When did you first fall in love with data?

This post is part of a series for Love Data Week, which takes place February 14-18 2022.

Written by Lauren Phegley

Picture it – North Central College, Illinois, 2018. Twenty-one-year-old sociology major Laurent Phegley takes her seat in Professor Corsino’s class with no idea that she’s about to fall in love…with data. At the time, Dr. Corsino studied occupational attainment of Italian immigrants in Chicago Heights during the 1900’s. Lauren and her classmates sifted through census data to piece together the career tracks of (mostly male) Italian Americans. These data weren’t just checkmarks on a form. They were glimpses into entire families, glimpses that when pieced together told a story about how the American dream operates on the basis of social class. “For me, tracking the individuals through the census was a large puzzle,” Lauren says. Since then, Lauren has focused on helping other researchers solve their data puzzles. “Social science students are often not taught about data management because they don’t see their research as relating to ‘data’. I make a concerted effort now in my work and teaching to target fields that are often forgot about in terms of data management. Research is a labor of love. It is well worth a few hours of time to make sure that your data stays useable and understandable!”

Headshot of LaurenLauren Phegley is a graduate assistant for the Library Research Data Service pursuing her Masters of Science in Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois iSchool. Once she graduates in May 2022, she hopes to work as an academic librarian helping researchers manage their data and research.

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