations, such as CO2 activation and utilization.

The student research associate is expected to learn synthetic techniques and theoretical concepts associated with the project and apply them to synthesizing catalysts and using them to carry out parallel reaction optimization. The student will be trained by the graduate students and faculty member. In addition to experimental work, the student will also be expected to read relevant scientific literature, present his/her research at internal and external meetings, and participate in writing manuscripts related to the project. Flexible hours.

Economics and International Affairs

Graciela Kaminsky
Two Hundred Years of Financial Globalization

The turmoil in international financial markets since 2008 has led many to reconsider the advantages of participating in international capital markets. In fact, the crisis in 2008 spread very quickly around world with world trade and economic activity collapsing at rates not seen since the great depression in the 1930s. The current crisis in the Euro zone also is fueling fears of another world recession. However, financial globalization also allows capital to move to its best destination fueling higher growth in developing countries. To examine the effects of globalization on growth and development we need to have evidence over long periods of time. We need to have data on the participation of countries in international capital markets for long periods. This project involves constructing a database on international capital flows since the 1820s when a long episode of globalization started. This episode lasted until 1931 when barriers to international trade and capital flows were introduced. The ultimate goals of this project are to examine the effects of crises starting in the financial centers such as the subprime crisis in the United States (the only one in the post-war period) and to compare to the financial crises in the earlier period such as the crises in 1825, 1873, and 1929 as well as to examine the links between international capital flows, development, and the evolution of institutions in developing countries.

Research assistants will help in the construction of this database using information collected in the archives of the stock markets in London, Paris, Berlin, Frankfurt, and New York, the financial centers of the 19th and early 20th centuries. RAs need some background in economics and knowledge of excel. Students will also be given readings to understand the workings of international capital markets. This experience is important for students majoring in economics or business. An average of 10 hours of research per week is required.

English

Maria Frawley, Honors

Prof. Frawley is working on a book on Jane Austen tentatively titled Keywords of Jane Austen’s Fiction. Not a dictionary or glossary, still less an etymology of Austen’s lexicon, the book studies instead the ways that Austen resorts to and deploys certain words – keywords – in nuanced ways that help readers understand the values and ideas that shape her fiction. A student research assistant will help with researching the word meanings in historical sources such as the OED and Johnson’s Dictionary; he or she will learn to perform word searches to identify usages in texts contemporary to Austen’s time; and he or she will help analyze the ways that the terms are deployed in Austen’s fiction. The researcher will gain experience with databases essential to English Studies. No experience needed, although familiarity with Jane Austen’s fiction or the nineteenth-century novel is desirable. An excellent opportunity for a student interested in graduate study in English. Opportunities are available for work during the semester or during the summer; flexible hours; can be taken for any number of credit hours between 0 and 4.

Alex Huang

The Global Shakespeares Video & Performance Archive is a collaborative project providing free online access to performances of Shakespeare from many parts of the world as well as essays and metadata provided by scholars and educators in the field. The idea that Shakespeare is a global author has taken many forms since the building of the Globe playhouse. Our work honors the fact and demonstrates the diversity of the world-wide reception and production of Shakespeare’s plays in ways that we hope will nourish the remarkable array of new forms of cultural exchange that the digital age has made possible. Global Shakespeares is a participatory multi-centric networked model that offers wide access to international performances that are changing how we understand Shakespeare’s plays and the world. This archive is intended to promote cross-cultural understanding and serve as a core resource for students, teachers, and researchers. A student research assistant will gain valuable research experience, managerial skills, and enjoy the opportunity to work with leading Shakespeare directors and scholars. Students should have excellent communication skills in English (written and oral); excellent time management skills; ability to meet pre-set deadlines; ability to work effectively alone and with others in a team; passion about arts, film, and literature, particularly Shakespeare.

