Islamicity Indices [Research Assistantship]

Professor: Hossein Askari
 
Department: International Business/Honors Program/ESIA
 
Title: Islamicity Indices
 
Description: The motivation for this research (construction of Islamicity Indices and annual updating) has been the dismal state of most Muslim societies (http://IslamicityFoundation.org). As Mohammad Abduh famously observed over a century ago: “I went to the West and saw Islam, but no Muslims; I got back to the East and saw Muslims, but no Islam.” What went wrong? While some attribute the failure of Muslim societies to Islam, Islam is not the cause of their backwardness as they have not followed the rules and principles outlined in the Qur’an and practiced by the Prophet. There is much more to Islam than what is commonly referred to as the Five Pillars. These largely mechanical actions have been popularized by Western academics and in the process have trivialized the teachings of the Qur’an. Islam provides the framework, institutions and path towards flourishing societies.
 
The mission is to stimulate peaceful reform and development in Muslim countries by encouraging effective institutions—the essential premise for development and growth. Islamicity Indices reflect fundamental Islamic teachings for governance and offer the instrument and the moral compass for achieving this goal—effective institutions and reform. When we set up these indices, our purpose was to provide a metric for the state of governance in accordance with Islamic teachings, but we were surprised to find that countries such as Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and New Zealand show superior performance to Muslim countries. Among Muslim countries, Malaysia and Qatar have been the best performing countries over the last 15 years.
 
Duties: Help publicize the work through social media and maintain social media contact.
 
Time commitment: 4-6 hours per week (average)
 
Credit hour option*: 2
 
Submit Cover Letter/Resume to: askari@gwu.edu
*If credit is sought, all registration deadlines and requirements must be met. Students selected to be research assistants should contact Ben Faulkner at benfaulkner@gwu.edu whether they intend to pursue credit or not.

Financial fragility in America: Evidence beyond asset building [Research Assistantship]

Professor: Annamaria Lusardi
 
Department: Business School
 
Title: Financial fragility in America: Evidence beyond asset building
 
Description: PROJECT OVERVIEW
Several years after the financial crisis, financial fragility is still pervasive in the U.S economy. This highlights the need to understand household financial preparedness beyond simple measures of wealth and asset building. In this paper, we will explore the determinants of financial fragility for American households. We will not only analyze their assets but particularly their debt and payment obligations, financial literacy, and demographic characteristics. Analyzing household balance sheets and financial management will help us understand the determinants of financial fragility of American families. Understanding the underlying factors associated with higher financial fragility is important not only to address the short-term effect of failing to cope with an emergency but also to shed light on the implications of financial fragility for long-term financial security.
 
PROJECT METHODOLOGY
The Financial Crisis of 2007-09 highlighted the severe economic impact of weak household financial resilience. In the aftermath of the crisis as the economy and the labor market recover, one would expect to see higher precautionary savings. However, more than one-third of Americans surveyed in the 2015 National Financial Capability Study (NFCS) reported that they could certainly not or probably not use any available resources to come up with $2,000 in a month if the need arose. Overall, the ability to cope with emergency expenses—what we define as financial fragility—remains low for households in the U.S., with adverse implications for the individual, the household and the overall economy.
 
Household financial fragility is often attributed to low income or too few assets. However, data from the 2015 NFCS show that while financial fragility is highest for low-income households, those in the middle-income ($50–75K) and high-income (greater than $75,000) ranges are also substantially financially fragile. Specifically 30% of middle-income and 20% of high-income households could be classified as financially fragile as of 2015. This is notable, especially when comparing the relative magnitude of the emergency expense ($2,000) to a household’s income level. Despite higher income, the failure to cope with financial emergencies could be caused by a myriad of factors such as having too many expenses, complex family structures and caregiving responsibilities, or suboptimal investments.
 
In this project, we seek to understand what factors can explain financial fragility among American households and what are the long-term implications of financial fragility. We will analyze the roots of financial fragility, examining to what extent it is determined by high indebtedness and other factors that offset high asset levels. To conduct the empirical analysis, we will use data from the 2015 NFCS to analyze the socioeconomic characteristics of financially fragile households, including demographic features such as education, ethnicity, age, and family structure, and non-demographic characteristics like debt levels and debt management, overall financial behavior, expenses, asset ownership, and financial literacy. The NFCS is a nationwide survey of approximately 25,000 adults. Since 2012, it has included a measure of financial fragility we have designed for that survey. Here is the question that was added to the survey: “How confident are you that you could come up with $2,000 if an unexpected need arose within the next month?” This comprehensive measure allows individuals to evaluate their own capacity to cope with financial emergencies in any way that suits their personal financial situation. This understanding of financial preparedness is a crucial contribution to the current literature, which has largely focused on pre-determined measures for household financial well-being such as levels of income, assets or savings.
 
