Blog 2

When looking at factors affecting entrepreneurship, we have decided to take a closer look at what drives individuals to enter the sector. Business decisions can be driven by either necessary or opportunity . entrepreneurship. As defined by the World Bank, necessary entrepreneurship occurs when the individual has no other option for income whereas opportunity entrepreneurship occurs when the individuals sees potential in the market. This brings the question: which is more prominent across world markets? Would more developed countries experience higher levels of opportunity entrepreneurship than lesser developed countries? With the same idea would lesser developed nations see higher levels of necessary entrepreneurship with less income available.

The World Bank Global Entrepreneurship Monitor provides data on countries’ entrepreneurial levels including indicators of these different types of entrepreneurship through survey collection. While the data being available so readily has been a success in this process, learning to use the GEM database and format the data has been a challenge. This project has allowed me a deeper understanding of what drives decisions to enter the markets from a business or individual standpoint. It may lead me to look at other topics that begin with microeconomic decisions that affect the economy worldwide.

Blog #2: The Perceived Impact of Supplemental Treatment for Cancer Patients

Research thus far has been an amazing learning experience for me. I started off my journey by exploring various databases’ as well as my local public library, so that I could fully educate myself on the various types of traditional treatments. Gaining knowledge about the different types of traditional treatments was a great segue for me to further explore supplemental treatments and the impacts it has on Cancer patients. I’ve noticed that as I continue to do more research, I gain a stronger attachment and curiosity towards our topic. This constant growth of curiosity and excitement is what helps me generate more ideas towards each of our subtopics.

Searching through databases’ and books before conducting interviews has helped Mia and I form great questions to ask our interviewees. So far, each interview I’ve done has backed up the literature that I’ve found. I find it so interesting to see how personal experience overlaps with scholarly sources. Being able to compare and contrast our literary findings with personal experiences is one of the many things I love about this project. For example, I interviewed various Cancer patients and each of them practiced a different religion. I asked them questions about spirituality and how it plays a roll in their fight against Cancer. After meeting with each interviewee, I reflected on each conversation and it was interesting to see that although each person practices a different religion, they all turn to their faith to stay hopeful and maintain strength as they’re going through traditional treatment. Each person stated that Cancer doesn’t only effect the body physically but it also takes an emotional toll. Therefore, spirituality is a great supplemental treatment because it helps patients maintain the strength needed to keep on powering through their treatment.

Whenever I schedule an interview with someone, I get so excited to hear their story. Being able to incorporate their experience to be a part our research feels like such an honor. This journey of exploring the perceived impacts of supplemental treatments for Cancer patients has allowed me to develop even stronger problem solving, organizational and communication skills which are important professional and life skills to have. I could proudly say that the research I’ve done thus far has given me a whole new perspective on life and I am forever grateful for this opportunity. I’m eager to dive even deeper into the research for our topic. My overall goal is to learn as much as I can so that I could share my knowledge and make a positive impact on the lives of many.

Blog 2 Bio Bus Production

Professor La Rosa and I sat down to create a full schedule for everybody involved in the event. We came up with interview questions; to find out more about the research project, I asked the following questions of all those I interviewed.

    • What’s your personal story about how you are connected to the Biobus project? Why do you want to be involved? How did you get involved?
    • Share a little about your background and how it prepared you for this project.
    • What is your role in the project, and that of your organization? Share a little bit about the significance of this collaboration (private + university + non-profit). 
    • Describe / bring to life a moment where you saw the impact of science education,  either on a college student, a younger student, or in a professional setting.
    • What does Pace / Schrodinger / Biobus see as the goal of this program? (from your group’s perspective)
    • Why science? How is outreach at the middle school level a crucial part of advancing STEM? 
    • Anything else you want to share?

We created a call sheet, which includes who is needed what day and what time and where; and everyone’s contact number and location of filming. 

So far, I have completed almost all the interviews for the Biobus project. On July 18, I went with Professor La Rosa to Schrodinger Headquarters to meet with Ms Jennifer Chambers and interview her on her collaboration with the project and the company’s software. Then, we headed over to Pace to interview Professor Chang and Alumni Rudra Persaud who will both be conducting and organizing the microplastics experiments with the middle school students on the days of the event. On July 22, Professor La Rosa, Professor Chang, and myself went to Bio Base in Harlem to meet with Dr. Franscesca Anselmi and a couple interns, Vanessa and Jane. We got to view the base, where the middle schoolers will be doing their science experiments and activities on August 9th, and then we went on the Bio Bus. We completed the interviews on the bus.

