Archives for Honors + Awards

Kent D. Dunlap, Peter A. Yoon, and Justin Fifield Receive Fulbright U.S. Scholar Grants

Hartford, Connecticut, May 8, 2018—Three Trinity College faculty members have been awarded 2018-19 Fulbright U.S. Scholar Grants to conduct research internationally. Kent D. Dunlap, Charles A. Dana Research Professor of Biology, will travel to Portugal to pursue collaborative research on brain cell production; Professor of Computer Science Peter A. Yoon will teach computer science in Ethiopia, realizing a long-standing goal to honor the Ethiopian soldiers who protected his family during the Korean War; and Visiting Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Justin Fifield will study caregiving practices in Buddhist monasteries of Sri Lanka.

Dunlap plans to investigate how social interactions enhance the recovery from injury in fish. This project stems from a 15-year interest Dunlap has had in the birth of brain cells during adulthood. “My interest in this research was originally sparked by a Trinity student. This student came to me and wanted to study cell death in the brain. It made me think about the opposite: cell birth and the production of new cells in the brain. I’ve been studying it ever since, and now I have the chance to pursue a new branch of this research in Portugal,” Dunlap said.

This award is the second time that Dunlap has received a Fulbright grant. In 2009, he traveled to Uruguay to study brain cell production on a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Grant. “Through that international experience, I formed connections with scientists all over the world, and that was how I made contact with my future Fulbright collaborator in Portugal,” Dunlap said. With this previous research to look back on, Dunlap is eager to begin his next project in Lisbon at the Gulbenkian Institute, which promotes interdisciplinary research in the life sciences. Dunlap will also help organize the 14th International Congress of Neuroethology that will be held in Lisbon in 2020. “An added benefit of traveling and doing this research is to learn new techniques and bring them back to my Trinity students,” Dunlap said. Dunlap received his B.A. at Macalester College and his Ph.D. at the University of Washington, Seattle.

Yoon will travel to Ethiopia to research and teach scientific computing and high-performance computing. “I have been teaching computer science at Trinity since 2000, and have had the privilege of working with students from all over the world. In particular, students from Ethiopia made a long-lasting impression on me,” Yoon said. “I am deeply indebted to Ethiopia. Between June 1951 and April 1954, Emperor of the Kingdom of Ethiopia Haile Selassie sent over 3,000 Ethiopian soldiers to serve as part of the United Nations forces in the Korean War. Many were wounded or killed in battle as they were trying to fend off the North Korean Communists. I was born in Korea a decade after the conflict, but, ever since I learned about the Ethiopian involvement in the war, I have been looking for an opportunity to give back to the country that helped protect the current generation of my family,” Yoon said.

In Yoon’s grant proposal, he wrote, “One of the most pressing issues of higher-education in Ethiopia today [is] a shortage of qualified faculty in computing at colleges and universities.” With the Fulbright grant, Yoon will work to address this issue in collaboration with hosts at the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Jimma University to help build that institution’s graduate program in computer science. Yoon earned his B.S. at North Carolina State University, his M.S. at Purdue University, and his Ph.D. at Pennsylvania State University.

Fifield plans to conduct a qualitative research project on caregiving—caring for the sick, disabled, and elderly—within Buddhist monasteries in Sri Lanka. “This project extends the work of my dissertation on Buddhist monastic ethics with a specific case study in a contemporary context,” Fifield wrote in his proposal. “The Fulbright grant will enable me to develop as an early-career academic and build interdisciplinary connections between religious studies and medical anthropology.” Through participant observation at several monasteries and concomitant research on the Sri Lankan health-care system, Fifield will examine the increasingly urgent issue of providing care for elderly monks in an era of modernization and social change. Fifield will also offer formal lectures on Buddhist anthropology and methodology of religious studies at the Postgraduate Institute of Pali and Buddhist Studies at the University of Kelaniya.

