RUNC: Aashka Dave

Aashka Dave studies the relationship between climate data, mis- and disinformation, and the financial impacts of climate change.

Aashka Davephoto by Megan Mendenhall
February 14th, 2024

Aashka Dave is a PhD student in the UNC School of Information and Library Science. She studies how people find information on how climate change affects their personal finances and how they understand the roles that data models play in climate finance.

Q: How did you discover your specific field of study?

A: As an undergraduate student, I wanted nothing more than to work in journalism. After graduating, I started working at The Associated Press on digital projects. It was a fantastic experience, but it left me with so many questions. I was learning so much about the mechanics of journalism, but less about why the field functioned that way it did, especially in regard to issues around audience engagement, social media, and digital media business models.

That led me to the broader field of media studies and then, eventually, to information and library science. I came to see all types of media as part of a larger information ecosystem, and that broader lens has really helped me think through issues around how we find, use, and make sense of information.

Q: Academics are problem-solvers. Describe a research challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it.

A: I constantly struggle with the idea that there are two sides to every story. I do not want to give undue credence to “sides” that bring more harm or incorrect information into the world, but I want to understand where those “sides” are coming from and the thoughts that inform them. Arlie Russell Hochschild presents the idea of a “deep story” or “a feel-as-if story — it’s the story feelings tell, in the language of symbols. It removes judgment. It removes fact. It tells us how things feel.” Thinking about deep stories has helped me better understand my own struggle and to approach my research with more intentionality and thoughtfulness.

Q: Describe your research in five words.

A: Climate change through/with data.

Q: Who or what inspires you? Why?

A: My peers. All the graduate students I have met ask such interesting, rich questions with the potential to positively impact our society. Their drive and excitement for their work helps me push my own forward.

Q: If you could pursue any other career, what would it be and why?

A: My only regret about my chosen field is the amount of time spent in front of screens. As much as our digital worlds enrich our lives, I am always reminded that they have a very ephemeral quality. If I could do something else, I’d pick working with my hands — baking, quilting, and gardening all sound great.

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