Student Spotlight – Aleeza West

Meet UCLA undergraduate researcher Aleeza West!

Aleeza majors in Psychology and is a recipient of the UCLA/Keck Humanistic Inquiry Undergraduate Research Award. Her project is titled “The Effect of Fear Generalization on Social Fear, Social Avoidance, Experiential Avoidance, and Functional Impairment Amongst Individuals with Social Anxiety Disorder.” Aleeza’s work aims to discover better ways to diagnose and treat individuals with anxiety. Her best advice is to always look for opportunities, even if you have to ask.

How did you first get interested in your research project?

I became interested in pursuing an independent research project upon joining Dr. Michelle Craske’s Anxiety and Depression Center. Through my experience as a research assistant and moving on to coordinating multiple studies, I became curious about leading my own project. After developing my idea with my mentors, I applied and was accepted to both the UCLA departmental honors program in Psychology and the UCLA/Keck Humanistic Inquiry Undergraduate Research Awards program.

What has been the most exciting aspect of your research so far?

The most exciting aspect has been designing my project. I am passionate about discovering better ways to diagnose and treat individuals with anxiety, and being able to create a project surrounding my research interests has been an amazing experience.

What has surprised you about your research or the research process?

What surprised me about the research process is how much I have learned throughout it. I have grown so much thanks to my mentors, Nora and Brooke, about data management, statistics, and overall research processes.

What is one piece of advice you have for other UCLA students thinking about doing research?

I advise other UCLA students to always look for opportunities, even if you have to ask! The worst thing that a possible mentor could say is no.

What effect do you hope your research has in your field, at UCLA, in your community, or in the world?

I hope my research journey inspires others to be confident enough to pursue their own independent experiences. Furthermore, I hope that my research can inform diagnostic and treatment options of those living with social anxiety.

Student Spotlight – Chanaporn (New) Tohsuwanwanich

Meet UCLA undergraduate researcher Chanaporn (New) Tohsuwanwanich!

New majors in Geography, minors in GIS&T and Urban & Regional Studies, and is in the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program. The title of her project is “Leaving no one behind?: Shifting Vulnerabilities of Participants in Baan Mankong Program in Bangkok, Thailand.” New’s work aims to gain a comprehensive, holistic perspective of a slum-upgrading program in Thailand called Baan Mankong. She is conducting ethnographic fieldwork to learn more about the successes of Baan Mankong as well as the challenges embedded in the system. Her best piece of advice is to follow your passion!

How did you first get interested in your research project?

In the International Housing Policy class, I learned various case studies worldwide on different facets of housing management. A slum upgrading program proposed by the Thai government called Baan Mankong immediately caught my attention. Despite being a Thai citizen, I have never heard about the program. The system of communal saving groups with government subsidies, focusing on infrastructure and housing loans, is a perfect solution. The program has so much potential to strengthen community bonding through saving and caters to the community’s needs. Consequently, Baan Mankong has been praised by many scholars, with many successful stories of participating communities. However, the struggles of many other communities are still unrevealed. Thus, ethnographic fieldwork and interviews with many stakeholders would help me deepen my knowledge about the community’s efforts.

What has been the most exciting aspect of your research so far?

I visited the field site, walked around the neighborhood, and talked with the community members and policymakers. I have learned a lot from my conversations and hope to expand and understand the community more to address their challenges in the Baan Mankong program.

What has surprised you about your research or the research process?

The interview process was very nerve-wracking for me at the very beginning. It went a lot easier and better than what I expected. I appreciate everyone I talked to, and it fulfilled some missing pieces I have been finding to learn more about the project. They were happy to welcome me to sit in their meeting, talk to professors who came in for community tourism development, or give me a ride to the nearby location. Going into the field was not only a part of the work process but also one of my enjoyments over the past summer.

What is one piece of advice you have for other UCLA students thinking about doing research?

If you know what your passion is, follow your passion! Talk to people: your professors, TAs, seniors, and advisors. Many people are willing to help you out, and there are many resources to support your research journey. Start with asking and taking action!

