Archives for Grant 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.

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

Judy Dworin Performance Project Receives Grant for ‘Creativity Connects: National Demonstration Projects’

The Judy Dworin Performance Project (JDPP), led by Trinity College Professor of Theater & Dance Emerita Judy Dworin, has received a $75,000 grant for Creativity Connects: National Demonstration Projects, an award from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Mid-America Arts Alliance, the New England Foundation for the Arts, and the Connecticut Office of the Arts. The award supports a program that empowers incarcerated individuals and their families to express their emotions and experiences through art, thus facilitating healing and transformation. The grant initiative funded six projects nationwide that demonstrate the intersectionality of arts and other realms of public life. Community Partners in Action, a Hartford based non-profit social service organization that works with individuals affected by the criminal justice system, is a principal partner on this grant. Other collaborating organizations include Families in Crisis, the Department of Correction, and Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network.

Building on its 12-year history serving incarcerated and newly released women, JDPP has expanded its programming to other affected constituencies. During this grant period, multiple performance residencies will emphasize emotional discovery through artistic expression and give voice to these experiences in a final performance or group sharing event organized around the theme of “Choices.” The performance residency at York Correctional Institution draws on the stories of its participants to create an uplifting exploration of past traumas and shared pain and resilience. The Moms and Kids Program will work with approximately 20 incarcerated women to develop interactive arts activities that they will share with their children during a special visit. The performance residency at Cybulski Reintegration Center will provide men preparing to leave prison with the opportunity for reflection, expression, and interaction with their children and families. The Bridging Boundaries after-school program will provide a safe space for children to express their feelings about the incarceration of parents and loved ones. Finally, women who are released from prison will have the opportunity to share their stories and experiences through two arts engagements: New Beginnings, a weekly arts workshop in which women from the Resettlement Program and Trinity College students participate together; and Women Beyond Boundaries, professional performance opportunities with the Ensemble of JDPP.

The grant will also support a documentary, which will illustrate the program’s unifying theme of “Choices,” and disseminate JDPP’s work to a wider audience. Produced in partnership with Connecticut Public Television and under the direction of Emmy award-winning videographer John O’Neill, the film will showcase the process of transformation, demonstrating the stark realities of incarceration, its impact on families, and the healing power of the arts.

The Judy Dworin Performance Project is a nonprofit organization of professional artists who innovate, inspire, educate and collaborate to harness the arts as a catalyst for creative expression, community building and positive change. Its other programming includes the Moving Matters! Residency Program and its professional dance/theater Ensemble. JDPP also participates as a partner in Free to Succeed, a Trinity College-led program that offers college study in prison and post-release for women at York Correctional Institution.

Written by Ellen V. Hart

Michelle Kovarik Receives NSF Grant to Study Cellular Differences in Social Amoeba

Kunwei Yang ’17, Trinity College Assistant Professor of Chemistry Michelle Kovarik, Kathy Rodogiannis ’17, and Allison Tierney ’17 in Kovarik’s lab.

Kunwei Yang ’17, Trinity College Assistant Professor of Chemistry Michelle Kovarik, Kathy Rodogiannis ’17, and Allison Tierney ’17 in Kovarik’s lab. Photo by Andrew J. Concatelli

Cells, the building blocks of all biological life, can be chemically different even when they are genetically identical. While this heterogeneity has been studied in mammalian cell lines, particularly in human cancer, it has not been explored in other types of organisms. Trinity College Assistant Professor of Chemistry Michelle Kovarik recently received a $212,253 grant from the National Science Foundation to adapt existing biochemical and bioanalytical tools to study cellular differences in the social amoeba, Dictyostelium discoideum. By isolating and measuring levels of the enzyme protein kinase B, Kovarik’s research will add to existing knowledge of the causes and impacts of cellular heterogeneity. This data will provide a valuable context for future research on the subject.

Kovarik’s research will also establish a methodology for testing chemical differences in social amoeba at the single-cell level. Kovarik’s post-doctoral research focused on developing these tests for human cancer cells and the adaptation of two tools – microfluidics and peptide substrate reporters – will expand the application of these technologies to other organisms. “These tools have been developed with a huge investment of time, money, and student labor, yet they are not widely used,” said Kovarik. “Part of this project focuses on new applications of these powerful tools to see how else they can be used.”

This summer, Kovarik is working with three students (pictured) to test and refine the methodology. Of the 10 students whom Kovarik has employed in her lab over the past three years, seven have been involved with various aspects of this project. This dedication to student research was recognized by a reviewer at the National Science Foundation. Kovarik noted, “One reviewer was impressed that all the preliminary data in the proposal had been collected by my students here at Trinity, in our lab. I am very proud of this.”

Working with students is one of the most rewarding aspects of her job, and Kovarik is deeply committed to their success. “My undergraduate mentor changed the course of my career and my life,” she said. “One of the reasons I came to a small undergraduate institution was because I wanted to make sure that more students have a similar experience.”

Kovarik’s NSF grant will fund two student researchers in her lab for the next three summers. She is looking forward to this work and the opportunity to mentor future practitioners. “I am very passionate about my work,” she said. “Doing undergraduate research can be life-changing for those who decide to be professional scientists.”

Written by Ellen V. Hart

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