Learning The Ropes
As our blog readers know, the TIDESS team has been hard at work on our data analysis, writing, and development! However, I’m taking a step back from our posts detailing parts of the research process instead to write from the perspective of what it’s like to join a scientific project as a new team member.
First, an introduction. I am currently an Interdisciplinary Ecology PhD candidate at the University of Florida. The focus for my own research is the concept of oyster-provided ecosystem services. Ecosystem services are the benefits we derive from natural resources that can be tied to human wellbeing. Oysters contribute many invaluable environmental functions including protecting shorelines from erosion and storm battering, providing habitat for many small macroinverterbrates and fish, and filtering water, leading to positive impacts on water quality. You can read more about the details of my work on my personal blog at https://themeanderingscientist.com/category/oyster/.
While I might seem like an unusual fit for the TIDESS project, I also have a background and interest in science education and outreach. Another aspect of TIDESS that I find interesting is some of the methods are similar to the ones I’ll be employing in my current study of how oystermen and fishermen use and think about oyster reefs. I am conducting one-on-one interviews that I will ultimately use qualitative content analysis to understand. As Jeremy and Alice talked about in their previous TIDESS posts, this method of assessment involves categorizing what people say during a study based on themes that either derive from previous literature or are developed during the research process.
However, when joining a project partway through its progression, there’s a certain amount of catching up one has to do. The team has recently been working through data analysis for the tabletop study. We concurrently submitted abstracts and papers to two different upcoming conferences. One has been accepted to the 2018 NARST (National Association for Research in Science Teaching) conference , while the other is in review for a computer science conference. Publishing and presenting at these conferences will allow us to discuss the results of the current study through slightly different lenses.
I have so far assisted with the writing and editing process for the conference papers/proposals. One of the challenges is the style of writing and the submission process for both venues we submitted to are somewhat different from the type of ecology-based conferences I typically attend and at which I present. I also have to learn about new concepts and ideas that form the foundation for our current TIDESS research. This includes learning about the fundamental research that has set the stage for this work. An interesting aspect of the entire process is seeing the way two disciplines – science education and human computer interaction – are being tapped into through this project to create more effective solutions for designing and presenting data visualizations for learning in informal settings.
Luckily, as a graduate student I’ve cultivated many of the skills needed to diminish the learning curve. I look forward to writing about new developments as I become further integrated into the research team.
by Carrie Schuman