What effect do you hope your research has in your field, at UCLA, in your community, or in the world?

Learning about the community’s struggles gives a holistic perspective of the Baan Mankong program. Looking at the bright, flourishing communities and recognizing the challenges embedded in the system would help the program benefit a broader range of people. A comprehensive understanding of Baan Mankong would help create a better version. As the Baan Mankong model has also been adopted by other countries, such as the Phillippines, the changes will positively impact Thai communities and benefit other countries in their low-income settlement improvement.

Student Spotlight – Emma Horio

Meet UCLA undergraduate researcher Emma Horio!

Emma majors in English and is a recipient of the UCLA/Keck Humanistic Inquiry Research Award. The title of her project is “Tales of Blood and Thunder: Pulp Fiction and Sexuality in the Nineteenth-Century United States.” Horio’s work examines Louisa May Alcott’s sensation fiction, which has led Horio to the Houghton Library, where she will conduct archival research on Alcott’s writings. Her best piece of advice is to take classes with professors who share your research interests and ask for their guidance.

How did you first get interested in your research project?

I took a class with my now-advisor in Fall 2022, which piqued my interest in the topic of sexuality in American literature. I took another class with him in Spring when I was deciding on a thesis topic, and decided that I wanted to do a project that engaged with American literature of the Victorian era. After a few false starts, my advisor pointed me toward Louisa May Alcott, and the rest was history.

What has been the most exciting aspect of your research so far?

I’m working on Alcott’s sensation fiction, which was fairly recently discovered and consequently hasn’t received as much critical attention. I’m flying to Boston in December to visit the Houghton Library and conduct archival research there, where a lot of her letters, manuscripts, and ephemera are housed. I’m really excited for the opportunity to look at these documents and gain a better understanding of her relationships with her publishers and those around her.

What has surprised you about your research or the research process?

It surprised me how easy it is to fall down rabbit holes. I had originally intended to write my thesis on Alcott’s body of sensation fiction as a whole, which was a rookie mistake on my part. There are so many dynamics at play in that massive body of work that narrowing the scope of my project sometimes still seems like a Sisyphean task.

What is one piece of advice you have for other UCLA students thinking about doing research?

Take classes with professors who share your research interests and ask for their guidance. Use the class as an opportunity to show them your skill, potential, and work ethic.

What effect do you hope your research has in your field, at UCLA, in your community, or in the world?

I hope that my research can assist in deepening our understanding of how sexuality was communicated in popular literature during the Victorian era and provide support for the idea that queer people have always existed under many different labels and cultural conceptions.

Student Spotlight – Loc Bui

Meet UCLA undergraduate researcher Loc Bui!

Loc majors in Asian American Studies and participated in the Summer Research Incubator. The title of his project is “Challenge for Growth or a Burden: A Study about Undocumented, Refugee, and Immigrant Students.” Loc’s work relates to his own story as an immigrant student learning to navigate a new education system in the U.S. and explores the topic through the lenses of students with similar life experiences. His best piece of advice is to “find your inner flame and be patient because once it ignites, you will see beautiful things.”

How did you first get interested in your research project?

This research project relates to my personal story: being a student with an immigrant background and navigating the education system in the United States. Therefore, I am very self-motivated to explore this experience from the lens of other students with similar or overlapping lived experiences.

What has been the most exciting aspect of your research so far?

Having the opportunity to work with an amazing team of peers, mentors, and the director of the SRI program has been the most exciting aspect of my research experience so far. I also get to hear from professors and well-established researchers at UCLA. On top of that, having the chance to study my identity and community is not only rewarding, but it is also an honor for me to do the work on behalf of a bigger population.

What has surprised you about your research or the research process?

I jumped into this research project with nothing but curiosity and an ambition to learn and grow both personally and professionally, and the skills that I learned from this research program are both surprising and helpful. Furthermore, I am also surprised by how time-consuming it is to conduct a research project. Sometimes, a single question or obstacle can take many days for me to figure out and revisit to polish it.

