Category: Student Research

Student Research in the Library: Sierra Parker

We are so grateful when our hard-working students take time out of their busy schedules to share what they’re up to in the library!

Sierra Parker has been spending an awful lot of time in her student office this term. The Linguistics and Russian Studies major is from Michigan’s Upper Penisula and will be graduating in June. Sierra plans to attend graduate school to study communication disorders after taking a year or two off to work with FoodCorps (a branch of AmeriCorps that helps start school gardens and educates kids about healthy foods) or the National Park Service.

Sierra, what are you researching?

I am researching aphasia, a language disorder.  People with aphasia lose the ability to find words and/or use them coherently.

More specifically, I am looking at how aphasia was studied by two Soviet psychologists: Alexander Luria and Lev Vygotsky. I am interested in what they believed about aphasia, as well as the chain of thought that led them there.

What are you hoping to learn or gain from this research?

I am fascinated with how people with aphasia experience the world. I am hoping to gain some insight by learning more about conceptions of aphasia that differ from the modern Western approach.

Why do you think this research is important?

I believe it is always important to step into someone else’s shoes (in this case: people with aphasia, Vygotsky, and Luria) and try to see the world from their point of view. Also, Western histories of aphasiology tend to overlook the groundbreaking work done by Vygotsky, Luria, and other Russian/Soviet psychologists.

How did you become interested in this line of research?

I took the class Brain & Behavior, which introduced me to aphasia. As someone who has always been interested in language, I was stunned by the implications of losing it. I instantly wanted to know more about the disorder, as well as the lives and minds of those who live with it every day.

What library materials and resources have been the most useful to you in pursuing this research?

The library created a research guide specific to my senior seminar, which has been extraordinarily useful. The PSYCInfo database has been helpful, as well as the fact that the library owns four volumes of Vygotsky’s Collected Works!

What would you like your fellow students to know about the Mudd Library?

Apply for an office! They are a big help, especially if you are planning on using many books from the Mudd’s collection.

Also, do not be afraid to ask the librarians for help. That’s what they’re there for!

Thanks, Sierra. We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. See you around the Mudd.

Save

Using Your Library Wisely

The library offers so many resources and services, it can be hard to keep track of all the ways in which we can help you succeed at Lawrence.

Below you’ll find a handy list of just a few ideas for optimizing your experience in the Mudd. How many have you employed?

Lots of seating for lots of studying.
  • Grab a study buddy and a rolling whiteboard to parse out those tricky formulas.
  • Head for the quiet solitude of the fourth floor and hide out in the stacks to read.
  • Contact a reference librarian for research assistance or make a research appointment: visit the desk, call, email, or text!
  • Watch a movie for class or relaxation in one of our five viewing rooms.

    Books and art and standing desks!
  • Browse the fiction and graphic novels on the third floor during a study break.
  • Wheel one of our standing desks to your favorite spot to focus.
  • Lounge on one of the comfy couches in the Milwaukee-Downer Room (1st floor) or in the Roger Dale Kruse Room (4th floor) while doing your class reading.
  • Reserve a group study room on either the 2nd or 3rd floor by signing your name on the clipboard outside the door. Invite your friends for an intensive study session.
  • Practice your PowerPoint presentation in the group study room on the 2nd floor.
  • Check out the art in the Mudd Gallery on the 3rd floor during a study break.
  • Cozy up to read or nap in one of our beanbag chairs! There are three spread out across the upper floors.
  • Browse the free book shelf on the 2nd floor. You can find some great music there as well!
  • Catch up on domestic or international current events with a newspaper.
  • Hide away for some quiet study among the bound periodicals on level A.
  • Visit the Circulation Desk to check out a locker for your research materials. Or check out the Wii for the weekend!
  • Gather some friends for a game break: everything from Candyland to Catan can be found on the 2nd floor.
  • Pop into the Archives on Level B one afternoon and visit with Erin Dix, our friendly and informative archivist. Find out the answers to your burning questions about the history of Lawrence and Milwaukee-Downer.

Are there any other ideas that you would add to this list? How do you use the Mudd? We’d love to hear from you!

Regardless of how you use the Mudd, we look forward to seeing you soon.

The beautiful and serene Lincoln Reading Room.

Student Researcher in the Library: Terese Swords


Whether she’s studying English or biology, we love to see Terese Swords’ smiling face in the Mudd! This Midwestern senior may be winding down her career at Lawrence, but she’s still using the library full force. Read on to learn more about Terese, her research and why she loves the library.

