HUMANITIES & SOCIAL SCIENCES
Assistant Professor of Modern Culture and Media and Comparative Literature
A Visual Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Today, amidst an ever-growing abundance of photographs depicting the violation of human rights, this research project asks how we can visualize human rights differently. In the wake of WWII, a very particular type of photograph stood for a “human rights photograph.” In distinction from this particular type that I identified elsewhere as the embodiment of a sovereign gaze, in this project I propose to look for a civic gaze at human rights. In this project I approach the seminal exhibition The Family of Man (shown in 1955 at the MOMA) as a visual supplement to the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man (signed a few years earlier by UN member-states) and the photographs as a series of civic claims regarding that which should not be violated. My aim is to rethink the concept of universal-right and expand the repertoire of rights that can be reconstructed from it. I plan to study the images of the FOM in juxtaposition to an array of images from other places and through this juxtaposition to intervene in and shape the conditions of visibility of rights violations. I will show that images from the FOM are not only a far-from-ideal plurality of similar situations the world over as was often read, but are in fact records of people’s concrete conditions of living the world over. Through photography I propose to ask what are proper conditions and the degree of violation of the depicted situations such as dwelling, working, playing, learning and so forth.
Professor of Literary Arts
Nights and Dreams, Evening and Morpheus, and Dawn
Nights and Dreams, Evening and Morpheus, and Dawn is an original feature-length experimental film that aims to go beyond representations of photography and theater, which define much of cinema today, in order to create a vision for the viewer of the city of Rome defined through the lyricism of film is film where drama is not defined through the traditional narrative flow of this happens and then this but is achieved through kinesthetic structures of “short film phrases,” optical and erotic ecstasies of frame rhymes and ballades, day and night visions of the city seen through a polyphony of frames, and time, space, light, and mental shifts at 24 frames per second.
It is therefore a work of art that is also a cinematic meditation on the simultaneous relationship that binds history, memory, exile, and death in the ruins of Rome. The film shows the relationship between history and daily life by capturing and evoking something mysterious and unknowable about what makes Rome today out of the ruins of the past through the use of film is film. The film’s consciousness moves between the idea of home, self, and dying and the vision of memory, history, and exile, circling the shadows of ruins.
The worlds I am depicting end up being formed of scattered segments that have lost their center. It is a fragmented world where permanence, depletion, and incessant loneliness characterize who we are today, be it in Rome or elsewhere. The film voices our experience that we are exiled from our cultures and self as much so as from the new reality in which we live. We are exiled from our mother cultures, from our adopted cultures, and from historical cultures whose mythologies are contradictory, limiting, and often oppressive illusions. Nights and Dreams addresses these issues not as a commentary or the unfolding of a plot—this happens and then this—but by its ability to contain our consciousness and to return the film image in its entirety as film. For the subject of this film is not in what it starts with but what it ends up with as film.
Assistant Professor of Religious Studies
Afro-theisms and Post-democracy: A Progressive Philosophy of Black Spirituality
‘African American religion’ and its representative institutions have been a central source for activism that has significantly impacted the evolution and development of the American democratic experiment. Since 1965, however, the tradition of religiously inspired African American activism has dwindled as black peoples have become more integrated into political life in the US. Concurrently, ‘American democracy’ itself has become more controlled by business interests and corporate agendas: elections are increasingly considered little more than spectacles managed by marketers and widening gaps between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ have seemingly corrupted democracy’s promise. As a result, civic engagement has also declined, and the perception of democratic possibilities has shifted. Some thinkers have advanced the term ‘post democracy’ to capture this state of political being.
In light of these historical realities, this project is interested in how the revolutionary reserves of black American spirituality might respond to the current political and economic predicaments in the US. The influence of religious views in the public sphere has long led many to be concerned about the proper role for religion in a democratic society. Rather than ask “what is the place of religion in American public life?” I propose to explore how the socio-economic and political conditions might be framed so that we can conceptualize how African American religious traditions have been, and may yet be, used to revitalize democratic energies. Moving bi-directionally, this analysis aims to re-interpret the contemporary political moment in ways that demonstrate new possibilities for religiously inspired, racially progressive activism.
Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Urban Studies
From Slavery to the Human Rights City: Confronting the Past while Planning the Future in Nantes, France
This preliminary research examines the development and promotion of Nantes, France as a ‘human rights city.’ It considers the history of Nantes as France’s dominant port city in the triangular slave trade from the mid-17th to the mid-19th century juxtaposed with its current reputation for innovation, inclusivity, and sustainable growth. The research traces a national effort to remember and recognize the slave trade and slavery as crimes against humanity, particularly following the 2001 passage of the Taubira Law, and it examines the sites and actions in Nantes that stem from this legislation. Grounded in an urban anthropology that is simultaneously in and of ‘the city,’ the project focuses on the emergence of several distinct forms of public performance that modify, reimagine, and contest dominant framings of local history. These include the annual Marche des Esclaves (March of the Slaves), a living memorial in Nantes that reenacts an African slave procession from the city center to the wharf, and the recent performance of Le Mur de Planck, a three-day spectacle by the Nantes-based Royal de Luxe performance company featuring giant marionettes that move and dwell within the city streets while narrating a particularly complex history of Nantes. The research thus explores the possibility of the human rights city as individual subjectivities are linked through creative experience to large-scale historical, cultural, and political processes. It considers more broadly how this transpires in Atlantic port cities, where visions for an inclusive urban future must first recognize and come to terms with the past.
Associate Professor of Population Studies (Research)
Is Housing Damage and Displacement an Explanation for Population Change in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina?: An Analysis of the American Housing Survey in New Orleans, 2004-2009
Hurricane Katrina caused an unprecedented near complete evacuation and prolonged displacement of New Orleans’s residents. The selective return of residents and the arrival of new residents radically altered the city’s population size and composition: the population decreased by half in the first year after the disaster, and became “wealthier, older, and whiter” (Frey, Singer, and Park 2007; Fussell, Sastry and VanLandingham 2010). This is consistent with a well-established finding that members of low-income households, female headed households, and minority-headed households are all more vulnerable to losses and displacement after a disaster, a relationship that is hypothesized to be associated with their greater likelihood of renting, although this has not been empirically demonstrated (Fothergill, Maestas, and Darlington 1999). In this research I focus on housing damage and residential displacement as a mechanism that explains the recomposition of New Orleans’s population in the first four years after Hurricane Katrina. I will use the American Housing Survey for New Orleans which follows housing units from 2004 to 2009 and records changes in occupancy, housing unit and resident characteristics, and disaster impacts. This data is only available through a Census Research Data Center to protect residents’ identities. My main hypothesis is that ownership status is an important predictor of change in occupancy, even after taking into account pre-disaster housing quality and disaster-related housing damage, and because rental households are more likely to have low-incomes, female, or racial minority heads of household they were also more likely to be displaced. My investigation into this mechanism has practical implications for post-disaster housing policy as well as for a new scholarly research agenda on housing as a nexus for environment-population relationships.
Assistant Professor of History
(Post)colonial Confinement: Carceral Circuits of the Spanish Empire, 1840-1915
This project aims to trace the history of an institution at the very heart of late Spanish colonialism: the prison. Imprisonment in the Caribbean and Spain, seconded by deportation to penal colonies in Fernando Pó, Ceuta, and Chafarinas, represented a distressingly common fate for generations of political opponents of empire, including the highest echelons of the colonial elite. Internationally decried, these facilities further darkened the already dismal reputation of Spain on the world stage and, above all, in its remaining Caribbean colonies. Yet little has been written about the history of Spanish prisons, despite their evident importance to late imperial strategies of rule. We know even less about the experience of non-elite actors, many of whom found themselves shuttled among multiple nodes of the Spanish “carceral archipelago.” Strikingly, this network continued to operate as such even after the formal demise of Spanish empire, raising important questions about the legal and institutional transition to postcoloniality. With the generous funding of a Salomon Faculty Research Award, I propose to conduct preliminary archival research into the many carceral voyages forcibly undertaken by Spain’s colonial subjects, both before and after the end of empire.
