Announcing the First Annual Lennihan Arts & Sciences Grant Winners

Dr. Louise Lennihan Arts and Sciences Grants Awarded to Seven GC Students

The Futures Initiative is delighted to announce that the first annual Dr. Louise Lennihan Arts and Sciences Grants will be awarded to seven outstanding doctoral students at the Graduate Center. The grant recipients were chosen by a six-person selection committee from a pool of 66 highly competitive applications across many fields.

Thanks to a generous gift from Curtis Wong, recipient of an honorary degree from the Graduate Center in 2016, and a matching grant from Microsoft, the competition honors Dr. Lennihan for her extraordinary service on behalf of students and faculty at the Graduate Center. Four micro-grants in the amount of $500 for research or travel related to the intersections of humanities, arts, science, and technology will be awarded to eligible doctoral students at the Graduate Center each year for the next five years. In the initial year, an additional anonymous donation from a Graduate Center faculty member created an opportunity to award additional grants.

Funding to the following students has been awarded for research or travel related to scholarship at the intersections of humanities, arts, science, and technology.

Phoebe Friesen, Philosophy

Phoebe Friesen intends to use the Louise Lennihan Arts and Sciences Grant in support of a research project she is currently developing at the New York State Psychiatric Institute, where she has been a volunteer and collaborator for several years. The project will consist of in-depth interviews with participants of an innovative coordinated care program for individuals who have recently experienced psychosis for the first time. The program is called OnTrackNY and offers a variety of supports to individuals and families, including individual therapy, educational or employment support, family therapy, and medication management. This wide range of supports stands in sharp contrast to the standard of care for early psychosis, which primarily focuses on medication management. The interviews will explore themes of identity and wellbeing, asking participants about how their experiences of psychosis and their time within the program have impacted how they think of themselves and their own wellbeing. The technique of photo elicitation will also be used within the interviews, a method which uses images (paintings, photographs, drawings) as a tool for eliciting reflections. This technique has been shown to work particularly well with topics that are difficult to describe, such as the themes of psychosis, identity, and well-being, that the interviews will explore. The project seeks to bring the voices of those most impacted by the current shift in responses to early psychosis to light, by relying on qualitative data collection and the arts, to better understand experiences of identity and wellbeing in this population.

Update, January 2018: Friesen used the Louise Lennihan Arts and Sciences Grant to support a research project involving in-depth interviews with participants in a coordinated care program for early psychosis. The interviews explored themes of identity and wellbeing, and included a technique called photo elicitation, which uses images as a tool for reflection. The interviews were completed in the fall of 2017 and the audio recordings are currently being transcribed. The next step will be to perform a qualitative analysis of the data and write up the results in a paper to be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal.

Nora Goldman, Linguistics

Nora Goldman is a fourth-year doctoral student in the Linguistics department studying the relationship between language, gender, and power in online feminist discourse. Her dissertation explores how women participating in feminist activism on the Internet construct and maintain their identities through linguistic choices. The project uses the invaluable resources offered by online communication to determine the ways in which language is used to challenge or reinforce power structures. Her most recent work is a quantitative study of intra-speaker variation among participants in a 2014 Twitter thread marked with the hashtag #yesallwomen. The Louise Lennihan Arts & Sciences Grant allows Goldman to present this research at the annual meeting of the Linguistic Society of America in January 2017. Her paper, titled “#YesAllWomen’s language: constructing feminist identity on Twitter”, will be presented as part of a session called “Sociolinguistics: language in context”. Among that session’s six papers, Goldman’s is one of only two that have to do with Internet communication. The study of online language use is overall underrepresented in the conference program despite the rich data that computer-mediated communication provides to language researchers. Goldman is grateful for the opportunity to share her work alongside more traditional linguistic studies of speech or written texts.

Update, January 2018: Thanks to the Louise Lennihan Arts and Sciences grant, Goldman was able to travel to present her research at the 2017 annual meeting of the Linguistic Society of America in Austin, Texas. At the 2018 LSA meeting in Salt Lake City, UT, Goldman presented a follow-up study of the online language of male feminist allies. These papers constitute two results chapters of her dissertation, which is a quantitative and qualitative linguistic analysis of online feminist discourse. This June, Goldman looks forward to presenting part of her dissertation research at the 2018 Sociolinguistics Symposium in Auckland, New Zealand.