It would be desirable, but not necessary, to have knowledge of digital audio/video processing technologies and to have knowledge of one or more languages other than English (such as Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, French, German). 2-6 hours per week; flexible. Tasks may include: video collection, compilation, and cataloguing; data collection and verification (relevant information of specific theatre productions); library research (using both the physical collection and online databases of full-text journal articles); editorial assistance with various stages of manuscript preparation for project-related publications (both online and in print).

Finance

Arthur Wilson

Prof. Wilson is studying the early history of futures trading.  Futures exchanges, with associated clearinghouses are one of the most important types of institutions in modern finance.  Yet, judging from the published literature, futures markets (as distinct from forward markets, which are ancient) are also surprisingly young – having apparently been invented in Osaka during the 18th century and then re-invented in Chicago in the 19th century.  Prof. Wilson is skeptical of this short history and seeks to flesh it out further in such likely locations as the Netherlands, Germany, Britain, France, Alexandria, China and Korea as well as in the US history in the 19th century.

Prof. Wilson seeks an undergraduate interested in history, with a social science background, and ideally with some second language capability to help document commodity trading institutions for some of these places and make history together!  The student should be adept at library and internet research with an adventurous spirit – and ideally an ability to read at least one of the other languages that might be useful here.  Prof. Wilson will train students to recognize a futures market from a forward market (and any other finance or economics related to this project).  Estimated 8-10 hours a week on this project, possibly for two students.

Geography and International Affairs

Elizabeth Chacko
Ethiopian taxi drivers and parking garage attendants: forming an occupational niche in the Nation’s Capital

New immigrants often turn to self employment in areas such as retail, the food/restaurant business and taxicab driving to earn a living. When there is a concentration or specialization of members of a particular ethnic/immigrant group in any kind of work, they are said to form an ethnic occupational niche (Modell,1993; Waldinger, 1994, 2001). According to the DC Taxicab Commission, cab drivers in Washington, D.C. hail from over 70 countries and number nearly 5000, but Ethiopian immigrants account for over a quarter of all taxi drivers in the city, making cab driving a niche occupation for this community. Similarly, anecdotal evidence suggests that Ethiopians are over represented in the parking garage industry as attendants. Many of the Ethiopian immigrants who are taxi drivers and parking garage attendants are college educated.

Using Washington, D.C. as a case study, this project will address the factors that affect the entrance of Ethiopian immigrants in either of the ethnic occupational niches of taxi cab driving and attending parking garages; why Ethiopian immigrants enter these occupations; the relative merits of the Culturalist (belief that immigrant groups have culturally determined features leading to greater self-employment) vs. Structuralist (external factors in the host environment, discrimination, entry barriers in the labor market due to education and language deficits push immigrants into self-employment) approaches in explaining the formation of occupational niches among Ethiopians; the impacts of cultural, economic and political factors in the solidification of these occupational niches; the long-term trajectories for those employed in the taxicab and parking garage industries; and how those currently engaged as cab drivers and garage attendants view these occupations as likely avenues of employment for their children.
The project will use use statistics obtained from the D.C. Taxicab Commission, demographic data from the latest U.S. Census, interviews with Ethiopian taxi drivers and parking garage attendants as well as with owners of taxicab companies and parking garages.

Research assistants will help with data collection, primarily through library research, interviews with Ethiopian taxi cab drivers and parking garage attendants and transcription of these interviews, probably 10 persons in each occupation. Flexible hours with once a week meeting for a debriefing during which we will go over the work done during the previous week and identify objectives and tasks for the following week. Depending on the quality of the work, the student may be offered co-authorship of the paper what will emanate from this research. Applicants should be articulate, willing to work hard and write well. Good social skills are also invaluable for interviewing (although training will be provided).

