Spoken Word as Figure: Visual iconographies of Nenbutsu in Medieval Japan

Enshrined in a Kyoto temple, the 13th century Portrait of the Holy Man Kya sculpturally visualizes the verbal practice of nenbutsu or chanting the buddhas name. Six small sculptural buddhas emerge on a wire extension from the icons mouth, embodying the chanted syllables. Icons are understood in Japanese Buddhism as animate objects, informing and guiding devotional practice. What does it mean to see the voice of an icon? Jess will examine this icons materiality, viewership, and history in order to negotiate the representation of sound in the visual culture of Pure Land Buddhism. She will travel to Japan studying relevant rituals and sculptures, while compiling a catalogue of visualized nenbutsu iconography since the Kamakura period. The broader implications of her research will center on the relationship between spoken word and visual signifiers.

...Read More about Jess Genevieve Bailey

MiCodes: Enabling Library Screens with Microscopy by Connecting Genotypes to Observable Phenotypes

In the burgeoning field of genetic engineering, living systems are engineered to perform desired functions such as fighting cancer, sensing harmful chemicals, or producing useful compounds. However, cellular processes are unpredictable and genes do not always act as expected. In order to find a gene’s optimal setting, scientists currently need to search through “libraries”–large numbers of genetic variants–which is labor and time-intensive. Robert’s research centers on developing a new technology called MiCodes, or Microscopy Codes, which will speed up our ability to perform library screening under the microscope by barcoding cells with fluorescent tags. If successful and adopted by the scientific community, MiCodes would fundamentally change the way library screening is done for many applications, including cancer research, cell culture studies, and biofuels production.

...Read More about Robert Chen

Should There Be A T? The Silencing of the T in the LGBT Movement

Thatchers research explores the relationship between the increasing social legitimacy of the LGBT movement in the U.S. and their marginalization of transgender voices. He will examine the historical reasons for the fracturing of the “T” from the LGBT community and its effects on the transgender community. Thatcher will examine the archives at the GLBT Historical Society beginning in 1973 and ending with current national debates on marriage equality, the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and conduct in-depth interviews with transgender people. While this project will add to the burgeoning field of LGBT history, the aim is to disentangle various factors that marginalize the “T” of the LGBT movement in the hopes that this will contribute to a more genuinely inclusive movement.

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Social Science

Tortoises, Sunflowers, and Subsidies: Large-Scale Solar Energy Policy in California and Andaluca

Current Bio: Since graduation Patrick has been a front-lines enviornment activist in the desert Southwest. Now he is Nevada State Director at the Center for Biological Diversity. He works with a team of attorneys and scientists to defend the imperiled species, public lands, water and climate of Nevada from the resource pillagers in the Trump administration and their corporate cronies who are destroying the biodiversity that makes life on Earth possible to turn a quick buck. Haas Scholars Project: Solar energy is often proclaimed a solution to climate change, and perhaps its most visible incarnation has been the worldwide development of large-scale solar energy facilities in arid lands. These projects entail significant environmental and social externalities: endangered species loss, such as the desert tortoise in the California desert, and land use transformation, as on the sunflower farms of Andaluca, Spain, being two examples. State-led energy policy facilitates the rise of […]

...Read More about Patrick Donnelly-Shores
Social Science

Neurally Inspired Self-Organizing Maps for Image Coding

In this project we plan on using parallelized computation to build realistic sparse coding models for neurons in the primary visual cortex (V1). Sparse coding is a stimulus encoding technique used by V1 neurons that aims to minimize the number active neurons required in encoding any input image. Due to computational constraints, previous sparse coding models have been limited in their ability to match the biology of lateral geniculate nucleus projections to V1. Our models will allow us to better describe recorded biological data and provide further evidence that V1 relies upon sparse coding of input images.