Stanley J. Bernstein ’65 P’02 Assistant Professor of Political Science
Controlling Corruption with Credible Information? Evidence from Argentina
Under what conditions are citizens most likely to vote corrupt politicians out of office? In spite of clear evidence that citizens hold strong anti-corruption attitudes, endemic corruption among political elites continues to be a problem in many lower and middle-income democracies. In ongoing research, Matthew Winters (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) and I investigate the individual and country-level factors that affect when and whether anti-corruption attitudes translate into punishment of corruption at the ballot box. We argue that a citizen’s ability to act on her anti-corruption preferences depends on the credibility of the corruption allegations that she encounters and on her ability to distinguish more from less credible information in an often complex, crowded information environment. Our previous work, based on original survey data collected in Brazil, provides evidence that politically sophisticated citizens are the most able to discern the credibility of corruption allegations and to alter their behavior accordingly. We propose to extend this work in a number of important ways by purchasing questions on a three-round, panel survey that will be conducted over the course of Argentina’s 2015 election campaign. This extension will allow us to test new hypotheses about how political sophisticates process information about political malfeasance and how political party identities may affect that processing. Our results will have implications for scholars’ understanding of the relationship between citizen sophistication and political accountability as well as implications for the types of public policies that are most likely to yield actionable information for citizens.
Assistant Professor of Engineering and Molecular Pharmacology, Physiology and Biotechnology
How Shape and a Three-dimensional Microenvironment Influences Human Cardiomyocyte Phenotype
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide and a global epidemic according to the World Health Organization. A heart attack kills up to 1 billion cardiomyocytes and novel therapies to replace these cells using human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC)‐derived cardiomyocytes aim to restore heart function. While hiPSC‐derived cardiomyocytes are a renewable and clinically tractable cell source, these cardiomyocytes are phenotypically immature and lack the shape and functional properties of mature, adult cardiomyocytes. Developing a deeper understanding of how cell shape and three-dimensional (3D) extracellular matrix interactions influence the structural organization and electrical, biochemical, and mechanical function of hiPSC‐cardiomyocytes is necessary for developing tissue engineering therapies that will maximize the contractile contributions of the graft. In this proposal, we aim to independently and simultaneously alter cell shape and 3D extracellular matrix to examine structural organization, electrical activation, calcium transients, and contractility in hiPSCcardiomyocytes. We will pattern three shapes in 2D – an ellipse, rectangle, and bowtie – to mimic the elongated shape of mature cardiomyocytes and use immunohistochemistry to assess adhesions and myofibril organization of single hiPSC‐cardiomyocytes. Using a thin hydrogel of four matrix components – collagen, fibrin, fibronectin, and laminin – we will measure functional outputs including contractility using traction force microscopy of hiPSC‐cardiomyocytes either plated on 2D patterned surfaces and coated with gel or embedded in gel. Finally, we will assess neighboring cell interactions and time-dependent plasticity of hiPSC‐cardiomyocytes and hypothesize that cues from shape, matrix, and neighboring cells will maximize organization and function of hiPSC‐cardiomyocytes.
Assistant Professor of Engineering
Predictive modeling of size-segregation in dense granular flows
Granular materials are ubiquitous in industry and day-to-day life but remain poorly understood. They display a variety of complex behaviors which arise due to the finite size of the grains – a feature which differentiates them from conventional solids or fluids. One especially curious phenomenon exhibited by granular media is size segregation. Briefly, flowing granular materials composed of different-sized grains tend to de-mix, resulting in separate domains of large and small particles. This phenomenology has a significant impact on the performance of industrial processes involving powders and grains and affects the damage done by landslides and avalanches, and consequently, predictive models of granular flow including the effect of size segregation are needed. This has been a particularly persistent challenge, since the segregation process crucially depends upon the grain sizes present in this system. Current models of granular segregation either don’t account for all the mechanisms at play or rely on kinematic fields, such as the velocity, to be given as an input. The proposed work is aimed at addressing and filling this need. Building upon recent modeling successes, we propose to develop a continuum-level model capable of describing size-segregation in dense granular flows. In particular, to aid in the development and testing of a model, we will build a split-bottom cell – an experimental apparatus ideal for probing this phenomenology – and perform a systematic series of experiments in which the effect of grain-size disparity in bidisperse granular systems is probed.
Assistant Professor of Computer Science
Learning Eye Tracking Through User Interactions on Mobile Devices
Eye tracking is commonly used for usability testing, psychology experiments, behavioral analytics, and other applications. Typical eye trackers today are specialized equipment costing tens of thousands of dollars, and thus eye tracking must done in on-site labs. Compared to commercial eye trackers, eye tracking using webcams has poor accuracy (making them unfit for professional studies) and requires software installation and calibration in typical home environments (unfit for large-scale in situ studies). My research takes a new approach to improve the accuracy of eye tracking webcams by using user interactions to continuously calibrate the eye tracker during regular activity: when a user clicks on a web page, they first look where they intend to click, and the eye is likely to be 2–4 characters to the right of the last typed character on the screen. Webcam images during these user interactions can be collected by the website to use as cues for what the user's pupil looks like when that user interacts with a particular location. Future observations of the pupil can be matched to past instances with similar-looking pupils as the eye tracking system collects mappings of pupil features to eye-gaze locations on the page, allowing a model to infer the eye-gaze location even the user is not interacting. The pupil data can be collected without disrupting the user experience, at the beginning of a computer usage session to provide model training data that better matches the local environment in terms of ambient lighting, sitting position, and background environment.
Assistant Professor of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology
The Impact of Antibiotics on Horizontal Gene Transfer in the Microbiome
The imbalance between the rate of new antibiotic discovery and the propagation of antibiotic-resistance is leading to an imminent antibiotic crisis. Identifying treatment protocols that limit the spread of antibiotic resistance is a potent method to prolong the useful lifespan of our current antibiotic arsenal. Thus, it is critical to understand the mechanisms underlying the spread of resistance through horizontal gene transfer (HGT). Natural transformation is a form of HGT in which extracellular dsDNA is taken up and incorporated by competent bacteria in a process that unlike conjugation or transduction, is independent of the DNA source. Natural transformation can promote the transfer of resistance genes between highly divergent bacteria, and within complex microbial communities. Recent work has indicated that in vitro rates of natural transformation can be elevated by treatment with DNA damaging antibiotics. Additionally, antibiotic treatment can lead to the release of bacterial genomic DNA into the environment, increasing the opportunity for HGT of resistance genes. Despite these early insights, the proportion of the microbiome that can undergo natural transformation and the consequences of antibiotic perturbations on the rates of natural transformation in microbial communities remain largely unknown. The goal of the proposed work is to study the impact of antibiotic induced stress on the rates of natural transformation in key organisms that make up the human microbiome.
Assistant Professor of Molecular Pharmacology, Physiology, & Biotechnology
Turning off the molecular switch for RNA-binding protein aggregation in neurodegenerative diseases
RNA-binding proteins are essential components of large complexes that carry out fundamental processes including transcription, splicing, and DNA repair. The vast majority of RNA-binding proteins contain putatively unstructured, aggregation-prone sequences called prion-like domains. These domains are thought to mediate crucial interactions in normal RNA metabolism by forming dynamic associations enabling tunable, reversible spatial clustering. Yet, prion-like domains also have a dark side: their aggregation-prone nature contributes to accumulation of toxic aggregates in neurodegenerative diseases, and their fusion to DNA binding domains through chromosomal translocations drives uncontrolled gene expression in cancers. The structures of prion-like domain assemblies and the normal mechanisms to avoid disease-associated aggregation are currently unknown because they are invisible to traditional techniques in structural biology. However, I have developed novel structural biology techniques that will allow me to visualize at atomic resolution the dynamic assembly of prion-like domains into aggregates. Using the human RNA-binding protein FUS, I will map the effect of disease-causing mutations and evaluate the potential of post-translational modification to act as the protein clustering switch. Using structural studies of FUS combined with directed screens for aggregation and toxicity in yeast models of FUS aggregation diseases will enable future design of breakthrough therapies to alter pathological protein associations in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and frontotemporal dementia without disrupting normal function. Because FUS is only one of many essential RNA-binding proteins containing prion-like domains, my work will serve as the foundation for understanding the interactions of an entire class of proteins and for correcting their dysfunctions in disease.