Global Health

Amira Roess
The the Relationship between Socioeconomic and Nutritional Status in Rural Haiti

The purpose of the research project is to analyze data collected by a partner NGO in Haiti in order to describe the relationship and socioeconomic profile of a community living in a rural area. The RA will learn how to successfully enter data, manage and clean it, and conduct a quantitative analysis to describe the nutritional profile of a community in rural Haiti. The student will have the opportunity to learn how to write an abstract for submission to a research conference and will have the opportunity to co-author a paper for a peer-reviewed journal.
o The RA will be expected to commit 10 hours per week over the semester to this project.
o The RA will have an opportunity to learn how to successfully complete the following tasks working closely with the supervisor:

  • Enter survey data using EpiData Software;
  • Manage and clean data (identify errors, inconsistencies or other problems);
  • Conduct secondary data analysis (frequencies, cross-tabs) using either PASW-SPSS or STATA;
  • Conduct library research (use SCOPUS, PubMed, Google Scholar) to learn about the relationship between socioeconomic status and nutrition in rural Haiti;
  • Based on the survey instrument and the library research articulate a research question;
  • Form and implement a data analysis plan to answer the research question;
  • Write an abstract summarizing the results of the work;
  • Submit the abstract to GW Research Day, Global Health Council conference, APHA conference, and/or other relevant Public Health conference;
  • Create and present a poster of the results of the research;
  • Contribute to the writing of a paper to be published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Information Systems and Technology Management

Wenjing (Wendy) Duan

Prof. Duan would like to work with some research assistants to be part of her research projects to investigate the Impact of Social Media and Consumer-Generated Content on Firm Performances and New Product Launch and Sales. The research assistants will primarily assist in collecting and organizing the longitudinal online social media and consumer-generated content data (e.g., twitter, blogs, online forums, and online user reviews.) The research assistants will also help with conducting initial data entry and data analysis. In addition, the research assistants will perform other research-support tasks, including conducting periodical search for industry report, literature review, and summarizing reports as well as providing preliminary writing of the research projects. The research assistants are expected to put in six to eight hours of work each week on this project.

International Education and International Affairs

Laura Engel

Prof. Engel seeks assistance with two projects. One project in international and comparative education explores education policies and practices in the US in comparison with other countries (Finland, South Korea, Canada, Japan). These countries are often cited as model education systems by US education reformers, who seek to emulate their practices and policies. We seek to find out what role high-stakes testing plays in each system?; what policy means are used to motivate schools and teachers to improve the cognitive achievement of students, especially those from low-achieving schools and communities?; and how is accountability for learning organized? We are looking for one or two students to work with a small team of faculty in the Graduate School of Education and Human Development. Students would engage in some data collection and analysis. This includes library research, document analysis, and interviews related to the countries listed above. No prior coursework or specific skills needed, although an interest and some background in education is helpful. The ability to work independently and in collaboration with a small team is ideal. The project would involve roughly 5-10 hours a week during the spring semester.

The other project in international and comparative education focuses on international large-scale assessment: What we have learned, how might we improve these assessments, and country case studies of the utilization and impact of international large-scale assessments. This project involves an edited collection of articles written on these topics to be published as a special journal issue. Students would assist a small team of researchers in international education with editorial duties, communication with authors on their research, putting together final manuscripts, some library research, and assistance with writing. No prior coursework is needed. Some experience with editorial work and motivation to learn more about the process of publication is helpful. Strong organizational skills are ideal. Roughly 5-10 hours a week during the spring semester.

International Relations

Theo Christov, Honors

This research assistantship position is for the duration of the entire Spring semester 2012. The main duty of the RA includes assistance with my book manuscript. Particularly, I need help with one of the chapters which will be a review of the literature on Hobbes and appropriations of his work in the field of international relations and international law. The chapter seeks to trace out uses of International Relations scholars of Hobbes in advancing arguments for international anarchy: what kind of references have been made, from the 1930’s to the present, to the work of Hobbes as it relates to international relations. Typically, the research would entail reading scholarly articles and book indexes of references to Hobbes and anarchy, systematizing various uses of his work in the field of international relations. Willingness to read scholarly, and sometimes dense, articles; independent research strategies; some familiarity with international relations- these are all a plus. The work will not involve photocopying or scanning. I expect 3-5 hours a week of commitment and bi-weekly meeting on project progress.