What library materials and resources have been the most useful to you in pursuing your research, Terese?

I frequently use ILL to gain access to both electronic journal articles as well as PDFs of books. The main collection of books within the library, especially regarding 18th century credit economies, has also been extremely useful.

What would you like your fellow students to know about the Mudd Library?

It is a great resource and can allow you to gain a better understanding of questions (in any academic field) that interest you.

Also, having a student office in the library is extremely useful when pursuing large research projects, because it allows for both a quiet study space as well as a secure location to keep an immense amount of research materials.

The Mudd, and its staff, are awesome!

What are you researching?

I am researching many things!

For my honors project in English, I am researching the representation of 18th century economies in two of Daniel Defoe’s works: Robinson Crusoe and Roxana.

For my biology senior capstone, I am writing a review paper analyzing how the parasitic protozoan Toxoplasma gondii is able to manipulate its intermediate rat host and how Toxoplasma, which can infect humans and cause the disease toxoplasmosis, may be manipulating our behavior!

I am planning to use my biology research on Toxoplasma as content for a radio script that I am going to be writing and producing in the spring.

What are you hoping to learn or gain from this research?

For my honors project in English I am hoping to gain a deeper understanding of capitalist economies in the 18th century and how the South Sea Bubble’s burst drastically influenced the social and economic thought of the time. I am also looking to understand where critics stand on the issue of economic representation in Daniel Defoe’s works so I can enter into a conversation with them within my paper.

For my biology capstone, I am hoping to further understand the mechanisms by which Toxoplasma gondii is able to manipulate its hosts as well as the global health implications of the disease toxoplasmosis in humans.

Why do you think this research is important?

I believe that both research topics are important because both projects look to further answer/understand gaps present within the critical literature in each respective field.

How did you become interested in this line of research?

I became interested in researching 18th century credit economies after taking Dr. Barnes class “Gender and the Enlightenment” last winter, where I was first introduced to Daniel Defoe and his work Roxana. Since then, I have not stopped thinking about economic representation within Defoe’s works and other literary/artistic works post South Sea Bubble.

After taking parasitology with Dr. Humphries, I amazed at the idea that Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite that is estimated to be infecting ¼ of the population of the US above the age of 12, could be manipulating mammals’ behavior. Since then, for my capstone, I have been researching how humans, a dead end host for the parasite, may also experience behavioral changes due to infection.

What are your plans after graduation?

I am taking a gap year or two before attending graduate school or law school (I haven’t decided yet). For my gap year, I am applying to boarding school programs where I will have the opportunity to teach high school students while earning a masters degree in education. I am also planning on applying to pharmaceutical companies.

My job search is just about as broad as my academic interests! I am hoping that work experience during my gap will help inform my decision of what higher education to pursue.

All the best to you, Terese! We think you’re awesome, too.

Student Researcher in the Library: Laura Deneckere


The Mudd supports students across all academic disciplines. Laura Deneckere, a biology major from Madison, Wisconsin, was kind enough to chat with us about the extensive biology research she has been conducting in the library.

What would you like your fellow students to know about the Mudd Library?

The library is a great resource, not only for special research projects, but also for routine classwork! The librarians and student workers genuinely want to help, are easy to approach and will go to great lengths to assist you with absolutely anything you need.

What library materials and resources have been the most useful to you in pursuing your research?

I have used many immunology and invertebrate textbooks from the library in order to broaden my overall understanding of molluscan immunity.

One of the most useful tools that I have used is the Interlibrary Loan service (ILL). This tool is extremely easy to use and you generally receive your requested materials very quickly! Through this service I have accessed current journal and book chapters from around the world.

Enough about us. What are you researching, Laura?

I am researching the evolutionarily conserved nuclear factor-kappa B(NF-κB) pathway in the snail, Biomphalaria glabrata. This species of snail serves as the intermediate host for the trematode Schistosoma mansoni, which causes the debilitating tropical disease schistosomiasis in humans. The broader aim of my project is to determine if NF-κB is regulating immune responses in the snail. I am using bioinformatics and electrophoretic mobility shift assays (EMSAs) to address this question, and am very fortunate to be using Dr. Judith Humphries’s research lab. Thank you Dr. Humphries!

Why do you think this research is important?

The snail plays an essential role in the schistosomiasis life cycle, so molecular-based research is important for furthering our knowledge of the snail’s defense strategies and overall immune-related responses. With over 210 million people affected annually, schistosomiasis is the third most devastating disease in the world, following only malaria and intestinal helminthiasis.

