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Presenting the Inaugural “Emerging Scholars”

December 14, 2016

Ten graduate students have won Dean’s Emerging Scholars Research Awards (DESRA). The DESRA is a key component of the recently implemented Dean’s Emerging Scholars Initiative, a joint endeavor of the Graduate School and the Provost’s Office designed to expand the pipeline to faculty excellence and diversity. The DESRA winners come from backgrounds that have been underrepresented in their chosen fields of study (e.g., historically underrepresented minority students, first-generation college graduates, students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, and women in STEM fields); or plan to pursue research related to issues of diversity and identity; or have previously volunteered or are currently volunteering in diversity-related programs. These one-time awards help cover conference and/or field work expenses and are administered by departments and programs.

The award-winning Emerging Scholars are: Stefanie Acevedo (Music), Anne Marie Champagne (Sociology), Craig Lapriece Holloway (Sociology), Tram Luong (Anthropology), Lyndsey McMillon-Brown (Engineering and Applied Science), Anya Montiel (American Studies), Tyler Jackson Rogers (American Studies), Brooke Russell (Physics), jub Sankofa  (African American Studies, American Studies), and Tiara C. Willie (Public Health).

Acevedo’s dissertation focuses on harmonic expectation in popular music. Her project is in two parts: a computational analysis of harmonic progressions in a sampling of the top Billboard songs from 1958 through 1991, and an encephalography (EEG) study testing human brain responses to deviations in these harmonic patterns.

Champagne’s dissertation examines how law, medicine, and society deal differently with male and female mastectomy. By comparing mastectomy’s potential to affirm masculinity, in the transmale case, and disaffirm femininity, in the case of women with breast cancer, she relates the procedure to social-perceptual constructions of gender difference.

Holloway’s dissertation project, “Collared Men: Navigating Race and Status in Everyday Life,” explores how black men from diverse educational, economic, and criminal backgrounds commune around the shared understanding of their racial identity. He analyzes the complexities of family, fatherhood, and socioeconomics as they are explicated by black men in America.

Luong’s research investigates Cambodian national identity and its effect on the perception of the “Other,” some 800,000 ethnic Vietnamese who reside in Cambodia today. Her project links visual anthropology, history, and political science to immigration politics, ethnic violence, and more.

McMillon-Brown employs bio-mimicry to incorporate naturally occurring patterns into photovoltaic devices.  She studies, modifies, and replicates bio-inspired nanostructures and investigates metallic glass alloys that are best suited for solar energy applications. Replicating nature’s light-trapping solutions with metallic glasses may well result in significant efficiency enhancements and cost reduction.

Montiel is writing a dissertation on the reinvention of the Indian Arts and Crafts Board in post-World War II America, 1945 to 1975. Existing scholarship focuses on the early years, when IACB received strong federal support. Montiel’s research concentrates on the board’s struggle to adapt once funding was cut. During this period, the agency expanded its definition of Native art, explored economic initiatives, and fostered tribal arts revitalization that enabled the IACB to continue to the present day.

Rogers focuses on the interwoven relationship between slavery and settler colonialism in early America. His dissertation, “Visible through Violence: Indigenous Enslavement in Settler Colonial New England,” critiques the enslavement of indigenous people in the Algonquian homelands of the Northeast from the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries. In addition to an American Studies PhD, he is also pursuing the graduate certificate in Women's, Gender, & Sexuality Studies.

Russell studies neutrinos — light, neutral subatomic particles. She uses recently developed liquid argon time projection chamber (LArTPC) technology to resolve evidence for the existence of one or more neutrinos. Neutrinos, first discovered in 1956, have many puzzling qualities, including extremely low mass compared to other elementary particles and the ability to transform from one type of neutrino to another.

Sankofa’s research, “Geographies of Survival,” traces the lives of poor black working class men, women, and teenagers migrating to and through California without family between 1920-1945. His project examines the criminalization of poor migrants by mapping their arrest records and interactions with police and prisons, particularly for vagrancy and property offenses such as forgery, petty theft, burglary, and robbery.

Willie, a pre-doctoral fellow in the NIMH Interdisciplinary HIV Prevention Training Program at the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS, is pursuing her PhD in Chronic Disease Epidemiology. Her research examines the etiology and health consequences of gender-based violence among marginalized populations. Currently, her work focuses on the implications of intimate partner violence on women who engage in HIV prevention methods.