The Fulbright U.S. Scholar Grants are highly competitive and emphasize the notability of the work by Dunlap, Yoon, and Fifield. Timothy J. Cresswell, Trinity College dean of the faculty and vice president for academic affairs, said, “The awards are prestigious and they reflect well on the college as well as the scholars involved. Perhaps more importantly, the grants are specifically designed for scholars who are engaging with the world beyond the U.S.A. – so these three awards are evidence of the global engagement that is central to Trinity’s mission.”

The Fulbright Program, the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government, is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The Fulbright Program offers grants to study, teach and conduct research for U.S. citizens to go abroad and for non-U.S. citizens to come to the United States. The primary source of funding is an annual appropriation by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA).

A Trinity student also was recently awarded a Fulbright grant. Alicia Abbaspour ’18 has received an English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program and will travel to Malaysia for 10 months to teach English to secondary school students.

Written by Lexie Axon ’19 and Andrew J. Concatelli

Terri Williams Awarded $600,000 Grant from National Science Foundation

​Hartford, Connecticut, March 9, 2018—Trinity College Research Associate Professor Terri Williams has been awarded a three-year, $600,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to investigate the embryonic development of Tribolium, better known as the flour beetle. Williams had previously received an NSF grant in 2013 to study segmentation in arthropods—a diverse group of animals that includes flies, shrimp, crabs, and spiders—whose basic body plan consists of several repeated segments.

With her most recent grant, Williams will study the Tribolium’s “segmentation clock,” which refers to the oscillating expression of genes that drive segment formation in the embryo. In her past research, Williams and her students found that, surprisingly, the Tribolium segmentation clock oscillated at varying rates. The discovery of this anomaly underlies her latest research project, “Regulation of the Tribolium Segmentation Clock.”

Student Nicole Duan ’18 (left) and Trinity College Research Associate Professor Terri Williams (right) with Trinity alumna Sara Khalil ’15 at a symposium where Duan presented a poster in the fall of 2017.

This NSF grant was provided to Williams in collaboration with Lisa Nagy, a professor at the University of Arizona. A portion of the funding will be used to give students the opportunity to go to Arizona and conduct research during the summer. “Students can perform experiments and use laboratory equipment not otherwise offered through science research programs at liberal arts colleges,” Williams said. “The students will film live Tribolium embryos using a confocal microscope, which allows them to observe development in real time.”

Williams provides each of her students with individual attention and comprehensive training when she works with them on research projects. Nicole Duan ’18 has been working with Williams since her sophomore year. “She doesn’t train all of her students the same way. She makes adjustments according to how each student works in the lab,” Duan said of Williams. “For me, every time I accomplish something, she gives me more responsibility. I feel like I have learned a lot over time.”

By doing research with their professors, students supplement class lectures with experiences in the lab. “I had the opportunity to experience what a scientist actually does, and I’m now in the process of applying to Ph.D. programs,” Duan said. “Through my experience working with Professor Williams, I have a good idea of the work I want to do in the future.”

Williams holds a B.S. from Duke University and a Ph.D. from the University of Washington. She first began studying arthropods as an undergraduate student. While pursuing her Ph.D. in biomechanics, Williams wrote her thesis dissertation on the mechanics of swimming in shrimp. During her research, she was interested in how these mechanics changed as the animals developed and added segments.

“Studying beetle segmentation seems very specific, but humans are segmented, too,” Williams said. “While we see segmentation more clearly in arthropods like beetles or shrimp, it turns out that a lot of the animals on Earth are segmented.” The prevalence of segmentation throughout the world makes it a popular area of study for scientists. “The basic design of a body plan made of repeated parts has proven to be a successful strategy for animals throughout evolution,” Williams said.

The National Science Foundation is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 “to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare.”

Written by Lucy Peng ’18

Professor James Trostle is Part of a Team Awarded Grant from National Institutes of Health

Hartford, Connecticut, February 28, 2018—Trinity College Professor of Anthropology James A. Trostle is a co-principal investigator on a research study that has received a grant award of $2,666,768 from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The University of Michigan is the primary grantee, with $209,745 designated for Trinity College. The grant, supporting research launched in September 2017, will run until September 2021.

