Our Final Week

With coming to a close in the summer, things are winding down in the lab. Many of us have gotten incredibly exciting results, and look forward to getting more results over the school year. I have prepared all of my experiments, I will just have to continue working to visualize the results over the school year. I am certainly looking forward to continuing to work towards a publication. For our last week, our lab helped to throw a barbecue for the biology department students and professors, as a celebration for everyone’s hard work. The whole lab went grocery shopping, prepared for the bbq, and cooked together, which made for a very nice close to the summer. We all had a wonderful time together this summer, and I am looking forward to continuing to work with everyone during the school year!

What’s Next?

“So… what do you want to do with that?”

Another quizzical face staring back at me, wondering what in the world I am doing with my (almost-finished) Bachelors of Arts. I have received this question from countless people upon my saying that yes, I am an art history major, and yes, I know artistic careers are hard to come by. A cashier at Food Lion told me it was a risky choice, an older gentleman at an art exhibition I co-curated advised I go into business instead, my dad strongly hinted at engineering (I have not taken a math class in over four years).

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A Summer in Review

This was my second summer working for the Healthy Beginnings Lab. Overall, this summer I had more confidence in my knowledge of the Glass Task experiment were are continuously running, of scheduling for the lab, family drawing coding, coding in general, and data entry. I learned new skills such as data entry, and honed others such as recruitment for the lab which involved making a recruitment plan and pitching our experiment to different institutions or organizations that might help us advertise our study to mothers and kids. Last summer, I was one of the newest members in the lab, and felt very unsure of myself, particularly while running participants. By the time this summer rolled around, I was tasked with leading scheduling and recruitment efforts for the lab, as well as most training efforts for new members who joined us in May. Additionally, I got to experience grant-writing for a second time when I, under the supervision of Dr. Danielle Dallaire, proposed a third condition to the Glass Task experiment that will compare mother-child interactions over video call and in-person that we hope to begin piloting soon. It is hard to believe how quickly time has passed and how much our lab has accomplished since I joined it.

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Antarctic Temperature Approximating (WEEK 7)

As was discussed in the week 4 blog post, I suspect that warmer temperatures from the surface (lower portions of the atmosphere) directly above the Amery Ice Shelf contribute to weaker ice, and thus quicker rates of rift propagation. Luckily, unlike with the ocean temperature and sea ice concentration data, I did not have to download massive NetCDF files and extract data from them using Matlab code. I will discuss the approach I used below.

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Week 8: Wrapping Up the Summer

My last full week of the summer was largely spent wrapping up the projects I had been working on, finalizing recruitment protocols, and checking out books and articles about the underlying theory my lab employs in its work. I read more of some original lectures given by John Bowlby compiled in the book A Secure Base, which I wrote about in my previous blog post. Bowlby was a psychologist and researcher who established much of modern attachment theory in the field of psychology, while drawing on the current theories and experiments of his time, such as Ainsworth’s Strange Situation. He writes in these lectures about attachment generally, and how it is influenced by family structures and parenting styles. I enjoyed reading about his experiences with patients who had been raised by parents who employed various methods of controlling their children, such as threats of abandonment, abuse, or the expectation of total obedience, to name a few.  Through these clinical interviews by himself and other psychoanalysts, Bowlby was able to identify key symptoms, general attachment styles, environmental influences, and thought patterns that were typical of individuals who experienced these types of home environments as children. These individuals displayed various types of attachment security, which Bowlby was able to outline and provide examples of. The three types of attachment and their consequences throughout the life course that Bowlby addresses in A Secure Base are secure attachment, anxious resistant attachment, and anxious avoidant attachment. A securely attached child to his or her mother/father/parental figure views them as a secure base from which to explore the world, meaning that the more secure the base, the more the child ventures from it, trusting that they will receive comfort and security from that figure upon return (Bowlby 167). Anxious resistant attachment occurs when a child is unsure of the reception they will receive from a parent or caregiver, which may spur very whiny, clingy behavior from the child, as well as a predisposition for separation anxiety (Bowlby 167). Parental behavior that may lead to a child’s anxious resistant attachment style could include a mix of warm interactions and separations of parent and child, or threats of separation/abandonment (Bowlby 167). Since the child experiences uncertainty as to the caregiver’s response, s/he becomes clingy in order to avoid the feared separation. Lastly, anxious avoidant attachment occurs when a child believes that they will never be the recipient of a warm response should he turn to a caregiver for support or comfort (Bowlby 167). A child operating within this type of attachment style may attempt to be entirely self-sufficient, at times clingy, tense, or even passively helpless (Bowlby 167-168). The author emphasized that he felt nothing but compassion for these parents who, as supported by empirical research, were likely acting out the cycle of violence, abuse, or neglect to which they had been subjected themselves. Our Glass Task experiment builds on this research, so I spent time at the end of my summer collecting sources from the library to peruse before I return at the end of the month.

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