2014 Royce Fellows Tackle Bold Ideas, Take Time to Listen

April 22, 2014

"Talk to anyone about your project, but remember that real learning only happens when you listen." 

Former Royce Fellow Po Bhattacharyya '14 shared these words of advice during last week's Royce Fellowship Induction Ceremony at the President's House.

Every spring, up to twenty students at Brown are inducted into the Society of Royce Fellows, each receiving an award of $4,000 to pursue a research, curricular development, or public service project of his or her own design. Established in 1996 through the generosity of Charles Royce '61, the program seeks to enable undergraduates to explore their developing interests and passions and to extend the ideals of Brown’s open curriculum beyond the walls of the university.

As they complete their projects, fellows also become active participants in Brown’s Society of Royce Fellows. Through monthly seminars, regular presentations and discussions, and visits from Royce alumni, students share their visions of independent academic research and service with their community of fellows. The Royce experience ultimately encourages both a deep commitment to students’ own scholarly work and ideas and a sense of responsibility to the community and world beyond Brown.

Royce Fellows

Krishan Lawrence Aghi ‘15

The Effects of Optogenetic Inhibition of the PER-POR Pathway on Contextual Memory and Learning

Krishan will explore the relationship between two regions of the brain – the perirhinal (PER) and postrhinal (POR) cortices - and their contributions to contextual memory and learning. His experiment will target neurons with a laser-based mechanism that can temporarily “erase” a learned memory within a very small region of neurons. Krishan will use two behavioral tests to examine the intactness of contextual memory.

Faculty Sponsor: Rebecca Burwell

Meher Siddique Ali ‘16

The Hidden Left: Communist Activity in Pakistan During the 1950’s

Meher will explore the history of the political Left in Pakistan between 1947 and 1959, looking primarily at the activity of the Communist Party of Pakistan. Meher will conduct research at the National Archives in London and the India Office Records in the British Library, using the public records of the British Foreign Office and Dominions Office.

Faculty Sponsor: Vazira Zamindar 

Kalie Jordan Boyne ‘16

Making the Invisible Visible: Definitions of the Human Experience through Narratives and Portraiture

Kalie will travel to Providence, Boston, and San Diego to create portraits and collect stories of diverse individuals on the subjects of self-definition, value, purpose, and experience. Through portraiture and narrative Kalie hopes to collect narratives that explore perceptions and behaviors that may limit opportunity and connection.

Faculty Sponsor: Francoise Hamlin

Daniel David Louis Coppersmith ‘15

Understanding Depression and Suicide in Ethiopia

Psychiatric disorders are prevalent and disabling illnesses that affect all aspects of a country’s development and well-being. Moreover, very few resources exist for mental health care in low-to-middle income countries. Daniel seeks to increase the evidence base for depression and suicide in Ethiopia, a low-resource setting, via data analysis and systematic review at the Department of Psychiatry at Addis Ababa University. Daniel hopes that his project will add to our understanding of psychiatric disorders globally and in cross-cultural settings.

Faculty Sponsor: Michael Armey

David Deckey ‘15

The Characterization of Biofilm Formation on Spinal Implants of Varying Compositions

Bacteria form protective biofilms on the surface of spinal implants, which provide protection against antibiotics. This creates infections that necessitate the removal of the spinal device. Its removal can prove detrimental to the patient, causing a cascade of complications, ranging from prolonged infection to paralysis. David will develop a comprehensive understanding of biofilm genesis in order to characterize bacterial adherence and biofilm formation on a variety of commonly used spinal implant devices to determine which materials are more or less susceptible to bacterial adherence and colonization.

Faculty Sponsors: Christopher Born and Dioscaris Garcia

Jordan Nicole DeLoach ‘15

Investigating the Relationship Between Socioeconomic Status and DNA Methylation of the Glucocorticoid Receptor Promoter in Premature Infants

Jordan will analyze existing data from the Brown Center for the Study of Children at Risk to explore whether or not a relationship exists between socioeconomic status and altered stress reactivity in premature infants. Jordan will represent stress reactivity by cheek swab data that contains information on the expression of the glucocortoid receptor, a stress hormone and protein responsible for binding cortisol.

