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PODS Spotlight: Tamara Yang

Hi reader! My name is Tamara Yang and I am one of the eleven PODS fellows this year.

I have one semester left in my Joint Honours degree in Political Science and International Development Studies. Broadly, I am interested in human rights, and I have spent much of my undergraduate degree trying to find a niche in this large domain. From post-conflict transitional justice cases to democratization movements, I knew that the advancement of human rights lies at the centre of my academic interests. In the past two years, I have found a passion in migration studies. I began to look at the relationship between international law and domestic immigration policies; specifically, their impact on vulnerable populations such as temporary migrant workers and asylum seekers. This was largely aided by the research I performed for the immigration section of the Canadian Bar Association, as well as my family’s history of seeking asylum in Canada as political and religious refugees in the 1990s. As you can tell, my interests have largely been centred around qualitative research.

I was extremely nervous going into the PODS bootcamp, having very basic experience with R and virtually no experience at all with higher-level statistics. In fact, the last math class I ever took was Pre-Calculus 11! Fortunately, the program was very supportive of our backgrounds in the social sciences, and our amazing instructor and TA were both patient and present in their teaching. I must admit, it feels good to finally know what a regression is.

My internship has been at the Prospered Project, based at the Institute for Health and Social Policy. I am analyzing the Annual Indian Health Survey that ran in nine states between 2010 and 2013, examining the relationship between socioeconomic factors and contraceptive use, specifically looking at the increased trend in female sterilization. Working with Prospered and my supervisor, Dr. Arijit Nandi, has been a fantastic learning experience in bridging my original interest in human rights and my new skills in quantitative research.

PODS has been so fulfilling in giving me quantitative knowledge, programming ability, and a new network of like-minded people who are passionate about making the world a better place. Learning about data science, and the large space it dominates in the world today, has shown me new perspectives on how the issues facing human rights will change in the future. For instance, I have a new interest in privacy, big data, and AI that I hope to tackle in my future endeavours. I am very grateful for this experience and am excited to see each fellow do amazing things in the future!


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