Italian

Lynn Westwater

I am conducting a research project that involves the circulation of prohibited ideas in Counter-Reformation Europe. I have gathered an enormous amount of primary source material and need research help to process and survey these materials, which will mostly be in a digital form and will be in French, Italian and Latin. This will involve reading primary source materials and scanning for specific information. I would be interested in finding two students for this position, who will work collaboratively with another honors student who has already been selected. I am looking for candidates with strong independent work habits; the ability to collaborate and communicate; and knowledge of French, Latin and/or Italian. Knowledge of Dutch could also be helpful.

Requirements:

  • 10 hours of independent work per week, with a flexible schedule
  • weekly group meeting on Monday or Tuesday

Media and Public Affairs

Kim Gross
Framing Opinion on Heath Care: Media Coverage and Support for the 2010 Affordable Care Act

Prof. Gross’ research project examines media framing of health care reform during the debate over the 2010 Affordable Care Act. The goal of the project is to understand how framing of health care reform may have influenced public opinion as well as the more general debate over this policy. More generally, we also contribute to a growing literature that speaks to the psychology of framing effects by looking at the role that emotion plays in this process. Prof. Gross has undertaken an examination of how polling questions themselves framed health care in assessing public opinion on this issue in order to determine how the emphases and wording of survey questions might have influenced results and thus politicians’ perceptions of public opinion on health care reform. The next steps in the project are two additional empirical analyses which we will conduct in the spring semester. The first is an analysis of the frames provided for health care reform in national mainstream media coverage. The second will be a set of experiments designed to directly test the effect of frames which emerge in the content analysis to see how effective various frames are in moving opinion, who is influenced by these frames and the psychological mechanisms that underlie these effects, particularly the role that emotion plays in the framing process.

The main duty of the student research assistant would be to participate in data collection through the coding of media content. This is a quantitative content analysis project in which we are coding for the presence of various frames and considerations in news media coverage. The student does not need prior experience with content analysis, though that would be a plus. However, content analysis does require someone who is diligent and attentive to detail. Depending on timing, the student may also participate in the running of experiments designed to directly test the effect of particular frames used by various sides in this debate. The student would have the opportunity to see the experimental design process from start to finish. They would participate in the creation of the stimulus materials and design of the experiment, the IRB process, recruitment of subjects and running of the experiment.

We would very much like a student who could work in the range of 6-9 hours per week. The focus of the student experience is hands on data gathering through participation in the content analysis of news media coverage of the health care debate. The student will get the opportunity to work with established scholars in the field of political communication, learn about how media coverage influences public opinion and learn more about research design and the research process.

Nikki Usher

Are you interested in the future of news in the digital age? If so, you will be engaged in substantive work that will aid in the development of a book project on journalism, innovation and technology. This project looks at hacks (journalists) and hackers (technologists) to understand how news is being reimagined both in traditional places — in newsrooms — and in non-traditional sites, like hackerspaces and research and design labs at universities. You will also be introduced to qualitative research methods, such as qualitative content analysis and interviewing.

Among the tasks/topics you may be asked to research include:

  • the history of R&D in newsrooms
  • open source technology
  • coding videos, blogs, and other content from contests that “reimagine” the news
  • the development of programmer-journalists
  • arranging and conducting interviews with hacks and hackers
  • monitoring Twitter streams, email listservs and social media for buzzwords of interest

Other off topic, but related areas that you might be asked to investigate include social media and newsrooms, the history of business journalism, research on Pakistani journalists, and journalists working in diaspora communities (e.g. Nigerian journalists in exile in the U.S.). Some basic tasks that are unavoidable might include summarizing articles, maintaining an annotated bibliography, help with citations, and keeping track of excel spreadsheets charting the content analysis. Looking for anyone interested in journalism, news, technology, innovation, entrepreneurship, and computer science. Anyone familiar with programming is especially welcome to apply, but this is not required. Any discipline welcome. You must have conducted a substantial research project before (preference given to juniors and seniors). 5-10 hours a week.

