Under the supervision of Professor Dylan Small, I worked on a project that examines the impact playing high school sports has on later life outcomes. Unlike many other studies which focus on more immediate effects of playing high school sports, our study investigates how playing high school sports affects long-term outcomes such as standard of living, financial situations, substance abuse, and intimate relationship behavior. We use survey data from the National Study of Youth and Religion, a longitudinal study that periodically surveyed individuals from their high school years until their mid-twenties. Our team is currently using a statistical technique called matching to determine the effect of playing high school sports on the relevant outcomes while taking into account possible confounding variables such as family life, education, socio-economic status, and race.
Throughout my PURM experience, I have acquired several skills that will be useful to me going forward. Early on, I learned how to utilize add-ins for Excel from the Ablebits software that made organizing data on Excel much easier. I was also tasked with exploring other studies that were closely related to our subject matter and detailing the methods, outcomes of focus, and findings of those studies. This allowed me to obtain a better understanding of what to look for in research studies and how to write about research in general. The most important skill that I learned during PURM was probably how to write code using R software. I used R to organize and manipulate large amounts of data from the longitudinal study. R is one of the most widely used programming languages in statistics, so as someone who plans on possibly minoring in statistics at Penn, I know that learning R will be very useful in my academic pursuits.
Through PURM, I was also able to work with a team of brilliant individuals who are all well-established in their fields of study. Being in meetings and conference calls with PHD students, postdoctorates, and professors allowed me to see how people at the highest levels of academia think about and discuss their work. My contributions to those discussions and the previously mentioned skills that I learned during my PURM experience have made me more confident in my own abilities and more prepared for my educational and professional future.