Photo by Jason S. Ordaz

Trostle (pictured, left) joins Joseph Eisenberg, the principal investigator from University of Michigan, and a team of scientists from Universidad San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador, Emory University, Universidad Central del Ecuador, University of California Berkeley, as well as others from University of Michigan. As a co-principal investigator, Trostle is responsible for coordinating the collection of the social and cultural data required for the project.

The project, Zika and Dengue Co-Circulation Under Environmental Change and Urbanization, will examine the development and the spread of two diseases—Zika and Dengue, both infectious diseases transmitted by the same mosquito species. The project builds on Trostle’s prior research into infectious diseases and represents the fifth in a series of larger research projects Trostle has conducted in Ecuador.

There have been more than 1.5 million cases of Zika reported worldwide since its recent emergence. Dengue infects more than 50 million people worldwide each year but does not cause the same symptoms seen in Zika.  The spread of both viruses will be studied to provide insight into the impacts that economic development and, ultimately, urbanization have on the transmission of these infectious diseases. Key to intervention to limit the spread of the disease is understanding the construction of new roads and their impact on the social network structure and movement of residents in previously rural communities in the Ecuadorian province of Esmeraldas in northern coastal Ecuador.

Trostle, a Trinity College faculty member since 1998 and adjunct professor at the School of Public Health at the University of Chile since 2015, has spent close to two decades studying the relationship between diseases and their transmission in rural and urban communities. His work in epidemiology has spanned more than 25 countries in his career.

The ultimate goal of the team’s work is to better understand how diseases move across landscapes. “Horses, canoes, or on foot,” Trostle said, “That’s how people got around before. Now with the construction of a road, how will this impact the health of that community?”  Trostle noted that remoteness matters to disease rates, and in previous studies, the more remote villages were, the healthier they were. This study will help to explore social relationships that develop with more connectivity between people and villages, and how this interaction influences the transmission of diseases.

The NIH funding is the fifth substantial grant this project has received, adding to previous funding from NIH and the National Science Foundation. This grant, in addition to covering Trostle’s time and travel to Michigan and Ecuador, will engage Trinity students through two student research stipends per year, including one expenses-paid trip to Ecuador for summer research. Trostle was enthusiastic about the benefits for students who work on this endeavor, saying, “This type of study demands a level of detail in interviewing and observation that will help students involved to be better researchers and develop other critical skills.” The funds from the NIH grant will allow up to eight Trinity students to become intimately involved in the project over four years.

About Trinity College: Founded in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1823, Trinity College (www.trincoll.edu) is an independent, nonsectarian liberal arts college with more than 2,200 students from 45 states and 67 countries. It is home to the eighth-oldest chapter of Phi Beta Kappa in the United States. The faculty and alumni include recipients of the Pulitzer Prize, the MacArthur award, Guggenheims, Rockefellers, and other national academic awards. Trinity students integrate meaningful academic and leadership experience at all levels on the College’s celebrated campus, in the capital city of Hartford, and in communities all over the world.
About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

Paul Lauter Receives Modern Language Association’s Distinguished March Award

English Department faculty members congratulate Paul Lauter: (L-R) David Rosen, Lauter, Chloe Wheatley, and Christopher Hager (not pictured but also in attendance was Milla Riggio). Photo by Edward Savaria, Jr.

Hartford, Connecticut, January 22, 2018 – Paul Lauter, Trinity College’s Allan K. and Gwendolyn Miles Smith Professor of Literature, Emeritus, recently received the Francis Andrew March Award from the Modern Language Association (MLA) of America. The award, which honors distinguished service to the profession of English at the postsecondary level, was presented on January 6 during the MLA’s annual convention, held in New York City.

Lauter is the 26th recipient of the March Award, which the MLA’s Association of Departments of English (ADE) established in 1984 “to hold up as an ideal the scholar and teacher who accepts responsibility for strengthening the life and work of departments, the field, and the English studies community considered as a whole.” The award is named after Francis Andrew March (1825–1911), who taught at Lafayette College and was the first professor of English in the United States.