I have started logging all the film footage so far and have begun editing some of the interviews. I will continue working on the editing until August 8th, 9th, and 15th, when I will be filming the actual event with middle school students at work.  Mostly I will shoot b-roll of the students and the experiments. After the first day’s events, I will interview Ms Ashley Pirovano with Bio Bus and two Pace interns who organize the kid’s groups. 

Conducting interviews is a process that I’ve been able to learn from each time. Luckily, Professor La Rosa has assisted me for most of these interviews and I’m learning first hand through my experience with her.

A not so fun science fact I learned from Schrodinger is that we (as humans) ingest about a credit card’s worth of plastic every week. Scary. This research on microplastics has much greater personal impact than I originally expected. The finished promotional video will definitely feature the importance of urgency in this type of work the students will be studying. 

 

Blog 2: The Effect of Diet and Nutrition on the Chemical Composition of Breast Milk Samples

Former experimentation indicates that environmental factors do influence the composition of breast milk, and have a larger impact than previously believed. Because the composition of human milk is so unique and is affected by so many variables, many sources of error exist in the collection of data. However, it has been studied that certain nutrients and non-nutrient constituents of milk can decrease with a chronically lower maternal intake of these nutrients. This then can result negatively on the infant. Likewise, a chronically low intake of certain components can have a neutral result on the breast milk if the components are then sourced from the mother’s own internal reserves.

Maternal dietary intake can impact the proportions of different fatty acids present in milk samples. The intake of lipids affects milk composition by altering the type of fatty acid present. Lipid composition of milk demonstrates the unique way human milk components are sourced in the body. Fatty acids can be derived from plasma transported from the intestine/fat deposits or can be synthesized from glucose. Those synthesized within the mammary gland have a chain length of 16 carbons or less, whereas, the chain length of fatty acids derived from the maternal diet tend to be longer. During lactation, lipoprotein lipase activity in the mammary gland increases which hydrolyzes triglycerides, freeing the fatty acids for transport and further use within the cell.

Rather than the amount of fat intake by the mother affecting the amount of fat within the milk, we see that the type of fat consumed influences the fatty acid composition of the milk. An experiment in Great Britain compared the breast milk of four vegetarian women to that of four non-vegetarians. The results suggested that the milk from the vegetarian mothers contained five times as much C18:2 fatty acids within the early stages of lactation. As time progressed, however, the milk of both groups began to contain more fatty acids synthesized from the mammary gland. The type of diet of the mother seems to impact the type and source of the fatty acid used in the composition of breast milk. By using stable isotope methodology, the results of a study showing that diet composition affects milk fat synthesis were confirmed. The study further showed that when the mother’s energy levels are balanced, the “fatty acids derived directly from the diet account for approximately 30% of the fatty acid found in the milk.”

Moving forward, more research on factors that affect fatty acid content and how the type of fatty acid that is present due to environmental factor affects the human milk sample will be done. Also, the research can be compared to the group’s collected research in the lab. This research poses a challenge just because there are so many varying factors that can affect the composition of breast milk. Through this research so far, I have learned a lot about the complexity of human milk composition and the many bodily processes that contribute to its formation.

Blog 2: Encouraging Success and Engagement with Communication Between Teachers and Students

In the span of a month, my research has proven to have significant relevance to the initial questions raised. Student engagement can be influenced by teachers, primarily by conversations between the two on what they need from each other to reach their goals. That engagement is also heavily implicated in the success of these students, as shown by many studies on institutions across the world.

The relationship between Teachers and Students can be beneficial for both parties, and is built on effective communication between the two. Consistent feedback, and positive encouragement are important for students to feel comfortable in a learning environment, which makes the learning experience easier and more bountiful.

The primary challenge I’ve had with the research thus far has been looking for articles on a topic, and finding hundreds of articles on a database that have the correct tags but don’t fit my research. Some articles look promising and I read into them, but ultimately the findings aren’t relevant or significant for my research. I also enjoy reading the articles, however it’s disappointing coming away from an article to not have any quotes to put into a document. The time feels half-wasted.