What is one piece of advice you have for other UCLA students thinking about doing research?

You are brave to even think about doing research because you are making yourself known, and exposure like this can be uncomfortable. Doing a research project can be tedious and repetitive at times, so find your inner flame and be patient because once it ignites, you will see beautiful things.

What effect do you hope your research has in your field, at UCLA, in your community, or in the world?

I hope that my research topic and findings will further research in interdisciplinary fields such as Ethnic Studies, Critical Refugee Studies, and Labor Studies. I intend for my research not only to echo what has already been said but also to expand the horizon for the field and my community at UCLA and beyond. I also hope to see more donors who would invest in such research as my area of interest and more students who already possess great potential to do such honorable work researching an underprivileged but immeasurably strong population.

Student Spotlight – Geraldine Perez

Meet UCLA undergraduate researcher Geraldine Perez!

Geraldine majors in Political Science, minors in Disability Studies and Chicana/o and Central American Studies, and participated in the Summer Research Incubator program. The title of her project is “Know Your Rights: Life, Labor, and Legality in the Central Valley.” Gerladine’s work is inspired by her passion for immigration advocacy and her personal experience as the daughter of immigrant agricultural workers. Her research explores how employment discrimination, legal status, and activism influence migrant families in relation to labor. Geraldine’s best piece of advice is to build on the concepts you are passionate about to create a transformative experience in your academic and personal growth journey.

How did you first get interested in your research project?

My passion for immigration advocacy was initiated in my childhood, as I have experienced the impacts of migration first-hand. Growing up in the Central Valley, migrant workers are not unfamiliar, producing 25% of the nation’s food. As the daughter of immigrant agricultural workers, my family would also often travel from Mexico to the United States and seek work under seasonal produce, while others would migrate within the country to support their families. Immigration affects the number of workers in the economy, demonstrating a direct correlation between immigration and the labor market. My interest in supporting immigrant families has led to my curiosity about how employment discrimination, legal status, and activism influence migrant families when it comes to labor.

What has been the most exciting aspect of your research so far?

I enjoyed building a community with like-minded individuals who were passionate about their work. I also had the opportunity to work with and learn from my amazing mentor, Iris Ramirez, who helped make this program an amazing experience. I was able to combine my interests in legal advocacy, social media, and design to create a project I was proud of. I enjoyed visualizing and finally seeing my project come together despite the few doubts that occurred throughout the early stages of my research.

What has surprised you about your research or the research process?

I was surprised to find the lack of information regarding my topic at the beginning stages of my research. Most of the current data was not specific to the region I originally intended to investigate, which is why I had to focus on the Central Valley or California at large instead of diving into my hometown. This emphasized the importance of my desire to advocate for the Central Valley community. I was also unaware of the many injustices proposed by the law in the United States when it comes to migrant workers, which is disappointing.

What is one piece of advice you have for other UCLA students thinking about doing research?

I advise students to build on the concepts they are passionate about to create a transformative experience in their academic and personal growth journey. By engaging in something you care about, the time spent working on it does not seem laborious but fulfilling. No matter the size of the topic, the power it holds can make such a difference. I encourage students to identify their passions and embrace them as tools for self-discovery and change.

What effect do you hope your research has in your field, at UCLA, in your community, or in the world?

I hope my research will provide the necessary support and advocacy for agricultural workers and immigrant families in the Central Valley. The law is supposed to protect workers, but threats continue to be used to justify wrongdoings. The existing research demonstrates the importance of studying migration in smaller cities in the Central Valley and in understanding immigrant communities. It sheds light on the background of migrant workers and the struggles they face daily. This is why it is important to look into small agricultural cities just as much as large ones. It allows migrant workers to receive the benefits they deserve, and it gives Central Valley communities the chance to be fairly represented when making decisions. It provides support and adds to the importance of building on immigrant research in academia to prevent the recurrence of ignoring agricultural workers and immigrant families in our legal system.