Faculty Sponsor: Barry Lester

Hannah Daniels Duncan ‘15

The Child Development Group of Mississippi: Living Arts, Senator Eastland, and Sargent Shriver

Hannah will research the evolution of the Child Development Group of Mississippi (CDGM).  She will focus specifically on the relationship between the local leadership of CDGM and the funding provided, and later withheld, by the Office of Economic Opportunity. Hannah plans to investigate whether or not the conditions of the Office of Economic Opportunity’s Head Start grant in 1965 and 1967 undermined or supported the mission and goals of CDGM.

Faculty Sponsor: Francoise Hamlin

Jo’nella Queen Ellerbe ‘16

Comida, Cultura, y Imperialismo: Food, Culture, and Imperialism in Andalusia, Spain

Jo’nella will explore the traceable effects of Moorish/Arab Imperialism in traditional foods throughout the Andalusian regions of Spain by researching recipes, stories, poetry, and the food itself. Jo'Nella hopes to create a comprehensive, multi-genre, collection of poetry, stories and photos that provides some insight into the complex history of the Moors in Andalusia.

Faculty Sponsors: Dawn King and Shane Lloyd

Benjamin Daniel Flakoll ‘16

The Carrot or the Stick? A Study of Horse Performance and Motivation

Historically, humans have trained horses by asserting dominance – the use of violent methods to force the animal to perform. Little is understood about why horses learn, perform, and remember tasks over time. Benjamin hypothesizes that horse behavior has complex motivators. His research will identify factors linked to training methods, memory, communication, social interaction, and emotion that motivate horses to perform the skills they have learned. Using ad libitum sampling and continuous recording techniques, Benjamin will observe these variables with two top horse trainers in France. He hopes that his findings will allow him to develop and test humane teaching methods that will serve as a new example for horse training.

Faculty Sponsor: Ruth Colwill

Nicholas A. Hilton ‘15

Characterization of Naturally Acquired Malaria Antigen Recognition using a High Throughput T7 Phage Bead Assay

Malaria is the leading single agent cause of morbidity and mortality in developing countries, yet no vaccines exist yet. Nicholas will examine the targets of the human immune system when infected with malaria by testing for anti-malaria antibodies within serum from infected individuals. The serum will be tested against malarial proteins in a T7 phage bead assay. Nicholas’ technique can be used as a high-throughput screen to examine large numbers of samples. His goal is to add to the body research seeking a vaccine for malaria.

Faculty Sponsor: Jonathan Kurtis

Alexander Gregory Anders Jusdanis ‘15

The "Four-Thousand Year-Old Rock and Roll Band": Perspectives on Cultural Representation and Transformation 

Alexander will explore the Master Musician of Zahjoukah, a set of two traditional musical groups from a rural Moroccan village who achieved fame in the West after they were mistakenly described by Western countercultural figures in the 1960’s as having preserved a unique, ancient tradition. Despite their fame, the perspectives of the members of the group remain absent in their own promotion. Through interviews and shared musical performances, Alexander aims to understand the musicians’ roles in the development of this presentation. Such an understanding will hopefully illuminate the process by which uneven power structures shape the transfer of music and culture.

Faculty Sponsor: Kiri Miller

Emily Khoury Longman ‘15

Successfully Reintroducing Fishers to Northern California

Global warming and human disturbances are endangering biodiversity.  Near-term actions to sustain threatened populations are needed while long-term solutions are developed. Roger Powell of North Carolina State University is leading a variety of conservation efforts to augment Fisher (Martes pennanti) populations and reintroduce individual Fishers to their native range in northern California. Emily will assist Powell’s research on adaptive management by performing an individual project comparing landscape characteristics and management strategies with levels of prey abundance and Fisher success.

Faculty Sponsor: Dov Sax

Madeleine Matsui ‘17

Visual Anthropology: A Photographic Documentary of the Uyghur Diaspora in Sweden and Japan

Madeleine will examine the lives of Uyghur asylum-seekers and refugees in Japan and Sweden through the medium of photography.  Madeleine’s projects seeks to humanize the asylum-seeking process by documenting aspects of the private and public lives of Uyghur people as they negotiate the complex and challenging process of seeking to start a life in countries that have distinct policies towards multi-culturalism and immigrants.

