Undergraduate Research Dispatches: Claudia Ruslim on Gourmet Gentrification

18 May, 2018

Undergraduate Research Dispatches: Claudia Ruslim on Gourmet Gentrification

This year, BCNM continued its undergraduate research fellowship program, which offers undergraduates the chance to engage in direct research experience with BCNM graduates. Claudia Ruslim was selected to work with Will Payne on his project “Gourmet Gentrification.”

In her own words:

Within Will’s project, we were interested in utilizing restaurant guidebooks – and eventually, location-based services like Yelp – to analyze urbanization and trends within neighborhoods of San Francisco and New York. In the first stage of the research, I helped create an archive of Zagat guidebooks by scanning each page of 10 years’ worth of information on restaurant locations. It was necessary to be accurate and to ensure that each detail for every page is legible, as we will eventually transfer from scanned files to an Excel sheet. At this time, Will had the difficult task of writing Python scripts to translate the captured information from an image file to an editable file, such as on the mentioned worksheet. At our meetings, Will would share his code and its innerworkings, as I am interested in learning to code. After managing to transfer one year’s guidebook (New York 2011) onto an Excel sheet, I worked on correcting each entry from the guidebook. It is particularly important to correct the addresses since we will use them to geocode onto a digital map. However, I had to be accurate in general because details including ratings and reviews may come in play at a later stage of the project. Lastly, we were able to import the corrected guidebook onto ArcMap online, and we have a map of the restaurants listed in 2011 for New York. I am currently going through the listing to ensure each location is geocoded correctly.

Through assisting Will on his project, I have learned that planning a workflow is almost as important as following through with the study itself. I recognized that Will had a reproducible method for each step of the project, which helped me realize that staying organized is a key aspect to conducting a research. Seeing how he crafted his project from the beginning will help myself in creating my own research for my senior thesis. I was also aware of the necessity in paying close attention to details, as one small mistake can take a longer amount of time to fix. In my own research, I will make sure to focus on going steadily and slowly. Lastly, I am getting more familiar with coding and the GIS software ArcMaps, which I value as I am interested in the Geographic Information Systems work field following graduation. I will also take classes on Python next semester, so it was useful to gain first-hand insights of its applications.