Monday, December 8, 2008

Group 1 (Food as a Public Health Issue) & Group 2 (Health in New Jersey) (5th post)

This is the last week of class in the Fall Semester, and students will have until early January to compile their research projects at their own time. I have asked them to reflect on what they have learned from their projects and what they have found interesting so far before they leave for winter break. Let’s hear what they said.

GROUP 1 - Food as a Public Health Issue

Carine Davila (History of food availability in the US)
The project has definitely been useful in expanding our horizons on the importance of food. While food is commonly thought of as important on an individual level, I feel less has been done on the level of the community, or at least less is known. This project has been a chance to explore that latter realm, and I think we will find that it does have an important impact on the level of the community and beyond. While this is not my first time doing a research project, it is my first time doing a CBLI project. I do feel that our group is making an important contribution by introducing food as a public health issue, but I think perhaps some of the other travel groups may feel a closer connection to the community through the project than ours. Nevertheless, it is rewarding to think that our entire class's work will come together to be an important contribution.

Aba Osseo-Asare (Organic food availability)
As I've been researching organic activism and contemporary food movements, it has been interesting to note how the original advocates of natural foods have become concerned about the commodification of organic food. Although the movement certainly aimed to broaden the visibility and consumer base of organic foods, some activists now worry that standards for natural foods have been lowered due to the number of industries seeking to make a profit by marketing the organic label. Now that I have collected background information on the organic movement as a whole, I am seeking to explore differentials in access across racial and class lines.

Carol Shih (History of the USDA food pyramid, food safety regulations, and changing government assertions about what is healthy)
I am finding out about food and food systems for this project, so I am learning something new about what we put in our bodies daily, and something so important for survival. So far, I've found that the subject of food can be controversial, making standards and rules difficult to set.

Laruen Bartholomew (History and contemporary politics of school lunch programs)
It is not my first time doing a research project. It is my first time doing a CBLI project. My interpretation, comparison, and analysis skills have probably been refined. Other than reading about various moves by schools to make school lunch programs healthier, I did not have previous knowledge of the topic.

Group 2 - Health in New Jersey

Alexandra Douwes (Childhood vaccination, childhood asthma, and childhood injuries)
This is not my first time doing a research project; however, it is my first time doing a CBLI project, as well as a project based on statistical analysis. I have never worked with statistics programs before, so this project has taught me a lot about collecting and analyzing data, which could be very useful for future research projects. I did not have any previous knowledge of the topic I am studying, so I found all the information I collected especially interesting. Especially finding actual racial disparities in the children's health data was fascinating, as it confirmed everything we have learned in class.

Rosalynd Upton (Gestational Diabetes and Infant Mortality)
This was my first time doing a research project of this nature. I have definitely picked up some invaluable research skills along the way. Particularly, I have found that using databases our school's library provides is excellent for research projects like CBLI because it provides free, scholarly articles that are pertinent to whatever I am searching for. As for my topic itself, it is well-known that diabetes occurs more prevalently among minorities than whites. It was nice to have this foreknowledge of what my research results would be before writing the paper so I could delve into more finer-tuned issues.

Sara Peters (Lung cancer, cirrhosis and AIDS)
Due to the lack of evidence in states and national data pertaining to cirrhosis, I have decided to turn my attention to AIDS and lung cancer. Based on what I have found so far, I believe that there will be overwhelming evidence that supports the hypothesis that minorities have quite a health disparity in these sectors of health care. However, I am unsure as to how I will relate this data to lifestyle choices--causation versus association.

Yuna Sakuma (Unintentional injuries and resulting deaths)
I have done research projects in the past, but never a CBLI project. The previous projects have mostly been historical, and none have ever been so relevant to our time period and our neighborhood. I think that the idea of CBLI is very cool and I hope to take more CBLI courses in the future. I definitely learned some things throughout the project. It's interesting to see that unintentional injuries have racial disparities. I'm still in the process of finding causes for the disparity, but I think looking at regions puts in an interesting angle.

It is so exciting to see that both groups are making good progress in their research and enjoying the process along the way. I really look forward to the final products of their work.