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Molly Gaskin, CURS student research assistant

Molly Gaskin hails from Eldersburg, Maryland and just graduated in May of 2019 from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a BS in environmental science and a minor in urban studies. As an undergraduate, she played mellophone in the Marching Tar Heels, rode with the UNC Equestrian Team and served as president of the music fraternity Sigma Alpha Iota-Iota Tau. Gaskin also found time to work as a host at Top of The Hill restaurant and as a research assistant at the Center for Urban and Regional Studies (CURS).

How did you get connected to CURS and who have you worked with here?

In the fall of my junior year I took an intro to GIS course that Michael Webb (CURS Senior Research Associate) taught. Later that year, he sent out a call for research assistants for that summer and I quickly emailed him to inquire about the job. In the summer of 2018, I worked with Sydney Corn (CURS Research Associate) mostly. At the end of the summer, Michael offered for me to continue at CURS that school year as a work-study research assistant. During my senior year, I worked primarily with Michael and some with Bill Rohe (Faculty Associate) as well.

What are the projects you’ve worked on?

I first worked on sending out surveys and doing data entry for the Charlotte Housing Authority project, and later contributed to the data analysis and writing for that report. I have also worked on research and mapping for a project for Habitat for Humanity and one for the Durham Housing Authority.

What skills did you learn on the job?

I learned practical ways to approach data analysis and how to make sure the methods are clear in the data itself. I also improved my GIS skills and learned really useful formatting and data presentation skills.

What was your favorite part of working at CURS?

There is always coffee here! Jokes aside, I have loved learning about housing through these research projects.

What was your biggest accomplishment?

Definitely the report for the Durham Housing Authority. Michael suggested that I do a neighborhood evaluation research project and report that could be a starting point for another project they were applying for at the time (Housing Opportunity Finder). It is hopefully in the final stages now!

What was the most fun project?

The most fun project was also the Durham Housing Authority project. I really enjoyed the mapping and spatial analysis for that report and loved making the online story map that communicates the data in a more interactive way.

What’s next for you?

I will be starting a Masters of Public Administration at UNC’s School of Government this fall, and working as a research assistant for ncIMPACT.

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