For financially fragile households, suffering from a financial setback can lead to a reprioritization of expenses, with potentially adverse consequences for spending on sources such as children’s education and health. This is a source of increasing inequality in the society, and if unchecked, financial fragility could thus heighten socioeconomic disparities for American families in the future. Our analysis will have important implications for practitioners and policy makers for improving the financial resilience of American families. An understanding of weaknesses in the financial capability of Americans is a first step to creating mitigating policies that can prevent financial setbacks. For instance, we find that being financially literate lowers the likelihood of being financially fragile, independent of an individual’s level of educational attainment. Thus, policies can be implemented to provide financial education at the school, workplace and community levels. Policies that address saving for retirement have traditionally targeted tax and non-tax incentives, such as pre-tax retirement accounts. Through our analysis, we will show that incentives are also required for individuals and families to save and build resilience in the short term.
 
Duties: Help with collecting relevant literature
Read relevant literature and do a literature review
Provide help in collecting figures and data at aggregate levels
Assist in the data analysis according to expertise
 
Time commitment: 10 or more hours per week (average)
 
Credit hour option*: 3
 
Submit Cover Letter/Resume to: alusardi@gwu.edu
*If credit is sought, all registration deadlines and requirements must be met. Students selected to be research assistants should contact Ben Faulkner at benfaulkner@gwu.edu whether they intend to pursue credit or not.

Undercover Notes, Bilingual Crónicas, and Other Fragments [Research Assistantship]

 
Professor: Sergio Waisman
 
Department: Romance, German & Slavic Languages & Literatures
 
Title: Undercover Notes, Bilingual Crónicas, and Other Fragments
 
Description: Undercover Notes, Bilingual Crónicas, and Other Fragments is a new scholarly project based on my experiences as a bilingual and multicultural creative writer and literary translator, as well as a Latin American & Comparative Literature researcher. The project consists of gathering and taking a series of notes (usually in writing, often in images and short audio-videos, at times in short interviews and conversations with participating subjects) related to a series of “underground realities” (in various cross-cultural situations) that are found and co-exist (sometimes in parallel, sometimes intersecting) in parts of the U.S. and in parts of
Latin America. Geographically, the focus will be primarily in the DMV Area (on the one hand), and in the Southern Cone of South America (on the other hand)—since the scope of the project involves my continuing interests in North-South, English-Spanish, linguistic, literary, and cultural translations, dialogues, and exchanges.
 
The project consists of gathering and recording written and audio-visual material, keeping careful track of the material, and then editing the material in preparation for various anticipated forms of publication and dissemination. Undercover Notes, Bilingual Crónicas, and Other Fragments is a new inter-disciplinary, bilingual, cross-cultural project that involves a combination of research and creative methodologies and technologies, such as note-taking, interviewing, recording and transcribing conversations, undertaking digital research and communications (mostly in English; some in Spanish), as well as photography and other audio-visual recording techniques. Although the project is at a very early stage, possible final products include publication in print and/or electronic journals, a book at the end of the project, as well as podcast or other newer digital humanities outlets along the way. The final product and dissemination is still to be determined. At this early stage, I am in the creative phase, gathering all sorts of material related to the project, and actively writing and starting to produce the work. Working with a research assistant from this early stage would be of tremendous help.
 
Duties: The research assistant would assist with note-taking (and/or recording) relevant interviews and conversations, photographing (or doing audio-visual recordings) of these interviews and conversations, undertaking digital research, transcribing the material recorded, and helping to keep all of the material well organized for future editing and eventual publication. Ideally, the research assistant would have strong writing and/or artistic abilities, as well as strong audio-visual and relevant high-tech skills. The work will include audio-video recording, some photography, writing, and transcribing and editing of the material. The work will also require a research assistant with strong cultural sensitivities, especially able to work with different immigrant groups, and peoples from a wide range of backgrounds. Bilingual skills (Spanish/English) is a definite plus.
 
Time commitment: 4-6 hours per week (average)
 
Credit hour option*: 2
 
Submit Cover Letter/Resume to: waisman@gwu.edu
*If credit is sought, all registration deadlines and requirements must be met. Students selected to be research assistants should contact Ben Faulkner at benfaulkner@gwu.edu whether they intend to pursue credit or not.