Philosophy

Mark Ralkowski, Honors

Professor Ralkowski is writing a book on Plato, and he needs help. This research assistant will gain experience with the process of book publication. You will be involved with finding and contacting the acquisitions editors at a variety of academic presses; you will look at the publication lists of these presses and help determine which list is best suited for Ralkowski’s book; you will collect and help review all of the books on Plato with which Ralkowski’s will compete; and you will be involved with drafting Ralkowski’s book proposal and submitting it to different publishers.  Familiarity with Plato’s Republic is essential. Interest in Plato is preferred. 2-3 hours per week.

Physics

Bethany Cobb, Honors

Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) are the most powerful explosions in the universe, each one likely signaling the formation of a new black hole in a distant galaxy. Despite the wealth of GRB detections provided by the Swift and Fermi satellites (which are both orbiting telescopes dedicated to gamma-ray studies), the exact nature of GRB progenitors remains elusive. GRBs can be studied at many different wavelengths. Observations at the highest energies (gamma-ray and X-rays) are provided by Swift and Fermi. This light can be studied using frequency analysis techniques (e.g. Fourier analysis) to probe the physical processes occurring within the GRBs. Lower energy light also follows the initial gamma-ray/X-ray light. To capture this information, I use a suite of telescopes, including the SMARTS 1.3m and the Gemini North and South 8m telescopes, in a campaign dedicated to obtaining rapid, multi-wavelength observations in order to model GRB spectral and temporal behavior to shed light on GRB physical properties and GRB formation environments. In particular, I am interested in detecting and characterizing supernovae associated with GRBs in order to shed light on the formation mechanism for long-duration GRBs. Interested students can become involved in this research at a number of different levels and different time commitments. Students new to astronomy/physics may assist with literature research related to on-going projects. Students with a science or programming background may become involved in data processing and analysis. Flexible hours.

Raluca Teodorescu

Our research focuses on curriculum design and assessment and physics problem solving. Students will design and assess curricular components for introductory Physics and Astronomy courses. Such components include laboratory-related activities, problem-solving tasks, surveys, questionnaires, etc. Students will become familiar with the statistical tools used to analyze problem-solving behavior, conceptual understanding and attitudes towards learning. Prior physics experience is not required, but will be an asset. Students are expected to invest an average of 9 hours/week and are required to complete the online Social and Behavioral Research, Basic Course at www.citiprogram.org. Based on their performance, they will be sponsored to present their work at national conferences and will be encouraged to co-author research papers.

Political Science

Steven Balla

The Chinese government is increasingly consulting with the public as it drafts laws and regulations. One question to ask about this consultation is, what is the nature of the feedback the government is receiving on its policy drafts? To what extent are Chinese citizens expressing opposition to government plans in their comments on draft laws and regulations? Answering questions such as this will inform larger discussions about the Chinese government’s current efforts to open up its decision making processes, and the likely effects that this opening up will have on stability and change in the Chinese political system. Collected Chinese language comments on draft laws and regulations need to be coded for their tone and substance. This would be the main task of the research assistant. The research assistant would need to be a fluent Mandarin speaker, who can code the tone and substance of comments on draft laws and regulations in areas such as health care reform. The research assistant should be skilled in using Excel, and open to learning how to implement statistical analysis. The research assistant should be skilled in conducting online and library-based research.

The specific research assistant tasks are as follows. (1) Help devise a coding scheme for classifying the tone and substance of comments on draft laws and regulations. (2) Implement this coding scheme, by reading through Chinese-language documents and making coding decisions. (3) Enter these coding decisions into a spreadsheet. (4) Once the coding is complete, the research assistant can assist in implementing statistical analysis of the data that have been coded. (5) The research assistant will also search online and library resources for other research on similar topics (e.g., stability and change in the Chinese political system), as a means of providing a literature review for an article that will be written of the data analysis. (6) The research assistant can write up summaries of previous research, which will be used frame the article that will be written about the data analysis.

