About Us & Contact Information

About Us

The recently created Empirical Reasoning Lab (ERL) is designed to provide infrastructural support for empirical reasoning across the curriculum. Empirical reasoning focuses on critical thinking about numerical data, quantitative literacy, and qualitative analysis.

For students, faculty, and staff, we offer consultations to help formulate empirical questions, find appropriate data sets, or offer guidance and training with analysis software. 

For courses, we provide supplemetary training sessions focusing on how to use analysis software, how to find meaningful data sets, or how to use the libraries resources effectively for research. We can also help develop course specific assignments focused on increasing Empirical Reasoning across the curriculum. 

Who we are

Heather Van Volkinburg, Ph.D.

Heather has happily crossed the street to join the Barnard Library and Academic Information Services (BLAIS) after completing her PhD in Psychology at Columbia University in May 2012. Her research in Psychology focused on the perception and memory of time, or in other words, how we learn about time from our environment and how we remember and use those representations to make decisions and manage our time. She also developed an interest in pedagogical support in higher education especially pertaining to the development of empirical thinking in the STEM and social science fields and nurtured this interest by conducting and coordinating a series of workshops for Columbia University’s GSAS Teaching Center in 2011 & 2012. As an undergraduate student she worked on a project revitalizing a Native American language (Mutsun) with no living speakers using primary source materials and completed her degree in Linguistics minoring in Mathematics. Her first year at Barnard has been invigorating and exciting as the initiatives of the ERL have experiences explosive growth. 

Associate Director of Learning Initiatives and Data Services

Elana Rofel

Elana is a senior at Barnard majoring in economics.  In addition to working at the ERL, she is also an intern at MultiPlan, the leading provider of health care cost management solutions.  Elana hopes to enter a career in public health or health care administration after graduating from Barnard.  She is looking forward to working at the ERL this year and helping students with SPSS, Excel, and Stata.

ERL Fellow

Yingtian Yang

Yingtian is a senior at Barnard majoring in applied mathematics and economics.  She likes to work with data and conduct quantitative research.  Yingtian wants to enter a research career with a focus on data analysis.  Yingtian is also a big fan of math, and tutors calculus in the Barnard math help room.  This year, Yingtian is happy to help students working with Stata and Excel.

ERL Fellow 

Belinda Archibong

Belinda is a Ph.D. candidate in Sustainable Development at Columbia.  Her research interests include energy valuation and investment and natural resource management and economic development in African countries; her current research focuses on the centrality of space and geography for energy, infrastructure and natural resource use and valuation.  Her spatial and statistical analysis software skills include R, Stata, Excel, MATLAB, and ArcGIS.  At the ERL, she's also available to assist students with any general research methodology questions they may have.

Graduate Lab Assistant

Melissa Boone Brown

Melissa is a Ph.D. candidate in Sociomedical Sciences & Psychology at Columbia.  Her research interests include the role of prejudice, discrimination, and every day stress experiences in HIV risk and substance use for African Americans.  She's also interested in the patient-provider relationship for African Americans with chronic illnesses.  At the ERL, Melissa can assist students working with SPSS, Stata, Excel, and SAS.  She's also happy to help students with general questions about research methods and statistics, especially longitudinal research and repeated measures.

Graduate Lab Assistant

Steven White

Steven is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science at Columbia University. His dissertation is titled "For Democracy and a Caste System?": World War II, Race, and Democratic Inclusion in the United States. He also researches contemporary issues of regionalism and religion in American public opinion. At the Empirical Reasoning Lab, Steven's software specialty is in working with Stata and Excel, as well as helping students find datasets for their research.

Graduate Lab Assistant


Contact Information

In order to best support the Barnard community, the Empirical Reasoning lab can be accessed in person in Lehman 200 on the second floor of the Barnard library (look for signs when you exit the stairway). For exact hours of operation check out our calendar.

Electronic correspondence and requests for consultations can be sent to erl@barnard.edu.

Mailing Address:
Empirical Reasoning Lab
c/o Heather Van Volkinburg
3009 Broadway
New York, NY, 10027

Phone: 212-851-9692 (calls will be directed to Heather Van Volkinburg)