I’m majoring in Psychology, and this research is not entirely in that field however I feel like what I’m learning will be highly applicable in the future for my career. Preliminary research on motivational factors for students could lead into further research in the coming years, which is both interesting information and useful as a student so I could promote my own engagement and success.

Blog #2

So far, our research has progressed by gathering more data related to ellipsometry and goniometry utilizing the surfaces of silica and titania. With the ellipsometric aspect of the data, it is important to note that we only take this data for silica. The reason as to why titania cannot be used is because the surface has too high of a refractive index and will not produce an accurate thickness reading. We begin by measuring and recording the initial thickness. Then react the sample with HMS and record the thickness again. Lastly, we react it with an experimental compound and measure the thickness. The values starting from the initial should all increase respectively if each individual reaction ran correctly. Additionally, the values we are interested in knowing are averages and standard deviations. We have tried to quantify the amount of HMS drops added in order to correlate it to thickness however, the relationship appears to follow a curvature rather than a linear projection. 

With goniometry, each sample being analyzed has a set of twelve values. Since we typically react six samples of silica and six samples of titania, we have to take one hundred and fourteen contact angles in one day! This is the most time consuming part of research but also the most meaningful. The averages of the advancing and receding from both left and right sides gives a glimpse of the hysteresis taking place at the surface. Our recent findings seem to further support our previous results and establish new values on compounds being tested for the first time. 

When we tested one of the new compounds, it seemed like the compound did not react with the surface of our samples. More data is being collected and being looked at to understand this issue. Aside from this, our research has been very successful. 

I have learned a lot with regard to this project, both conceptual understanding of the reactions and tactile research experience inside the lab. The research I’ve done has enlightened my comprehension when looking at surfaces that have specific properties. Lastly, my time in research has made me more excited about our future upcoming paper. 

Image: Ellipsometer

Image: Goniometer

Blog 2: Progress, Updates, and Reflections

The original outcomes for my research project are a website and a literature review. Dr. Toomey and I have discussed these products at length, and are anticipating to co-write the literature review in order to push it for publication as a news source. The literature review is projected it is going to have around the sum of 6,000 words with four sections, one for each research question I hope to answer or at least discuss regarding the current happenings in Bolivia with hydro-power, indigenous rights and autonomy, and environmental protection. So far, I have written the first section of the paper as well as the introduction, encompassing around 2,000 words and have begun to move to the next section. Dr. Toomey has reviewed parts of my writing and given me edits and advice on the paper to work on as well as I continue to work on it. 

The website, the other product of this research, is also coming along. I am currently using the free trial of SquareSpace to design the skeleton of the website for Dr. Toomey to show activists in Bolivia while she is there this summer. As of now, the home page, about page and subsections (“What is Happening”, “Partners”, and “Contact”), News, and Blog all contain content and are being improved by me as I continue to work and design it. Currently I am taking images for the website from the creative commons, but once Dr. Toomey returns from Bolivia I hope to use some of her pictures as well. The other pages we hope to include on our site, “Read Me” would be the literature review upon publication from the newspaper, and I am still working on incorporating social media links onto the website. It is currently a private enclosed site as I work on it, but I am eager to open it to the public once it’s completed. Dr. Toomey and I have decided it would be best to launch the website in early to mid August. 