In the end, the research assistant will gain exposure to all stages of the conduct of an empirical research project, from data collection to coding to conducting a literature review to writing up analytical results. Flexible hours.

John Sides

The research project is a book on the drama of the 2012 election to amplify the voice of political scientists amidst attempts to tell the story of 2012. Journalists typically write the history of American presidential elections because they are on the campaign trail with the candidates, which gives them authenticity and lots of good stories. The problem is that political scientists typically present their data and, through it, their own narratives much too late to influence the wider discourse—usually at least a year after the election has concluded (and typically several years). The goal is to produce a book that draws on political science theories, uses systematic data, is written accessibly, and is published in hard copy by the summer of 2013. Because chapters of the book will be written as the campaign is underway, they will likely be revised and published in electronic format during that time—making the book partially serialized. This helps create the need for ongoing research assistance.

The research assistant would need to devote about 5 hours per week to the project during the spring semester 2013. The RA would have three main duties. This person would need to assist in gathering publicly available survey data and other elections data and compiling that data into a spreadsheet. This would not entail any detailed knowledge of statistics, merely the ability to use a program like Microsoft Excel. This person would assist in gathering media accounts relevant to the story of 2012. For example, with the economy as weak as it is, one question is whether Obama erred by not asking for a larger stimulus. The RA could compile media coverage of the stimulus debate to see whether that was a realistic possibility given the stated views of key Senators. This would entail the ability to search and compile information from Lexis-Nexis or other archives of news content. This person would also assist in the ancillary tasks related to the preparation of chapter manuscripts, such as fact-checking, confirming sources, bibliographical work, and so forth.

Given these duties, the research assistant does not need any specialized knowledge or training. However, a general interest in politics and the 2012 campaign is probably essential. Basic familiarity with the software and databases noted above is also helpful. Perhaps most important is self-motivation and diligence, so that the research assistant can accomplish these tasks without extraordinary supervision and can produce timely and accurate results.

Public Policy and Public Administration

Lori Brainard

Social media hold the possibility for enhancing engagement between government agencies and citizens/residents. Nevertheless, it remains to be seen whether participation in electoral campaigns and dramatic public crises made possible by technology can translate into participation and engagement via technology in day-to-day governance. Police departments are beginning to experiment with technology in their attempt to engage and collaborate with citizens across agency and authority-based boundaries as part of their community policing effort, which emphasizes collaboration between officers, citizens and stakeholders.

This project investigates the extent and nature of the use of social media technologies by the top 50 U.S. municipal PDs to engage with their residents and citizens. The project’s goal is to determine how the police departments use these technologies in pursuit of their agency mission, for participation through social media or co-creation through Gov 2.0 technologies. The project asks 4 research questions: Which of the Web 2.0 sites/components do the top 50 municipal police departments in the U.S. use? Are they used for information transmission or interaction? Of the PDs that use social media for interaction, is that interaction transactional (Web 2.0) or collaborative (Gov 2.0)? Of the police departments that are achieving collaboration through interactional social media, what innovative practices (besides the application of technology) enable them to do that? The study will draw on documentary analysis, interviews, and thread/conversation analysis (both quantitative and interpretive/qualitative) to investigate these questions.

A student assistant would be very helpful as a data collector and coder. In terms of the latter, a student assistant would be helpful in ensuring coding reliability, thus bolstering the methodology. Hopefully, the student would find the work sufficiently interesting to participate in analysis, both quantitative and qualitative.
Specific duties would include:

  • Collecting data from the Facebook, You Tube and Twitter posts/sites of the already-identified top 50 police departments for a three-month study period.
  • The student would be trained to code the data in order to identify data that is posted by police departments, data that is posted by residents and information/conversational exchanges by police departments and residents. The quoting supports the quantitative analysis and would be done in conjunction with the primary investigator in order to ensure inter-coder reliability.
  • If appropriate, the student would be trained to perform qualitative analysis, consisting of interpretive textual and documentary analysis.
  • The student will also help me to prepare a conference paper, based on the pilot project, for presentation at a professional conference (American Society for Public Administration) in March 2012.

