Applied Research Experience

We are pleased to offer students new research courses from Prof. Heimer and Prof. Seamster providing in-depth experience conducting large research projects.

Flint Michigan’s Water Crisis

FlintWorking with Dr. Louise Seamster, students in the new Applied Research class are working with a unique and important publicly-available half-million-page dataset of government emails on the Flint Water Crisis (more here). The class is integrated with the Flint Email Lab, housed at the UI Library’s Digital Scholarship and Publishing Studio, so students can contribute to and understand a larger ongoing research project. The lab is in the early stages of developing a website featuring the emails in a searchable format, alongside initial visualizations and analyses of data. Over the semester, students in Applied Research learn about multiple research methods and approaches to big data. From readings, primary data and guest visitors, students also learn about the Flint Water Crisis and why we need to know more about bureaucratic communication during the crisis. 

The class gives students hands-on experience in research with a clear public impact. Along the way, they learn skills and best practices for data cleaning, organization and analysis, managing complex tasks, and gain experience in academic writing and presentations. Working in teams on intersecting projects, whether in data organization or analysis tasks, gives students familiarity with topics, ideas and methods beyond what they would see in a one-on-one project.

Mental Health and Policing in Waterloo

Heimer Research ClassA team of criminology majors and minors, guided by Professor Karen Heimer, has spent the full academic year studying practices and policies used by the police when they encounter situations involving mental health issues. This is a collaboration with the City of Waterloo, Iowa, in partnership with the Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities. The students have conducted interviews with mental-health professionals, law enforcement, and other stakeholders in the Waterloo area. They also created, administered and analyzed data from a survey of police officers, observed crisis intervention trainings, toured local mental health serving agencies, and visited the jail. The team presented their findings to the UI’s Public Policy Center and will submit a final report to the City of Waterloo in mid-May.  Dr. Heimer says each student on the team has their own special superpower. The team includes  Kaitlin Abshire, Cecelia Bonilla, Natalie Grodnitzky, Omar Lopez, Aurora Palmillas, Anjali Puranam, Myah Rhodes, Alexandra Skores, Konstadina Spanoudakis, and Antonio Woodard. Their work is featured by our college here

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