2019-2020 College Fellows

Dorothy Ahn  Dorothy Ahn, Linguistics

Language is a fundamental part of human cognition. My research in natural language semantics strives to ask how different languages break up the underlying conceptual space into different linguistic forms, and how these meaning units interact with the interpretation mechanism available in our brain to result in the cross-linguistic generalizations we see on the surface. I am currently studying how reference to a familiar individual is expressed through covert and overt expressions (like "she" or "the linguist") across languages including the use of space in sign languages.

Regan Bernhard  Regan Bernhard, Psychology

I seek to identify low-level mechanisms that support complex human social behaviors such as punishment, cooperation, moral judgment, and extortion. I also use neuroimaging to explore how our brains allow us to think about the world beyond the here and now, for example how our brains differentiate our beliefs from our desires, and how they engage in modal thought.

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.

Youssef Jaison Carter  Youssef Jaison Carter, Anthropology/African and African American Studies

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.

Amy Clark  Amy Clark, Anthropology

I am an archaeologist focusing on the behavioral evolution of modern humans and closely related hominids, such as Neanderthals. I am particularly interested in human mobility and land use and how that translates to social connectivity in the past. Much of my research has been geographically based in Western Europe and North Africa but I am interested in comparing the archaeological signatures of hunter-gatherer mobility and land use worldwide.

Bojana Coulibaly  Bojana Coulibaly, African and African American Studies

My current research focuses on Wolof literature as a form of “ideopraxis” in the Senegalese cultural liberation struggle. My book project, A History of Wolof Prose and Drama: An Emerging Literary Tradition, is a study of the development of Wolof literature in the 20th and 21st centuries. It examines, through a comparative and diachronic perspective, how Wolof literature written and published in the Latin script, represents a new national literary tradition through a revisiting of the use of the metropolitan language, i.e. French, as the sole medium of the Senegalese national literature. It looks at the evolution from the early literature of assimilation published in French to the birth of a new literary democratized and culturally liberated tradition since the nineteen-seventies. This project inscribes itself in a larger debate on African modernity and on the challenges brought forward against the civilizing mission of the European colonial project of modernization.

Lisa Gilson  Lisa Gilson, Social Studies

Lisa Gilson is a political theorist and a College Fellow in Social Studies at Harvard University. She received her Ph.D. in political science from Yale University in May 2019 and spent the 2018-2019 academic year as a Fox International Fellow at Cambridge University. Her research focuses broadly on political reaction which is expressed outside of mainstream political institutions, primarily in the United States and Europe. This year, she is working on a book project, Romantics as Critics, which examines how the romantic political tradition transformed the practice of critique and explores the implications of their changes for critics today. The book argues that, properly constructed, social criticism can complement collective resistance – that is, it can have a function which is distinct from, but valuable for, social movements’ broader impact. In addition to her book project, she also works on contemporary far-right movements and the ideology of “whiteness.” This year at Harvard, she will be teaching Introduction to Social Studies, a year-long course for potential Social Studies majors, and a junior tutorial on American Social Movements.

Emily Hangen  Emily Hangen, Psychology

I study social influences on student motivation. I am particularly interested in the quality of student motivation, or whether students are approach-motivated (success-focused) or avoidance-motivated (failure-focused). In my work I explore how students are affected by the stress from high expectations, stereotypes, and competing with others. The aim of my work is to design interventions that optimize student motivation.

Sohin Hwang  Sohin Hwang, Art, Film, and Visual Studies

I am an artist and writer working on issues around art, technology, and society. My recent project involves performance art and cybernetics in the mid 20th century with an attention to materiality, producer-audience relationship, and publics formation. My writing and artworks have been presented in research institutions and experimental journals. I recently finished a doctoral degree at the University of Oxford as a Clarendon Scholar. I enjoy imaginary gardening.

Anna Jabloner  Anna Jabloner, Anthropology

My research sits at the intersection of sociocultural and medical anthropology, Science and Technology Studies (STS), and critical gender and race studies, and examines the diverse applications of genetic technologies across medicine, market, and legal system in the US. I am currently working on a book manuscript titled “Future Pending: Californian Genomics and the Politics of Biology.” At different ethnographic scales, the book tracks genomics as an emerging biomedical and biometric infrastructure that implicates Californians in a range of social engineering projects. My second ethnographic project investigates the uses of genetic technologies in precision psychiatry. I hold a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago (2015) and Mag.Phil. from the University of Vienna (2004).