The student assistant would be expect to work up to 10 hours per week. Due to the nature of the work, it can be done from anywhere (on campus, off campus).

Real Estate and Finance

Tom Guerts

Prof. Guerts is currently working on a textbook entitled “Global Real Estate Capital Markets: Analyzing Risk and Return” to be published by Oxford University Press. I am one of the main authors, but in addition will be editing several chapters written by other contributors. I have attached the original book proposal. He seeks one or two students to proofread chapters of the manuscript and help improve the quality of the writing. A working knowledge of economics/finance would be helpful, but is not required. The main issue at hand is to check the manuscript for typos, grammar, and to make suggestions on clarity and helping to ensure that the contributions of the different authors are somewhat similar in form and structure. Some library research might also be required. 7-10 hours/week.

Religion

Eyal Aviv, Honors

Prof. Aviv is seeking a student to assist with his book project. The student will gain experience with the stages of formulating an academic book in the field of religion and philosophy. The student will work with Prof. Aviv on the process of writing, collecting material and hopefully translating relevant sources. The book investigates the role Buddhist philosophy played in the rise of modern China (first half of the 20th century). The student will therefore need a background in modern and ideally classical Chinese (Japanese is a plus). The student should also have an interest in Buddhist philosophy and possibly a background in the study of philosophy. Very strong writing skills a must. Weekly is estimated at 3-4 hours per week.

Sociology

William Chambliss

Prof. Chambliss is developing a paper on the theme of “Criminal Conspiracies: Fact and Fiction.” This will be presented as the Keynote address at the Australian/New Zealand Sociological Association meetings in Aucklnd New Zealand in November, 2012. Subsequently I anticipate that it will be published in their journal. The student would be asked to search newspaper files, journalistic writings, the Web, and social research for examples of proven criminal conspiracies and contrast them with speculations about criminal consipracies with an eye to being able to tell the difference. Prof. Chambliss is looking for at least one but possibly more research assistants to devote 10 hours a week to the project.

William Chambliss and Daina Eglitis

Professors Chambliss and Eglitis are seeking a research assistant (or two) to participate in the completion of an on-going textbook project. They are completing the last five chapters of an eighteen-chapter book. The book, Discovering Sociology, highlights empirical research in sociology and theoretical perspectives on contemporary issues.

The chapters remaining to be completed are as follows: socialization and media; sex and gender; groups and organizations; social change, globalization, and technology; family and aging. The RA may also be asked to help with updating data in completed chapters.

Research Assistant Tasks: Student tasks fall into several broad categories. First, the RA will be asked to do some data searching. This will generally involve searching databases like those of the Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Centers for Disease Control, and the like. The purpose of this is to gather contemporary social indicators on topics like poverty, fertility behavior, income, and the like, for the book. Second, the RA will have the opportunity to contribute creatively to the book with suggestions for sections and box essays and with research into topics that are relevant for the chapters and interesting for the student. As the audience for the book is undergraduates, the creative and intellectual suggestions and contributions of students are highly valued. Third, the RA may be asked to work on some tasks related to the preparation of the final manuscript, including checking and updating sources, looking up missing sources, and checking the chapters’ tables of contents to ensure that they match with the chapters’ materials.

Time Commitment: The number of hours for this position is flexible and student hours may vary by week. Ideally, the RA should be willing to commit 5-8 hours per week to the project.