Assistant Professor of Neuroscience
A genetic system to study commissural neuron connectivity
To understand nervous system function, it is of crucial importance to define the structure of neural circuits and map their synaptic connections. Combining this information with experimental manipulations of neuronal properties helps delineate how a neuron’s connectivity contributes to circuit function.
The long-term goal of the proposed research is to understand how somatosensory information from the periphery is relayed to the brain. The sensory neurons that receive this information connect to neurons in the spinal cord, which in turn make connections in the brain. However, the logic of how different sensory modalities are represented in subsets of spinal cord neurons and relayed to different brain areas is incompletely understood. We will study the function and connectivity of commissural neurons, a group of spinal cord neurons that relay input from sensory neurons to several distinct targets in the brain. We will map commissural neuron inputs and outputs and determine how the type of sensory information these neurons receive relates to the brain regions they connect to. These studies will greatly improve our understanding of commissural neurons and provide important insights into somatosensory information processing.
Our work requires the development of novel genetic tools that allow the combination of mouse genetics with viral circuit tracing methods. The immediate goal of the proposed project is the generation of these genetic tools, which are expected to have wide applications beyond our immediate research interests, as they can be combined with a plethora of pre-existing mouse lines to map neural circuits in various anatomical contexts.
Assistant Professor of Visual Art
Slabs – Residency and Exhibition
Slabs is a series of trompe-l’oeil photographic collages on panel. The work will be produced during a residency at the Kala Institute of Art summer 2014 and exhibited as a solo show at Steven Wolf Fine Arts in San Francisco in the fall. This body of work is part of an ongoing visual investigation of landscape, nature, architecture and ornament. The residency will be an opportunity to use Kala Institute’s state of the art facilities to make large‐scale prints and to use their project space to install a site-specific artwork in preparation for the show.
Assistant Professor of Visual Art
Palm House Transect
Palm House Transect is a large-scale, site-specific sound installation developed for the greenhouse at the Lyndhurst Estate in Tarrytown, New York. The piece consists of a generative sound composition played through a set of loudspeakers spread irregularly throughout the greenhouse structure. The movement of sound in the space is articulated visually by a set of brightly colored cables that run from point to point among the speakers and key structural elements of the greenhouse. The work is based around the idea of a line transect, which is the path along which an observer counts and records occurrences of the phenomena of study. This very specific, attentive mode of moving through space provides a model for visitor engagement with the piece and the site. It also provides a concrete methodology for developing the sonic elements of the piece in close correlation with its site.
The piece will be operational from June through October of 2014 as part of “The Garden of Sonic Delights,” an exhibition of outdoor site-specific sound installations that will take place, and during its exhibition a series of four performances with guest musicians will take place within it. These are intended to activate the site and the piece in specific ways and provide focal points for audiences to experience the work.
HUMANITIES & SOCIAL SCIENCES
Assistant Professor of Political Science
The Right to Strike in a Liberal Democracy
Every liberal democracy in the developed world recognizes the right to strike. As recent strikes from the United States to Spain to Brazil remind us, it remains a socially divisive issue. Yet there is reason to think that liberal democratic theory cannot fully justify the right to strike. How should we interpret this disjunction between theory and practice? My hypothesis is that the right to strike can be understood as a right that does not have full moral justification but instead exists for pragmatic reasons: in order to maintain social peace. Surprisingly, political scientists, especially political philosophers, have given the right to strike almost no attention at all. This is unfortunate because the right to strike is very important to our understanding of the moral and practical foundations of liberal democracy. Understanding this right’s justification is further important to knowing how it should be permitted and regulated in law. My knowledge of the law and history of the right to strike in the United States suggests preliminary confirmation of my hypothesis that the right to strike is best interpreted as a pragmatic right. But I would like to engage in cross-national comparison of the history and legal status of the right to strike in a number of liberal democracies: UK, France, Spain and Sweden. I expect to use this research to generate a theoretical argument for the right to strike, and more importantly, a series of proposals regarding the most justifiable way of recognizing the right to strike in law.
Assistant Professor of History
International Squatterdom and the Fall of Global Housing Policy, 1946-1989
My project examines the moment in the 1970s when governments around the world, faced with overwhelming problems of overcrowded public housing, departed from the traditions of liberal governance by expertise. In New York City, London, New Delhi, and at the World Bank, policy-makers began to investigate new theories that bottom-up organization, rather than top-down control, could solve problems of housing crowded cities.
The social and intellectual events that constitute this shift are only slightly familiar to historians. In the decades after the Second World War, simultaneous outbreaks of squatting in Western cities inspired urban planners to contemplate the potential benefits of releasing abandoned stretches of the city to self-built housing movements. Gradually, books such as John F. C. Turner’s Housing by People (1977) held up squatters as the key to similar problems in the global South. By the 1990s, Nobel Prize in economics nominee Hernando de Soto had foregrounded the squatter as the hero of development, arguing for a policy shift from eviction to endorsement, a policy that promised to expand global credit economy while simultaneously overturning barriers of race, class, and privilege. Once merely peripheral figures of resistance, squatters had become one of the first and major case-studies for the merits of neoliberal economic policy.
My project will draw on an integrated program of archival research and digital analysis to probe the question of squatters’ role in the making of global land policy, extending the way we think about the long history of Western property law and its contestation.
Assistant Professor of Africana Studies
Transnational Feminist Political Thought and Praxis in Brazil
I propose to carry out preliminary research in Brazil on how black women mobilize political movements across borders and how they understand themselves as agents in creating a transnational and diasporic community. This research will allow me to apply for additional grant funding to continue this work in Brazil and in other countries in Latin America. I aim to produce an analytical book and an edited volume that will be the first major multi-lingual and transnational work exploring black women’s political work in Latin America. Focusing on the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking Americas, I will examine how black women utilize transnational feminist thought and praxis in local and national struggles for collective recognition as well as citizenship and human rights. This research is innovative because it is international and collaborative in scope, building on a network of African-descendant scholars and activists whose interpretative writings are not readily available. It is my primary claim that black women’s theoretical and political formulations in Latin America reflect the transnational movement of black feminist ideas and the diasporization of black social movements. This research will contribute to Brown’s ongoing commitment to supporting international and collaborative research and the Africana Studies department and the Pembroke Center’s leading role in promoting black women’s scholarship produced throughout the African Diaspora.
Assistant Professor of History
Assembling the Dinosaur: Science, Museums, and American Capitalism, 1870-1930
I am writing a book that tells the story of how dinosaurs from the American West rose to become one of the most recognizable icons of modern science and popular culture during the late 19th and early 20th century. In doing so, I bring the history of science into dialogue with the emerging field of the history of capitalism. By examining the way dinosaur fossils were collected, studied, and put on display in large natural history museums, I document how the ideals, norms, and practices of modern capitalism manifested themselves in the creation of scientific knowledge about the deep past. Philanthropically funded museums are a particularly good site in which to explore how science and capitalism intersect. This is because it is there that the moral economy which ostensibly governed the trade of specimens, information, and credit came into direct contact with the modern market economy. What these institutions demonstrate, I argue, is that we cannot understand the production and dissemination of scientific knowledge without also understanding the changing nature of capitalism during this period. Not only that, but something of the reverse holds as well; namely, that changes taking place at the museum document the ambition of modern capitalism to create public goods in addition to profits. The Salomon Faculty Research Grant will provide crucial funds to expand the evidentiary base of my book manuscript, allowing me to conduct archival research in the United States and Europe during the summer of 2014 as well as portions of the following academic year.
Assistant Professor, Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World
Brown University Labraunda Project
The Brown University Labraunda Project is an archaeological expedition to one of the main ancient religious sites in western Turkey. The purpose of the project is to excavate, document, and analyze the largest and perhaps the earliest monumental fountain house in Labraunda, a mountain sanctuary to Zeus whose main benefactors were the Hekatomnid rulers of Karia in the late 5th and 4th centuries BCE. Previous generations of archaeologists have neglected this monumental fountain because it is not made of marble and because it does not accord with canonical ideas of classical Greek or Roman architecture. These peculiarities are precisely what makes the building exceptionally interesting; in fact, the monument has the potential to shed light not only on the history of water‐management and early monumentalization of Labraunda, but also, and more importantly, on the dynamics of cross‐cultural interaction between the cosmopolitan Hekatomnids and the local quarrymen and masons who had to face the challenges of building ambitious architectural projects in inland Karia. The fountain, long dismissed by scholars as a “bizarre” monument, is actually a unique window into the life of the sanctuary, not only in the Late Classical and Hellenistic period, but even into the Roman and Late Antique periods.