Student Spotlight – Madison Lee

Meet UCLA undergraduate researcher Madison Lee!

Madison majors in Sociology and minors in Mathematics for Teaching and Education Studies. The title of her project is “What factors dissuade/compel HASS faculty to mentor undergraduate researchers at UCLA?” Her work explores how to expand HASS research opportunities for undergraduates at UCLA by increasing faculty mentorship and the benefits of conducting HASS research. Madison’s best piece of advice is to pursue what you are passionate about and persevere in the face of adversity.

How did you first get interested in your research project?

When I came to UCLA, I knew that I wanted to do research, but I struggled with finding a mentor. I developed a research project and asked numerous faculty members to be my mentor, but most of them declined because they were preoccupied with other duties. When I was offered a chance to do research over the summer on factors that affect faculty willingness to mentor undergraduates, I was excited at the opportunity to conduct research on a topic that had affected me directly.

What has been the most exciting aspect of your research so far?

After a few months of research, I and two other UCLA undergraduate researchers were selected to join the Council on Undergraduate Research’s Scholars Transforming Through Research (STR) Program. Through STR, we traveled to Washington, D.C., to talk to education representatives from Senator Alex Padilla’s, Representative Ted Lieu’s, and Representative Nanette Barragán’s offices. We advocated for increasing HASS undergraduate research opportunities nationwide so that other HASS students can benefit from research experiences. It was exciting to explore Washington, D.C., and the Capitol, and this experience opened my eyes to the possibilities of HASS research and the power I have as a UCLA undergraduate.

What has surprised you about your research or the research process?

I was surprised to find out how little people know about HASS research. Before this year, I did not know much about HASS undergraduate research opportunities, and I never imagined myself as capable of conducting research as a project lead. When conducting a literature review, I was also surprised to discover little existing literature on HASS research and its impact on participants. Although I started out not knowing much, this experience has helped me grow as a person and opened my eyes to the possibilities of HASS research. The freedom associated with doing HASS research has increased my self-efficacy and confidence in my abilities as a sociologist.

What is one piece of advice you have for other UCLA students thinking about doing research?

Find a topic you are passionate about, and do not give up on it. My research has taught me that if you can’t find a mentor, it is not a reflection of your abilities or potential as a researcher. Instead, it is an unfortunate outcome of the lack of compensation or support for HASS faculty to mentor undergraduates. We need more HASS researchers, so keep reaching out to faculty. Even if they are unable to be a mentor, they can help you improve your proposal as you search for a different mentor. If you are not sure what to research yet, apply for URC–HASS programs to dip your toes into research.

What effect do you hope your research has in your field, at UCLA, in your community, or in the world?

I hope to increase HASS research opportunities for undergraduates so that more students can benefit from the experience. I also hope to help people understand the importance and value of HASS fields. Our society places a bigger emphasis on STEM fields, which delegitimizes people who are interested in HASS fields. However, everyone has their own contributions to the world, and we should not base people’s values on their interests. I hope to change people’s perspectives on the STEM-HASS divide and inspire more interdisciplinary work because both types of work are valuable.

Student Spotlight – Mario Peng Lee

Meet UCLA undergraduate researcher Mario Peng Lee!

Mario majors in Linguistics & Computer Science and Psychology, minors in Data Science Engineering, and is in the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program. The title of his project is “Meta-Learning in Language Learning Technology.” Mario’s work studies a flaw in current language learning: the maximization of screen time and exposure, which may not be the optimal way to learn a new language. His best piece of advice is to look at the world critically, find a problem with a tangible solution, and develop a small idea into a bigger project.

How did you first get interested in your research project?

As an active language learner, I noticed a flaw in current language learning technology. Most apps and websites maximize screen time and exposure using tools such as gamification and rewards. However, while this can increase user exposure to the target language, it may not be the most optimal process. Additionally, the detrimental effects of screen time are widely known, and it would be ideal to reduce it.

