Summer Research Opportunities

The Creative Arts Across Disciplines initiative provides opportunities for students to work together on creative research projects. 

2024: Faculty-Driven Projects
This summer, CAAD will support three faculty-proposed projects for summer creative research. Students will work one-on-one with faculty mentors as research assistants and collaborators.

Student Stipends: $4,000 for an eight-week project. Please note: this is a full-time program, and students may not hold other college positions during the session. If you have any questions, please contact Tom Pacio.

CAAD Summer 2024 Application—Due March 4, 2024

Drone photo with students posing on grass.

2024 projects

Project Title: Visualizing Judicial Diversity

Application deadline for this project extended to March 25, 2024

Taneisha N. Means, Assistant Professor of Political Science

Visualizing Judicial Diversity is a summer research project devoted to creating visualizations of data on judicial diversity. In 2018, I received a grant from the National Science Foundation’s Law and Social Sciences program to collect data on political representation in state courts. My grant project goals included surveying all Black state court judges, surveying an equal number of White state court judges, and interviewing about 100 Black and White state court judges. Over the last few years, with the help of Vassar undergraduate research scholars, I surveyed and interviewed Black and White state court judges. In the surveys and interviews, I asked judges questions about their upbringings, childhood and young adult life experiences, pre-bench lives, identities, judgeships, judicial behavior, perspectives, and opinions. Most of the scholarship utilizing this data has been produced for and shared with social science audiences. Given the nature of the study (i.e., a better understanding of judges’ lives and work and the importance of judicial diversity), this research should be shared broadly. This summer, I am interested in working with a student to create visualizations of this data on judicial diversity. A visualization project would help me extend the study's reach, making it more accessible and interesting. The selected student will spend the first few weeks learning the data and helping me decide the best ways to visualize this data. The remaining weeks will be spent working closely with me on creating the visualizations, seeking constructive feedback from others, and developing the written material that will accompany the visualizations.

Project Title: Visualizing Changes in the Immigrant Population of the U.S.

Sarah Pearlman, Professor of Economics

Since 2008 the U.S. has seen a dramatic shift in the number and the composition of new migrants arriving to the country. While migration from Mexico, historically the largest sending country, has fallen to historic lows, migration from other Latin American countries such as Guatemala, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, and Venezuela, has risen. Furthermore, flows from other regions have increased, and in several years over the past decade and a half more immigrants have arrived from Asian countries than Latin American ones. These compositional shifts in origin countries are changing where immigrants live in the U.S., as some of these new arrivals do not locate in same locations as earlier generations of migrants. For example, recent news reports have reported half-empty buses going from the border to Los Angeles, previously a dominant location for many Mexican migrants arriving to the U.S. Meanwhile, there is greater demand to locate to cities like New York and Chicago. This project aims to use data from various sources to document and visualize changes in new arrivals and the total foreign-born population in the U.S. The goal is to understand shifts in who is coming to the U.S. and where they are going. A secondary goal is to analyze the determinants of settlement patterns in the U.S, and, in particular, the role that social networks might play. The CAAD scholar will create maps, figures, and infographics to show the changing profile of the immigrant population in the U.S. The student also will link these visualization exercises to academic and popular press articles to create a narrative that is accessible to a broad audience. Experience with statistics is a plus, but is not required.

Project Title: Decriminalizing Sex Work Then and Now: Cultural Sovereignty, Rights, and Representation in the Streets of New York

Jasmine K. Syedullah, Assistant Professor of Africana Studies

This research project centers the lives, knowledge, witness, and insights of New York State sex workers to better understand the paradox sex work holds as both a labor force vital to cultural landscapes of social power, desire, and punishment while remaining among the most unprotected. This project will utilize both historical archival research from the Helen Armstead-Johnson miscellaneous theater collections, at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, which contains information dating from the mid-nineteenth century documenting early dramatic actors, minstrel shows, vaudeville, and protest dramas, among others, in addition to curating collaborative research spaces of relational study through somatic storytelling, collective testimonio, and social documentation in community with and to amplify the voice and analysis of those most directly impacted by the criminalization and precarity of sex work. Together we will be reimagining questions of safety, representation, and bodily sovereignty from the perspective of their own lived experiences and understanding. This is the ideal opportunity for a student to explore how culture workers from the margins of respectability politics navigate intersecting structures of oppression to shape demands for justice from beyond the protections of the law.

CAAD Summer 2024 Application—Due March 4, 2024