...Read More about S. Zayd Enam

Midwifery Practices in Afghanistan: The Influence of Purdah on Maternal Health

Every thirty minutes an Afghan woman dies due to birth complications. Skilled providers attend only 5% of births. My research compares traditional cultural practices of midwifery with Western medical practices. I will explore the role that the cultural practice of Purdah separation of women from men plays in shaping maternal health. Since the U.S. occupation, USAID has funded midwifery schools. However, current political tension between the Taliban and the U.S. military generates a concern for the future of maternal health care. I will investigate how midwifery practices have evolved from the Taliban regime to the current U.S. occupation and have impacted midwives, medical practitioners and women. I will conduct case studies in the city of Kabul and Kunduz. My methodology consists of participant observations and oral histories. My purpose is to contribute to research on medical training and cultural practices that can positively affect child and maternal health.

...Read More about Muska Fazilat
Social Science

Geographies of Justice: Reconciliation, and the Role of Transitional Justice in Brazil

On November 18, 2011 federal law #12,528 created the National Truth Commission (Commiso Nacional da Verdade, CNV) in Brazil. The truth commission was created to examine the events carried out by the government, Foras Armadas, during the countrys military dictatorship and produce an official, truthful account of the period. The hope was that by embarking on a collective search for truth, the Brazilian population would work towards national reconciliation, and in the process strengthen their democracy. However, one year after the commission began, criticisms flood the process: many argue that the structure created prevents any reconciliation. By analyzing the rhetoric used in government documents and interviewing those involved in the truth process, I hope to answer the question how does the structure of Brazil’s truth commission affect the peoples’ sense of reconciliation, and broader conceptions of state and public power?

...Read More about Rachel Gottfried-Clancy

An Archaeology of Food, Race, and Gender at Fort Davis, Texas

My project will investigate the foodways of three distinct populations who occupied Fort Davis, Texas, during the second phase of the forts active period from 1867-1891. While permitting issues will not allow for excavation this summer, there are alternatives to excavation. One collection of artifacts was previously excavated from the enlisted mens barracks; I will examine the food related artifacts from this excavation. Additionally there is a set of artifacts that were collected while digging a drainage ditch at the fort. These artifacts come from several distinct areas of the fort and were carefully boxed and given provenience. There has been no analysis of this collection. I will also be contributing to the mapping of the laundress quarters at the fort. In the process of mapping, a catch and release of the surface scatter of artifacts will take place. My research will include comparing records of military rations to other […]

...Read More about Leah Grant
Social Science

The Material Language of Elizabethan Artificers

Although historians have studied Elizabethan Englands social and aesthetic transformations of the built environment, little attention has been paid to the labor of its craftspeople. Scholarship on Elizabethan architecture and decorative arts has privileged the study of stylistic trends, written records of patronage, and named surveyor-architects. This approach fails to register the ways in which artificers participated in the visuality of the early modern period. To understand the production practices of Elizabethan artificers and to recognize how these workers shaped material culture, Trevor is pursuing a close examination of select furniture and woodwork at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. He aims to develop a methodologya delicate and precise way of seeing, interpreting, and questioningthat prioritizes the expressive but latent language of the sixteenth century wood carver and joiner.

...Read More about Trevor Hadden

Automation of Carbon Flux Explorers for the Study of the Ocean Biological Carbon Pump

Marine-atmosphere gas exchange plays a major role in the global carbon cycle. A key parameter of oceanic CO2 uptake and sequestration is the biological carbon pump (BCP). The BCP is composed of planktonic organisms that fix CO2 in photosynthesis, converting it to food and tissue. The biomass of these organisms turns over about once every week, exporting the carbon they contain away from the ocean-atmospheric interface to greater oceanic depths as they are consumed and expelled in the form of particulate organic carbon aggregates. This process, known as sedimentation, is currently a large mystery to oceanographers and climate modelers. To parameterize the BCP sedimentation process in ocean and climate modeling, the Bishop research group has designed Carbon Flux Explorers (CFEs)–relatively small but powerful robots– to study this rapidly changing system on biologically significant time scales. My research project will design, code, and implement data processing algorithms onto CFEs, thus completing […]

...Read More about Christina Marie Hamilton

Stories from the Heart: Biosocial Narratives of Adults with Complex Congenital Heart Disease