Key findings in my research have been outlined in the section of the literature review I’m working on, as follows:
When Evo Morales came into power in Bolivia in 2006, he nationalized oil and natural gas resources within the country, asserting that if foreign companies were to extract resources from Bolivia, they would do so as contractors hired by the state and renegotiate previously held contracts (Smith 2018). Recently, Morales opened up protected areas to both state and foreign investors to initiate programs to mine and export natural gas and oil (Hill 2015). This new law overrides any legislation previously installed and allows companies the power to develop those areas as they please in eleven out of twenty two protected areas (Hill 2015).
As a result, over seventy-five percent of Madidi National Park has been opened to contractors and development. Currently, two planned hydroelectric dam projects, El Chepete and El Bala, threaten Madidi National Park and surrounding areas. Both the dams will be installed along the Beni River in Bolivia with large areas of Madidi National Park projected to be flooded. These dams would cost an estimate of  six to seven billion (USD), which would make this Bolivia’s first time funneling so much money into one single project (Pasini 2017).
El Chepete would have the installed capacity of 3,300 MW  and 15, 470 GWh a year, in comparison to the 1,400 MW of energy Bolivia consumes yearly (Molina 2016). El Bala would have the installed capacity of 425 MW, despite previous claims of a generating capacity of 1,600 MW (Ingram 2016). Design work for the two projects was projected to take fifteen months by Geodata, and construction would take six years (Ingram 2016). However, Geodata removed itself from the projects due to indigenous communities’ and environmental NGOs’ activism and protesting of the two hydroelectric projects. The Bolivian Government aimed to have El Chepete completed by 2025, and El Bala completed by 2030 (Elwell 2018).
A scientific expedition was sent into the park to record the amount of different species currently inhabiting the protected area, called ‘Identidad Madidi’. The expedition lead to the discovery that Madidi is home to 11,395 different species, including almost nine thousand that were discovered in the park and an additional four thousand new species (Gorman 2018). In this expedition, it was also revealed that Madidi National Park contains eleven percent of bird species on Earth (Hill 2015). The hydroelectric dams El Chepete and El Bala would destroy almost eight hundred square kilometers of rainforest (Elwell 2018). They would flood large regions of the park, disrupting keystone ecosystems that house some of the most biodiverse areas on Earth; Madidi is classified as a biodiversity hotspot by the Global 200 Ecoregions Program.
Over five thousand people would be forced to relocate with the construction of El Chepete and El Bala, as the areas planned for the dams encompass thirty one peasant and indigenous communities (Molina 2016). The Tacana, Leco, Chiman, Aymara, Quecha, and Uchupiamona indigenous communities are only some of those affected.In Bolivia, the law requires prior informed consent to maintain indigenous autonomy regarding these large-scale projects through the 2009 Bolivian constitution. However, with the case of El Chepete and El Bala, the Bolivian government never arranged a prior consultation for the communities that are going to be affected, which goes against the CPE and ILO Convention 169 (Pasini 2017);(Molina 2016). 

From the data collected about Bolivia culture, the history of indigenous rights and autonomy, the history of President Morales’ laws, opinions, and statements, and his interaction and policies with extraction companies, other research questions were developed to add to my previous questions I asked at the beginning of this project. My original research questions were ‘How are indigenous rights and environmental regulations being impacted by increased neo-developmentalism in Bolivia?’,’What strategies are lowland indigenous communities using to engage in discussions about these issues at regional, national, and international levels?’, and finally ‘Where is the funding coming from for El Bala and El Chepete, who are the private investors, developers, and foreign agents involved?’ However, I’ve added two new questions that have come up: ‘How is Morales and the Bolivian Government planning to pay for these hydroelectric dams and their construction, and where is that funding coming from?’ and ‘The contradicting statements given about these projects every step of the way causes speculation that this is a means to an end for Morales, whether it be securing voters in the upcoming elections or extending international connections for Bolivia?’ These last two questions are complex, and they are the hardest to research and find answers for. I’m not sure if I will be able to answer them, but I want to examine them within the scope of the issue at hand because I feel it will aid in my understanding of what’s going on. 

A key challenge with this project is that both Dr. Toomey and I are westerners, and thus only have access to outside knowledge of the issues we’re researching. It is hard to understand every layer this way, and what I’m hoping for from Dr. Toomey’s trip to Bolivia is that we will be able to gain more insider knowledge from Bolivian indigenous activists and others working on or directly impacted by the hydro-electric projects. Another challenge for me has been being able to effectively translate Spanish articles and papers to English in order to understand them. I’m afraid I’m missing phrases or details that would be important for my project due to not being fluent in Spanish. However both of these challenges will hopefully not be impacting our research, as Dr. Toomey is going to Bolivia and I am improving my Spanish throughout this summer. Successes in this project have been that as my first research project, I feel it is going well and on schedule. Another key challenge is being able to dig deeply and research every aspect of these issues. For example, finding articles detailing funding is very difficult, as I’ve had to look into records from the World Bank and other foreign sources. 

