2018-2019 College Fellows

Brandon Bloch  Brandon Bloch, History

My research as a cultural, intellectual, and legal historian explores the collapse and rebuilding of democracy in modern Central Europe. I am especially interested in the links between religion and politics, and the roles of Central Europeans in international human rights movements. My current book project asks how West Germany's Protestant churches emerged as vocal advocates for democracy and human rights after the Second World War, following a legacy of compromise and complicity under National Socialism. The study explores the ongoing salience of religious communities for German debates about national identity, historical responsibility, and the ethics of democratic citizenship, during the Cold War and beyond. My personal website is: https://scholar.harvard.edu/bbloch.

Nicholas Boylston  Nicholas Boylston, Religion

I study Islamic intellectual history, Persian literature and Shi‘i Islam through the lenses of religious, intellectual and literary pluralism. I am particularly interested in the way Muslim authors use literary means to harmonize diversity and develop holistic approaches to cultivating humanity. I am currently pursuing this theme in 12thcentury Persian metaphysical literature and in interactions between Shi‘i and Sufi traditions through history.

Ari Caramanica  Ari Caramanica, Anthropology

My research investigates ancient agricultural and water management practices on the arid North Coast of Peru. As an archaeologist, I use methods such as survey, excavation, and paleobotany—the study of plant remains in the archaeological record—to reconstruct the history of pre-Columbian environment and land use. My findings demonstrate that, in contrast to later Colonial installations, ancient agricultural systems were calibrated to the specific environmental conditions and El Niño-event-related risks of this region.

Rene Carrasco  René Carrasco, Romance Languages and Literatures

I received my Ph.D. from The University of Texas at Austin, and currently hold a position as College Fellow in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures at Harvard University. My topics of interest include indigenista literature in México, Latin America and the United States, Latinx and Chicanx Studies, colonial Latin American literature, colonial/decolonial studies, pre-Columbian Mexico, baroque studies in the New Spain, the Novel of the Mexican Revolution, philosophical thought in Latin America, literary criticism, historiography, anthropology and ethnography. My present research is on indigenista discourse as it has been articulated since colonial times until the present day in Latin America and the United States, focusing on Mexico. Currently, I am working on my first book manuscript entitled Gramática de la redención: Genealogía de las lógicas discurisvas del indigenismo en México.

Youssef Jaison Carter  Youssef Jaison Carter, Anthropology

My research centers primarily upon West African, Spanish, and African-American Muslims who are members of the Mustafawi Tariqa, a Sufi Order that originates in Senegal, and examines how notions of piety animate physical and spiritual migration in a transatlantic religious network. As an anthropologist who is concerned with West African Sufism in diasporic context, my work attends to the ways that my interlocutors rely upon forms of worship to perform identity in the American South, Spain, and Senegal. I also look at how a tradition of spiritual expansion gets rerouted to address historical and cultural trauma differently around the Atlantic through a deployment of Islamic esotericism.

K. Lindsey Chambers  K. Lindsey Chambers, Philosophy

My research focuses on problems in normative ethics, bioethics, and political philosophy that involve procreation and parenting. I am interested in whether procreators ever wrong their offspring by selecting for their genetic traits. While much of the literature on procreative ethics focuses on the possibility of procreative harm, I argue that procreators can wrong their offspring by failing to act well in their role as prospective parents.

Sarah Cotterill  Sarah Cotterill, Psychology

My work concerns the situational and personality underpinnings of altruism and charitable giving. Do different types of people give to different causes, and might they respond to different "triggers" or solicitations for giving?  I also have a methodological interest in machine learning, and seek to address research questions using naturally occurring and large-scale datasets, in addition to traditional survey and experimental techniques.

Shai Dromi  Shai Dromi, Sociology

My research explores how beliefs about the common good shape a variety of social sites by focusing on the ways discourse about morality is used to justify the existence of practices and institutions. My first book, titled The Religious Roots of Transnational Relief: Calvinism, Humanitarianism, and the Genesis of Social Fields, will be published at the University of Chicago Press in 2019. It examines the origins and development of the humanitarian NGO sector. In addition, I am working on articles on how professional groups evaluate the worth of their work, and on how political groups respond to downward mobility.

Rebecca Fortgang  Rebecca Fortgang, Psychology

My research program focuses on transdiagnostic processes of self-control and effort. In one line of research, I investigate the heritability and structure of these traits and their prevalence and relationships across genetically related disorders. In another, I focus on self-control among other mechanisms and predictors of self-destructive behaviors, such as suicide and pathological gambling. In a third, I am particularly focused on the self-control required to initiate and maintain effortful activity, and on effort disruptions in schizophrenia and mood disorders.

Sohin Hwang, Visual and Environmental Studies

Masoud Jarfarali Jasbi  Masoud Jarfarali Jasbi, Linguistics

Language is a complex system that allows us to communicate abstract meanings. How does language encode meaning and how do we learn it as children? My research focuses on the meaning and development of logical words such as “or", “and", “if”, and “not”.