Contact: dainas@gwu.edu

Antwan Jones

Life course socioeconomic disadvantage and cardiovascular health among urban older adults in Latin America
Although socioeconomic status has been positively linked to health, little is known of how socioeconomic disadvantage experienced in both childhood and adulthood influence cardiovascular illness in lesser developed countries. With particular emphasis on the elderly, this paper uses Latin American data from the SABE project to test whether adult SES disadvantage, net of childhood SES disadvantage, is predictive of being diagnosed with hypertension and experiencing a heart attack. This paper also explores how location plays a role in the relationship between SES and health by providing country-specific analyses. Findings indicate that SES experienced in adulthood is positively associated heart heath, net of childhood SES. However, in the country-specific models, SES is negatively associated with health in Argentina, Brazil and Chile. Interestingly, daily alcohol use was protective against cardiovascular illness in all countries. Results indicate that SES advantage does not uniformly translate to a definite heath advantage for elderly Latin Americans.

The student will also be expected to attend two 30-minute meetings to discuss the progress of the project as well as retrieve the assignment for the following week. The remaining time should be spent on assembling of articles relevant to the topic and assisting in the writing of the literature review. The literature review will contextualize the findings that were previously presented at a conference. It is expected that the entire literature review (i.e., past research and theory) should be around 20 double-spaced pages. While the nature of the research will be collaborative, the student must be highly motivated to continue and finish the project during the Spring semester. For those interested in health fields, social science research and/or graduate school, this opportunity will provide mentorship to the student. 7-8 hours per week

University Writing Program

Katherine Larsen

Prof. Larsen seeks assistance with three projects. She is the Associate Editor of a new publication, The Journal of Fandom Studies, which will be launched in the spring/summer of 2012. The Journal of Fandom Studies seeks to offer scholars a dedicated publication that promotes current scholarship into the fields of fan and audience studies across a variety of media. We focus on the critical exploration, within a wide range of disciplines and fan cultures, of issues surrounding production and consumption of popular media (including film, music, television, sports and gaming). The journal aims to address key issues in fans studies itself, while also fostering new areas of enquiry that take us beyond the bounds of current scholarship. An RA will review submissions as they come in to check that they meet the requirements for length and formatting and are suitable (in terms of topic) for the journal. This would involve reading the submissions and conferring with me. If submissions do not meet the basic standards, student assistant would return them to the author with an explanation of what they need to do to bring them into line with the journal’s requirements. If they do meet basic expectations, and after I had reviewed them, student assistant would forward them to reviewers. I would ask the student assistant to keep track of which articles were out with which reviewers.

Prof. Larsen is also editing Fan Studies: Theory and Practice. This collection will challenge some accepted notions while asking relevant questions surrounding pedagogy. The text is aimed at a multidisciplinary audience of academics and students working in the fields of Media Studies, Gender Studies, Cultural Studies, American Studies, Film and Television Studies, and Popular Culture Studies. An RA would assist with MSS preparation including formatting according to publisher specifications, marking index terms, marking citations in the text and creating a bibliography from the citations.

Prof. Larsen’s new project is on fan culture in 18th C Britain. She hopes to begin preliminary research on this project in the spring. Since it is generally accepted that our own culture of mass production and consumption began in the 18th century, she would like to look into the ways that objects of mass production (primarily books and prints) were being consumed. She wants to argue that the first recognizable fan cultures began during this period. Some initial research for background materials as time permits. This research would involve locating other texts that deal with fan activity in an historical context (if any) and gathering background information on several key moments in 18th C literary history (i.e. the publication of Pamela and the ensuing craze for all things associated with the novel, the reception of Ann Radcliffe’s novels and the “gothic craze” later in the century, etc.). Five hours per week.
Benefit to Student: Student assistant would gain insight into the publishing process, both for academic journals and book publication at all stages of the process – from initial research to seeing a manuscript to press. This assistantship would be ideally suited to a student with an interest in publishing, media, popular culture, American studies or gender studies (since so much of the focus of fan studies has, up to now, been centered on female fans) and who has a strong desire to hone research skills and become proficient in using bibliographic tool

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