Sharing Economy [Research Assistantship]

Professor: Marilyn Liebrenz-Himes
 
Department: Marketing
 
Title: Sharing Economy
 
Description: The Sharing Economy type of offerings (UBER, Airbnb, etc) burst on the scene several years ago, but are already a key part of not only the USA economy but other places around the world. Two other profs (not in marketing) and I have been exploring this type of offering, and are hoping to create a research paper(s) for major journals.
 
Duties: the research assistant would be asked to do a variety of research on various aspects of the sharing economy. While there are some physical books, most research would be online.
 
Time commitment: 4-6 hours per week (average)
 
Credit hour option*: 2
 
Submit Cover Letter/Resume to: liebrenz@gwu.edu
*If credit is sought, all registration deadlines and requirements must be met. Students selected to be research assistants should contact Ben Faulkner at benfaulkner@gwu.edu whether they intend to pursue credit or not.

Alice at the Microscope [Research Assistantship]

Professor: Green-Lewis Jennifer
 
Department: English
 
Title: Alice at the Microscope
 
Description: I’m in the early stages of drafting three essays on Victorian concepts of the miniature, the gigantic, and the distant, exploring how each was shaped by the advent of different visual technologies and made available for popular consumption and exchange through the advent of photography. My goal is to consider novelistic point-of-view in the context of reading practices that were daily occurrences for many middle-class Victorians. I would welcome some assistance gathering sources –writings in popular and scientific journals of the 1840s to the 1880s, for the most part (both British and American), but also novels and short stories of the period– in which specific photographic technologies, such as the microphotograph and the stereograph, are discussed or are present.
 
Duties:

  • Go to Library of Congress (Reading room, as well as Prints and Photographs), Smithsonian, and other institutions as necessary to find articles in nineteenth-century periodicals and to track down holdings of microphotographs and other ephemera
  • Use online sources to locate essays, articles, letters, and other writings; read and summarize
  • Compile folder of sources with bibliographic information

 
Time commitment: 7-9 hours per week (average)
 
Credit hour option*: 3
 
Submit Cover Letter/Resume to: jmgl@gwu.edu
*If credit is sought, all registration deadlines and requirements must be met. Students selected to be research assistants should contact Ben Faulkner at benfaulkner@gwu.edu whether they intend to pursue credit or not.

Social learning in adolescence [Research Assistantship]

Professor: Gabriela Rosenblau
 
Department: Psychology
 
Title: Social learning in adolescence
 
Description: We are investigating social learning (learning about other people) over the course of adolescence using a multimodal approach (by combining behavioral assessments, eye-tracking and neuroimaging). Follow up studies will investigate how social learning shapes cooperation and how mechanisms for social learning differ in adolescents with autism. The successful candidate will be involved in all aspects of conducting experimental research: recruitment, preparing the experimental setups, conducting behavioral and neuroscientific experiments, data entry and assisting with data analysis. Aside from that, they will also help with other organizational laboratory tasks as required. They will be involved in weekly laboratory meetings and meetings / talks of the Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders Institute at GW.
 
Duties: The candidate should have a research interest in social psychology, neuroscience, decision making, and neurodevelopment. The candidate ideally has some experience with designing and / or conducting psychological and neuroscientific research, and knowledge of statistics. Preference will be given to candidates, who have previously worked with children and/ or psychiatric populations and to candidates with basic programming skills.
 
Time commitment: 10 or more hours per week (average)
 
Credit hour option*: 3
 
Submit Cover Letter/Resume to: grosenblau@gwu.edu
*If credit is sought, all registration deadlines and requirements must be met. Students selected to be research assistants should contact Ben Faulkner at benfaulkner@gwu.edu whether they intend to pursue credit or not.

Knot Theory: Editing and Programming [Research Assistantship]

Professor: Jozef Przytycki
 
Department: Mathematics
 
Title: Knot Theory: Editing and Programming
 
Description: Knot Theory is a discipline of modern mathematics, part of topology (geometria situs).
Student(s) will assist me with editing programing and doing research in KnotTheory.
 
Duties: Students under my supervision will be involved in tasks as below:

  1. Student would assist in preparing/editing research paper for arXiv submission (and eventual publication). Student has to learn LaTeX and how to draw figures in xfig or other similar program.
  2. Many invariants of graphs and knots require pattern testing which require to wrote simple (or not that simple) programs. Also programs are needed to analyze simple algebraic structures related to knots.

