2016-2017 College Fellows

Bridget AlexBridget Alex, Human Evolutionary Biology

My research focuses on understanding the processes by which Homo sapiens dispersed globally as all other human groups went extinct over the past 100,000 years.  I am particularly interested in the timing and nature of Neanderthal-modern human interactions, and uses radiocarbon dating to reconstruct the biogeography of these populations.  My field projects are in the Balkans, Northeast Europe, and the Levant. I received my PhD in Anthropology and Human Evolutionary Biology from Harvard in 2016.  http://scholar.harvard.edu/bridget-alex/home

Sarah AxelrodSarah Axelrod, Romance Languages and Literatures

I study humor and the way it builds narrative in medieval Italian literature.  My doctoral work focuses the humor in Giovanni Boccaccio's less-studied minor works, because while everyone knows and accepts that Boccaccio's Decameron is funny, every other book he wrote is generally evaluated only in comparison to that great masterpiece. I argue that well-crafted humor is difficult to identify in Boccaccio's works and many others, and that that difficulty is part of what makes it satisfying to readers, worth searching for. The creation of humor informs my other research interests as well, which include fiction, narrative and the power of storytelling in modern and contemporary literature.

MaraMara Block, Religion

My research and teaching engage the deeply entangled relationship between religion, sexuality, and medicine in the modern West. I am currently working on a book project on the medical roots of modern Christian “care for the soul” that illustrates the decisive significance of psychological vocabulary and psychiatric practice in contemporary debates on religion and sexuality.

Max BohnenkampMax Bohnenkamp, East Asian Languages and Literatures

My research focuses upon conceptions of folk, popular and mass cultures in modern China, particularly addressing the adaptation of folklore for modern literature and performing arts, the reception of Western and Soviet literary and dramatic aesthetics in China in the 1930s and '40s, and the relationship of literature and performance to politics and critical social theory. My current project on the history of the famous revolutionary music-drama The White-Haired Girl reexamines the long-standing claim that the work was originally based on oral lore and explores the intersection of cultural nationalism, Communist politics and modernist aesthetics in its artistic development during the Second World War. I teach courses on conceptions of folk culture and authenticity in twentieth-century China, the fantastic in modern Chinese literature, the relationship between revolution and literature in China and Chinese cinema.

Colin BrownColin Brown, Government

I am a comparative political scientist studying how political institutions affect the incorporation of immigrants and the children of immigrants, particularly the factors that make it harder or easier for members of these groups to run for (and get elected to) political office. My current research projects are all looking at election laws that may have positive impacts on migrant-background representation, but simultaneously may have negative impacts on women running for office, or vice-versa. The scope of my work is expanding, but has mostly looked at the Netherlands, Germany and the United States. I also have an interest in studying how we teach political science, and better ways to teach social science at the undergraduate level.

Bethany BurumBethany Burum, Psychology

My research aims to understand the hidden incentives that shape our preferences, beliefs, and ideologies, including our sense of rights, justice, beauty, and altruism. My research and courses draw on tools and evidence from multiple fields, including economics, history, philosophy, and studies of cultural evolution, with a particular emphasis on using psychological experiments to test rigorous theory.

Ana Catalano WeeksAna Catalano Weeks, Government

I am a political scientist specializing in comparative politics and gender. My research interests include identity and political representation, political parties, and policymaking in advanced democracies. I am currently working on a book manuscript exploring the impact of political gender quota laws on policy outcomes, focusing on work-family policies in particular. For more information, please see my website: http://scholar.harvard.edu/anacweeks 

Vanessa CeiaVanessa Ceia, Romance Languages and Literatures

I am a Hispanist and digital humanist. My research examines the construction of social identity and the visualization of knowledge in late 19th- to 21st-century Spanish literature, visual culture and digital media, particularly in relation to contemporary debates on the body, queer theory, transitional politics, nationalism, subculture and the image. I am currently writing a book on representations of the body in the film and photography of the Movida madrileña. My study explores how the culture of early post-authoritarian Spain produced alternative forms of political and social engagement that were grounded in the body and in new identities and subjectivities made possible by democracy, drug use and sexual freedom.

Amy DentAmy Dent, Psychology

Formally trained in developmental science, my two main areas of research reflect its cross-pollination with educational and quantitative psychology. My substantive research attempts to integrate the many theoretical and methodological approaches to self-regulation by exploring its academic context and consequences. I do so primarily through meta-analysis, for which I developed a new method that overcomes common conceptual obstacles when integrating research in the behavioral sciences. I welcome both substantive and methodological collaborations that apply these complementary lines of inquiry.

Timothy DunnTimothy Dunn, Molecular and Cellular Biology

New technologies in larval zebrafish have enabled fast recordings of brain activity from every neuron in the brain during behavior. This presents new computational and theoretical challenges. How do you process the data, and what about the brain can you explain with the results? My research focuses on building experimental and analytical frameworks for interpreting these data sets.

Ruth GoldsteinRuth Goldstein, Folklore and Mythology

I received my doctorate from the joint medical anthropology program at the Universities of California, Berkeley, and San Francisco and my scholarly interests stem from over ten years of examining human rights and environmental issues. My doctoral research focused on the socio-environmental consequences of transnational infrastructure projects and climate change along Latin America’s recently constructed Interoceanic Road, with a particular focus on intersections of race, women’s health and human rights in Brazil, Peru, and Bolivia.  My current project analyzes how mercury carries a racialized valence defining migrant labor populations, often indigenous, as socially, mentally, and physically contaminated in California crop-fields and Amazonian gold mines.