In the 1980s, newborns with complex congenital heart disease (CCHD) began to survive into adulthood in larger numbers than ever before due to advances in cardiothoracic surgery and cardiovascular medicine. Growing up, many were told they would either be fixed, once they reached adulthood, they would die in childhood, or that their prognoses were unknown. Now that the first generation of CCHD children has survived into adulthood, there is a gray area between cure and death. Kaitlin will conduct ethnographic interviews with CCHD adults who have undergone major cardiac hospitalizations, procedures, and/or surgeries within the past year, along with adult congenital heart disease medical specialists. Using disability studies and medical anthropology lenses, Kaitlin’s research will explore what being fixed actually means for adults with CCHD and the implications of life with a prognosis unknown.

...Read More about Kaitlin Kimmel
Social Science

Collapsing the Frame: The Moving Body as a Site for Social (De)construction

Collapsing the Frame delves into the space between two categories contemporary and commercial dance to ask how the moving body functions as a site both for composing and deconstructing normative conceptions of embodiment, physicality, identity, and sociality. By researching the particular case of commercially produced choreographies, the project not only problematizes the categorical divide between high culture and popular/commercial culture, but intends to ask how dance productions that cross this boundary function as corporeal and public experimentations with collective identities. Through a comparative analysis of three sites of dance practice and performance (Los Angeles, Brussels and Vienna), the intent is to provide a platform for understanding the ways in which contemporary dance affects and is affected by the burgeoning commercial industry.

...Read More about Sara Sol Linck-Frenz

Electrochemical Characterization of First-Row Transition Metal Corrole Complexes for Use as Oxygen Reduction Catalysts

Research in alternative energy has become increasingly urgent in recent years due to constantly increasing pollution and depletion of traditional energy sources. One of the most compelling devices in the field is the fuel cell, a means for converting hydrogen and oxygen into useful energy. To contribute to the advancement of the field of alternative energy, this thesis aims to further the characterization of an oxygen reduction catalyst for a PEM fuel cell. Literature has shown that certain first-row transition metal corrole complexes are active for catalytic oxygen reduction, and the projects primary objective is to electrochemically characterize these complexes to determine which compounds are most effective in oxygen reduction catalysis.

...Read More about Brendon McNicholas

HIV, Gender, Belonging, and the State: Reflections from Post-Conflict Northern Uganda

Northern Uganda is in the early years of recovery following a twenty year civil war which devastated the region. For an entire decade of that war, nearly two million people from Acholiland were forcibly displaced from their homes and detained in internment camps, living as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), refugees in their own country. With the vast majority of the camps now closed, and the Acholi community working to rebuild villages, homes, and infrastructure, new challenges have arisen. Minda’s work in Acholiland will seek to identify the barriers of access to HIV treatment and prevention that former IDP returnee women are experiencing, examine how HIV healthcare is situated as a function of post-displacement recovery, and explore the discourse and practices of humanitarian and medical stakeholders.

...Read More about Minda Murphy
Social Science

Conceptual Metaphors in Describing Transgender Identities

Ayden is exploring the metaphors used to describe transgender identities and experiences. Cognitive linguistics understands metaphor as central to language and human cognition, allowing us to grasp abstract concepts via physical sensations and everyday experiences. There has, however, been very little put forward for a cognitive linguistics of gender: How are the meanings of gender expressed and perceived? What are the effects of particular linguistic structures on how gender is thought about and performed? How are identities in general rendered meaningful? Ayden will collect data from public sources such as newspaper articles and analyze their underlying structures and assumptions, as well as how they impact the real lived experiences of transgender individuals.

