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From Chemists to Theatre Studies, Eleven Students Selected for Open Graduate Education

The Open Graduate Education Program at Brown grants select doctoral students the opportunity to pursue a master’s degree in a secondary field. The program enables students to bridge two research areas in collaborative and engaging ways, further advancing their studies in each field.

Marlon Oviedo Jimenez is pursuing his doctoral degree in Theatre Arts and Performance Studies. His research studies include gender and sexual dissidence in Costa Rica, ballroom culture as a transnational cultural phenomenon, indigenous ancestral performances, and cultural tourism. Jimenez applied to the program when his studies began to take a different direction. “I realized I wanted to take more classes from social sciences to comprehend the ways that governments in Latin America understand and think about their economic models and policies”, says Jimenez. Now, Jimenez is also completing a master’s in Development Studies.

Eleven students in total were selected for the eighth cohort, including:

  • Yichen Chai, Chemistry, will study Computer Science
  • Joe Colleyshaw, Slavic Studies, seeks a master’s in Political Science
  • Ying Huang, Philosophy, will study Cognitive Science
  • Marlon Jimenez Oviedo, Theatre Arts and Performance Studies, seeks a master’s in Development Studies
  • Jordan Jones,  Portuguese and Brazilian Studies, seeks a master’s in Hispanic Studies
  • Rachel Kalisher, Archaeology and the Ancient World, will study Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
  • Daniel  Rietze, Italian Studies, also seeks a master’s in Religious Studies
  • Marie Schenk, Political Science focuses on Data Science
  • Tong Shen, Chemistry, will study Applied Math
  • Tara Wheelwright, Slavic Studies, enters Theatre Arts and Performance Studies
  • Cheng  Zeng, Engineering, enters Data Science

Marie Schenk is pursuing a doctoral degree in Political Science, focusing on American politics, while pursuing a master’s in Data Science. Schenk studies how everyday discussions about politics emerge and how they affect political engagement. She is particularly interested in conversations that take place online.

“I believe that big data and the technology used to analyze it can shed new light on longstanding questions about political engagement and the formation of political identities, and I will be well positioned to make a scholarly contribution thanks to the training I get through the Open Grad Program”, says Schenk.

Cheng Zeng is a second year PhD student in Chemical Engineering pursuing a master’s degree in Data Science. Zeng is drawing on his skills in data science to drive discoveries in chemical engineering. “In addition, I am working on atomistic machine learning potential, which aims to learn how atoms comprising a material interact with each other, and consequently why the material displays certain physical properties,” he says. Zeng applied to the Open Graduate Education program eager to strengthen his research in chemical engineering. “I believe the knowledge and tools in data science will pave the way for broader opportunities and move my research to a higher level”, says Zeng.

Tara Wheelwright, a PhD student in Slavic Studies is pursuing a master’s in Theater and Performance Studies (TAPS). Wheelwright’s research examines the relationship between Russian literature and performance arts, particularly ballet. When asked why she was interested in joining two fields together Wheelwright shares, “Ballet has long been held on a pedestal in Russia, and examining its role in Russian society since the 18th century has given me cultural insights that are not apparent to those unfamiliar with ballet. A master’s in TAPS will give me the theoretical and historical foundation to expand on this topic.”