What has been the most exciting aspect of your research so far?

Brainstorming alternative teaching methods has been incredibly exciting. I had to dive deep into many different disciplines such as the psychology of motivation, linguistics, game design, and even machine learning!

What has surprised you about your research or the research process?

I was surprised by the amount of existing work on the topic I selected. I was also incredibly surprised by the lack of scientific support all the current language learning technologies have.

What is one piece of advice you have for other UCLA students thinking about doing research?

The best way to start doing research is by looking at the world critically and finding a problem with a tangible solution. I would advise students to start with small ideas that evolve into bigger projects rather than the other way around. Ask for help from professors. If they are busy, it is always a good idea to collaborate with grad students.

What effect do you hope your research has in your field, at UCLA, in your community, or in the world?

I hope my research can contribute to the ongoing discussion on (language) learning technology. I hope to contribute a meaningful study, algorithm, design, or method to increase the validity of certain claims that these technologies make.

Student Spotlight – Milagro Jones

Meet UCLA undergraduate researcher Milagro Jones!

Milagro majors in English and is in the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship. The title of his project is “Defining Drill: Multiple Meanings, Metaphors, and Memes.” Milagro’s work honors the legacy of authors and poets from Dro City and other parts of Chicago by treating their contributions to literature with empathy and respect. His best piece of advice is that research is for everyone and you can find a meaningful way to participate in research as a UCLA student.

How did you first get interested in your research project?

I first got interested in researching Drill Music in the Transfer Summer Program. Students like myself were told by professors like Dr. Huehls and Dr. San Juan to research something that we cared about. Part of the process of finding a topic was “me-search,” or looking within to research me and what I am passionate about. I care a lot about my brothers in the streets, and many of the authors and poets of Drill Music have passed on and will never get the opportunity to attend a University like UCLA. I want to honor the legacy of artists from Dro City and other parts of Chicago by treating their contributions to literature with empathy and respect.

What has been the most exciting aspect of your research so far?

The most exciting part of research has been presenting through opportunities provided by the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship. My research has evolved since I began, and receiving feedback from those who attended my presentations, including my faculty mentor, has helped me shape the direction in which I want my research to go. When I began researching Drill Music, I strongly felt like I had to keep it in conversation with an Epic from the traditional English Canon such as Beowulf for example. Feedback from my faculty mentor, Dr. Adam Bradley, and others has helped me to realize that classic works of Drill Music can stand on their own as works of literature worthy to be studied.

What has surprised you about your research or the research process?

The major thing that surprised me is the way in which acclimating to a university environment impacts the way in which I relate to the material I am studying. I am from an environment similar to the one in which the subjects of my research describe in the literature they’ve produced. In layman’s terms, I’m from the ghetto, and it feels disorienting to research literature produced in the ghetto from the vantage point of a university. Spending time in the privileged environment of academia has created a distance between me and the literature I am studying that forces me to question how to approach my subject in an ethical and authentic way.

What is one piece of advice you have for other UCLA students thinking about doing research?

I was cautioned that research isn’t for everybody and told that I didn’t have to pursue research if I didn’t want to. I would express to students the opposite. Research is for everybody, and traditionally, students like myself, a formerly incarcerated single father who got his GED in a correctional facility, are not included in the research process as independent scholars. UCLA, the Undergraduate Research Center – Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, and the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship program are doing something radically transformative by providing an opportunity for independent research to students of all backgrounds. Whatever your story and your passion, you can find a meaningful way to express yourself and contribute to the wealth of knowledge as a student here at UCLA.

What effect do you hope your research has in your field, at UCLA, in your community, or in the world?

I hope to continue researching Drill Music through the humanities lens of English Literature. In my field, I hope to contribute to the first Norton Anthology of Gang Literature. At UCLA, I hope that my work will influence others to consider that gang literature is literature and Drill Music, specifically a subgenre of Hip Hop created by gang members who are as talented as any of the celebrated poets of the traditional English Canon. I want to see Pacman and King Louie’s names in the English Reading Room next to Emily Dickinson, William Blake, William Wordsworth, and John Keats. In the community, I want the kids growing up in the housing projects and hoods to know that UCLA is a University for them. I want the world to know that Drill Music started in Dro City.