How did you become interested in this line of research?

I have been extremely privileged to work alongside Dr. Humphries in her research laboratory. I was initially interested in her work because of my overall passion for tropical medicine and public health.

In fact, Laura’s interest in public health has led to plans to spend a gap year serving the broader community. As for more long-term goals, she plans to obtain a Master of Science degree in Public Health with an emphasis in infectious diseases.

Given Laura’s savvy use of the resources available to her in the library and at Lawrence, we are certain that she will accomplish all of her goals.

Thank you for answering our questions, Laura!

Student Researcher in the Library: Shang Li

We love to learn about what students are up to in the Mudd!

Shang Li is a government and history major hailing all the way from TianJin, China. She plans to attend graduate school after commencement this spring.

Shang kindly agreed to talk to us about what she’s been working on in the library.

Shang, what have you been researching?

The Italian Holocaust through historical film.

What library materials and resources have been the most useful to you in pursuing this research?

The librarians at our reference desk. They are so knowledgeable, kind and patient. I am never scared to ask questions; they always have answers and sometimes, candy and cookies!

What are you hoping to learn or gain from this research?

To think more like a historian. I am gaining skills and abilities to support my passion for history for the rest of my life. Whether or not my future career will be related to history, I hope to become an independent researcher during my free time.

Why do you think this research is important?
There has been much research on the Holocaust, but the Italian Holocaust is indeed a very special case. Exploring the Italian Holocaust through written history, but also through historical films, provides me with a unique perspective on this topic. In addition, this research has allowed me to make connections between written history and historical films, as well as the time periods during which the films were made, and to see how those factors influence the works. This is also fascinating to me.

How did you become interested in this line of research?
I took a course with Professor Paul Cohen called “History as Films, Films as History,” where we discussed historical films. I’m actually using my favorite films for my current project. I did a historiography project with Professor Peter Blitstein on “Hitler’s Foreign Policy and the Origins of the Second World War.” During this project, I developed an academic interest in studying Mussolini’s Fascist Italy. Because of my interests in both historical films and Mussolini, it was only logical for me to pursue a capstone project devoted to connecting both topics.

What would you like your fellow students to know about the Mudd Library?

The Mudd library is very helpful! It is also in a great location- close to the Wellness Center and Andrew Commons.

Student Research in the Library: Alex Damisch

We love to learn more about what our students are up to in the Mudd. Yes, even over summer break we have the pleasure of welcoming and supporting industrious students. Alex Damisch requested one of our student offices over the summer in order to work more efficiently at developing some of her web applications. The mathematics and clarinet performance double-major, who plans to earn her double-degree in just four years, was quite pleased to discover that she could reserve a private, quiet office in the Mudd to use for her research.

Alex, who hails from Northbrook, Illinois, is planning to graduate in 2016, after which she hopes to enter a master’s program to pursue statistics. She graciously agreed to answer some questions about her work in the library.  Enjoy!

Alex, what are you working on in your office?

Under the supervision of Adam Loy in the Mathematics department, I’m helping create several web applications that allow people to get hands-on experience with statistical concepts like bootstrapping, permutation tests, and ANOVA. The apps create graphs and perform different calculations, many of which can be adjusted by the user, so they can see how the result changes.

There are currently three apps on Professor Loy’s website, with about a half-dozen that are in a more preliminary stage of development. Some of the operations that the apps perform “behind the scenes” are a bit complicated, so they require some fine-tuning by Professor Loy to get to a satisfactory speed before they go live.

What are you hoping to learn or gain from this research?

I’ve learned a ton about the coding languages that I’m using, of course–I had some R experience before, but not nearly at the level that I have now. Two months ago I knew almost no Shiny at all. Coding is often frustrating, but having my work out there is really satisfying.

I’ve recently started working on an app that uses a statistical test that’s new for me, too, so that’s been a challenge. It’s also been useful to revisit concepts that I learned a few years ago, which I really value because I sometimes tutor for statistics classes. Having to write code and use functions that perform certain statistical calculations has really solidified my understanding of how they work.

Why do you think this research is important?

The apps will probably get used in some of the introductory statistics classes this school year, which is great. In mathematics or statistics, as in almost any other field, the best way to learn is by doing–you have to try out problems yourself. If you can upload your own data set and play around with it and see how your histograms and confidence intervals update in real-time, hopefully it facilitates your understanding of the concepts behind them.

How did you become interested in this line of work?