Assistant Professor of Engineering
Bacterial Stimuli-Responsive Antibiotic Delivery Coatings
The proposed research will use an innovative approach to develop superior antibiotic releasing coatings that are responsive to bacteria-specific stimuli. Local antibiotic delivery systems have the potential to reduce many of the complications associated with systemic antibiotic delivery. The passive long-term release of sub-therapeutic levels of antibiotics from most currently existing systems, however, renders these materials ineffective and contributes to rising levels of drug-resistant bacteria. Layer-by-layer (LbL) self-assembly based drug delivery coatings have the ability to overcome many of the challenges posed by traditional local antimicrobial delivery systems, but have thus far been unable to achieve the control in drug release that is desirable for an ideal antibiotic releasing device. We will develop LbL film architectures held together by molecules containing β-lactam ring structures. Production of the enzyme, β-lactamase, by several common bacteria will lead to hydrolysis of these β-lactams causing a triggered film degradation and release of film components. Non-β-lactam antibiotics will be incorporated into these film architectures as the antibiotic payload whose release will be triggered in the presence of β-lactamase producing bacteria. This study will lead to the development of antibiotic releasing coatings for local drug delivery that effectively combat bacteria while limiting exposure to potent antibiotics and therefore, control drug resistance.
Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Engineering
Automatically Perceiving Children with RGB-D Sensors
Americans with children under six years spend an average of seven hours each day caring for them . Despite this fact, minimal research in robotics to date has focused on assistance with childcare tasks. A critical barrier to enabling robots to safely interact with children is the difficulty of accurately perceiving their locations and activities. Although much research has addressed pose-tracking in adults, little research has focused on children. Our goal is to bridge this gap by creating a perceptual system capable of tracking the pose of children and toddlers over time using the Kinect, a commodity sensor developed for the XBox video game system and commonly used in robotics. Instead of merely returning a color (RGB) image, the Kinect augments that image with depth (D) information, yielding an RGB-D image. We propose to collect the first corpus of RGB-D video of young children paired with ground truth position and pose obtained from a motion capture system. Then we will develop a pose tracking algorithm and assess its performance on the dataset. We plan to release the code and datasets resulting from this project. This project will be part of a broader effort to develop robotic childcare assistants; besides robotics, we expect the software and data to have many other applications in research and educational contexts.
Christopher L. de Graffenried
Assistant Professor of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology
Generating bloodstream form Trypanosoma brucei containing analog-sensitive polo like kinase to evaluate new strategies for drug design
Trypanosoma brucei is the causative agent of human African trypanosomiasis (HAT), a debilitating illness in sub-Saharan Africa that afflicts 30,000 people annually. The drugs available for treating HAT are either difficult to administer, toxic, or in danger of being overwhelmed by resistance. New drugs that target unique aspects of the parasite’s biology are sorely needed, but few compounds are currently under investigation. T. brucei has a complex and highly polarized cytoskeleton that is vital for its pathogenicity and viability. In work conducted in the insect-resident (procyclic) version of the parasite, we have shown that the T. brucei polo like kinase homolog (TbPLK) regulates several key steps in the biogenesis of the cytoskeleton. We generated procyclic cells that express analogsensitive TbPLK, which allows the kinase to be inhibited by a small molecule that cannot inhibit other kinases. This approach was essential to determining TbPLK function in procyclics. We will extend our work into the mammalian-infectious form of the parasite, known as the bloodstream form (BSF), so that we can directly test if TbPLK is a viable candidate for drug design. Establishing an analog-sensitive TbPLK BSF cell line is an essential step towards this goal, which would allow us to confirm that the kinase has the same function in this lifecycle stage and begin to perform experiments in animal models. Showing that TbPLK is a viable drug target would be an important advance in my field and would identify the T. brucei cytoskeleton as a novel point of intervention for treating HAT.
Professor of Biology
The Origin of Dinosaur Footprint Diversity
Fossil footprints preserve unique evidence of behavior in extinct species such as Mesozoic dinosaurs. Correct interpretation of these traces requires an understanding of the dynamic interaction between foot and substrate during track formation. I propose to study the rich diversity of Early Jurrassic (~200 million year old) dinosaur tracks housed in the Bineski Museum of Natural History at Amherst College. Specifically, I will image the internal structure of fossil tracks using a high-resolution CT scanner at a facility at the University of Texas. Such volumetric data will provide insight into the 3-D path of the foot as it sank into and was removed from soft substrates. These trajectories will be combined with experimental data from living birds, biped robots, and computer simulations to create a unifying context for the spectacularly disparate track shapes in the Amherst collection.
Assistant Professor of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology
Understanding the interaction of the airway micobiome with pulmonary diseases
The human microbiome is made up in part by approximately 100 trillion bacteria that reside throughout the body. It is now recognized that the intestinal microbiome impacts many facets of physiology, however very little is known about the impact of the airway microbiome on lung diseases. Recent studies in humans have shown that the airway microbiome is altered in pulmonary disease states such as infection, asthma, COPD, and cystic fibrosis. These studies show a correlation between lung disease and changes in the airway microbiome, however the key to understanding the interplay between the microbiome and the host is to understand the feedback loop between disease etiology and alterations of the microbiome. To determine how the airway microbiome impacts lung disease we must develop an animal model. To date there is no thorough published cultivation-independent characterization of the bacteria in the mouse lung. My laboratory is currently identifying bacteria in the mouse respiratory tract using next-generation sequencing, and we will determine how lung diseases alter the composition and location of the microbiota. We are pioneering a technique in the lung using fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) probes specific for 16S ribosomal RNA to identify the anatomical location of bacterial subsets in the airway. These techniques and tools will be a springboard leading to a complete understanding of the airway microbiome. Understanding the precise impact that the airway microbiome has on specific lung diseases will lead to significant advances in the field of pulmonary biology.
Katherine F. Smith
Assistant Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Up and Down the Rabbit Hole: Host-Pathogen Dynamics in New England’s Threatened and Invasive Cottontails
I am broadly interested in the host-pathogen dynamics and disease risks associated with two types of wildlife: 1) threatened species heading for extinction and 2) species introduced (intentionally or accidentally) to new regions. To date I have studied these groups separately, but now have the opportunity to merge these interests through a new study of threatened native New England Cottontails (NEC) (Sylvilagus transitionalis) and co-occurring invasive Eastern Cottontails (EC) (Sylvilagus floridanus). I aim to study changes in pathogen composition and disease risk associated with 1) NECs during population declines, 2) NECs during reintroduction and recovery, and 3) ECs during invasion and establishment. Findings will be used to test a new conceptual model of pathogen loss and gain during host species perturbations. Samples will be collected from museum specimens and from zoo and wild populations with support from Roger Williams Park Zoo, Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, and Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game. The proposed work will advance the fields of disease and invasion ecology, which both suffer from a lack of studies documenting host-pathogen dynamics as species flourish and fail. Findings will also fill a critical gap in the management plan for the NEC, specifically by identifying pathogens early on that may pose a disease risk. Finally, findings will be used to determine NEC competence as a reservoir host for regional disease threats to humans like tularemia.
Assistant Professor, Neuroscience: $15,000
Developing a Technique for Mapping and Manipulating Neural Circuits in Flies
Neural circuits are the basic computational units in the nervous system. Our understanding of brain function is severely limited by the lack of techniques for tracing and functionally-manipulating specific circuits. Barnea’s project combines molecular biology and genetics to develop such a technique in flies. At the core of this system is a synthetic signaling pathway that will be introduced into all neurons. Selective activation of this pathway within a particular circuit will be used to label or functionally manipulate it, and Barnea’s lab will study the behavioral consequences of these manipulations. These experiments will serve as proof-of-principle for the utility of his approach, and the establishment of similar systems in mice and primates. This project aims to broaden our understanding of normal brain function and of the causes and progression of various brain diseases.
