Crow Spotlight: Sarah Merryman

Sarah Merryman is a senior at Purdue University majoring in Professional Writing and minoring in Communications. At the invitation of Crow PI Bradley Dilger, Sarah started working with Crow as a project intern and wrote a series of blogs for its 2018 spring methodology workshop, her first venture into blogging. After becoming a full-time undergraduate researcher in the fall of 2018, her role expanded into social media promotion, IRB drafting, and creating content strategies.

These tasks challenged her to learn a new set of communication and writing skills. Because Crow is a multi-institutional team, she often conducted meetings and blog interviews through digital mediums like Google Hangouts. Navigating Crow’s organization platform, Basecamp, and learning how to pair-write articles with fellow Crowbirds helped her better understand the importance of sustainable collaboration in the workforce. Likewise, helping draft IRB proposals and contracts gave her a glimpse at the steps researchers take to launch their projects. On the flip side of the research equation, Sarah had the privilege of listening to linguistic scholars from various post-secondary institutions present their research findings at Crow’s 2018 Writing Research Without Walls symposium. Witnessing the internal process and public-facing product of linguistic research, inspired her to consider a research-oriented career sometime in the future.

Sarah proudly displays her certificate for completing the introductory Python coding course with teacher, and fellow Crowbird Ge Lan.
Sarah proudly displays her certificate for completing the introductory Python coding course with teacher, and fellow Crowbird Ge Lan.

However, collaboration and scholarly research were not the only areas of Crow she found both challenging and rewarding. Sarah completed a beginners course in Python coding taught by fellow Crow member Ge Lan. After years of considering the difficulty of computer coding on par with learning ancient Sanskrit backwards, Sarah was surprised to discover she enjoyed coding, and hopes to continue learning it in her spare time after graduation.

Her favorite part of being a Crowbird is the freedom to try new experiences. Unlike the repetitive, coffee-fetching experience she envisioned to be the rite-of-passage for interns everywhere, working with Crow allowed her to integrate her personal goals with Crow objectives. At the start of each semester, she met with PI Bradley Dilger and together they brainstormed a list of skills she wanted to develop. They then created a workflow that would allow her to work toward these professional goals. Sarah credits Crow with giving her the knowledge and experience to thrive in today’s workforce, where content strategy and the ability to collaborate with peers from different backgrounds and geographic distances is key.

Outside of Crow, Sarah has held a variety of positions at Purdue. Ever drawn to the publishing world, she has been a reporter for The Purdue Exponent and a member of the Journal of Purdue Undergraduate Research Student Editorial Board. She has worked at the Purdue University Press since 2017, first as the Administrative and Marketing Intern and then as the Assistant Editor for the Joint Transportation Research Program. As Assistant Editor, she edits and facilitates the publication of JTRP reports, which are downloaded and used worldwide. Always interested in trying out things that have never been done before, Sarah also served as the first undergraduate blog coordinator and social media intern for the Purdue English Department. She is finishing her time at Purdue as an undergraduate tutor in the Purdue Writing Lab.

Passionate about usability and UX design, Sarah conducted two research projects: one on the usability of writing center usage data, and another on a redesign of the PASE Mock Career Fair. However, her most memorable research experience was investigating the experiential design of the Purdue Farmers’ Market. What started as an in-class assignment somehow turned into a friendship with one of the farmers and a part-time job flipping burgers at his market booth. Who says research is all done in a lab?

Following her graduation in May, Sarah hopes to pursue a position in scholarly publishing. However, she also plans to spend some time enjoying the freedom of not having homework and to continue her education informally through hobbies. She wants to sharpen her social media skills, learn professional photography, and to travel. If she is feeling particularly ambitious, Sarah might even pursue a more health-conscious lifestyle. After her surprisingly pleasant experience learning Python, nothing seems too unusual to try – not even exercise.

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