Student Spotlight – Rachel Peterson

Meet UCLA undergraduate researcher Rachel Peterson!

Rachel Peterson is a Keck Fellow majoring in Sociology and enrolled in the UCLA Sociology Departmental Honors Program. The title of her project is “Faith and Fact: Evangelical Christian Networks and Belief Compatibility with Conspiracy Theories.” Her work explores the potential belief compatibility of Christian doctrine and conspiracies in conjunction with social networks. Rachel’s best piece of advice is to go for it because there is no better way to learn than just doing it!

How did you first get interested in your research project?

As a Sociology major, I am fascinated by reification. The idea is that if humans believe something is real, it is real in its consequences. This concept is especially relevant to conspiracy theories. In recent years, I became aware of increased theories surrounding American politics and the pandemic. While conspiracy theories range in extremity and may seem harmless, they have the power to motivate human action which can produce dire consequences. I began to be interested in researching the spread of conspiracies when finding out that people I knew ascribed to these theories as facts. They believe powerful conspiring agents hide the truth that only a select few uncover. Additionally, I saw religion being used to support conspiracy worldviews. As I became aware of conspiracies spreading among my own Christian acquaintances, I knew this was a topic I wanted to research. While not all conspiracies are directly religious in nature, some scholars have found a positive correlation between Christian religiosity and the endorsement of conspiracy theories. My research expands on existing scholarship by examining the potential belief compatibility of Christian doctrine and conspiracies in conjunction with social networks.

What has been the most exciting aspect of your research so far?

One of the most interesting aspects of my research has been conducting ethnographic fieldwork and interviews in an evangelical community. For three months I attended a small church where I documented interactions with church members and transcribed the sermons. This was a nerve-racking but rewarding experience. After my initial apprehension of being undercover for the sake of research, I found a way of being in a space that felt true to myself. Being immersed in the world I was researching provided me with essential insight into the social network of the church. The sermons and conversations also gave me the context to frame my future interview questions. The people I met at church seemed more open to interviews because of my fieldwork. While I used to think interviewing was straightforward, the process of facilitating a good interview is more work than it may seem. To collect relevant data the interviewer must prepare while also improvising when things don’t go to plan. Not only is preparation involved but one must be sure not to lead participants in any direction through expression, tone, or the questions asked. It has been an exciting process of honing my interview skills and seeing the results. I have found that even if I think I know where the interview is going, so often I’m surprised. Humans are complex beings. That’s part of the fun of studying the social world.

What has surprised you about your research or the research process?

I didn’t expect my own experience to be essential to my research. Throughout the research process, I have been very aware of my own connection to conspiracies and religion. My project was birthed out of seeing people I knew become consumed by conspiracy theories. Additionally, I grew up in a Christian household. When conducting my research I wanted to be aware of any biases and assumptions I had so that they would not interfere. Yet, as I was doing ethnographic fieldwork and interviews I realized I had an important insight into the mindsets of those I was studying. I can decipher what might seem incomprehensible to those outside of a religious context because that used to be my reality. Additionally, I have the framework to ask unassuming yet critical questions in my interviews. Rather than deluding myself into thinking I could be completely unbiased, I have come to understand that my lived experience is an asset to my research. Furthermore, I have been able to gain various perspectives on my data from my graduate student and faculty mentors. I am no longer afraid of researching a topic that connects to me.

What is one piece of advice you have for other UCLA students thinking about doing research?

I would advise students thinking of doing research to go for it. I was apprehensive to undertake a year-long independent research project because I didn’t think I had enough pew-requisite knowledge. Many students limit themselves because of self-doubt. One of the main purposes of undergraduate research is to equip students with the skills needed. There is no better way to learn than just doing it. You are not alone. I would also recommend asking many questions and being persistent in advocating for the help and resources you need.