A Trinity College faculty member beginning in 1988, Lauter served terms as chair of the English department and director of American studies, and for many years served as director of the graduate program in American studies. He has served as president of the American Studies Association and is the founding general editor of the groundbreaking Heath Anthology of American Literature, now in its sixth edition, which redirected the field toward a more historicized, inclusive, and self-aware representation of the many voices and origins of American literature.

A contingent of Trinity English Department faculty members, including Chloe Wheatley, associate professor of English and current chair of the department, attended the MLA convention and the presentation of the award to Lauter.

“It was a wonderful experience to sit in the audience with my colleagues from English and hear Professor Lauter express what he took this award to signify about the vitality of our profession,” said Wheatley. “In his acceptance speech, Professor Lauter emphasized, in a characteristically eloquent yet grounded way, how his scholarship has been driven by a concern for social justice.”

“Invoking Marvell and Wordsworth as well as Frances Harper, he spoke of how an emphasis on the democratic virtue of inclusion not only can inspire us to make room, in our anthologies and in our classrooms, for new voices, but also can teach us to understand more familiar texts in new ways,” said Wheatley. “His speech was, in other words, a wonderful emblem of his own unique combination of intellectual intensity and openness.”

In his talk upon receiving the March award, Lauter said, “I take this award to be about the efforts of many of us to forward the project of democracy. Democracy requires inclusion—but not just between the covers of a book. Rather, in the chambers of government and the seminars of learning, where to be unheard is to be ignored and to be ignored is to have your humanity revoked. Some of us long since adopted Garrison’s statement in the first issue of The Liberator: ‘I will be heard.’ And we have brought it not only to the study of literary texts, but to the aspirations and the lives from which they spring. To say ‘Black lives matter’ is to say ‘I will be heard.’” That, Lauter has said to his colleagues and friends at Trinity, “is just one contemporary instance of promoting inclusion and democracy.”

Lauter is the author or editor of several books, including From Walden Pond to Jurassic Park: Activism, Culture, and American Studies and, most recently, A History of American Working-Class Literature. During 1964 and 1965 he worked in freedom schools in Mississippi and in Roosevelt University’s Upward Bound program, and in 1967 he became director of the first community school project in the nation, at Adams-Morgan in Washington, DC. In 1972, he resumed his teaching career at the State University of New York, Old Westbury, an institution that especially served underrepresented groups such as black and Latino students and older women. He was one of the founding editors of the Feminist Press, an educational nonprofit organization founded to advance women’s rights and amplify feminist perspectives, and of the journal Radical Teacher.

Read more about the ADE March award here. View the award citation presented to Lauter here.

Fulbright Award Furthers Trinity College Associate Professor of International Studies Janet L. Bauer’s Research on Islam in Diaspora

Hartford, Connecticut, January 19, 2018 – Trinity College Associate Professor of International Studies Janet L. Bauer has received a Fulbright Global Scholar grant—an award designed to support multicountry, transregional projects—for her research project on The Social Geographies of Islam in Diaspora: Race, Gender, Generation, and Place. With this $25,690 Fulbright award, Bauer is engaged throughout the 2017-18 academic year in research at sites in Canada, Germany, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Bauer’s area of specialization is the ethnography of mobility and gender in Islamic societies, a focus that began when she was a graduate student at Stanford University, where she earned both her M.A. (1976) and Ph.D. (1981) in anthropology. During the past 25 years, she has continued to address questions about Muslim women in diaspora through her longitudinal research, following the same populations over several generations in different Muslim-minority societies. This includes ongoing collaborative research with her Trinity students working among refugee groups in the metro Hartford area.

“The Fulbright research represents the culmination of my work on Muslim diasporas in which I am focusing on women’s activism and their engagement—or nonengagement—with Islamic heritage,” said Bauer. “My goal is to increase our understanding of how immigrants—in this case, Muslim women and youth—use both local and global ties to successfully negotiate places of belonging for themselves and their communities. Using a comparative approach has allowed me to contrast the role of different contexts—of multiculturalism, of specific places, and of immigrant histories—in shaping this process.”