Cici X.C. Bauer
Assistant Professor, Biostatistics: $7,500
Small-Area Estimation using Complex Survey Data
Complex designs are common in survey implementation because they allow the efficient collection of data and aid in providing access to groups who are traditionally hard to reach. For small areas, however, the conventional design-based approaches can result in highly variable estimates due to small sample sizes. Bauer will address the limitation by developing statistical methodology for Bayesian small area estimation that acknowledges the complex design in order to eliminate bias, and borrow strength across areas using spatial models. She will also create open-source software that permits researchers to apply the proposed method, facilitating the transfer of statistical methodology to practice and benefiting researchers in other areas, including health services and social sciences.
Assistant Professor, Anthropology: $12,300
Surgery for All? Understanding the Cultural Politics of Bringing Essential Surgical Care to the Global Health Equity Agenda
Surgically-treatable diseases account for a significant proportion of the global burden of disease, and can be provided at relatively low cost to the poor. Yet global health advocates struggle to mobilize the same level of political, social and financial support for access to surgical services as they have for HIV/AIDS and other, less-pressing public health matters. Few scholarly accounts have considered how institutional and professional cultures of global health and biomedicine may impact how access to surgical care is perceived – and conceived–to be a public health problem and social justice issue. Building on multi‐sited ethnographic research, Benton's project explores the role of professional and institutional cultures in shaping advocacy around, and political attention to, access to surgical care.
Assistant Professor, Biostatistics: $15,000
Health Provider Profiling Using Causal Inference Framework
“Health provider profiling” is the evaluation of the performance of hospitals, doctors, and other medical practitioners to enhance the quality of medical care. Current statistical methods rely on the strong assumption that the risk model is correctly specified, and when patients’ background characteristics differ across providers and the models are mis-specified, applications may result in large bias of the expected health providers’ outcome. Gutman proposes a novel method to address these challenges using causal inference framework. This framework posits that each patient has different potential outcomes that would be observed under the possible providers. The methodology allows for comparison of several outcome measures across providers and of patients with certain background characteristics across providers. This is especially important in personalized medicine, where certain providers perform better for specific patients and worse for others. This new methodology will also generate a latent structure of providers without heavily relying on the modeling assumption.
Assistant Professor, American Studies and Ethnic Studies: $15,000
From “Garden Warriors” to “Good Seeds”: Indigenizing the Local Food Movement
This project examines the Native American gardening movement as a food sovereignty/health promotion/cultural preservation movement distinct from, but connected to, the broader local food movement. Hoover will visit 11 Native gardening projects to interview leaders and participants in order to learn more about their motivations for participating, the successes and challenges the group has faced in running their project, the ways in which tribal history and heritage has influenced the gardens, and the extent to which each project envisions itself as part of a larger food movement. These findings have implications for greater inclusion of contemporary American Indians in agricultural anthropology, for the expansion of a sociology of gardens and social movements, and for indigenous community leaders interested in promoting garden projects of their own.
Assistant Professor, Epidemiology: $7500
Gene-environment and Gene-gene Interactions in Cancer Survival
Through this project, Huang pursues innovative investigations into lung cancer survival, especially how multiple genetic effects act through smoking behavior. Huang will build a new framework of modeling complex gene‐environment and gene‐gene interactions as a biological process for cancer progression. He will develop and employ a novel statistical methodology on an existing dataset to conduct a genome‐wide association study in lung cancer survival that characterizes genetic effects in a biological pathway with respect to its interaction with smoking. The genes and pathways identified from the analyses will provide promising targets for prognostic monitoring and therapeutic intervention. The proposed statistical model for the pathway‐environment‐disease process will be of broad utility in studying wide range of human diseases.
Assistant Professor, Religious Studies: $15,000
The Companions of Muḥammad and the Articulation of “Orthodoxy” in Medieval Islam
The historical origins of Islamic political and religious identity have recently attracted the increased attention of academics across disciplines. When Muḥammad died, disagreements over leadership arose among the friends and relatives Muḥammad had left behind, a group known collectively as the Companions. Khalek will analyze biographical and hagiographical literature from the 10th-15th centuries CE to discern different religio-political theories of succession and authority generated by medieval Muslim scholars on the basis of their allegiance to different subsets of Muḥammad’s Companions. Khalek will examine the Companions of Muḥammad through social and discursive practices of the community over time to assess the development of the authority of the Companions in biographical literature, historiography and, as much as possible, social practice. This project will broaden our understanding of the changing concepts of community and sectarian identity in the Islamic High Middle Ages.
Brandon D.L. Marshall
Assistant Professor, Epidemiology: $15,000
Agent-based Modeling to Optimize HIV Prevention for Drug-using Populations
HIV transmission among injecting dug users (IDU) is a significant public health problem. Although research has demonstrated the effectiveness of a variety of HIV prevention interventions, continuing transmission in endemic settings and emerging regional outbreaks have pointed to the need for the comprehensive and coordinated delivery of HIV prevention services. Marshall will develop an agent-based model (ABM) using computer representations of individuals to examine how sets of interventions may eliminate HIV transmission among IDU. Bayesian methods will be used to validate the model, account for variation, and conduct sensitivity analyses. This project has the potential to produce valid and robust results that yield novel insights into the complex phenomena that perpetuate HIV vulnerabilities in drug-using populations. It also aims to inform more effective strategies in epidemiology and public health that lead to comprehensive and equitable HIV prevention strategies for injecting drug users.
Assistant Professor, Economics: $7500
The Origins and Consequences of Group Identity: Evidence from Global Surveys
There is a growing understanding among social scientists that in order to gain a deeper insight of the forces behind economic and political decision making at the individual level, one has to explicitly consider the fact that agents form part of cultural groups. The exploration of the origins and consequences of group identity necessitates micro-level and anthropological data sources that cover a wide range of individual and group-speciﬁc traits. The aim of Michalopoulos’ research is threefold – to investigate the drivers of group formation, to identify the circumstances that accentuate or attenuate the importance of group identity and ﬁnally, to uncover how variation in the salience of group identity determines individual beliefs, values and attitudes towards the society, government, free-market institutions and other groups.
Eric M. Morrow
Assistant Professor, Molecular Biology, Cell Biology, and Biochemistry: $15,000
Studies in Patient-Derived Neurons using Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell (iPSC) Technologies
Intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) are common and are associated with profound emotional and monetary costs. There are currently very few biotherapeutics that target the causative pathophysiology and there are few biomarkers that may serve to predict treatment responses. Morrow’s goal is to dissect the molecular mechanisms underlying abnormalities in postnatal brain development that are associated with IDD. For the first time, Morrow’s team is able to study developing patient neurons in the lab, using an extensive collection of induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) lines from patients with mutations and related controls, and a technique that can differentiate these lines into neurons. This project will yield a mechanistic understanding of how endosomal mechanisms govern postnatal human brain growth, a critical first step in a progression of research that will ultimately lead to the development of new clinically-useful treatments for individuals with IDD or related conditions due to impoverished neuronal arborization and postnatal brain undergrowth.
Assistant Professor, Visual Art: $7,500
The Glittering Garden: An Interactive Sculptural Installation
With this research award Myoda will create an interactive sculptural installation titled The Glittering Garden. The components of the installation will be designed using basic engineering software and fabricated in aluminum and acrylic. The interactive system will include programmable LEDs, ultrasonic sensors, stepper motors and arduino microprocessors. The Glittering Garden will be a richly immersive environment for the viewer(s), with interactions ranging from attraction to repulsion, camouflage to revelation, and predictability to spontaneity.
Assistant Professor, Modern Culture & Media: $7,500
Asian Video Cultures: Comparative Media, Theory, and Regionalisms
This project centers on video as a cultural form and practice across Asia, paying close attention to regional experiences that exceed the foci of North-Atlantic media, cultural, and urban studies, among other disciplines. Neves’ research asks: How do video flows forge new inter-Asian convergences? And how have such phenomena been taken up by critical cultural scholars in distinct, but often interconnected, locations? Extending existing notions of Asia, this project seeks out comparisons and convergences that are not implicit to routine boundaries and imaginations: East Asia, the Pacific Rim, the Indian subcontinent, the former Soviet bloc, etc. Neves will build on numerous valuable studies of Asian media and popular culture, and chart the sub- and supranational exchanges that suggest shifting networks of meaning and practice in the region.
