iUTAH Team - Undergraduate iFellows
Weber State University
Faculty: Mark Brunson, USU
Graduate: Taya Carothers, USU
Research Focus Area 2
Cynthia Elliott is a Geography major with a minor in Geosciences at Weber State University. She is especially interested in statistics as well as human impacts on the environment. Outside of academia she enjoys casual reading, a refreshing jog outside, and visits to her home state of California. She is very pleased to be a part of iUTAH this summer and believes it will help her with her goal to do her part to make the world a more beautiful place.
Week 1: May 19-20, 2016
This week started with Orientation on Monday, which cleared up some questions. I got to meet with Dr. Brunson and my near-peer mentor, Taya, as well as my partner, Luis. They are all super nice and friendly. During this first week, we have gotten familiar with the building our lab is in, we also have been reading some articles to give us more background on our project. My favorite part of the week was when we went with a couple past iFellows to practice intercept interview methods in Ogden. Our first real survey assignment is on Saturday and I am really looking forward to it!
Week 2: May 23-27, 2016
On Saturday we went to the Living Heritage Festival to test our questionnaire. The festival was awesome and we got some great feedback on what could make the questionnaire better. On Monday we had the second iFellows cohort session. I was able to take some great notes on storing data, as well as presentation skills. During the next couple days I read more articles pertaining to our research topic. On Thursday we adjusted the surveys and made sure they worked on the iPads (they didn't). We finally got them up and running by updating the app (always update your apps, folks)! Taya, Luis, Dr. Brunson, and I went to a festival in West Salt Lake and had a table set up to talk to locals about the Jordan River area. A lot of people seemed to be very interested in the topic, so that was good to see!
Week 3: May 30-June 3, 2016
This week we went to a park in Salt Lake City and found some people to take our questionnaire, it was really nice but there weren't a ton of people there. After that, we went to a grocery store and were able to get more participants. It averaged about ten people per hour. The next day we got together in the lab and went over some details and got a sneak peek at the data we had collected so far. This was my favorite part! It was really insightful to discuss the data with Taya and Dr. Brunson because of their expertise. We started to compare different answers in different ways to get some practice for when we have all our data collected. We've got another event tomorrow, and next week is totally booked full!
Week 4: June 6-10, 2016
This week was quite busy! We went to a few different public events to invite people to take our survey. We're almost at 200 respondents! We even went to some interesting meetings to learn more about the project we are working to help. Luis, Taya, Dr. Brunson, and I had another planning session where we mapped out our next few weeks. We (meaning all the iFellows) wrote a prospectus for our individual research papers and decided on a focus for the project. It took me a few days, but I finally decided on a topic. I was able to meet with Dr. Brunson to discuss how our project is going, as well as to get some insight on my focus area of the project. He helped send me in the right direction to write my introduction and methods section of my poster.
Week 5: June 13-17, 2016
This week started with a Cohort meeting at Brigham Young University. At the meeting we practiced presenting our research topics and methods to each other. It was really useful to talk to other iFellows about my project and to hear their questions and get their feedback. We also went up Provo Canyon to do some hands on field work in the river. We took samples and tested the river water for Ecoli, which was awesome! Wading through that river was COLD! The activity reminded me how much I prefer working outside to being in an office!
The project I am working on is awesome, and I get to be outside often, giving surveys outside stores and at parks. We did quite a bit of that this week. We also went to a Community Council for the area we are researching, to explain what we are doing and to invite locals to take our survey. That was my favorite part of the week because we met a bunch of great people who were really passionate about being active in their community and were excited to take the survey. We also took time to fine tune what we say to people when we approach them, and I feel that it has been effective.
Week 6: June 20-24, 2016
We are almost at our goal for survey respondents! We went to a few parks in the Glendale neighborhood to get surveys and we actually had a lot of people take the survey. We were able to find the premium time to visit parks when there are the most amount of people there. A lot of our responses were quite valuable, as they were from people who frequent the Jordan River and surrounding parks. We also "set up shop" at the Glendale Library and were fortunate enough to intercept a fair amount of people going to a community meeting. Dr. Brunson and Taya helped Luis and I fine tune our graph/images for our posters that we need for the Cohort Session on Monday!
Week 7: June 27-July 1, 2016
This week we had a cohort session at the museum at the U. We learned about the importance of mentors and afterwards we got to explore the museum! We had an event the next day and are now at 401 survey responses! We met our goal and are now done collecting responses. The rest of the week was mostly used to work on the rough draft of my paper. My mentors helped me find sources for the essay and fine tune it a bit. Next week we will go over the data together and analyze our results.
Week 8: July 4-8, 2016
This week was all about analyzing data and building my poster. We are using a program called SPSS. I have never used it before (frankly, I'd never even heard of it!), but I got a guide book from the school library that has been quite useful. It gets really frustrating sometimes when I cannot seem to figure out how to get the program to do what I want it to, but all in all, I'd say it is pretty fun learning a new program. It makes certain tests much easier to do than if they were done on, say, excel. We had a cohort session today where we presented our draft posters (using powerpoint) and it was EXTREMELY helpful! We all got great feedback from each other, in addition to getting ideas from seeing all the different posters. Next week is the symposium! Woohoo!
Week 9: July 11-15, 2016
This week was poster poster poster! Friday, we had the cohort session and presented our posters, using powerpoint. We got a lot of feedback and suggestions during that time. On Monday, I began making all of the changes that people had suggested at our meeting on Friday. Taya and Mark helped me a lot when putting the final touches on it. I went to do a trial print on Thursday morning, but I decided that I didn't like it! So I went back to the lab and my roommates helped me make a few last tweaks, and then I got it printed! Luis, Taya, and I practiced presenting for a few hours. I felt pretty prepared for the Symposium. The symposium on Friday was great (and if we're being real, that food was ON POINT!). Presenting the posters was really fun, and surprisingly tiring! I was able to get yet more feedback from people who came by to check my poster out.
Week 11: July 25-29, 2016
What a week it has been! We had the presentation symposium on Wednesday and it was so much fun! It was one of my favourite parts of the program, to be able to see all of the projects that we all have been working on. I was pretty nervous, but I had a great time presenting! Other than that, I just finished polishing up my paper and had a last meeting with my mentors. They really were spectacular. They were available all the time to help me when I needed instruction and they were so supportive. I will miss all the friends I have made here, and I will miss being at Utah State University. What a great campus (or at least, the one building of it I know)! I learned so much this summer, about surveys, about data, about cooperation, how to do presentations and posters, and so many more things! I just wanted to give one final thank you to everyone involved in this program. It was such a great learning experience and I really feel lucky to have participated in it!
All content provided on this iUTAH Team - Undergraduate iFellows weekly recap is unedited, updated by each participant to provide a review of their progress, and is for informational purposes only.