Bauer, a Trinity faculty member since 1984, completed the first segment of her Fulbright project during fall 2017, conducting research in Trinidad and Tobago, hosted by the Institute for Gender and Development Studies at The University of the West Indies. Beginning in February 2018, she will be based for three months at the Institute on Globalization & the Human Condition at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. Then, from May to July, she will be in Germany, where her host institution will be the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity in Göttingen.

“Each of these sites provides a unique set of circumstances for better understanding the challenges faced by Muslim women in Muslim-minority contexts,” Bauer said. “This includes anxieties that can arise within Muslim communities because of ethno-cultural differences in religious traditions or generational differences, as well as pushback from non-Muslims.

“Across the globe, Muslims are confronting an onslaught of negative stereotypes and a fear of Islam,” said Bauer. “It’s important to avoid generalizing about Muslims, especially Muslim women, and to remember that most of our Muslim neighbors are an integral part of our communities, leading productive lives.”

Bauer’s current Fulbright project builds upon her prior research projects, which include: “The Americanization of Muslim Refugees in a Majority-Minority City: Understanding Black-Latino-Refugee Relationships in Hartford;” “Race, Gender, and Community in Muslim Trinidad;” and “Iranian Women and the Politics of Exile.” Her current research, she noted, will further inform her work with Trinity students and with Muslim communities in Hartford and elsewhere around the world. She plans to produce a book-length monograph on gender and race in Muslim diasporas following her return to Hartford from Germany.

Bauer’s courses at Trinity include “Modern Iran,” “Hartford Global Migration Lab,” “Immigrants and Refugees: Strangers in Strange Lands,” and “Youth Culture in the Muslim World.”

Since 2014, Bauer has served as a commissioner on the City of Hartford’s Commission for Refugee and Immigrant Affairs. She is a moderator for the “Honest Conversations with Your Muslim Neighbors” program of the Connecticut Council for Interreligious Understanding. She also is active with local organizations supporting immigrants in Hartford, including the Asylum Hill Neighborhood Association Welcoming Committee, the South Marshall Interfaith Coalition, and Hartford Public Library’s Immigrant Advisory Group.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The Fulbright Program is funded through an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations, and foundations around the world also provide direct and indirect support to the program, which operates in more than 160 countries worldwide.

Written by Kathy Andrews
Photo by Nick Caito

Trinity College Assistant Professor of Political Science and Public Policy & Law Abigail Fisher Williamson is Part of Team Awarded Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Grant

​Hartford, Connecticut, November 20, 2017—Trinity College Assistant Professor of Political Science and Public Policy & Law Abigail Fisher Williamson is a co-investigator on a research study that has been awarded a $699,960 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The AmeRicans’ Conceptions of Health Equity Study (ARCHES) will examine how Americans of diverse socioeconomic, professional, and racial/ethnic backgrounds think about equity and deservingness in the health domain. Sarah S. Willen, an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Connecticut, is the principal investigator. Williamson and Colleen Walsh, an assistant professor of health sciences at Cleveland State University in Cleveland, Ohio, are co-investigators.

Trinity College Assistant Professor of Political Science and Public Policy and Law Abigail Fisher Williamson. ​Photo by Antonio Rocha Portraits

The grant will support a two-phase study that launched in October and will run until October 2019. The researchers plan to investigate how Americans think about a question that plays a “pivotal but largely implicit role in American public discourse about society’s obligations to its members” – the question of “who deserves what in the health domain, and why.”

“Public health professionals often assert that ‘everyone deserves to live a healthy life,’ but we don’t know whether most Americans actually agree with that statement,” Williamson said. “Healthcare reform has been divisive in recent years, and unexamined attitudes about who is and is not seen as deserving could have something to do with that.”

In the first study phase, the research team will engage residents of Ohio’s Greater Cleveland area using interviews and ethnographic methods. A key partner in the study’s first phase is HIP-Cuyahoga (Health Improvement Partnership-Cuyahoga), a county-wide health equity initiative in Greater Cleveland. In the second phase, Williamson will lead the team in testing findings from Cleveland through a national survey.

