The 2016 Joukowsky Family Foundation Outstanding Dissertation Awards go to Francesca Inglese, Hilary Nicholson, Yumeng Ou, and Bhawani Buswala, as they receive their doctoral degrees from Brown University on May 29. The prizes recognize superior achievements in research by students completing the doctoral degree. This year, the research topics range from minstrel troupes in South Africa to novel ligands, multi-parameter commutators, and the everyday life of untouchables in India.
Supported through the generosity of the Joukowsky Family Foundation, up to four awards are made, with one from each of the four main areas: the humanities and the life, physical and social sciences.
Inglese, Ethnomusicology, receives the prize for Coloured Moves and Klopse Beats: Minstrel Legacies in Cape Town, South Africa. This interdisciplinary work focuses on multigenerational clubs that parade each January as part of a Minstrel Carnival, temporarily reoccupying neighborhoods that had earlier been sites of forcible displacement, and stage competitive arena performances for two months. Her dissertation describes the complexities of the political energies in the post-apartheid era, while bringing the study of minstrelsy in line with transatlantic and transnational perspectives.
The dissertation by Nicholson, Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology, advances knowledge of sigma-2 receptors, which are present in a variety of cancerous tissues. The work is entitled A Matter of Life and Death: Novel Ligands Mediating Cytotoxic Function and Revealing Metabolically Stimulative Function of the Sigma-2 Receptor in Human Cancer. This research demonstrates that sigma-2 receptors can be used to selectively target cancer cells for cell death without significantly harming non-cancerous cells. Her novel therapeutic agents may require less frequent dosing and could have fewer side effects than traditional chemotherapy.
Ou, Mathematics, is recognized for her dissertation titled Multi-parameter Commutators and New Function Spaces of Bounded Mean Oscillation. Ou’s research advances a field of mathematics that is concerned with how to represent functions in terms of simpler components and how to use information about this decomposition to infer properties of the original function. The field is involved in signal analysis and image recognition. Her research primarily focuses on harmonic analysis, involves singular integral operators especially of multi-parameter type, function spaces associated to commutators and iterated commutators of singular integrals, and multilinear operators, including vector-valued versions.
Buswala, Anthropology, receives this award for his dissertation titled The Bazaar and the Butchers: The Social Life of an Untouchable Work in North India. This ethnographic study examines the social life of Khatik butchers in an urbanizing village in Rajasthan. According to the Hindu social order, Khatiks are “untouchables.” He examines the implications of such dominant ideas on butchers’ marginality and documents their everyday struggles against it. His research helps to fill a void of scholarship on “untouchables” while also challenging ideas of values and discourses on the meaning of untouchablity.