Research Highlight: David Casson

by arowsey on May 28, 2021

I had the opportunity to speak to David Casson concerning his research on structural stigma and substance abuse disorder with the aid of Dr. Schorpp.

Can you describe what your research project is about?

         My research project is about the effect of stigmatization, specifically in terms of a quantitative sociological analysis of structural stigma and substance use disorder. This research project analyzes various sources of structural stigma such as medical policies, treatment centers, clinics, prison systems, etc. and how these sources create stigma for individuals seeking care for substance use disorder and how these forms of stigmatization can hinder treatment and care efforts. We seek to evaluate how these sources create the stigma, where they are most prevalent, and how they can be improved upon to lessen the impact of stigmatization, so that individuals can have more fluid access to quality care to treat their substance use disorder. 

What made you decide to pursue your topic?

       I chose to pursue this topic for a few reasons and because my first two attempts at research topics did not go very well. I decided to turn to a sociological centered approach because I was taking sociology classes at the time of the switch and found them to be extremely fascinating. Hearing Beth Macy speak about her novel, Dope sick at Roanoke when she visited was also very inspiring as well. I also knew I wanted to do something related to the public sector and taking the sociology classes helped put that into perspective. 

Why did you decide to do research?

            I decided to do research because if I am involved with the research fellows’ program, I think it would be wise to conduct some. Additionally, I wanted to gain more experience in the research field and as a psychology major, it seems fitting to be more skilled in the research field if I am given the opportunity to do so. Also, conducting research has been a learning experience overall and has helped me become more proficient at analyzing empirical knowledge and a better student altogether. I believe it will also be very helpful to have this experience post undergrad when applying and completing a graduate school program one day.

How has your experience with your research advisor been?

My experience with Dr. Schorpp has been tremendous. We get along very well, and she has taught me more than I could have hoped for with research and skills associated with conducting and analyzing research work. She is incredibly charismatic, kind, helpful, cheerful, and supportive and has made this experience all the more worthwhile.

What has been your favorite or most interesting part of your research project so far?

        My favorite part of the research so far has to be seeing the individual pieces of data/research collected come together to form a pattern or a collective idea. It helps reassure that the hard work can pay off and that the research has significant meaning as it all ties together in quite unique ways.

What would you say to current and incoming students interested in doing research?

I would say to push yourself and to never doubt yourself. There are no stupid questions and asking questions can only help propel you further. Furthermore, I would highly recommend establishing a strong, positive, and friendly relationship with their peer mentors as they are incredibly helpful and only want to see us succeed and produce something extremely valuable and insightful. Always be true to yourself and don’t give in when it gets tough.

Lastly, any other additional information or comments you’d like to include besides the questions stated above?  

I would just like to thank the Research Fellows Department for giving me the opportunity to be a part of the fellow’s program as it has been an incredibly worthwhile experience for me. I wouldn’t ever change it.

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