Joseph Jakubowski  Joseph Jakubowski, Music

I investigate how musical time and form are perceived and conceptualized during the act of listening, with a particular interest in process and ambient music. I propose new methods of analysis for capturing and comparing in-time perceptions, blending cognitive theories of event models and embodied mind with phenomenological reflections and accounts. I am currently working on an event-driven method for analyzing processual forms in minimal and spectral music, as well as a project that extends meter theory to music that references, yet evades, traditional conceptions of meter. Longer term, I am exploring applications of process and ambient thinking in interactive situations (live improvisations), electronica (trance, chillwave), and multimedia (ambient film scoring).

Sravanthi Kollu Sravanthi Kollu, South Asian Studies

I am a literary historian with research interests in South Asian studies, comparative literature and cultural studies. I earned a PhD in Asian Literatures, Cultures and Media, with a minor in Comparative Literature, from the University of Minnesota in 2019. In my current book project, Towards a Common Language: Social Movements, Vernacular Publics and the Aesthetic in Modern Telugu, I combine archival research, literary analysis and intellectual history to read concepts of the self and community as they are constituted through the vernacular in literary texts and social movement texts (speeches, journals, pamphlets, books) in the Telugu language (Southern Indian vernacular). These texts span the 20th century, beginning at the turn of the century (1890s-1900s) to the 1980s. I argue that in this corpus the vernacular emerges as a fundamentally exclusionary concept, whereby exclusion inflects how language is conceptualized and is not limited to the specific groups of speakers or forms of speech that are excluded from proper language or the public sphere. I am particularly interested in explicating how our understanding of literature changes when we orient our study of vernacular literatures towards this fundamental exclusionariness.

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.

Young Joo Lee  Young Joo Lee, Theater, Dance and Media

My creative research as a visual artist seeks to generate alternative narratives using virtual and physical media; mainly animation, performance and virtual reality. One of my current projects, The Wall, is an interactive Virtual Reality art piece where participants can draw and write on the virtual US-Mexico border wall. This work deals with the history of immigration and it is my intention to record the politics of the border wall by active participation of the people. Another recent project, Black Snow is an animation video work about the history and the aftermath of the atomic bomb tests in the Marshall Islands. https://youngjoolee.net/

Emilio Mora  Emilio Mora, Philosophy

My research interests lie mainly in moral, political, and social philosophy. My recent research has centered on the topic of historical injustice claims; the relation between distributive justice and justice in rectification; institutional and group agency/responsibility; and questions regarding the division of responsibility between individuals and institutions. I also have some long-standing research interests in the concept of harm; the non-identity problem; group rights, and Rawlsian political theory.

Harry Morgan  Harry Morgan, Classics

My research focuses on the social and cultural history of ancient Rome. My current project explores the role of music in Roman society during the republican and early imperial periods. I am also interested in Roman theatre and spectacle more widely, as well as the history of ancient slavery and popular culture.

Emily Nagy  Emily Nagy, Molecular and Cellular Biology

My research takes biochemical and microbiological approaches to study the assembly and function of the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria. The lipopolysaccharide component of this membrane creates a barrier to many small molecules including antibiotics, limiting the treatment options for infections by these types of bacteria. I am interested in how certain species of bacteria can survive without the unique lipopolysaccharide component of the membrane, while other closely related species seemingly cannot.

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.

Natasha Parikh  Natasha Parikh, Psychology

My research focuses on how and why people regulate their emotions in response to adverse events. I am particularly fascinated by individuals’ natural inclination to create alternate scenarios from events that have occurred as a way to process the event. In the next couple years, I hope to explore how adolescents and adults make similar decisions about when and how to actively regulate their emotions.

Elizabeth Phillips  Elizabeth Phillips, English

I am a drama historian and theater practitioner. My book manuscript, The Radiant Abyss: Boredom on the Modern Stage, examines the symbiotic histories of theatrical innovation and boring aesthetics from Existentialist philosophy of the nineteenth century to the present moment, with key studies on Maeterlinck, Chekhov, and Beckett. My second book project is about narcissism and performance and it is called Vanity Projects. I also serve as the Executive Director of the Mellon School of Theater and Performance Research here at Harvard, and teach and write about feelings, novels, prisons, acting, and contemporary performance.

