Doing Research in a Pandemic, an Interview with Professor of History Alison Isenberg

For this Spring Seasonal Series, entitled Doing Research in a Pandemic, each correspondent has selected a researcher to interview about the impact of the pandemic on their research. We hope that these interviews document the nuanced ways the pandemic has affected research experiences, and serve as a resource for students and other researchers. Here, Austin shares his interview.

Alison Isenberg, Professor of History; Co-Director, Princeton-Mellon Initiative in Architecture, Urbanism, and the Humanities. Taken Feb 6, 2017.
Professor History and Co-Director of the Princeton-Mellon Initiative in Architecture, Urbanism, and the Humanities Alison Isenberg plans to finish a draft of her upcoming book, Uprisings, soon.

As part of our seasonal series, I interviewed Professor of History and Co-Director of the Princeton-Mellon Initiative in Architecture, Urbanism, and the Humanities, Alison Isenberg. A scholar of the American city and its contested history, Professor Isenberg is currently wrapping up her next book, Uprisings, which she sat down with me to discuss. Professor Isenberg, who took a sabbatical this year to drill down on the draft for Uprisings, details the contents of her book, how the pandemic changed the way she researches, and the implications of her book in our tense political moment.

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Why Zoom Office Hours Are Better (and tips for making the best use of them)

A picture of students in one of the first classes held on Zoom in spring 2020

If there is one thing we as students have mastered in the COVID-19 pandemic, it is Zoom and the Zoom environment. Looking back to last spring, it is admirable how educational institutions and students adapted to an unprecedented global crisis and continued with their academic and non-academic roles. Here at Princeton, the transition to Zoom was relatively smooth given the uncertainty and fear at the time. Although the initial stages of scheduling an online semester were difficult, there was a strong desire to sustain many of Princeton’s activities for the virtual campus community. The concerted efforts of students, faculty and staff have paid off. The three semesters of virtual learning I’ve had so far mimicked almost all the characteristics of the usual in-person experience I’ve come to expect at Princeton, including access to office hours.

The main medium for virtual interaction is Zoom, and it has been adapted for almost every facet of university activity, from school clubs and organizations to school hosted events and webinars. In this post, I will take a closer look at the Zoom office hours, their many advantages and in some cases, how they are actually better than in-person ones. I will then offer some suggestions for making the best use of Zoom office hours this spring.

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Apply to Write for PCUR During the 2021-2022 Academic Year!

This academic year has certainly been atypical.  For many, the process of doing research itself has been impacted by COVID-19: indeed, in our upcoming Seasonal Series, correspondents will interview research faculty and graduate students about their research experiences in the wake of COVID-19. Additionally, many of our favorite activities have been cancelled, while others march forward virtually. PCUR has continued to publish blog posts during this time.

In fact, we are happy to announce that PCUR is hiring new correspondents for the 2021-2022 academic year!

PCUR’s 2020-2021 Correspondents

Continue reading Apply to Write for PCUR During the 2021-2022 Academic Year!

Welcome Back!

The 2019-2020 academic year is up and running! Classes are in session, recruiting season is upon us, and our first paper deadlines are approaching. PCUR is back too as a resource to help guide you through this year. Our correspondents from across grade levels and academic disciplines will reflect on their own experiences,  share tips that they have learned along the way, and raise awareness of the countless research-related opportunities and resources Princeton has to offer. Be sure to take a look at our first post of the year where Rafi offers advice on how to reduce independent work stress.

Our 2019-2020 correspondents!

Along with our returning correspondents Rafi, Shanon, Andrea, Saira, and Alec, we have three new sophomore correspondents Ella, Kamron, and Soo. Check out their bios below!

Continue reading Welcome Back!

PCUR in the News!

Melissa Parnagian, Class of ’17, former PCUR

Melissa Parnagian, Class of ’17, who served as the Chief Correspondent and a Social Sciences Correspondent for PCUR, was recently featured in a piece published by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. Melissa was a Woodrow Wilson School concentrator and is now attending the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University to receive her Master of Public Policy. In the piece, Melissa highlights the role PCUR played in her development as a writer and a researcher. Read the full article here.

If you’re interested in learning more about what PCUR alumni are doing now, be sure to check out our upcoming spring seasonal series, Post-Princeton Life: The Experiences of PCUR Alumni, and read all about the many different paths Princeton alumni have taken.

Ellie Breitfeld, Cheif Correspondent

5 Reasons to Join PCUR

Apply to join PCUR for the 2019-2020 academic year!