Assistant Professor, Molecular Pharmacology, Physiology and Biotechnology: $14,960
Investigating the Function of a Novel Ultraviolet-Activated Pathway in Mice with Humanized Skin
Human skin is constantly exposed to solar ultraviolet radiation (UVR), a powerful environmental risk factor for skin cancer, which accounts for more than half of all human malignancies. Exposure to low doses of ultraviolet radiation results in increased skin pigmentation, while exposure to high doses correlates with skin cancer. The larger goal of Oancea’s research is to understand the molecular processes that control the human skin’s ability to detect and respond to UVR. Using a newly-developed approach, she will test the function of a recently identified novel pathway in human melanocytes that is activated by UVR, and measure the changes in pigmentation responses as a function of UVR dose and exposure time. Oancea’s experiments will significantly advance our understanding of melanocyte function and of the skin’s response to UVR and will represent an invaluable foundation for future in vivo studies.
Assistant Professor, East Asian Studies: $15,000
Japan’s Korean War: Culture and Politics in the ‘Postwar’ Era
This project contributes to an emerging literature on the cultural history of the 1950s in Japan, which has brought into relief Japan’s deep and abiding connections to the Korean War. Perry’s research seeks to shed light on how members of the ideologically split Communist Party, the divided ethnic Korean community, and the Japanese colonialists repatriated from the former Korean colony experienced the Korean War affectively in Japan. By reading a variety of sources written by members of these three different communities—whose experiences lay in many ways on the margins of mainstream Japan—Perry will offer a new cultural history of “Japan’s Korean War” and a careful examination of how these experiences as well as the memory of the Korean War set in place narratives of class and ethnicity that would continue to be influential in Japan for decades to come.
Robert O. Self
Associate Professor, History: $12,100
The Best Years of Our Lives: Houses, Cars, Children, and American Consumer Economics
Self examines a century in the history of the American consumer economy through the lens of the nuclear family and its lifetime investments in home equity and children and its purchase of automobiles. From the 1910s through the 2010s, he seeks to trace how patterns of domestic consumption have been organized around these three sites or locations: homes, automobiles, and children. At the heart of this research is the evolution of the relationship between household spending, debt, and GDP over the decades between 1910 and the current crisis, and in particular how households have leveraged a variety of resources in distinct periods to sustain or increase levels of consumption. At its broadest, the study is concerned with both the cultural and economic dynamics of these three sites for organizing consumption and their implications for both the domestic life of individual Americans and the economic life of the nation.
Susan E. Short*
Professor, Sociology: $14,901
Social Change, Gender, and Health over the Life Course in China
Using survey data that span over two decades, this project examines the relationship between gender and health over the life course in China. Few studies have described the gender gap in health while taking into account both the age effect, conceptually the effect of gender over the lifespan, and the cohort effect, or the effect of gender on health across different cohorts. In so doing, Short will be well-positioned to contribute to discussion on cumulative disadvantage theory. This work will also contribute to efforts to elaborate the relationship between social change and stratification in China. While numerous studies have examined “who gets ahead” in post-reform China, when gender is considered, it is most often in terms of education or labor market outcomes. This research, with its focus on health, will provide a complementary perspective on gender stratification in post-reform China.
Assistant Professor, Education & History: $13,500
A Reversal of Fortunes: City Schools and Suburban Schools in Metropolitan Chicago, 1945-2000
Steffes’ research explores the city of Chicago and its diverse suburban landscape to ask important and interrelated questions about the relationship between public schooling and postwar patterns of racial and class segmentation in metropolitan areas. By examining how public schooling helped to shape, deepen, and reproduce inequalities across space and time, Steffes contributes to historical efforts to understand the persistence and evolution of racial disparities and social inequalities in an era of civil rights mobilization and growling formal equality. This research also contributes to education history and policy efforts to understand the repeated failures of reform efforts in the era to improve the quality and reputation of urban schools by exploring how this urban school failure was inextricably linked with suburban school success and by illuminating the structures, politics, and unexamined assumptions that have constrained these reform efforts.
*Funded by the International Affairs Faculty Committee through the Office of International Affairs
Associate Professor, Department of Sociology: $15,000
India and China’s “Development Cooperation” with Africa: The Case of Pharmaceutical Companies
Both India and China have dramatically increased their engagement with Africa in recent years. Chorev’s project, one of the first comparative studies in this area, will examine the very different strategies employed by Chinese and Indian pharmaceutical companies when trading with African countries. Through interviews with drug companies in India and China, and distributors and regulators in Nigeria, Tanzania, and Kenya, Chorev will study the strategies employed by the Chinese and Indian companies, the causes for their chosen strategies, and the respective impact they have on the economic and social development in the African countries. Chorev’s research has the potential to make a number of important contributions to current scholarly and policy debates on African development, including insights into the types of commercial relations more likely to be beneficial for the receiving countries.
Assistant Professor, Department of Molecular Pharmacology, Physiology, & Biotechnology: $15,000
Stem cell enrichment via molecular beacon technologies
Adipose-derived stem cells pose exciting possibilities for cell-based regenerative therapies. However, stem cells must first be separated from other cell types before therapeutic use, a process that has proven difficult using standard approaches. Darling offers an alternative strategy using recent findings in his lab that shows molecular beacons can be used to visually identify stem cells that express genes associated with specific tissues, like bone. Since molecular beacons function by emitting narrow wavelengths of light, labeled cells can also then be rapidly sorted via flow cytometry. Furthermore, multiple flourophores can be employed to target several genes simultaneously, which would increase the specificity of the sorting process. Darling aims to develop and evaluate a set of molecular beacons that will facilitate the study of stem cell heterogeneity while also providing possibilities for clinical translation.
Richard and Edna Salomon Assistant Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology: $15,073
Uncovering biases in gene recruitment during the evolution of C4 and CAM photosynthesis in flowering plants
CAM and C4 photosynthetic syndromes have both played fundamental roles in the evolutionary success of flowering plants, but investigations have historically focused on each as separate and unrelated adaptations. Edwards’ novel approach is to study the similarities instead, in the hopes of better understanding the preconditions that would promote the evolution of one pathway over the other. This project will examine a plant lineage that has evolved both CAM and C4syndromes multiple times over the past 30 million years. Edwards will analyze the transcriptomes of select species and identify the major gene lineages that have been recruited into each origin of CAM and C4. Edwards expects to show that, regarding ancestral enzyme diversity, there was not a strong genetic constraint driving the evolution of one syndrome over the other.
Assistant Professor (Research), Population Studies and Training Center; Associate Director, Spatial Structures in the Social Sciences: $15,000
The Geography and Policy of Depopulation in the Developed World: A Pilot Study on Germany and the United States
Research in geography, planning, and related fields typically focuses on issues related to population increase, but for much of the developed world growth in some locations is paired with population decline in others. Franklin’s project will develop two case studies as the basis for a larger research proposal on sources and impacts of population decline in the developed world. The United States represents localized population decline in the context of overall population increase. Germany, in contrast, is a highly developed country faced with the near-term prospect of population decline. Franklin aims to establish the geographical scale of population decline in both countries, to develop a typology of declining places, and to offer an assessment of the range of policy responses proposed in both countries to meet the current and future challenges of population decline.
Assistant Professor, Department of Biostatistics and Center for Statistical Sciences: $15,000
Statistical Methods for Combining Multiple Biomarkers in Cancer Studies
With improved biological and medical technologies, non-invasive and accurate imaging biomarkers are more commonly used for disease diagnosis and screening. The integration of multiple biomarkers has emerged as an important method in cancer management for its potential to improve prognostic or predictive accuracy; however, few statistical methods currently exist to accommodate multiple biomarkers and assess their effectiveness. Kim proposes to develop a novel statistical method for combining multiple, continuous-scale imaging biomarkers to evaluate response to cancer treatment. Additionally, this project will develop user-friendly, open-source software that implements the method developed in this project. Kim’s research has potential clinical roles in individualized cancer therapy and the improved management of cancer patients.