Sakina Laksimi-Morrow, Urban Education

Sakina Laksimi-Morrow is a third-year Doctoral student in the Urban Education, and the Interactive Technology and Pedagogy Certificate Program. Laksimi-Morrow is also a Fellow at the Teaching and Learning Center where she finds opportunity to work with students of color on pedagogy and teaching support in post-secondary education. Her academic research is focused on the lived experiences and the intellectual formations of students of color in academia, focusing on student’s experiences with dissertation work. While access and diversity are foundational to social equity and have been the focus of a lot of academic research, the reigning logic of institutional measures are formulated through quantitative means. Admission rates and graduation rates are used as the markers of access and diversity, obscuring the more complex lived experiences of people that inhabit the institution, and the contributions they make to the academy and to the larger project of intellectual emancipation. Laksimi-Morrow’s experimental multi-media project penetrates between and past these markers to engage more deeply with the experiences of doctoral students of color. Her project considers the ways in which students navigate the professional, intellectual and affective processes of academic knowledge production through their dissertation work across the social sciences and humanities.

Update, January 2018: Sakina Laksimi-Morrow has been developing a visual multimedia project that engages and disrupts how we conceptualize academic knowledge production. Disrupting the Canon: What Does a Decolonial Project Look Like from a Black Feminist Perspective is a digitized ‘zine ofcollected and curated artworks, poetry and journal articles that speak back to a central question: what does a decolonial project look like from a Black Feminist perspective. Sakina mobilizes a Black Feminist theoretical framework in her dissertation as a means of making meaning out of her grounded research on the experiences of doctoral students of color navigating the academy as scholars and educators. She specifically looks at the function of disciplinary canons and
institutionally sanctioned research methodologies as structures that shape how academic knowledge is produced, and whose voices and perspectives are centered/marginalized in academia. Her work examines how doctoral students of color navigate the dissertation process and their teaching practice through these structures, focusing on ways that they confront, resist and disrupt eurocentric perspectives in their respective fields. Disrupting the Canon offers the opportunity to consider how Black Feminist artists, poets and academics have engaged the issue of coloniality in society and in academia, both at the level of content and form.

Robin McGinty, Earth and Environmental Sciences

Robin McGinty is a third-year (Level II) doctoral student in the Earth and Environmental Science Program (Geography) at the Graduate Center.  In addition to holding a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree from Baruch College’s Marxe School of Public and International Affairs, McGinty is also a Justice Research Fellow at Columbia University’s Center for Justice. Locating prisons as sites of resistance and the production of carceral knowledges as repositories of archival memory, McGinty’s dissertation project interrogates the racialized and gendered spatial formations of the carceral sphere and apparatus through the optic of currently and formerly incarcerated African-American women. As an interdisciplinary project that places currently and formerly imprisoned black women at center of the ongoing discourse around “mass incarceration,” McGinty considers a re-conceptualization of the historical relationship between the criminalization and imprisonment of black women, its continuities and discontinuities in the context of the carceral sphere, its violent formations and functions in the 20th century. As such, given the geography of perspective as co-constitutive of memory and narrative embedded in the authenticity of lived experiences, this project necessitates the use of a mixed methodological approach, in which a key component of the research entails searching through a variety of databases for historical documents, newspapers, as well as the utilization of the digital archives at Enoch Pratt Library in Baltimore, Maryland. In keeping with the purpose and intent of the Dr. Louise Lennihan Arts & Sciences Grant, the award will support travel to investigate the archives and historical records regarding the criminalization and imprisonment of African-American women in Maryland.  

Update, January 2018: In addition to participating as a 2017 Fellow at Columbia University Center for Oral History Research Summer Institute, the Louise Lennihan Arts and Sciences grant was instrumental in enabling Robin McGinty to travel to Chicago in November to take part in the 2018 American Studies Association (ASA) annual meeting, “Pedagogies of Dissent.” As a member of the panel discussion entitled “Abolition Feminisms,” McGinty presented on her dissertation research project “Carceral Knowledges: A Labor of Livingness.”

Anna Paltseva, Earth and Environmental Sciences

Anna Paltseva is a PhD student in Earth and Environmental Sciences. At the heart of her work is the centrality of food not only to health, but also to culture. A deeper understanding of soil contamination and best practices to limit exposure can empower those who grow and produce food, improve health outcomes for consumers, and foster greater connection to the land. Anna Paltseva’s project “Lead Stabilization and Arsenic Mobilization by Phosphate and Alternative Amendments: Implications on Urban Soil Remediation, Urban Agriculture and Public Health” uses a combination of lab and field experiments to determine the amount of absorption and uptake of lead and arsenic in produce grown in soils with different amounts and types of phosphate fertilizer. Common produce was grown in test plots at a farm in New Jersey with elevated concentrations of arsenic and lead in the soil.  The findings demonstrated the importance of growing fruit crop in preference to leafy and root crops. Vegetable selection, washing, peeling, composting, mulching should be applied to reduce exposure and to mitigate the health risk from soil contamination. With the goal of the science of this project being to understand and develop techniques of mitigating soil contaminants for the improved and safe growing of food, the project actively intersects/engages the humanities through agriculture, touching food, traditions, and human values. The funds will be used for the reimbursement of a trip to the ASA, CSSA and SSSA Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Az (Nov. 6-9, 2016).

