Office Hour: Research As a First-Year?


Welcome to Office Hour! I’m Aileen Seo, a first-year from San Diego, California and every week I’ll be sitting down with professors to talk about some of the cool things they are doing here at Brown! I’ll be writing about everything from their research to what they love most about teaching here, so stay tuned!

Here at Brown, you can sometimes find research opportunities as a first-year without having to send countless emails to five different departments that you think may need an undergraduate research assistant. In fact, sometimes professors will be the ones asking students if they’re interested in research opportunities.

How, you ask? Well, last semester, I took a class in the Urban Studies department with Professor Stefano Bloch and he asked if students in the class were interested in taking part in his research that looked into correlations between graffiti incident and crime rates in Providence.

I, for one was pleasantly surprised at how readily the opportunity presented itself, so as most first-years would do, I took him up on his offer. By the end of the semester, a group of student researchers and I headed to the West End of Providence where we used an application called ArcGIS to compile geographic and spatial data. We were also assigned the task of recognizing, classifying, and recording different types of graffiti. All of this sounds scary, but Professor Bloch prepared us for all of this in the course of a couple trainings and meetings.

Next week, I’ll actually be sitting down with Professor Bloch to talk a bit more about his other research projects and to hear about how his graffiti research is going and whether he plans to involve his students in his research in coming years! And also, I’ll ask him what it’s like to be a graffiti expert! So keep tuning in!

If you have any questions, comments, or just want to talk, you can reach me at 


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