Clara Reynen

Clara Reynen, MLIS Student

Cultivates research across disciplines

“Clara is the right person to feature precisely because she isn’t any one thing. She’s an artist, researcher, scientist, teacher, facilitator, mentor, and more, and it’s her ability to seamlessly cycle through those roles that makes her so skilled at interdisciplinary work.” -Colleen Theisen, lecturer

Burlington, Iowa

Faculty mentor/advisor:
  Colleen Theisen, MLIS, lecturer, School of Library and Information Sciences, Graduate College.

What is your degree program and anticipated graduation date?
Master of Arts in Library and Information Sciences and Certificate in Book Arts, spring 2025

Please describe your research:
My research examines how librarians can help facilitate interdisciplinary research. In other words, I want to figure out how librarians can best help researchers incorporate multiple disciplines, such as art and science, into one project. In my work with the BlueGAP project, I used quotations from interviews to create a handmade artist book that helps contextualize how nitrogen pollution in water is an issue that affects everyone.

In simple terms, why does this research matter?
This research matters because academic research is often siloed into very narrow categories, which makes it difficult to communicate across disciplines and to the public. The isolated nature of academic research negatively impacts communities being affected by the very same issues scholars are studying. Librarians can help mitigate problems such as these if they have the proper framework for incorporating interdisciplinary techniques from the beginning of research projects for which they are asked to help find data or other resources.

How soon after starting at the University of Iowa were you able to participate in research?
I was encouraged by professors and faculty to consider how my work could become research from the beginning of my graduate studies. I began working on my research more seriously the summer after my first year of graduate school, when I was hired as an Environmental Humanities research assistant for BlueGAP.

How has being involved in research made you more successful at the University of Iowa?
Being involved in research has made me a more successful student because it has given me the opportunity to think more deeply about the coursework I’m doing. Readings for classes aren’t just for the class alone, it could spark a new idea or thought to follow up with later. It’s also made me more committed to proper time management—I’m only able to work on my research if I make time for it, which helps keep me on task for regular coursework.

What are your career goals and/or plans after graduation?
After graduation, I hope to pursue a career as an academic librarian at a small or mid-size liberal arts school that is committed to supporting interdisciplinary research. Teaching papermaking and continuing to pursue my interests as a paper artist are important to me as well and can hopefully be a part of my work!

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