I first got this book of infographics called Visual Miscellaneum for Christmas in 2009, so data visualization has been a longstanding interest of mine. I approached Professor Loy absurdly early in the 2014-2015 school year and said that I wanted to work with him over the summer. I was pretty willing to work on whatever statistics-related project he threw at me, but I’m lucky that this one is particularly interesting to me.

What library materials and resources have been the most useful to you in pursuing this research?

Definitely Mathematical Statistics with Resampling and R. (Only half-joking.) Since I can code almost anywhere, it’s been nice to have my library office as a space to keep a few books and to call my own. Having a quiet, focused space and a standing desk has been really important for me. You can only sit in coffee shops or your bedroom for so long.

I also use the whiteboards almost compulsively. This is business as usual for a math major, but this summer I’ve used them to map out particularly convoluted functions.

What would you like your fellow students to know about the Mudd Library?

Between working for ITS since I was a freshman and studying frequently at the library during the school year, I always like to remind people that the third and fourth floors are the library’s quiet floors.

Also, the library staff is awesome and really helpful–definitely an under-utilized resource among most students.

We think you’re awesome, too, Alex. 🙂

 

Student Research in the Library: Allison Juda

Do you know that the Seeley G. Mudd library has nine individual study rooms that can be assigned to students on a term-by-term basis? More information about our student offices, as well as the student office request form, can be found here.

Allison Juda applied for a student office at the beginning of Winter Term to facilitate her work on her senior honors project. She is an English major and an anthropology minor from Maple Grove, MN, a Northwest suburb of Minneapolis. Read on to learn more about what Allison is researching in her student office in the Mudd!

Allison, tell us about your research.

I am currently working on a senior honors project about the portrayal of Jane Austen’s heroines and how their individual growth out of a position of liminality is reflected in many ways in societal growth so that by the end of the novels both the heroine and community are corrected and society operates once again with morality and decorum. In doing this I am combining theories of liminality produced by notable anthropologists and historical information about social structures in Austen’s time period, as well as some research on Austen herself.

What are you hoping to learn or gain from this research?

I noticed that all of Austen’s novels seem to follow a similar plot structure, so my main goal was to discover why Austen continued to write about the same worlds and journeys, and how that was reflective of literary, and also Austen’s contemporary, society.

Why do you think this research is important?

There has been a lot of research on Jane Austen, especially since the most recent trend of producing Austen movies (as well as other movies from her time period), but I think that not enough research has focused on the reasons why the heroines must go through their journeys. One of the most important things that I want to draw out in my work is an emphasis on the fact that these heroines are a product of their surroundings and that the growth of the social structure is instrumental in the growth of the liminal heroine. In this way, Austen’s literature is an important product of its era; in examining her literature we can learn more about her time period and social structures in general.

How did you become interested in this line of research?

After reading my first Austen novel, Pride and Prejudice, I was drawn into her literary work. As I entered the rabbit hole I became more fascinated with examining the works from a critical perspective and so I approached my advisor about working on the topic in greater detail.

What library materials and resources have been the most useful to you in pursuing this research?

I think that the physical building itself, with great places to study is a huge asset to anyone doing research, big or small. Having a place to go to know that I am going to do work is very important in helping to keep me focused. I also have taken advantage of the expertise of the reference librarians, who have helped point me in the right direction in my research, and the ILL system to get access to important works that we do not have here in Mudd.

What I am perhaps most thankful for is my library office; I have two large binders with research and various drafts and well over a dozen books with which I have been working on a regular basis. Having a place to keep all of my materials safe has been a savior both on my sanity and my back (I don’t think that my poor backpack could make it without my office either).

What would you like your fellow students to know about the Mudd Library?

I think that something I didn’t realize my freshman year at Lawrence is that returning to the same place to study (and only study) on a daily basis really helps me get into the mindset and stay focused while I am doing my work. Studying in the library provides you with all the resources you need in the same place, from the librarians to help you if you get stumped, the scanners, printers, hole punches, staplers, and even the occasional piece of candy.

It’s a New Year in the Mudd!

003 (Medium)You know that you can rely on the Mudd as a place to research and relax, but we can also help you resolve, too! If you’ve made New Year’s resolutions, we have many materials on hand that just may support and inspire your intentions for 2015.