Faculty: Evelyn Hu DeHart

Merone Tadesse ‘16

Broken English, Triumphant Codes: Common Language Through Common Experience

Merone seeks to understanding the social and cultural values expressed by first-generation-born-in-Canada college age youth living in Vancouver, BC. This demographic, regardless of ethnic or geographic background, tend to form close bonds and Merone seeks to investigate how their commonality manifests itself through language; and how they cope with switching from this private language and network to more mainstream, public language in a university setting.

Faculty: Jose Itzigsohn

Phuong Linh Tran Vu ‘15

Applying Fair Trade standards to the production of Gac fruit in the Central Highlands of Vietnam

Using ethnographic methods, Linh will research how applying Fair Trade standards to the production of Gac fruit - a “super fruit” indigenous to Vietnam and Thailand - in the Central Highlands of Vietnam would impact the supply chain, market price, and livelihood of the ethnic minority community in the area.

Faculty Sponsor: Jose Itzigsohn

Thaya Uthayophas ‘15

Censorship and Military Coups in Thailand

Since its transition to Constitutional Democracy in 1932, Thailand has experienced 12 successful coups. Of the 12 coups, the vast majority had coincided with the heavy usage of anti-free speech laws, including the latest one in 2014, which resulted in political violence that continues to grip Thailand today. With the support of Dr. Kevin Hewison of the Australian National University, Thaya researched the anti-free speech provisions in Thailand in an effort to understand how coups can be prevented in the future. Faculty Sponsor: Corey Brettschneider

Faculty Sponsor: Corey Brettschneider

Shelby Wilson ‘15

Beyond the Hive: Citizen Science in Native Pollinator Ecology

Shelby seeks to engage youth, conservation agencies, and academia in international and intergenerational dialogue regarding pollinator biology and conservation. Research partners, mainly high school science students, will receive sufficient instruction and equipment to collaboratively design and implement surveys that investigate the effects of invasive flowering plants on the diversity and abundance of native bees. Shelby hopes the research will yield insight into native bee distributions and abundance while inspiring students through engagement with the scientific process and biodiversity.

Faculty Sponsor: Douglass Morse

Sport and Society Fellows

Leah Eickhoff  ’15 (Track)

Finding Common Ground: Running and Veteran Connectivity on Team Red White and Blue

Leah will work with Team Red White and Blue, a national organization committed to improving the lives of veterans by connecting them to their communities through physical and social activities. Her research will explore how the organized running program of Team Red, White and Blue connects veterans to communities and improves their health as well as their sense of purpose and agency.

Sponsor: Tyson Smith

Sazzy Gourley '16 (Swimming and Diving)

Red Bull's Cliff Diving Series: Intersections Between Marketing, Sport, and Corporate Social Responsibility

Sazzy will investigate how Red Bull can build its brand and extend social benefits to international communities through its Cliff Diving Series. Sazzy hopes to explore the Cliff Diving Series as a model for how Red Bull can collaborate with NGOs around the world to better understand the intersections between marketing, corporate responsibility and sport.

Sponsor: Ann Dill and Eli Wolff

Sandra Kimokoti ’15 (Rugby)

Play, Learn, Thrive: Using Rugby to Promote Health Education

Sandra will develop and implement a health education curriculum for high school girls in rural, Western Kenya. The curriculum will combine reproductive health education and rugby in an effort to empower them to have agency over their reproductive health.

Sponsor: Kathleen Flores

Nelly Weledji '15 (Basketball)

Using Sport to Raise Health Care Awareness in Cameroon

Nelly will be working with the Holy Family Foundation Clinic in Limbe, Cameroon, a community-based clinic dedicated to providing health care to under resourced families. In addition to providing support to health care workers Nelly will explore the opportunities sport offers to educate families about the importance of health care and available health resources.

Sponsor: Jean Burr