The study will also draw on the expertise of researchers at Brown University, Case Western Reserve University School of Law, Cleveland State University, Syracuse University, the University of South Florida, and the Sisters of Charity Foundation.

Williamson sees a clear connection between this research project and her teaching at Trinity. “There is growing student interest in healthcare policy, and I hope to bring what I learn back to the classroom,” she explained. Williamson said that Trinity students will also gain valuable experience as student research assistants as they learn to transcribe interviews and compile literature reviews for this project.

In addition to ARCHES, in 2015, Williamson began work on a study called “The U.S. Municipal Responses to Immigrants Survey,” supported by The Pew Charitable Trusts. The nationwide survey and analysis of findings gathered information from 1,000 towns about their formal and informal interactions with immigrants. To read more about that survey, click here.

Written by Kyle M. McGrath ’18

About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

For more than 40 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve health and health care. We are working with others to build a national Culture of Health enabling everyone in America to live longer, healthier lives. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org. Follow the Foundation on Twitter at www.rwjf.org/twitter or on Facebook at www.rwjf.org/facebook.

Rosario Hubert Receives American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship

Trinity College Assistant Professor of Language and Culture Studies Rosario Hubert has been awarded an American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Fellowship for 2017-2018. The fellowship will enable Hubert to work on her book project, Disorientations: Writing China in Latin America. The project argues that the intellectual discussion of China in Latin America has not taken place within academia, but rather in a network of discourses around criticism, the literary market, fiction, and diplomacy.

“I am very thrilled to have obtained this prestigious fellowship because it is not strictly about my own field of specialty, but rather the humanities in general,” Hubert said. This year, 71 fellows were selected through ACLS’s multi-stage peer-review process from a pool of nearly 1,200 applicants.

Rosario Hubert Web700Hubert received her Ph.D. at Harvard University, where she began this book project as her dissertation. As a native of Argentina, Hubert said she has always had an interest in relations between regions of the world not immediately connected. “It’s common to think of connections between Latin America and other regions of historical significance like Europe and the United States, but it is not usual to find connections between Latin America and Asia or Africa,” she said. When it comes to literature, Hubert noted, connections are usually mediated by the literary market in Europe or the English-speaking world.

Hubert’s project focuses specifically on bridging the gap in scholarship between Latin America and China. Her project involves tracing different historical moments which see an increasing interest in writing about China. For example, Hubert noted that in the 19th century, a significant amount of fiction and journalism discussed China due to the large waves of immigration from that country at the time. That is also the case with the creation of the Peoples Republic of China in 1949 and the emerging discourses of the Third World, Hubert said. By scrutinizing 19th-century ethnographies, modernist translations, Maoist print culture, concrete poetry, and contemporary narrative, this project gathers an unprecedented archive of China in Spanish and Portuguese, and proposes a comparative entryway into the study of Asia and Latin America.

For the next chapter of her book project, Hubert plans to write about intellectuals who traveled to China in the context of the Chinese Revolution and who then returned to publish what they had learned and experienced during their time in China. Hubert analyzes both the historical aspect of these publications and the rhetorical strategies of their translations. She notes that many translations were not direct but rather done through English or French first. What we see today, she argues, is an increase in direct translations between Chinese and Spanish because of the new generations of scholars trained in Chinese studies.

Hubert said that she hopes that her work will “provide questions and answers that not only relate to this topic, but that explain how culture circulates in general and how geographical distance is a category worth analyzing between when looking at world literature.” Hubert noted that this fellowship is a very valuable platform to help make her work visible beyond her own field of study and to help her speak to a larger audience in the humanities.

The American Council of Learned Societies is a federation of national scholarly organizations that are dedicated to the promotion of research, publication and education in the humanities and related social sciences. One of the Council’s primary activities is to advance academic inquiry through the awarding of its prestigious fellowships. Last year, ACLS awarded more than $18 million to more than 300 scholars across a variety of disciplines.