Hari Ramesh  Hari Ramesh, Social Studies

Hari Ramesh is a College Fellow on Social Studies at Harvard University. He conducts research in political theory and the history of political thought, with particular interests in democratic theory, conceptualizations of social oppression, and the intersections of American, Afro-modern, and South Asian political thought. His current book project draws on rich historical and philosophical connections between John Dewey, B.R. Ambedkar, and Brown v. Board of Education in order to offer an original account of the compatibility of coercive state action with a radical vision of democracy. Hari received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Yale University in 2019 and holds a B.A. in English and Political Science magna cum laude from Williams College.

Seth Robertson  Seth Robertson, Philosophy

I study moral psychology, early Chinese ethics, social epistemology, and virtue ethics. My research focuses on ways non-normative information should constrain and guide our normative theorizing. I've written about the intersection of social intelligence and virtue ethics, as well as situationist psychology and moral development in the context of early Confucian ethics, and I'm currently working on epistemic injustice and rhetorical manipulation.

Jessica Schwab  Jessica Schwab, Psychology

My research is broadly focused on learning across development. 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 how value cues differentially influence motivation and learning in adolescence and adulthood.

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.

Aarti Sethi  Aarti Sethi, Anthropology

I am a socio-cultural anthropologist, with a regional focus on agrarian South-Asia. I hold a Ph.D in social anthropology from Columbia University. My work draws together the transformation of rural life-worlds and agrarian capitalism, political-economy and studies of caste, feminist anthropology, ritual and popular religion. Kapsi Mata: Cotton Fever in Central-India, my current manuscript project, examines cash-crop economies of cotton. Over a quarter of a million cotton-farmers have committed suicide in central-India, unable to repay debts undertaken for capital-intensive agriculture. I argue that the devastating psycho-social effect of debt and suicide emerges from a structural impossibility inherent in peasant production, which could be called ‘cash-cropping without cash’. In order to grow GM cotton-seed, small peasant producers are now locked in downward debt spirals to banks, money-lenders and kin. Kapsi Mata examines how monetary debts undertaken for transgenic cotton-cultivation transform intimate, social and productive relations in village society. I have previously published, and have ongoing research and teaching interests, in urban ethnography, cinema and visual culture.

Vivian Shaw  Vivian Shaw, Sociology

I am a College Fellow in the Department of Sociology at Harvard University. My research interests are in the areas of race/ethnicity, gender and sexuality, focusing especially on these issues in relation to social movements and the environment. I earned my Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Texas at Austin. From 2018-2019, I was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Weatherhead Center for International Relations’ Program on U.S.-Japan Relations, also at Harvard.

Adam Trettel  Adam Trettel, Classics

My research focuses on how early Christian writers engaged with classical philosophy and literature. Currently I am researching Late-Latin poetry, and continue to be engaged with Augustine of Hippo, the subject of my doctoral thesis. More broadly I am interested in intertextuality, manuscript studies, and translation. My first book, Desires in Paradise: An Interpretative Study of Augustine, City of God 14, has been recently published by Brill/Schöningh: https://brill.com/view/title/53588.

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.

Christine Webb  Christine Webb, Human Evolutionary Biology

I study social behavior in nonhuman (and occasionally human) primates. Much of my work to date has focused on post-conflict behavior, and specifically resolution strategies like reconciliation that mitigate aggression in social groups. My most recent research centers on consolation, which is considered a key behavioral marker of socio-emotional capacities like empathy. More specifically, I'm interested in comparative developmental approaches to the study of consolation behavior, results of which often challenge prevailing assumptions about the expression of empathy within and across species. Simultaneously, I have a deep and growing passion for animal ethics, human-animal relations, and the role of ethology (and science more broadly) in the animal turn.

Alexander Young  Alexander Young, Statistics

My research interests reside at the intersection of applied probability, information theory, and nonparametric Bayesian modeling, with emphasis on uncertainty quantification in complex and nonlinear systems. A large portion of my research focuses on mutual information estimation with applications to biometric signals. I am also interested in translating insights from this work to the development of novel multi scale Markov Chain Monte Carlo algorithms to facilitate nonparametric Bayesian inference in the presence of big data. As a college fellow, I am developing a new course in dimension reduction for undergraduate students and leading a seminar for senior thesis students in statistics.