I’ve learned how to research in a constructive way that will aide in writing papers later by working through EndNote, and being able to annotate and comment on the articles I found to better help me write later. For the almost 100 sources I’ve been using for the literature review, I’ve annotated and commented on parts of the papers I knew I would use later so that I wouldn’t have to go back and reread everything to find what I wanted to cite. I’ve also learned how to better my scientific writing and stick to deadlines to counteract procrastination. 

This project has impacted further research plans that might relate to this research by helping me develop a stronger ability to look at the full scope of an issue and not focus on just one part of any issue. For example, Morales and the Bolivian government are pushing so hard for this hydroelectric dam project and other projects like it due to the fact that generating the energy and selling it to Brazil will help them secure funding for social programs that would help a large base of Bolivia. However, this issue becomes complex when the environmental damage is considered and the injustices that Bolivia’s indigenous communities face. For further research, I’d like to be involved with issues like these because this project has inspired me to further examine the social consequences of climate change and how increased technology and improvements in one country can have negative impacts for marginalized communities. 

 

Smith, Stansfield. (2018). “Eleven Years of the ‘Process of Change’ in Evo Morales’ Bolivia.” Council of Hemisphere Affairs.

Elwell, J. (2018). Chepete and El Bala dams outline evo’s character: he is NOT pro environment NOR indigenous rights! Bolivian Thoughts in an Emerging World.

Gorman, J. (2018). “Is This the Most Diverse National Park?” The New York Times.

Hill, D. (2015). Bolivia opens up national parks to oil and gas firms. The Guardian.

Molina, F. (2016). “Plan de construir dos represas en bosque virgen de Bolivia alarma a ambientalistas e indigenas.”

Pasini, M. (2017). In Bolivia, indigenous people rally against megaprojects — and Morales. il manifesto.

Blog Post 2: The Emergence Lab

 

Thus far in our research we have spent a lot of time gathering data from previous research. Considering a lot of what this project consists of is stockpiling data to present at a conference on new ideas and solutions for wicked problems, this is a big advancement in our research. I am currently focusing on finding academic literature for vegan organizations that support the argument in veganism and lessening meat in our diets. Some of the insights I have found is that not a lot of arguments are made against the facts they are more against the lifestyle of plant-based diets or the people themselves. Veganism having a positive effect on the environment is widely accepted, so many of the organizations don’t cite much if anything at all relating to the environment even though there is a lot of information supporting their claims. In addition to exploring these organizations I have been looking into how culture affects our food choices and there are a lot of problems to overcome there. Food has very close ties with our culture and identity making it far more difficult to ask someone to cut out food that might remind them of their families or identity because it is more personal than doing what is “best for the planet”. 

I have found trouble in how to address the organizations due to their extreme bias towards the idea of a plant-based diet being the end all solution to climate change. There are quotes like “and this is why being a vegetarian isn’t enough” (from The Vegan Society), which makes it seem as if vegans are an exclusive and aggressive group and creates an opportunity for opponents to prosecute veganism through ad hominem and not by facts. The facts tend to not be the main point of discretion for why people aren’t vegan and I am also coming to the conclusion it isn’t ignorance either. There are barriers to be addressed, culturally, financially, due to accessibility, health, and knowledge. To clarify when I say knowledge I don’t mean on the benefits that veganism has for the environment I am more referring to how to prepare food that is not meat-centric or where to go for these meals, or how to make a plant-based diet more desirable. As I continue to research this topic I want to explore these barriers of veganism more and find ways to overcome them easier as well as create a less aggressive vegan environment. As long as solutions are made to be broadly accessed, addressing barriers for an individual may advance the spread of reducing meat consumption due to many of the barriers being similar.

Blog 2: Tackling the Deficit of Legal Translation Through the Lens of New York City

Thus far, Professor Danylenko and I have made good progress with our Legal Translation Questionnaire research. As planned, we have put heavy focus on what is expected of organizations or companies that provide legal translation. I have assessed 5 companies in the tri-state area that provide legal translation services for a fee to determine the extent as to their expertise and whether the majority of those who do inquire of translation services can afford them. The companies that we assessed are Apoling Solutions, Morningside Translations, D&T Translations, Certified Translation, and Day Translations. I presented a questionnaire (attached) to these 5 companies in order to better understand the work that they do, whether they maintain professionalism and are licensed to operate, the prices of standard translations/interpretations, and what such a company entails from its translators. Additionally, I submitted 3 legal documents to each company in the Russian, Spanish, and Chinese languages to obtain sample quotes of how much certified and non-certified legal translations would cost. This allowed us to respectively compare the average wage of immigrants in the United States to how much legal translation/interpretation would cost, if utilizing these companies.

