Congratulations, 2019 Lennihan Grant Recipients!

The Futures Initiative is pleased to announce this year’s recipients for the Dr. Louise Lennihan Arts and Sciences Grants.

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. Six 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 five years.

This year’s grants will be awarded to seven outstanding doctoral students at the Graduate Center. Funding to the following students has been awarded for research or travel related to scholarship at the intersections of humanities, arts, science, and technology:

Julia Fuller, English
“Visualizing the Victorian Sportswoman” (digital dissertation component)

Julia Fuller (Julie) is a PhD candidate in the English Program, with a certificate in Interactive Technology and Pedagogy. Her dissertation looks at how Victorian-era representations of athleticized women–which are surprisingly plentiful in the period–introduced a new category of identity for women that was distinct from the roles that society created for them as daughters, wives, and mothers. She demonstrates how depictions of the Sportswoman in nineteenth-century media expanded the Victorians’ understanding of the form and function of the female body beyond its marital or maternal capacity. Combining long-form textual analysis with digital components that explore athletic womanhood in visual culture, Fuller highlights an overlooked figure who is key to bridging the gap between the mid-Victorian ideal of delicate, domesticated femininity and the sturdy, capable women who enter universities, professions, and public spaces in mass just before the turn of the century. As a part of this multimodal project, her dissertation includes a non-linear digital chapter that utilizes Digital Humanities research methods to produce interactive networks and visualizations which assist us in noticing representational conventions and drawing analytical connections. The Louise Lennihan Arts and Sciences Grant enables her to attend an upcoming conference to present her digital dissertation work as a model of non-traditional scholarship and a pedagogical tool for teaching close analysis.

Austin Miller, Anthropology
“The Politics of PrEP: Economics, Ideology and Scientific Knowledge Production”

Austin Miller is a fourth-year anthropology student in Cultural Anthropology writing a dissertation on HIV prevention strategies in Barcelona. The mutual influence of technology and culture has guided his previous research on smartphone apps in Brooklyn and automobility in Buenos Aires. The Louise Lennihan Arts & Sciences Grant will allow him to conduct research while volunteering at a non-profit health center that provides outreach and education campaigns, free HIV/STI testing and counseling as well as conducting clinical trials. His research will allow him to engage in public debates currently happening in Spain around access to health care, immigration, and privatization.

Stefano Morello, English
“The Lung Block: A New York City Slum & Its Forgotten Italian Immigrant Community”

Stefano Morello is a fourth-year doctoral candidate in English. His academic interests include American Studies, pop culture, poetics, and archive theory. As a digital humanist, Morello focuses on archival practices, with a knack for archival pedagogy and public facing initiatives. His dissertation, “Let’s Make A Scene: East Bay Punk and Subcultural Worlding” explores the heterotopic space of the East-Bay punk scene, its modes of resistance and (dis-)association, and the clashes between its politics and aesthetics. He is also co-curating an exhibition based on his yet unpublished M.A. thesis: “The Lung Block: A New York City Slum & Its Forgotten Italian Immigrant Community,” the study of a neighborhood on the Lower East Side subject to a process of slum-making during the Progressive Era. The Louise Lennihan Arts & Sciences Grant will allow Morello to travel to several archives in Sicily in late Spring of 2019 to further his research.

Patricia Sanchez, Psychology
“Documentaries vs dramas: Influences of crime media”

Patricia Sanchez is a fourth-year student in the Psychology and Law doctoral program at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Graduate Center, CUNY. She is also an adjunct professor in Psychology at John Jay and has received grants funding the research that launched her dissertation topic. Her dissertation studies focus on how people seek out and interpret crime media. Specifically, she is interested in what causes people to be receptive or resistant to empirically-based information critiquing our criminal justice system. The Louise Lennihan Arts & Sciences Grant will allow Sanchez to begin the first study in this project where she will create and organize research materials to be used in her dissertation experiments. This project bridges the arts and sciences by using different artistic styles of presenting crime as independent variables in a traditional psychology research methods. Further, Sanchez is applying classic psychological theory such as Just World Belief in an effort to explain the educational effectiveness of different styles of crime media.

Scott Schwartz, Anthropology
“The Material Culture of Temperature: Measurement, Capital, and Semiotics”

Scott W. Schwartz is a Ph.D. candidate in the Anthropology Program writing a dissertation on the material culture of knowledge production. His work traces the history of quantification through the measuring devices and instruments developed over the past few centuries that see the world in numbers. Schwartz draws on works of early modern literature and painting to illustrate contemporaneous attitudes toward the quantification process. To understand the legacy of this history he examines the work of climatologists attempting to project and visualize the temperatures of the deep future and deep past. His work serves to problematize the epistemology of data accumulation that rose to prominence with modernity. The Louise Lennihan Arts & Sciences Grant will allow Schwartz to present this research at inter-disciplinary conferences throughout the year.

Patrick Sweeney, Psychology
“Justice and Ethics Decision Tool for Social Media Research”

Patrick Sweeney is a PhD Candidate in the Critical Social Psychology program writing a dissertation on the ethics and justice challenges emerging from the use of social media data in humanities and social science research. The Louise Lennihan Arts & Sciences Grant will allow Sweeney to develop and host an online interactive ethics decision making tool which will guide researchers through questions about their use of social media data in order to create more ethical and just digital projects. The tool will build on his experience developing Digital Research Ethics workshop curriculum and Resource Guides for the GC Digital Fellows, and his research and publications related to critical analyses of social media data use. His dissertation project makes a striking connection between two seemingly disparate controversies: the psychological study of “facial gaydar,” and the use of psychographic targeting in the 2016 presidential election. Sweeney reveals the surprising similarities in their data sources, reliance on theoretical paradigms, and potential for harm as he explores the historical antecedents of social categorization and the future possibilities of practicing a more valid, just, and ethical social media research.

Mercedes Vega Villar (Psychology)
“Associative learning requires experience-dependent changes in nucleus accumbens activity”

Mercedes Vega Villar is a student of the Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience Ph.D. program. Her research focuses on the changes in synaptic transmission that underlie abrupt changes in acquisition of appetitive behaviors. When we are trying to solve a problem that requires associating several pieces of information, we often experience an “aha” moment. This constitutes an abrupt transition between poor performance and mastery, and it is also seen in animals that are being trained in a task that requires them to associate neutral stimuli with biologically relevant events (e.g. food, water, etc.). The goal of her project is to try to understand what physical changes in the brain give rise to that moment of insight. This is central to our understanding of the human experience and the way we learn. This question has been the focus of intense debate by those who study epistemology and the creative process. The Louise Lennihan Arts & Sciences Grant will allow Vega Villar to present her research at the XIIIth International Basal Ganglia Society Meeting at Biarritz (France).





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