 
Time commitment: 4-6 hours per week (average)
 
Credit hour option*: 2
 
Submit Cover Letter/Resume to: przytyck@gwu.edu
*If credit is sought, all registration deadlines and requirements must be met. Students selected to be research assistants should contact Ben Faulkner at benfaulkner@gwu.edu whether they intend to pursue credit or not.

Creating a comparative database of 3D models of African mammalian skeletons [Research Assistantship]

Professor: Andrew Barr
Department: Anthropology
Title: Creating a comparative database of 3D models of African mammalian skeletons
Description: The goal of this project is to build a comparative database of 3D models of African mammalian skeletons. The student research assistant will learn all aspects of capturing, processing, and storing 3D data using a hand-held white-light scanner of the type used in many industrial applications (e.g., additive manufacturing and 3D printing) .
The anatomical models produced in this project will be used in identifying mammal fossils from the eastern African fossil record, as well as in studies of the functional adaptations of African mammals.  The broader goal is to understand the ecological context in which human evolution occurred over the past 3 million years in eastern Africa.
Duties: Assistant will be responsible for making 3D models of museum skeletal collections in the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, at both the downtown Washington, DC location and the Suiteland, MD storage facility. Assistant must be competent in using a Window laptop, and be willing and able to learn 3D scanning protocol. Assistant will be expected to learn basic identification of skeletal elements of a variety of mammalian species. Assistant will be expected to to travel to museum locations and maintain curatorial standards while working with biological skeletal collections. If interested, assistant may be involved in the analysis and presentation of study results at national academic conferences.
Time commitment: 4-6 hours per week (average)
Credit hour option*: 2
Submit Cover Letter/Resume to: wabarr@gwu.edu
*If credit is sought, all registration deadlines and requirements must be met. Students selected to be research assistants should contact Ben Faulkner at benfaulkner@gwu.edu whether they intend to pursue credit or not.

Modern Translatio Imperii [Research Assistantship]

 
Professor: Christopher Britt Arredondo
 
Department: RGSLL-Spanish and Latin American Literature
 
Title: Modern Translatio Imperii
 
Description: Focused on the various and often contradictory roles that intellectuals played in the transfer of imperial power from Spain to the United States at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, this project involves research in the literary and political traditions of Spain, the United States of America, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. Research will vary from reconstruction of broad historical contexts to detailed analyses of specific texts: mostly essays, but some fiction as well. Research will be conducted in Spanish and English.
 
Duties: Meet regularly to discuss research goals and progress. Consult archives in the Hispanic Reading Room at the LOC.  Identify, read, and provide written summary, including detailed quotes, of pertinent texts, documents, images.
 
Time commitment: 4-6 hours per week (average)
 
Credit hour option*: 2
 
Submit Cover Letter/Resume to: cbritt@gwu.edu
*If credit is sought, all registration deadlines and requirements must be met. Students selected to be research assistants should contact Ben Faulkner at benfaulkner@gwu.edu whether they intend to pursue credit or not.

Cellular Phones and Inequality in Washington DC [Research Assistantship]

Professor: Alexander Dent

Department: Anthropology

Title: Cellular Phones and Inequality in Washington DC

Description: In an era in which 95% of American adolescents across socioeconomic status (SES) have a cellular phone, most of which are “smartphones” capable of accessing an array of digital networks, it is tempting to believe that interconnection and access to information have equalized.  However, if you dig beneath the surface you find that profound differences exist with respect to access, reliability, and capacities for cell phone use as reflected in lived experience, including schooling and home life. This research proposes to explore how inequality persists in new forms through cellular telephony in Washington DC, a city that has a long history of inequality. In more detail, we seek to test the hypothesis that variations in cell phone practice impact rising inequality in schools and households.

Duties: Doing innovative research on digital technology. In more detail, data collection (interviews, observations, mapping, focus-groups); data analysis (coding, transcription); grant and article writing; brainstorming. We are looking for someone interested in media use, ethnography, and the relationship between theory and data.

Time commitment: 10 or more hours per week (average)

Credit hour option*: 3

Submit Cover Letter/Resume to: asdent@gwu.edu

*If credit is sought, all registration deadlines and requirements must be met. Students selected to be research assistants should contact Ben Faulkner at benfaulkner@gwu.edu whether they intend to pursue credit or not.

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