Update, January 2018: The results of the research were presented at Soil Science Society of America International Annual Meeting in Phoenix, AZ in 2016. Paltseva presented the findings at the 2nd Annual Urban Soils Symposium in NYC, at the 9th International Congress of Soils in Urban, Industrial, Traffic, Mining and Military Areas in Moscow (Russia), where she received the Best Young Scientist’s Presentation Award, and at the Green Infrastructure: Nature Based Solutions for Sustainable and Resilient Cities Conference in Orvieto (Italy). She has submitted an article “Accumulation of Arsenic and Lead in Garden-Grown Vegetables: Factors and Mitigation Strategies” based on the study to a scientific journal, and it is currently under review.

Paloma Rodrigo Gonzales, Cultural Anthropology

Paloma Rodrigo Gonzales is a PhD student in Cultural Anthropology whose work focuses on racial thinking in the Andean region. The notion of embodied ‘stains’ that non-Catholics carried in their blood, and that were believed to determine their moral and intellectual capabilities, has been pervasive in Peruvian conceptions of race since the sixteenth century (Silverblatt 2007). Rodrigo Gonzales’ work explores, in current endeavors to determine the genomic composition of native Peruvian communities, the persistence of a form of racial thinking that relies on religious conceptions of dirtiness/cleanliness, purity/impurity. Thanks to the Louise Lennihan Arts and Science Grant, Rodrigo Gonzales will be able to conduct ethnographic and archival research on the ‘Mongolian spot’, a dark bluish birthmark that emerges as a sign of ‘non-whiteness’ in the historical intersection between colonial Catholicism and scientific racial thinking in Peru.

Update, January 2018: Thanks to the Dr. Louise Lennihan Arts & Sciences Grant, Paloma Rodrigo Gonzales has conducted preliminary research on the “Mongolian spot” in Lima. She has discussed the project with a former director of the National Maternal-Perinatal Institute, doctors, and researchers involved in the Peruvian Genomic Project. She has also explored the archives of the Welfare Society of Lima (SBLM) where she is now registered as a researcher and was able to locate non-cataloged documents pertaining to the first Maternity of Lima, which she has offered to identify and organize for future research. She has also gained access to historical documents at the San Fernando Faculty of Medicine in San Marcos University, which has been at the center of Peruvian medical and pre-medical knowledge since the 17th century.

Cecilia Salvi, Anthropology

Cecilia Salvi is a fifth-year student in the Anthropology Program investigating the creation of value through circulation. The Louise Lennihan Arts and Sciences Grant will allow her to conduct pre-dissertation research in South America on the cartonera movement, which began in Buenos Aires during an economic crisis, but continues to be a thriving local and international enterprise. Initially implemented as a way of saving on printing costs, artists and writers collectivized and began using recycled cardboard as book covers. These books are sold for much cheaper than normal publishing houses. This social movement exemplifies one borne out of necessity, but which continues to expand and thrive beyond what is typical of a social movement. What contributes to this success? How does the shift from computer-based technology to simpler, hand-crafted techniques influence the movement’s success or limitations? How is art created from valueless materials? And what does it say about the interactions of individuals within and across societies which support the movement? The Grant will allow her to conduct the final research necessary to successfully defend her proposal, achieve ABD status by May 2017, and apply for dissertation funding and begin research by Summer 2017.

Photo of Curtis Wong in GC regalia Curtis Wong (Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, Graduate Center, CUNY, awarded 2016), principal researcher at Microsoft Research, is an inventor and creator devoted to the future of digital media and interactive media for learning. His recent work has included leading Microsoft’s interactive spatial-temporal data visualization efforts in Excel which allows users to gain insight from the patterns of data rendered on a map over time. In 2008, he fulfilled a long-held dream: leading the vision for the WorldWide Telescope, a free, rich interactive virtual simulation that allows children of all ages to explore and understand the universe. He hopes that the Louise Lennihan Arts & Sciences Student Grants can help students to further their research.

Photo of Louise LennihanLouise Lennihan served as Interim Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at the Graduate Center from 2013 to 2016. In this role, Dr. Lennihan served as the principal academic officer of the Graduate Center, ensuring the quality and performance of all the degree-granting programs. Prior to becoming Interim Provost, she served as Associate Provost and Dean for Humanities and Social Sciences. Dr. Lennihan joined the department of Anthropology at Hunter College in 1982 and has been a member of the Graduate Center doctoral faculty since 1987, serving as the Executive Officer of the Ph.D. Program in Anthropology from 1997-2008. Trained as a cultural anthropologist at Columbia University with a focus on West Africa, Dr. Lennihan has published widely on topics related to her archival and field research in northern Nigeria.


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