Tina M. Park was an NICHD fellow in 2015-2016 during her fourth year as a Sociology PhD candidate. She researches the construction of demographic knowledge of Asian Americans and exploring alternative quantitative approaches to the study of race. Here she describes her fellowship year.
As a PSTC fellow, I was able to focus on completing my Ph.D. degree requirements and beginning my dissertation research, ahead of schedule. This past year, I successfully completed my preliminary exams in Social Theory and Social Demography and presented my dissertation proposal. I was also able to take on leadership roles in diversity and inclusion initiatives in our department and at the university with the additional time granted by the PSTC fellowship.
Titled "Reconstructing Asian Americans: An Epistemological and Methodological Intervention in the Study of Race," my dissertation project examines the ways in which sociologists and social demographers have studied racial groups, in particular Asian Americans, and how quantitative approaches to the study of race can be improved by drawing not only on research findings from other fields, but through the application of alternative quantitative analytical approaches, approaches that consider and include social and historical contexts affecting race. It was because of the support of the PSTC that I was able to develop my proposal and defend it before the campus community in a public presentation by the end of my third year. I was also able to conclude my research project on the effects of poor health in early childhood on cumulative academic inequality with my PSTC advisor, Margot Jackson.
One of the strengths of the PSTC is its broad understanding of what constitutes "population studies." As my research interests have moved from examining inequality to looking at the construction of knowledge of a particular racialized population, I have been able to retain my ties to PSTC through active advising from different faculty mentors. As evidenced by the colloquium series and the composition of its faculty and graduate students, the PSTC does not restrict itself by discipline nor methodological approach. Any graduate student remotely interested in developing better understandings of populations should consider joining the PSTC to take full advantage of a great intellectual resource at Brown.