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Drew Students Apply Digital Tools to Research

Topics include Gun ads, homelessness, anthropology of Newark.

June 2019 – Students in Drew University’s Digital Humanities Summer Institute shared the fruits of their research projects on the final day of this year’s session.

The four-week institute is intensive and immersive, with students working closely with faculty mentors and using digital tools to record, interpret and visualize data in fields such as history, media studies, computer science, public health, philosophy and sociology. The researchers receive a stipend so they can work full-time on their projects. The program is supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Some of the latest projects began last summer and all are continuing. Here’s a closer look.

How Firearms and Ammunition Are Advertised

Description: Examine how firearms and ammunition are advertised in social media

Findings: Gun enthusiasts who post videos on YouTube have significantly more followers than manufacturers, so manufacturers follow them and sponsor them.

Team: Colleen Dabrowski, James Kalin and Assistant Professor Lisa Jordan

Neighbors in Need

Description: Code and analyze data to determine how to more quickly place the chronically homeless in housing

Findings: Landlords are wary of housing vouchers and, as a result, are unfamiliar with how they work.

Team: Sophia George, Aleko Graham and Associate Professor Susan Rakosi Rosenbloom

Reanimating Experimental Psychology

Description: Use animation to recreate interactive psychological tests from the early 20th century

Findings: Fear of job displacement spurred labor unions to resist psychological tests that aimed to determine work aptitude.

Team: Kiyah Colson, Henry Giddings, Katlego Mhlongo, Kirstin Waldmann, Associate Professor Lee Arnold and Assistant Professor Jeremy Blatter

Urban Anthropology of Newark

Description: Map the key anthropological factors of Newark

Findings: The tight-knit cultures of the North Ward and Ironbound neighborhoods of Newark make their residents less likely to interact with the rest of the city or city leaders.

Team: Andrew Katapodis, Genesis Guedes, Gionna Del Purgatorio, Katelynn Rodriguez and Associate Professor Allan Dawson

Human Interpretation in Computer Programming

Description: Examine programming practice from a historical and philosophical perspective, using concepts and methods from Kantian idealism to hermeneutics

Findings: Amid the increasing complexity of software development, programming languages must conform to human intuition when used to develop algorithms. As David Nesterov-Rappoport put it: “You must make it think like you do. It itself doesn’t need that. But for you to make use of it, it must have that.”

Team: Jimmy Fortier, David Nesterov-Rappoport and Assistant Professor Ziyuan Meng

Topic Modeling of Science Textbooks

Description: Analyze the terms used in physics, chemistry and biology textbooks to determine topical relationships

Findings: While each scientific discipline is distinctive, there are several overlapping topics and terms—including energy and electron—that are considered significant across all three disciplines. This analysis and resulting data visualization can help design an integrative and interdisciplinary science curriculum.

Team: Peiyu Guo, Kayla Rockhill and Associate Professor Minjoon Kouh

Growth in Rock Music Culture

Description: Map prominent bands of 1967-71 by genre, where they played and how many tickets they sold, including those that performed at Drew

Findings: Bands gravitated toward the East and West coasts of the U.S., where there’s a concentration of colleges and universities.

Team: Erin Feith, Kevin Lagerquist, Adam Sandonato and Associate Professor James Carter

Archiving The Drew Acorn

Description: Digitize past print issues and photos of The Drew Acorn so that the campus community can access Drew’s history online

Findings: The integration of women into the student body in the 1940s followed forerunners like Oberlin but preceded Columbia by decades.

Team: Andrew Dugan, Kassel Franco Garibay, Elizabeth Schafer and Professor Wendy Kolmar