What effect do you hope your research has in your field, at UCLA, in your community, or in the world?

I hope that my research can bring a more intricate understanding of a complex topic. While conspiracies are not new, with easy access to information via the internet, conspiracy movements have gained traction. These ideologies are not just relegated to ideas but influence action. This is evident in the indecent known as “Pizzagate” where a man broke into a pizzeria with an AR-15 because he thought kids were being imprisoned by a covert group of traffickers for satanic sacrifice. Explanations for events like these can not be reduced to one characteristic or affiliation. My work can add to scholarship surrounding the spread of conspiracies which can be useful for preventing misinformation. Though my research focuses on a specific community of people, much can be learned about ideologies propagated by Christian institutions that may be compatible with conspiracy beliefs. Sociologists have found that people are more likely to accept new beliefs if they are compatible with previously held worldviews and if they are shared by someone that person is closely connected to. My research is investigating how a close-knit religious network, with shared spiritual and often political views, could be conducive to conspiracy beliefs. I hope that my work adds to existing scholarship on conspiracy theories and be a launching point for further investigations.

Student Spotlight – Sophia Han-Yun Chang

Meet UCLA undergraduate researcher Sophia Han-Yun Chang!

Sophia Han-Yun Chang majors in Sociology and is in our Undergraduate Research Scholars Program. The title of her project is “Performative Political Engagement on Twitter in the Generation of Cancel Culture.” Her work explores how people interact on Twitter under polarization and cancel culture, and how Twitter leads people to behave in such a way. Her best piece of advice is to make a doable time management plan and stick to it.

How did you first get interested in your research project?

My interest in this project stemmed from my daily conversation and experience with social media, particularly Twitter. As the largest microblogging platform, Twitter became a primary medium for political communication and a motivator for political engagement. The cancel culture I observed on Twitter made me wonder how Twitter, as an online social platform shapes political discourse. Also, applying Goffman’s theory, just as in-person social interaction, mediated interaction may involve impression management in which people perform particular political views to construct a digital identity. It is interesting to investigate how people interact on Twitter under the polarization and cancel culture, and how Twitter leads people to behave in such a way.

What has been the most exciting aspect of your research so far?

The most exciting part was learning through interviewing people. As a novice in the field of interviews, I made many mistakes that I should have avoided, such as switching topics too frequently. Although I learned the rules and tips for interviews through the class, the real-life experience was not the same as what the books wrote. Therefore, I was stressed about interviewing people at the beginning. However, as time passed, the interview memos of the previous interviews helped me improve my interview skills effectively. Gradually, I found myself enjoying doing interviews. It became the most exciting part of the research process as I was excited to become a better interviewer and explore the research topic by collecting data.

What has surprised you about your research or the research process?

I was surprised by people’s polarized experiences with Twitter despite using the same platform. I started the research assuming people might have similar experiences. Still, it turned out that the experiences varied depending on the user’s habits, and there was certainly a pattern behind them. I am excited to analyze the fascinating and surprising data to learn about social media’s influence on mediated interactions.

What is one piece of advice you have for other UCLA students thinking about doing research?

I would like to say making a doable time management plan and following the plan is very helpful to researchers. After a quarter of research, I realized that time management was essential to researchers. Time passes surprisingly fast when it comes to research, and each step might take longer than you expected. For instance, I thought recruiting interviewees might take just a few weeks, but I ended up needing more interviewees in the first quarter. Unexpected outcomes like this may lead to difficulties in time management. Also, it is a challenging task to manage time when we have many other responsibilities at school and personal life.

What effect do you hope your research has in your field, at UCLA, in your community, or in the world?

Given the lack of qualitative research and small data analysis on social interactions on Twitter, I hope my research could contribute to existing scholarship on the influence of social media on social justice by discovering the nuance of mediated social interaction in political engagement. Also, by exploring the hidden side of social media, I hope my research can bring new insight into our daily use of social media.