If incorporating more physical fitness into your daily routine is a goal for you in the upcoming year, check out our video collection, which includes DVDs on yoga, strength training, zumba, belly dancing, and more. We also have multiple versions of the video game Just Dance, if you wish to work out while learning some great new dance moves. Perhaps you’re interested in being more mindful about the food that you purchase and eat. If so, we have many documentaries to inform and inspire you, including Forks Over Knives, Fed Up, and Food, Inc. The third floor houses cookbooks and books about mindful eating, with titles like Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life and Eating Mindfully: How to End Mindless Eating and Enjoy a Balanced Relationship With Food.

Speaking of mindfulness, if beginning or deepening a meditation practice or dealing more constructively with stress and anxiety is a challenge that you’re hoping to tackle in 2015, we have many resources on the practices of mindfulness and meditation. These include books and CDs by Jon Kabat-Zinn, the works of Pema Chödrön, and titles such as LinkCalming Your Anxious Mind: How Mindfulness and Compassion Can Free You From Anxiety, Fear, and Panic and Five Good Minutes: 100 Morning Practices to Help You Stay Calm and Focused All Day Long. Or, head to Circulation to check out the Wii that we have available and try out Deepak Chopra’s game Leela: body. mind. spirit. play.

Of course, the best way to abate stress and anxiety is to remain on top of your academic workload and to seek assistance early and often from your friendly and helpful librarians. If you’ve resolved to become more studious this year, check out the research guides that we’ve compiled for various subjects and an array of classes; these guides highlight useful resources that support academic work for specific classes and subjects. The Reference Desk is an obvious place to turn for support in maintaining your academic goals, and we offer help either in person or virtually. Reference librarians are on hand six days a week to answer questions and to help with research. If you’re in need of in-depth support, research appointments are a great way to access advanced research assistance for your project, paper, or bibliography. Staying abreast of your studies and coursework is a laudable resolution for the new year, and the Mudd librarians will do their best to support you in this endeavor.

The Mudd can help with even more resolutions. Perhaps you intend to stay more informed on current events, either domestically or internationally. We subscribe to a large number of local and international newspapers to help you do just that. Are you interested in learning another language? We’ve got you covered with a large selection of language media, including resources to help you study Estonian, Finnish, Chinese, Latvian, French, and many more. If you aim to unplug a bit and to spend more time offline in the new year, we have a ton of contemporary literature and many graphic novels for pleasure reading to your hearts’ content. We also have board games available for check-out, like Chutes and Ladders, CandyLand, Twister, and Scrabble.

Regardless of what you’ve resolved to change or to begin in the new year, and even if you don’t make any resolutions at all, all of us in the Mudd wish you a wonderful 2015, and sincerely hope that you will take full advantage of the multitude of materials and resources that we work so hard to provide. Here’s to a great year!

Summer Student Research in the Library: William Gislason

A great deal of interesting student research happens in the Mudd Library over the school year as well as the summer. William Gislason was kind enough to share a bit about the innovative project he has been working on in the library this summer. We were happy to help him out by providing a student office, research materials, and use of one of the library’s iPads. 

Will Gislason

My summer project – William Gislason

When I entered Lawrence, I had no idea what major I would choose much less what career options I was interested in. While in St. Paul, Minnesota, I held a series of odd-jobs during which I worked at a hardware store, a Christmas tree lot, a garden center, as well as a coffee shop. At Lawrence, I even assisted an Ecology professor with her research. I finally focused enough to choose Biology and Environmental Studies for my double major and I knew I would need a summer job related somehow to this field. As I reflect about my time at Lawrence before starting my senior year, it’s clear I’ve learned a lot from each position but I’ve realized that I’ve learned more in this past summer than ever I thought possible.

Over the past three months, I’ve had the delight of making my first iPad app. Under the direction of the Biology department’s Bart De Stasio and Alyssa Hakes and the Director of Björklunden, Mark Breseman, along with the assistance of Celeste Silling, I’m attempting to provide the visitors of Björklunden with much of the information about the area’s ecology one would learn in a guided nature tour. To accomplish this, I’m building an app that displays the visitor’s location upon a trail map along with the location of interesting ecological features. Pictures and information on these features can be accessed by simply tapping the feature on the map. I’ve been so fortunate to not only have an office in the library to use as a base of operations for the project but to have the literary resources of the library to learn about the geography, ecology, and natural history of Door County and Wisconsin.

Though this project involves long hours of coding I have learned a ton about photography, writing, design, and planning a user experience. I consider myself so lucky to have been given this opportunity by Lawrence University and I hope the app will be a simple, educational, and delightful addition to the many services for the guests of Björklunden. Starting this fall, we’ll have 3 iPads for visitors to rent from Björklunden to experience their own person tour of Björklunden. Be sure to check it out!