Andrew Soderberg

Andrew Soderberg

Q: What research have you been involved in? 

  • Data on the ~370 national park services, like number of visitors, locations 

  • Study spillover effects of visitors from the oldest parks in early 20th century to now 

  • Project starts in Spring 2022, most work done in Summer 2022 

  • Process, organize and analyze raw Excel data on a programming software 

  • Run regression models to find relations between parks 

  • Add variables to see how different factors affect visitor data 

  • Ex. Effects of wildfire in the West and the floods in the East 

  • Run geo-spatial analysis on national parks to create a map of connections between parks and its evolution over time 

Q: What skills did you gain from the project and how will they benefit your academic or professional goals? 

  • Coding and data analysis 

  • Good preparation for social science research in academia 

  • Independence, problem-solving 

  • Trial and error 

  • Self-learn prerequisite knowledge for research literature 

  • “In the workforce, it’s not like schools where you have a list of assignments and homeworks where there is a set answer. You have to figure it out and problem solve. Maybe you spend time coding something and it doesn’t work, so you have to start over again.” 

  • Help decide whether going into academia or industry 


Q: How does doing research benefit your personal life? 

  • Flexible paid work, no strict schedule 

  • Can work as much as he wants or how motivated he feels 

  • Nice opportunity to explore interests and focus on something he’s interested 


Q: You mention the flexibility of your work that you can choose how much to do depending on your motivation. So did you feel burned out at some point or have any motivation block? How did you try to overcome them? 

  • The beginning of the project was a lot of grunt work like converting data files 

  • Took a lot of time to read literature and practice codes to learn new knowledge and figure out the research’s direction  

  • Took a lot of motivation and felt burned out frequently 

  • After the initial stage, he gained a lot more motivation and became more productive once he had the workflow and research direction 

  • Because of flexible hours, he could take time off doing other things like gym when he felt burned out with coding 


Q: What’s been your favorite or most rewarding part of your research experience? 

  • The recent data visualization work shows clear changes of national parks over time, indicating that the data has been processed very nicely.


Q: What is it like working with your research mentor and other people in your research group? 

  • Mostly independent work, only Andrew and research mentor 

  • Benefit: total freedom to do what he wants to do 

  • Downside: lack peers, hope to do more collaborative research in the future 

Q: How did you find out about your research mentor and this project? 

  • Preceptored for Dr. Josephson, built a good relationship and got introduced into this project.


Q: One thing you wish you knew before doing undergraduate research? 

  • Knowing that the type of work in research is very different from schools, no strict rubrics or deadlines 


Q: What new, surprising, or intimidating thing did you experience during your project that is different from your initial expectation of undergrad research? (Andrew also gave advice for other students before I even asked!) 

“In my experience, professors are super open to give you an opportunity. It doesn’t have to be at the highest level you would assume it has to be at. Professors understand you are not at a doctorate level. My biggest advice is to just ask. There is usually an opportunity for you to start something. […] In a research institution [like UA], the level of respect for you as a student and as a potential researcher is way greater than you assume.” 


Q: How has undergrad research help you navigate your future plans and goals? 

  • A little preview into the research workflow 

  • Connecting to grad students in the research office, talking about applying to grad programs 

  • Matter of not being shy and introduce yourself to people around and they will be willing to talk with you 


Q: Anything else you want to share? 

“Put yourself out there. That’s my takeaway message”