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Kudos: Two New Trudeau Scholars at the Graduate School

April 1, 2016

Samara Brock (Forestry and Environmental Studies) and Caroline Lieffers (History of Science and Medicine) have won Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation fellowships, Canada’ s most prestigious doctoral awards in the social sciences and humanities.

Brock studies the impact of mining activities on agriculture and food security, sparked by a trip to Alaska in 2013 as part of a team “investigating how coastal sub-arctic communities were addressing issues of risk and vulnerability, given the threats posed by climate change and ocean acidification…. In the remote communities of Bristol Bay where I was working, the biggest threat on everyone’ s mind was a Canadian-backed mining proposal. If developed, the Pebble Mine will be one of the largest gold and copper mines in the world.” The mine would be located in the headwaters of the largest remaining sockeye salmon run in the world. “These salmon are of immense economic, environmental, and cultural significance to local residents.” She hopes her dissertation “will call attention to and mitigate the potential impacts of mining on food systems  in Canada and around the world.”

Born and raised in Ok Falls, British Columbia, Brock earned a BA in history and environmental studies from the University of Victoria and a master’ s degree in community and regional planning from the University of British Columbia. Before coming to Yale, she worked on sustainable food systems with NGOs in Cuba and Argentina, as well as for the City of Vancouver. She also worked for a foundation that funds food, conservation, and climate change issues.

Lieffers explores the connection between disabilities and nation-building in the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries, and how this history influences the relationship between today’ s disabled people and the government. Her dissertation will consider medical ethics and inventions in the larger context of American nation-building.

She became interested in the intersection of health, citizenship, and disability while she interned at the Smithsonian Institution in 2010. Her supervisor, Katherine Ott, was a curator and historian of medicine and disability, and “she asked me to do some research on a 19th-century artificial leg manufacturer. I was suddenly made aware of a whole discourse around what it meant to be a ‘ good American,’  not only in terms of bodily wholeness, but also through participation in national projects. These questions started me on a journey to find out more about disability, citizenship, and human dignity in history.”

Lieffers was born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta. Before coming to Yale, she earned a BA in English and linguistics and an MA in history at the University of Alberta.