Written by Lorig Purutyan ’17

Assistant Professor of Chemistry Michelle Kovarik Awarded $100,000 Grant from Cottrell Scholar Program

Michelle Kovarik, assistant professor of chemistry at Trinity College, has been designated a Cottrell Scholar by the Research Corporation for Science Advancement. This prestigious award, with an acceptance rate of 14 percent, recognizes the accomplishments of early-career faculty in chemistry, physics, and astronomy by providing them with support for research and curriculum development initiatives. In addition, scholars become members of the Cottrell Scholar Collaborative, a community of leaders from research universities and undergraduate colleges, with opportunities for networking, collaboration, and additional funding.

Kovarik DSC_7203The research element of Kovarik’s award explores the concept of biological noise, an observable phenomenon whereby cells that are genetically identical respond to situations differently. The reason behind this, she explained, has to do with the cell’s internal processes. With the help of this grant, Kovarik and her students hope to answer the question, “What is the chemical mechanism behind the fact that these cells might be genetically identical but respond to a stimulus or stress in different ways?” A portion of the funds will support stipends for students working in her lab over the summer.

As for the curriculum portion of her project, Kovarik will develop curriculum materials to help students read primary-source scientific literature directed at the scientific community. Furthermore, she will incorporate the use of those materials into her own classes and disseminate the curriculum to teachers of analytical chemistry at other institutions across the country.

This is the second grant that Kovarik has received during her time at Trinity. Last summer she was awarded a National Science Foundation grant and has worked in collaboration with Trinity students at various points in their college careers, ranging from first-year students involved with the Interdisciplinary Science Program (ISP) to seniors working on theses in her lab.

“One of the reasons that I wanted to work at Trinity was because the support for undergraduate research is so strong,” Kovarik said. This experience, she said, “gives students a critical opportunity to develop as scientists while they are here so that when they leave, they are very productive.” Kovarik is currently working on this grant project with Kathy Rodogiannis ’17, a biology major, and Jessica Duong ’19, a chemistry major. Over the summer she will oversee four students in her lab.

Written by Sophia Gourley ’19

Yipeng Shen Receives Mellon Research Fellowship for Chinese Youth Culture Book Project

Yipeng Shen, associate professor of language and culture studies and international studies at Trinity College, has been awarded an Andrew W. Mellon Mid-Career Research Fellowship at Yale’s Whitney Humanities Center for 2017-2018. The fellowship, which supports a year of intensive work, will allow Shen to complete his book, Globalization and Chinese Youth Culture. The project assesses five areas in which urban youth life intersects with globalization in China: food, love, nationalism, environmentalism, and historical memories. Shen is taking a deep look into the factors shaping contemporary China by examining how millennials make life choices.

Photo - Yipeng Shen Web700Shen previously authored Public Discourses of Contemporary China, which examines popular culture and nationalism in China. According to Shen, during the intellectual journey of writing his first book, he realized there are different angles to explore culture beyond race, gender, and class. For his current project, he wanted to take a more specific approach in his research. “Age may be as important a factor to distinguish and make differences in the formation of any kind of meaningful activities in contemporary culture, hence my interest in youth culture,” he said.

After leaving China in 2003 and living in the West for the past 15 years, Shen realized his own knowledge about China was limited. Completing Globalization and Chinese Youth Culture gives him the chance to rediscover and re-identify his connection with China. “I believe it is a nice opportunity to build my own spiritual sanctuary at an age of uncertainty –in terms of both my own intellectual life and the 21st century world,” he said.

This fellowship is particularly significant for Shen because it provides an opportunity to “refine through communications with the world, books, and other people of similar interest, what we know and do not know.” He noted that the prestigious Mellon Mid-Career Research Fellowship has given him – a non-native English speaker who has worked very hard for a long time in United States academia – acknowledgement and encouragement.

Shen is the second Trinity College faculty member in the past two years to receive a Mellon-Mid Career Research Fellowship at Yale’s Whitney Humanities Center. (Lida Maxwell, associate professor of political science, was awarded a fellowship last year.) The Mellon Program supports faculty research in the humanities and related fields while promoting intellectual exchange among faculty, fellows, and other visitors to the Whitney Humanities Center.