Vivian HuangVivian Huang, Women, Gender and Sexuality

My research and teaching lives in the intersections of performance studies, Asian American studies, and gender and sexuality studies. I am interested in queer sociality and performance work that enacts and invites more capacious ways of being in the world. My current book project looks at the (gendered) Orientalist trope of Asian as inscrutable other and examines contemporary performance, visual, and literary art -- including the work of Yoko Ono, Laurel Nakadate, Mika Tajima, Tina Takemoto, Tseng Kwong Chi, Tehching Hsieh, and Monique Truong -- to consider inscrutability as a strategic mode of Asian American performativity.

Olivia KangOlivia Kang,  Psychology

Poets, artists, and philosophers throughout history have marveled at the power of the eyes to reveal the inner workings of the mind. But is this intuition grounded in biological truth? My research uses eye-tracking technology to investigate human empathy, engagement, interaction and imagination as it unfolds from moment to moment. Most recently, my work has shown that pupil dilation patterns can be used to measure how two well people are "clicking", and identify the music people sing in their heads.

Oleh KotsyubaOleh Kotsyuba, Slavic Languages and Literatures

I specialize in Ukrainian and Russian 20th century literature with focus on the Soviet and post-Soviet period. I also work on Polish 20th century literature and on German language and literature of the 20th century. My research examines the way writers engage with oppressive political regimes and how the literary process functions in totalitarian and post-totalitarian societies. I teach courses in contemporary and 20th century Slavic literatures and cultures. I am also the Chief Online Editor of Krytyka, an independent Ukrainian intellectual journal (www.krytyka.com). More information is available here: http://scholar.harvard.edu/kotsyuba

Danilo MandicDanilo Mandic, Sociology

My research focuses on social movements, nationalism, ethnic relations, civil war and organized crime. I am currently developing a manuscript on the role of organized crime in separatist movements in Kosovo/Serbia and South Ossetia/Georgia after the Cold War. I am interested in conceptualizing organized crime as a neglected non-state actor and in understanding the interrelations of states, social movements and illicit flows of people, goods and ideas in regions with separatist disputes.

Neil RoachNeil Roach, Human Evolutionary Biology

I study the evolution of human behavior and the physiological, social and ecological forces that shaped that behavior through time. I am particularly interested in the origin of our own genus, Homo, nearly two million years ago. My research combines laboratory studies of uniquely human behaviors, such as throwing and stone tool making, with fieldwork in northwestern Kenya, investigating our ancestors’ ecology and social organization. For more information, please visit: http://scholar.harvard.edu/ntroach/home 

Benjamin SosnaudBenjamin Sosnaud, Sociology

I study the relationship between institutions and social inequality. My research and teaching interests include social stratification, health disparities and population health, social policy, and research methods. My dissertation explores sociodemographic inequalities in infant mortality in the United States. My other research projects include an analysis of disparities in under-5 mortality in developing nations and an examination of linkages between class inequalities and voting behavior.

Martin Vega OlmedoMartin Vega Olmedo, Romance Languages and Literatures

My present research recuperates the experiences of indigenous women in the conquest of Mexico beyond the well-known figure of Malintzin/Malinche, interpreter to the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés. Arguing that the gifting of women’s bodies forms the foundation of Spanish colonization in Mexico, this project will develop a theory of the narrative effects of those overlooked, “other” women who appear in conquest histories as counterfeit nobles, inconsolable prostitutes and dangerous grandmothers. More broadly, my work investigates the parallel cultivation of human and plant bodies in successive imperial formations in the Americas, from the Mexica and Inca to Spanish colonization. The materials for this work consist of prose histories in Nahuatl and Spanish, painted calendrical almanacs, and sculptures of corn goddesses among other objects.

Vivek VenkataramanVivek Venkataraman, Human Evolutionary Biology

The evolution of the human body and mind has been profoundly influenced by diet. As a biological anthropologist, I study the ecological and social context of food acquisition in primates. I conduct fieldwork with small-scale societies in Southeast Asia and with non-human primates in Africa to better understand the general principles that connect diet, behavior, and social structure.

Catherine WarnerCatherine Warner, South Asian Studies

I am a historian of modern South Asia with an appreciation for interdisciplinary methods, comparative and connected histories across the region, and engagements with pre-colonial and early modern histories. My research focuses on migration, sovereignty and border-crossing in the making of the India-Nepal borderland from 1780 to 1930. Drawing upon my research, as a teacher I try to open up new readings of social history in South Asia, explore the intersection of gender history with other trends in the field, and bring literary and historical studies into productive dialogue.

Yimei XiangYimei Xiang, Linguistics

My research concentrates on formal semantics and Chinese linguistics, involving both theoretical and experimental inquiries. My dissertation explores the interpretations of interrogatives, especially those with modals or quantifiers. Other projects that I have worked on include focus, polarity items, implicatures, neg-raising, exhaustification, and so on. For more details, please visit: http://scholar.harvard.edu/yxiang

Julian YollesJulian Yolles, Classics

I study the Latin literature written during the Middle Ages, viewing it as a highly artificial form of communication with implications of cultural and political capital. Specifically, I focus on the Latin literature composed in the so-called Crusader States established in the Levant in the wake of the First Crusade. In the absence of existing traditions and established literary models, how do authors and institutions use the medium of Latin to portray themselves and others, to appropriate the past, and to realize political and economic objectives? I also study medieval Latin traditions on the life of the prophet Muḥammad and the development and enduring influence of medieval polemical literature on Islam.