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Aashka Dave: Graduate and Professional Student Appreciation Week Feature

Aashka Dave is pursuing her Ph.D. in Information and Library Science at the UNC School of Information and Library Science (SILS).

At SILS, Dave currently conducts research to study how people find information on politically divisive topics. She is also preparing to produce research that seeks to understand how people find information about the impacts of climate change on their personal finances and how they understand the roles that data models play in climate finance.

Learn more about Dave below.

Why did you decide to pursue your MSLS degree at SILS? 
I chose to pursue a PhD at SILS for a variety of reasons, including the flexibility of the PhD curriculum, the opportunities through CITAP, and the number of faculty working on compelling research questions.
What are some highlights of your time at SILS? 
Since I started my PhD in Fall 2020, it often feels like the program has had two distinct phases — the remote “mass confusion” one, and the more “normal” after. Throughout the remote period, what most resonated was the amiability of SILS faculty, staff, and students despite all of us being in a challenging moment. This sense of community remains true in-person too, which has really been a highlight of my time at SILS. Beyond that, I’ve absolutely loved the courses I’ve taken during my time at SILS. I really enjoyed Prof. Jarrahi’s Social Informatics course and Prof. Feinberg’s Data Criticism course.
What do you hope to do in the future with the knowledge you learned in your SILS degree program? 
Working on a PhD has definitely helped me learn a lot, but it has also crystallized for me how much I don’t know. I hope that, even after the PhD, I can keep chipping away at those things I don’t know.
Professionally, personally or academically, of what are you most proud? 
When I was an undergraduate student at the University of Georgia, some peers and I started selling t-shirts that said “Georgia Feminist,” and donated the proceeds to a nonprofit in Athens, Ga., The Cottage. The Georgia Feminist shirts and their message developed a niche reputation, with the limited run of shirts growing increasingly popular. In 2020, we incorporated as a non-profit organization that has since raised around $8,000 to support a variety of nonprofit organizations in Georgia and the South. I love that this is something we’ve all worked on for so long, even as our lives evolve.
What research, academic, or professional projects have you completed or are working on during your time at SILS? 
I’m an RA for my advisor, Prof. Tripodi. In that capacity, I’ve worked on projects with her studying how people find information about politically divisive topics. I’m also working on my comprehensive exams and dissertation proposal; I plan to research how people find information about the impacts of climate change on their personal finances and how they understand the roles that data models play in climate finance. Outside of research, I’m a representative for SILS’ Doctoral Student Association. This past academic year, I have worked with our broader student association, ILSSA, to conduct a survey of graduate student wellness. We are now working to address findings from the survey. Especially given the challenges of the last few years, I’m glad that we have been able to contribute to the conversation about graduate student wellness at SILS and UNC.

Related Programs: Doctor of Philosophy in Information and Library Sciences, Doctoral