Additionally, we have explored the very limited number of organizations providing these services free-of-charge and how the whole process of translation for low-income clients works from the first step to the final stage. Ultimately, we were only able to verify that two such organizations exist in the area: The New York Legal Assistance Group and The Legal Aid Society. Both these organizations have a high waiting list for legal services and only provide legal translation as an additional supplement to their services. To determine the quality of translation/interpretation services provided by these organizations, we inquired as to how volunteers are selected and the number of volunteers available in each language. We also wanted to understand how the city provided non-English speakers with translators during trials and for this, I visited the criminal court house of Kings county in Brooklyn. While I had previously thought that legal translation was fully available to all in need, I was quite shocked just how limited it is. However, we did learn that multiple offices in the U.S. receive funding from the government specifically towards language access services. These include the Legal Services Corporation, the U.S. Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Social Security Administration, and the Department of Labor. If individuals are not provided services in their languages at these offices, they have the opportunity to file a complaint. Yet the question remains as to what those who speak another language that isn’t as common should do if there is no translator/interpreter available. This is our third step of research that we are working on.

A good portion of our research is obtaining data and actual observances from non-English speakers who have used such translation services. We presented a questionnaire (attached) to over 100 individuals and received the responses of 24. The questionnaire was uniform, contained identical questions, and was completely voluntary. While we are still analyzing the results of the questionnaires, the overall picture shows that most clients were not fully satisfied with the services that they received. Most of the issues arose from the lengthy wait-time of having access to translators/interpreters, as well as the lack in availability of such services altogether. The full analysis of our data will be presented in graphical format within our research paper at the conclusion of the summer where we hope to see a pattern in the issues and come up with a way as to how they can be improved. Our next part of the project will focus on steps that can be taken by the city to enhance legal translation, where there are thousands of non-English speakers. Yet the data also raises the questions as to where the city of New York will find funding to support such projects, even if an alternative solution was offered. Based on my research, a good suggestion that arises would be for the city to offer college students a chance to release them from their loans if they were to go into pursuing a career in legal translation. This idea has been done to increase the number of teachers in U.S. schools by offering loan forgiveness to those who pursue jobs as educators in specific subjects or districts. The plan would encourage students to make the field of legal translation a priority and encourage more graduates to pursue such jobs. Overall, we are highly satisfied with the work that we have produced as of date and look forward to continuing our research in August.

 

Blog Post 2

Over the past few weeks, Professor Shostya and I have been gathering data from Banner on the recently-graduated classes of the honors college. We were searching for information like high school GPA, SAT/ ACT scores, number of college-level classes taken and scores on each respective exam, as well as demographic data such as gender, domestic or international birth, and ability to speak a second language. We have also conducted a literature review in which we read several research papers exploring similar topics and recorded important information to better understand what has already been researched and what is yet to be discovered.

After finalizing our data set on Excel, we imported our spreadsheet into Stata, and began running Probit regressions to observe the effect of our independent variables on our single dependent variable- graduating with honors. Much to our suspicion, none of our independent variables correlated significantly with our dependent variable. In other words, the academic factors we observed such as grades and standardized test scores had virtually no effect on whether or not a student graduated from our honors college. Although this is a challenge in that we have no significant data or analyses at this point, this was also an important discovery. Moving forward, we will be changing our definition of success to a more well-rounded one including not only graduation with honors, but also job offers upon graduation, internships throughout college, awards, research, and comments from a thesis adviser, as some authors included in our literature review did.

The fact that the very factors we rely the most on to decide a student’s acceptance to college are completely insignificant is surprising. This raises questions like “Why do we use these factors if they really do not impact a student’s success?” and “How can we change our admissions process to predict applicants’ success here and accept those who are more likely to stay at and ‘succeed’ in Pforzheimer Honors College?” Despite the obstacle that we have encountered, I am looking forward to using our creativity to come up with new and better ways to predict the overall success of applicants at Pace University’s honors college.