Veronika Kusumaryati  Veronika Kusumaryati, Anthropology

I am a political and media anthropologist working in Melanesia and Southeast Asia. My scholarship engages with the theories and historiography of colonialism, decolonization, and postcoloniality. I am currently working on a book manuscript entitled “Ethnography of a Colonial Present: History, Experience, and Political Consciousness in West Papua.” It is an ethnography of everyday experiences of colonialism and the making of political consciousness in West Papua, a self-identifying term that refers to Papua and West Papua provinces of Indonesia. In addition, I am working with sound artist, Ernst Karel on a new media project on Michael Rockefeller.

Sarah Hope Lincoln, Psychology

Shaoyang Ning  Shaoyang Ning, Statistics

My research focuses on the study and design of statistical methods for integrative data analysis, in particular, to address the challenges of increasing complexity and connectivity arising from “Big Data”. I’m interested in innovating statistical methods that efficiently integrates multi-source, multi-resolution information to solve real-life problems. Instances include tracking localized influenza with Google search data and predicting cancer-targeting drugs with high-throughput genetic profiling data. During the 2018-19 academic year, I am teaching Applied Bayesian Inference (STAT120), and Senior Tutorial for concentrators in statistics.

Zachary Nowak  Zachary Nowak, History

I'm a nineteenth-century US historian. I'm an environmental historian so I look for stories in history’s vacant lots, railyards, and cracks in the sidewalk. I've written extensively about Italian food history in the past and am now working more on the people on the ragged edges of the history of capitalism.

Sailakshmi Ramgopal  Sailakshmi Ramgopal, Classics

I hold a BA in Classics from Northwestern University and a PhD in Classics from the University of Chicago, and was a Visiting Assistant Professor of Classics at Trinity College in Hartford, CT from 2016-18. My research interests include cultural change in the Roman Empire; the presence of Romans in India; and the reception of classics in colonial India. My current book project identifies how colonial power spread in the Roman Empire in the absence of state actors by examining the logics by which groups of Roman merchants constructed and expressed identity and power in non-Roman communities across the Mediterranean world between the second century BCE and third century CE.

Tracey Rosen  Tracey Rosen, Social Studies

I am a sociocultural and economic anthropologist interested in the relationship between global trade, migration, and collective value. I am currently developing a book exploring the impact of 21st century Chinese migration and trade in Europe and, more specifically, Greece. Based off of three years of ethnographic fieldwork among both Chinese and Greek merchants, the book is conceived as an ethnography of advanced, global capitalism that examines the nexus of self/other representation and economic practice.

Isaac Schamberg  Isaac Schamberg, Human Evolutionary Biology

I study the vocal communication of wild bonobos. I'm interested in how and why bonobos produce call combinations (sequences of vocalizations consisting of multiple call types), and what this can tell us about the similarities and differences between animal communication and human language. My current research examines variation in call combinations produced by different populations of bonobos in order to understand the mechanisms underlying combinatorial communication in non-human primates.

Jessica Schwab  Jessica Schwab, Psychology

My research is broadly focused on language development and learning. My doctoral research examined how differences in young children’s language experiences influence their language learning, using both experimental paradigms and analysis of language corpora. My current research focus is studying the intersection of language, emotion, and learning over the course of development.

Nadine Schwakopf  Nadine Schwakopf, Germanic Languages and Literatures

My research interests include German and French literature of the 20th and 21st centuries, material culture, sound and visual studies, avant-garde and interart studies, and the poetics of reading. I am currently working on a monograph on experimental poetic practices in France and the German-speaking countries after 1945. Marrying the analysis of poetic materiality with the mapping of, and critical reflection on hermeneutic practices, my study examines the relationship between poiesis and human experience in visual works and sound installations by artists of the postwar avant-garde. In a second step, it inquires into the possible affinities between experimental poetic practices (and the rejection of a language of power they testify to) and movements of political and social protest in postwar and contemporary Europe.

Anurag Sinha  Anurag Sinha, Social Studies

My research encompasses a broad range of topics in political theory and the history of political thought, including empire and colonization, modern political thought, the history of political economy, postcolonial and comparative political theory, and the politics and history of modern South Asia. My current research focuses on the intellectual legacies of eighteenth-century British state-building in India.

Donald Sturgeon  Donald Sturgeon, East Asian Languages and Literatures

My main research interests are in the philosophy of language in early China, and the application of digital methods to the study of the language, history and literature of pre-modern China generally. In particular, current projects include automated identification and analysis of text reuse in the pre-modern Chinese corpus, and quantitative analysis of changes in observed language use within this corpus over time. In connection with my research, I also maintain a widely used open access digital library of pre-modern Chinese writing called the Chinese Text Project [http://ctext.org/], which aims to make results and data obtained as part of my own research freely accessible to others.

Adam Trettel  Adam Trettel, Classics

My research focuses on how early Christian writers engaged with classical philosophy. My current project is on Middle- and Neoplatonism, and I also continue to research Augustine of Hippo, the subject of my doctoral thesis. More broadly I am interested in early Christian Latin literature, intertextuality, manuscript studies, and the art of translation.

Joseph Vitriol  Joseph Vitriol, Psychology

The overarching theme of my scholarly interests is how people come to understand themselves and others within their social worlds, and how these beliefs shape and change behavior over time. One of my goals it to better understand how unconscious and conscious beliefs about the self and others contribute to prejudice and perpetuate inequality. I address these questions by examining the psychological processes related to attitude formation and change, and their implications for social perception and behavior in political and legal contexts.

Kaya Williams, Anthropology