Trinity junior Caitlyn Yates will be presenting her research from study abroad in Argentina at a conference at the University of Notre Dame next month. Yates, an anthropology and political science double major, studied in Buenos Aires for five months last fall and conducted original research on drug trafficking and drug-related violence.

Yates took a month-long independent study course where she conducted fieldwork and produced a 50-page paper during that time. Her anthropological work in the small town of Rosario involved making contacts and figuring out how the residents of the slum dealt with drug trafficking and police brutality.

“I learned that it’s incredibly challenging to make contacts and connections that trust you when you are working on a topic as sensitive as drug trafficking. I learned that because of this paper I know my passion is to work in academia,” Yates said.

The inspiration for Yates’s fieldwork came from Trinity professor Alfred Montoya, whose own anthropological fieldwork involves the study of drug trafficking. While taking Montoya’s Introduction to Anthropology class, Yates was inspired by a drug-trafficking lecture and went on to focus on the topic throughout her education. During Yates’s time abroad she consulted Montoya several times on tips for conducting fieldwork.

Yates’s paper titled, “The Growth of Drug Trafficking in Rosario: Disciplined Violence and Argentina’s Potential Model to Eradicate this System,” was selected for presentation at the social development conference at Notre Dame from Feb. 27-28.

Time abroad vastly improved Yates’ Spanish language skills and demonstrated the importance of conducting independent research for building fieldwork skills.

“I think for any anthropology, sociology or urban studies students that independent study abroad programs are the best in terms of our field of study for how much emphasis is on fieldwork,” Yates said.