The journey beyond Barnard takes graduates on a myriad of paths, including ones requiring a commitment to continuing education and 22 hours on a plane. Anna Carlson ’18, Post-Baccalaureate Fellow for the Empirical Reasoning Center (ERC), traveled to Sydney, Australia, to present her paper, “The First Five Years of the Barnard ERC: A Model for Developing Comprehensive Undergraduate-Focused Data Analysis Services,” at the IASSIST 2019 conference on May 31, 2019. Her paper, which won second place in the annual IASSIST Paper Competition, was conceived, researched, and written entirely by her, and evaluates the ERC over the course of its development.

Barnard launched the Post-Baccalaureate Fellowship program last fall as an initiative of Beyond Barnard to support recent alumnae and foster the development of professional career skills and ongoing technical and workplace learning. The program offers an opportunity to apply subject matter expertise to new technologies, digital scholarship, creative writing, and other platforms.

“Being a Post-Bac Fellow gave me a unique opportunity to work with faculty, staff, and students, [all of whom were] invaluable resources in researching this project,“ said Carlson, who majored in applied math. “My experience as an undergraduate fellow in the ERC, and then as a postgraduate, definitely informed my perception of the ERC’s history.”

Carlson’s paper was a collaborative ERC effort that included David Weiman, the Alena Wels Hirschorn ’58 professor of economics and faculty director of the Empirical Reasoning Center; associate director Alisa Rod; lab coordinator Fatima Koli; and Carolyn Silverman, data scientist from the University of Chicago NYC Crime Lab1.

Rod, who envisioned Carlson taking on the lead role of researcher for the paper as a capstone project for her post-baccalaureate experience, felt strongly that an original research project would offer students the opportunity to conduct research in the context of the ERC’s mission and to help them think about future career paths.

As a Fellow, “it was vital for Anna to do most of the work herself, from analyzing the data to writing up the results,” Rod said.

As a result of the experience gleaned from writing an academic-style paper and presenting at an academic conference for an international scholarly society, Carlson has decided to pursue graduate studies — precisely what the Post-Baccalaureate was created to do.

“Fellows learn the most over the course of their time with the ERC because they’re acquiring data, technical, and interpersonal skills that are necessary for working in the lab, and Anna is evidence of that,” Weiman said. “Anna initially came to the lab for assistance and was hired as a Fellow. She worked her way up and became the head Fellow during her senior year. Since she graduated, she has returned and become a Post-Bac, illustrating what students can gain from working with the ERC.”

Traveling almost 10,000 miles to present a research paper for the first time was a lot to take in, and Carlson credits the support received from the ERC with helping her succeed. “Presenting in Sydney was an incredible opportunity that I would not have had without Alisa Rod, Fatima Koli, and David Weiman,” Carlson said. “IASSIST was my first academic conference, and it was daunting to present there among such accomplished professionals, but I feel like my education and professional experience at Barnard prepared me well to research and present the paper.”

—BY ASHA MEAGHER ’21

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