As we return from Spring Break, we’re all getting ready to finish up the semester and launch into whatever we might have planned for the summer. However, now is also a time to reflect on the past year, and begin thinking about what we might want to change, or what we want to continue in the upcoming academic year. One exciting opportunity to consider is to join PCUR! We are now accepting applications for new correspondents for the 2019-2020 academic year.

What is so great about being a part of PCUR? Continue reading to find out what the current correspondents have to say about why they joined PCUR, what they have enjoyed about the experience so far, and why they would encourage others like you to apply.

Continue reading 5 Reasons to Join PCUR

New Year, New PCURs

It’s that time of year again. The hustle and bustle of the beginning of the year begins to die down–new dorms have been moved in to, another fall lawn parties has come and gone, textbooks have been purchased–and now its time to jump right into the nitty gritty. As we finish up our second week of classes, the assignments start flooding in and it’s time to get back to work. PCUR is here to help! Join me, our four returning correspondents: Rafi, Shanon, Alec, and Elise, and four new fresh faces: Andrea, Saira, Nanako, and Raya. Coming from a wide variety of disciplines, this year’s team is ready to guide you through the coming academic year.

The 2018-2019 PCUR Team (minus Shanon), photo courtesy of Marah Sakkal

If you have specific questions that you would like to see answered, use the Contact Us form and let us know what kinds of post you want to see! Also new this year, some of our posts will be featured on the Princeton University Instagram story! We’re looking forward to a great year, so continue reading below to see what our new correspondents are bringing to the table.

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Apply to Write for PCUR! Everyone is a Researcher

Apply to be a part of PCUR’s amazing team of correspondents!

As we return from Spring Break, we enter the homestretch of the year, but also one of the busiest times. It’s a time to finish up all of the endeavors we’ve taken on throughout the year—whether it be your R3 from writing sem, your JP, or your senior thesis—and it also a time to begin looking ahead to possibilities for next year. Well, here’s an opportunity you will want to consider! PCUR is looking to hire new correspondents for the 2018-2019 academic year with research interests ranging from social sciences, to engineering, to humanities, and natural sciences.

Now, you may be thinking, “I don’t really do research…” This was my initial thought as well when I first learned about this opportunity in the Spring semester of my freshman year. In fact, I reflected on this concerned that I didn’t have any research experience in the sample post I submitted with my PCUR application. I’d like to share a few excerpts from that post here, and hopefully you’ll come to the same conclusions that I did—every undergraduate at Princeton is a researcher and PCUR is a great way to become more involved in Princeton’s vibrant research culture and encourage others to do the same. Continue reading Apply to Write for PCUR! Everyone is a Researcher

Meet the Newest Additions to the PCUR Team!

As classes begin, textbooks are purchased and suitcases are finally (mostly) unpacked, it’s safe to say that the new school year is officially upon us. Here at PCUR, we have a number of reasons to be thrilled about the upcoming semesters. For one, Elise, Taylor and I are being joined by six new correspondents from across class years and disciplines. You can read more about them on the Correspondents page, but here is a quick snapshot of our newest team members.

The 2017-2018 PCUR team back on campus and ready for the year ahead!

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Bursting the Orange Bubble: Tips for Keeping Up With the News

We all acknowledge a need to look beyond the Orange Bubble. Particularly since the election, I’ve felt it even more necessary to keep up with the world. At the start, I found myself engrossed by news stories on Facebook, Google, and iNews. Quickly, though, I realized I was in another sort of bubble, as these are all limited by your friend networks, political leanings, and past searches. Hearing others express similar concern, I reached out to a number of friends to see what strategies they use to look outside the bubble while also balancing a busy work schedule. The following tips are some ideas I got from them.

  1. Listen to short news stories when walking places. Lots of people listen to music while walking to class. Why not plug in your headphones and listen to the news? One friend uses the NPR app to listen to 3-8 minute long stories while on the way to class: a simple means of following current events.
  1. Listen to podcasts. For longer news stories, it’s easy to download podcasts from NPR or other major news outlets. One friend told me about “Pod Save America,” maintained by former Obama speechwriters. Podcasts are ideal for lengthier activities: listen while you exercise, as you get ready in the morning, or when you’re on a long train ride.

    Of course, you could always do it the old-fashioned way and get a physical copy of the newspaper!

Continue reading Bursting the Orange Bubble: Tips for Keeping Up With the News