Written by Lorig Purutyan ’17

Anne Lambright Receives Award from Modern Language Association of America

Trinity College Dean of Academic Affairs and Charles A. Dana Research Professor of Language and Culture Studies Anne Lambright (right) receives the Modern Language Association of America’s Katherine Singer Kovacs Prize from Diana Taylor, first vice president of the MLA. Photo by Edward Savaria, Jr., courtesy of the Modern Language Association.

Trinity College Dean of Academic Affairs and Charles A. Dana Research Professor of Language and Culture Studies Anne Lambright recently received the Modern Language Association of America’s 26th annual Katherine Singer Kovacs Prize. The award – which honors an outstanding book published in English or Spanish in the field of Latin American and Spanish literatures and cultures – was presented in recognition of Lambright’s book, Andean Truths: Transitional Justice, Ethnicity, and Cultural Production in Post–Shining Path Peru, published by Liverpool University Press. Seventeen awards were presented on January 7 during the MLA’s annual convention, held in Philadelphia.

The selection committee’s citation for Lambright’s book reads, “Anne Lambright offers a versatile analysis and discussion on the role of literary works, films, theater, and performance in a nation engaging critical and intellectual dialogues on memory, trauma, gender, ethnicity, and political history in Andean Truths: Transitional Justice, Ethnicity, and Cultural Production in Post–Shining Path Peru. Lambright creatively brings together approaches from trauma theory; literary, film, and performance studies; transitional justice; and human rights debates, with a keen attention to the historical and sociocultural context of Peru. Original and broadly interpretive, this book is an excellent study of the complex relations among art, literature, politics, and society.”

Lambright said it was a true honor to receive this recognition of her work. “I was one of only two [MLA award] recipients from a small liberal arts college; the rest were from prestigious Research 1 institutions,” she said. “I think this fact speaks to the kind of work possible in a place like Trinity, which deeply values interdisciplinary research and teaching and provides the time and spaces for close interaction among a diversity of scholars.

“Throughout my research and writing process, my thinking about the intersection of ethnicity, human rights, and transitional justice efforts was challenged, refined, and enriched by conversations with colleagues and students in Hispanic Studies, the Human Rights Program, International Studies, and Language and Culture Studies,” Lambright added. “I am extremely grateful to work in such an intellectually rich and stimulating environment, where the kind of interdisciplinary work I do is valued and supported on so many levels.”

Lambright joined the Dean of the Faculty’s Office at Trinity College as Dean of Academic Affairs on January 1 of this year, taking up the position vacated by Professor of Political Science Sonia Cardenas, who was recently named Dean of Academic Affairs and Strategic Initiatives. Lambright will sit on the Curriculum Committee and currently co-chairs the Global College subcommittee of the Bicentennial Strategic Planning Commission.

In addition to Andean Truths, Lambright is the author of Creating the Hybrid Intellectual: Subject, Space, and the Feminine in the Narrative of José María Arguedas and is coeditor of Unfolding the City: Women Write the City in Latin America. She has also published articles on gender, ethnicity, human rights, and national identity in Andean literature and culture. Her current project is a critical anthology and translations of selected human rights plays by Grupo Cultural Yuyachkani.

The other winner of the Katherine Singer Kovacs Prize was Enrique Fernandez, of the University of Manitoba, for his book, Anxieties of Interiority and Dissection in Early Modern Spain, published by the University of Toronto Press. Núria Silleras-Fernández, of the University of Colorado, Boulder, received an honorable mention for Chariots of Ladies: Francesc Eiximenis and the Court Culture of Medieval and Early Modern Iberia, published by Cornell University Press.

Founded in 1883, the Modern Language Association of America and its 25,000 members in 100 countries work to strengthen the study and teaching of languages and literature. The Katherine Singer Kovacs Prize was established in 1990 by a gift from Joseph and Mimi B. Singer, parents of the late Katherine Singer Kovacs, a specialist in Spanish and Latin American literature and film who taught at Stanford University, the University of Southern California, and Whittier College. More information on MLA programs is available at https://www.mla.org.

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