...Read More about Ayden Parish

The World in the Globe of the Eye: Reading Housekeeping Through a Thoreauvian Lens

Current Bio: Zoë is a PhD candidate in English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University (MSt in English from Oxford [2016]) writing a dissertation on small forms in 19th century poetry.   Haas Scholars Project: More than once, Marilynne Robinson has invoked Henry Thoreau’s Walden (1854) as an influence on her novel Housekeeping (1980). Zoë’s project investigates the philosophical resonances between these two texts written in the tradition of American Romanticism. Rather than wed Walden to history and read Housekeeping as a modern-day (and specifically feminist) response, Zoë develops a more fluid relation between the two testaments to spiritual solitude. By placing the books in conversation, Zoë explores the relationship between the invention of audience and inwardness. She also asks how the depiction of place can inform a writers persona on the page and vice versa. Zoë’s thesis derives its larger metaphysical context from 19th-century articulations of nature and the […]

...Read More about Zoë Pollak

Characterization of Fine Genetic Regulatory Mechanisms of a Bacterial sRNA in the Virulence of a Foodborne Pathogen Salmonella Typhimurium

Salmonella is the leading source of food-borne diseases in the United States. Infection by Salmonella Typhimurium causesdiseases ranging from self-limiting gastroenteritis to life-threatening systemic infection, provoking around 1.3 billion cases every year worldwide. Moreover, no vaccine to prevent salmonellosis exists. Recently, 19 small noncoding bacterial RNAs (sRNAs) located in salmonella SPIs were discovered, of which IsrC is one of the newest forms. Bacterial sRNAs regulate the expression of their target genes in pathogenesis, essentially contributing to bacterial invasiveness. My research will focus on the interaction between IsrC and its predicted target, HilE, a global negative regulator of salmonella virulence genes. This research seeks to further clarify the role of sRNAs in the molecular pathogenesis of salmonella virulence as well as increase the possibility of developing new strategies against bacterial infection, thus lowering salmonella infection rates.

...Read More about Laura Carolina Rodriguez-Adjunta

Migrating Minors Uncovering the Myths, the Facts, and the Figures: What Is Driving Central American Children to Travel Alone to the U.S.?

My research will investigate the reported phenomenon of increasing numbers of unaccompanied Central American youth migrating to the United States from May 2011 to July 2013. I will examine these questions: Why are these children migrating alone? Will this overall trend continue? Or is there a push/pull factor that is influencing this recent surge? What can be done to make this journey safer for these children? My study begins in the detention facilities and immigration courts of Arizona and Texas, then continues as I travel southbound through Mexico and by bus into Guatemala. Through participant observation and interviews with adults who regularly interact with the children, I will take the reverse route of the children migrating northbound atop freight trains. My project will culminate in an ISF senior honors thesis.

...Read More about Judy Schafer
Social Science

Indigenous Knowledge and Bio-efficacy of Medicinal Plant Use: An Ethnobotancial Study of Sindhupalchok, Nepal

Ethnobotany is defined as the scientific study of the traditional knowledge and customs of a people concerning plants and their medical, religious, and other uses. Given that many active compounds used in pharmaceutical drugs today are extracted from plants, understanding indigenous knowledge regarding medicinal plant use is invaluable to deepen existing knowledge regarding various pharmacological uses of high-value medicinal plants, conservation, and sustainable resource management. My research seeks to document and catalogue the high-value medicinal plants used by the Tamang people in remote villages in rural Sindhupalchok, Nepal, as well as assess the bio-efficacy of the medicinal plants by comparing indigenous use with reported phytochemical and pharmacological properties in literature.

...Read More about Sikai Song

Income Tax Reform, the Evolution of Inequality, and the Boost of Domestic Demand -- In Search of a Sustainable Economic Growth Model

As Chinese economic reform deepens and widens its scope, finding a model for sustainable growth is of paramount importance. In this research, I will investigate how changes in the personal income tax structure would boost domestic demand as a stable driving force for economic development, focusing mainly on a flat tax structure. I will analyze past income tax reforms, collect and analyze empirical data and personal stories, build and extensively test models, develop a policy proposal, and analyze its international impacts. Since income tax directly affects the disposable income of the majority of the residents in China and thus directly influences domestic demand and social equity, my research results may expand our understanding of the precise economic reforms that lead to sustainable and stable economic growth for China and abroad.

...Read More about Yanyue (Adelina) Wang
Social Science