Assistant Professor, Department of Physics: $15,000
Novel statistical techniques in astro-particle physics
Koushiappas aims to tackle one of the most interesting problems in astro-particle physics: the origin of diffuse light at very high energies (γ-rays), or light that does not seem to originate from any sources. An analogy can be made with viewing the distant lights of a city. One cannot distinguish every single light bulb in the city, but collectively one sees "diffuse" light originating from this direction. In astro-particle physics, this diffuse light corresponds to γ-rays, and the physical processes that give rise to γ-rays point to interesting and exotic sources such as active galactic nuclei, black holes, cosmic rays, and perhaps dark matter. Koushiappas will apply novel mathematical techniques to state of the art data from the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. Using this new statistical approach, coupled with experimental data, Koushiappas expects to shed light on the complex properties and origin of γ-rays.
Assistant Professor, Department of Molecular Biology, Cell Biology, and Biochemistry: $15,000
A large-scale drug screen for healthspan-extending interventions
As life expectancy increases in industrialized countries, more people are at risk of chronic age-related diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. An effort is under way to identify pharmacological interventions that can reduce such risks, but large-scale experimental testing of drugs is still prohibitively time-consuming and expensive. To address these challenges, Neretti proposes to perform an in silico large-scale drug screen by using a novel algorithm to compare changes in gene expression across experiments; this algorithm has successfully identified a significant similarity across species between resveratrol treatment and dietary restriction, one of the most robust interventions known to extend lifespan in several model organisms. This methodology aims to identify new associations between existing drugs and healthspan, and will be the basis for additional studies in experimental gerontology.
Assistant Professor, Department of Egyptology and Ancient Western Asian Studies: $15,000
Tracing Middle Babylonian Scholarship: Text, Transmission, and Tradition in Nippur, ca. 1500–1000 BCE
Archaeologists working in Mesopotamia (Iraq) have recovered thousands of clay tablets inscribed with cuneiform writing, many of which the work of ancient scholars who produced various written forms of knowledge, including medicine, divination, and lexicography. This book project will study ancient scholarship in the Babylonian city of Nippur in the late second millennium BCE, a transitional and formative period for cuneiform literature as a whole. Rutz will gather together manuscripts scattered in museum collections in the US, Germany, and Turkey, and study this corpus using a powerful imaging technique, Polynomial Texture Mapping, as well as a well-established platform for digital publication, the Open Richly Annotated Cuneiform Corpus. These digital images and text editions will be used to study the texts’ contents within the wider context of early Mesopotamian scholarship.
Assistant Professor, Department of English: $13,798
The Invention of the Intellectual: Edwardian Fictions of Decline
A growing chorus of writers have recently deplored the demise of the public intellectual in contemporary culture. If the figure of the intellectual is in decline today, when was its height? This project offers a pre-history of the current debate over the death of the intellectual, uncovering the nineteenth-century origins of our idea of the modern intellectual and our fear at its disappearance. Looking at British authors, poets, and social critics of the late nineteenth century and Edwardian period, Ryan’s project examines the crucial role these writers played in shaping public and literary discussions over cultural authority both then and now. Ryan will consider the debates specifically as a response to the increasing professionalization of science at the end of the nineteenth-century.
Assistant Professor, Department of Visual Art:$15,000
A visual artist, Tarentino makes monumental, panoramic watercolor drawings and digitally altered photographic prints that are about transforming the contemporary American vernacular landscape into a fantastic imaginary place. Picture windows are designed for an unobstructed view of the landscape as if through a picture frame. Adopting that framing convention, Tarentino presents in the place of a typical view of a suburban neighborhood, a dreamy, ambiguous view of an otherworldly landscape. Multiple, overlapping curtain‐like layers of sheer fabric will be printed with digital photographs that together form an imaginary landscape constructed like a collage. With a rich surface texture and the physical presence of a large relief sculpture, this project made with digital printing is more like a hybrid of drawing, painting, and sculpture than it is a traditional photographic print. Picture Window will be presented in a solo exhibition in South Korea, in June 2012.
Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science: $13,000
Uncovering Racial Dynamics in American Politics with the 2012 Cooperative Congressional Election Study
Tesler’s research suggests that the election of President Obama ushered in a new contemporary highpoint for the influence of racial considerations in American politics.This project supports the purchase of data from the 2012 Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES) that will provide unparalleled insights necessary to support a comprehensive account of racial dynamics in American politics since the 2008 Election. Access to this data will allow Tesler to develop his research about race and the Obama presidency into a second book, and to advance his secondary research projects on political communications. Moreover, CCES data will become an important public resource for all students of American political behavior at Brown.
Assistant Professor, Department of Modern Culture and Media: $9,000
Forty More Years
Forty More Years will be an hour-long video about the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, FL. Shot on vintage Portapak video cameras, it will adopt the documentary strategies and methods of Four More Years, a canonical videoshot on Portapaks by the guerilla video collective TVTV 1972 at the Republican National Convention in Miami, FL. In this way, Tribe aims to investigate the potential of obsolete video technology for contemporary practice. This project will compare and contrast the 2012 RNC to the 1972 RNC, focusing particularly on the spectacle of political performance and the ways in which it is represented in mainstream media (television) and critiqued in alternative media (guerilla video). Further, Tribe hopes to advance the field of contemporary media art by revisiting a historically important work, and, in so doing, reframing contemporary American party politics as a reenactment of its own history.
Assistant Professor, Department of Music: $12,440
Before the Nation and Beyond Hybridity: Popular Music in Belle Epoque Brazil
Since the 1930s, research on the work of Brazilian popular musicians has been defined by issues of hybridity and national representativity. Earlier music is typically treated as a precursor to representative genres like samba and bossa nova. Tucker argues that a serious consideration of alternate visions of musical activity that informs Brazilian cultural life is overdue. In examining letters, performance programs, sheet music, and criticism from choro music from Brazil’s Old Republic (1889-1930), Tucker means to look beyond the issue of national sentiment, and ask how the era’s musicians and audiences conceived of music’s purpose; how the working out of these ideologies during a musical career led performers to connect different listenerships to different genres; and how these genres thereby came to bear a variety of distinct cultural values.
Assistant Professor, Department of Engineering:$15,000
Tension regulated phase separation in biomimetic multicomponent membranes
Cells and cellular organelles are encapsulated by membranes composed of hundreds of lipids. This lipid diversity is essential for cell functions such as signaling: lipid mixtures organize into rafts, which serve as platforms for molecular-binding events at the membrane interface. Raft dynamics is regulated by physico-chemical variables like composition, temperature, and tension. Vlahovska’s proposed research centers at the effects of tension on raft evolution and stability, which is virtually unexplored due to difficulties in tension control and quantification. Vlahovska proposes the use of electric fields and microfluidic flows to create well-defined tension conditions that will allow her to experimentally investigate lipid demixing and domain evolution in tense membranes. This knowledge will benefit bioengineering applications that exploit cell signaling machinery, e.g., targeted drug delivery.
Assistant Professor, Artemis A.W. and Martha Sharp Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World and Department of Egyptology and Ancient Western Asian Studies: $15,020
The Evolution of Sacred Space in the Abydos North Cemetery
Family seat and burial ground for kings of the First Dynasty, Abydos is one of the most important sites in Egypt. Its mortuary significance, lasting more than 3000 years, was ultimately predicated on the fact that the earliest kings were buried there. Despite the Egyptians’ dependence on a long historical perspective in developing the built and conceptual landscapes of Abydos, most excavations of the area have focused on a single time period. By contrast, Bestock’s project proposes a six-week excavation specifically designed to shed light on the complex process by which later users of Abydos incorporated elements of the past. Building on previous excavations in the Abydos North Cemetery, Bestock will examine remains from three distinct periods of its history.
Linford D. Fisher
Assistant Professor, Department of History: $15,000
Indian and African Slavery in Colonial New England
Although New England successfully reinvented itself as a bastion of liberty in the nineteenth century (vis-à-vis the slave-holding south), the reality in the colonial period was far more complex and interesting. Only recently have scholars begun to unpack the ways in which un-free labor and various forms of enslavement were central to New England social life and economy. Building on recent regional investigations of colonial slavery, this book-length project will bring together for the first time a more comprehensive interpretive narrative of both Indian and African slavery and servitude in New England during the period preceding the Revolutionary War.
Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science: $15,000
Energy Efficiency Exploration in Sensory Network Protocols
Wireless sensor networks are a new class of small, battery-powered computers embedded in the environment and useful in many settings, including industrial, health, urban, and environmental monitoring, home and building automation, agriculture, and disaster warning. The most critical resource when designing and deploying these systems is energy, as it is generally infeasible to replace or recharge their batteries once they are deployed. While much research into energy measurement for these systems has depended on simulations, Fonseca’s previous project involved building Quanto, a system that allows energy measurement of a live network, and evaluating its usefulness on small-scale experiments. This project seeks to address limitations in Quanto’s initial design, and ultimately propose optimizations to new and existing protocols that improve the usefulness and energy efficiency of these networks.
Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology: $15,000
Recalibrating Life: the social lives around prenatal genetic testing in the Arab Muslim World
Genetic screening technologies, which can test fetuses for genetic abnormalities, place prospective parents in the unprecedented role of making decisions about the value of unborn life. Hamdy’s project examines the moral dilemmas surrounding prenatal genetic testing in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, complicating the universalism of Western bioethics and the notion of a singular “Islamic” response to emergent biotechnologies. The goal of the project is not only to provide a rigorous set of questions and guidelines in collaboration with stakeholders, but also to expand the analytical and theoretical frameworks of social scientific approaches to health, biotechnologies, and Islam.
Assistant Professor, Department of Cognitive, Linguistic, and Psychologic Sciences: $8,775
An Expectation-Based Model of Discourse Processing
Research into sentence-level processing has consistently shown that readers do not wait until they have all of the information needed to construct the perceived meaning of the sentence. Rather they use the information at their disposal to generate predictions about likely meanings. Relevant cues can include probabilistic information about the types of structures licensed by the grammar and their relative frequencies, semantic cues, and fine-grained statistical information. This study will test the proposal that an expectation-based processing model can be extended to explain how readers construct meanings of larger works, by using self-paced reading time and visual world paradigms to test predictions against those of a priming based model, which is blind to discourse structure.
Assistant Professor, Department of Molecular Biology, Cell Biology and Biochemistry: $15,000
Establishing sub-nuclear domains of coordinate gene regulation
Coordinate gene regulation is a fundamental biological process essential to all cells. Larschan’s lab studies X-chromosome dosage compensation, a regulatory mechanism that increases transcript levels of genes on the male X-chromosome to equal those on the combined female X-chromosomes, as part of a long-term goal to define how proteins identify their targets within the nucleus. It has been proposed that the Male Specific Lethal complex, central to dosage compensation in Drosophila, first identifies high affinity sites on the male X-chromosome and then spreads along its length, though there currently exists no temporal data to support this model. Larschan’s project will develop an innovative cell induction system to define the dynamics of this process and provide a new paradigm for the establishment of sub-nuclear domains of coordinate gene regulation across species that will be relevant to all biological processes and disease prevention.
Assistant Professor, School of Engineering: $15,000
On the development of a research program in thermoacoustics
Thermoacoustic devices exploit the temperature changes associated with acoustic waves to convert between mechanical and thermal energy. Due to the thermodynamically reversible nature of sound, the energy conversion is efficient. The potential for innovation is far-reaching, with applications in matters of global interest such as water desalination, waste energy harvesting, and spot cooling of electronic circuits. Mandre’s research program, predominantly for undergraduate researchers, proposes scaling down these devices to the centimeter scale and using them to develop new thermoelectric materials, which would open doors to a new field of mechanics in thermoacoustic materials.
Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science and Taubman Center for Public Policy: $14,900
Public Advice: Controlling Knowledge through American Bureaucracy
Greater transparency and public participation in government agencies are commonly prescribed antidotes to bureaucratic secrecy, bias, and expansion of power. Yet, secrecy represents only one side of the power that information confers: government decisions to reveal information represent the second side. Transparency policies, such as public advisory committees, complement secrecy as sources of bureaucratic power. Moffitt’s preliminary analysis suggests that transparency through public committees creates spokesmen for executive branch policy positions and shapes public discourse. By analyzing public committees in the FDA and the Department of Education, this project offers a novel view that runs counter to standard arguments about bureaucratic power and contributes to current debates on the development of transparency policies to encourage agency accountability and capability.
Assistant Professor, Department of Economics and Center for Environmental Studies: $15,000
Reforming Social Protection through NGO Delivery: Impact on Corruption and Food Security
Around the world, grave concerns over food security persist despite the presence of large-scale programs to combat hunger. One such program is the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), a costly and extensive food security program in India. The TPDS uses “Fair Price” shops to sell grains and other goods to poor households at below-market rates. Unfortunately, the design of the program gives the government-appointed shopkeepers a strong incentive to sell goods on the black market. The Government of Punjab has begun experimenting with reforms to TPDS aimed at side-stepping shopkeepers and distributing goods to households through an NGO. This project seeks to evaluate the results of these reforms, consulting closely with the government as we collect, digitize, and analyze a crucial second wave of survey data.
Associate Professor, Department of Music: $15,000
The Puzzle of Musical Property: Decolonization, Digital Technology, and Musical Ownership in the 21st Century
The rise of digital technology, along with the emergence of the indigenous peoples’ movement, has called into question legal and informal norms of musical ownership. In response to rampant Internet filesharing, legislators, entrepreneurs, and musicians have been trying to imagine new normative orders to govern the circulation of music. Meanwhile, developing countries and indigenous peoples have called for an international legal regime to prevent the misappropriation of their culture by outsiders. Perlman’s proposed written account of these debates will examine their history, explain technical details for the non-specialist reader, and locate normative upheavals within a broad socio-cultural context, and as such will be the first major ethnomusicological study of these world-historical changes
Assistant Professor, Department of Cognitive, Linguistic, and Psychological Sciences: $15,011
Neural substrates for target selection for actions
Purposive action requires the selection of a single movement goal toward a target. Studies have shown that structures involved in movement planning and execution often exhibit activity related to target selection. Thus, activity related to eye-movement target selection has been identified in oculomotor areas, whereas activity related to reach target selection has been identified in skeletomotor areas. This project will examine the extent to which eye-movement related brain structures are involved in reach target selection, and conversely which reach-related structures are involved in target selection for eye movements. Results will also have profound implications for ongoing efforts to develop neuroprosthetic devices for people with paralysis or debilitating neurological disorders as well as a humanoid robot equipped with coordinated eye-hand movements.
Associate Professor, Department of Molecular Biology, Cell Biology and Biochemistry: $14,989
In vivo analysis of negative feedback on transcription of BMPs, dpp and gbb
In the development of multicellular organisms, it is essential that cell-cell communication via intracellular signal transduction be regulated on many levels. The BMP signaling system serves as an important regulator of many developmental pathways in both vertebrates and invertebrates. Prior investigations into the regulatory mechanisms underlying the establishment and maintenance of a BMP signaling activity gradient critical for patterning the limb led to the discovery of a negative feedback loop. This project seeks to acquire results from in vivo experiments to address the roles of transcriptional regulators and BMP signaling itself in the expression of BMP ligands dpp and gbb.
Peter Andreas, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science and Watson Institute: $14,500
Smuggling and State-Making: The Politics of Illicit Trade in American History
Andreas’ research traces the too often overlooked role of illicit commerce — and the policing of such commerce — in America’s birth, consolidation, growth, and international engagements. The central question that motivates his book project is: How has illicit trade shaped America, and how has this varied across time and illicit trading activities? In answering this question, he examines America’s engagement with the world as a battle over illicit trade, from smuggling untaxed goods and “trading with the enemy” in defiance of British imperial policies in colonial times, to illicit slave trading and Civil War blockade running in the 19th century, to migrant smuggling and drug trafficking in the 20th century, to “cybersmuggling” in the 21st century.
Carthene Bazemore-Walker, Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry: $15,00
Identification and Characterization of the Adhesive Proteins of Caulobacter Crescentus Holdfast
C. crescentus is a bacterium that permanently attaches itself to marine substrata (including hulls of ships) using an adhesive organelle known as the holdfast — the strongest naturally occurring glue. Insight into the chemical composition of this unique material allows us to understand the properties of aquatic glue at the molecular level and could also lead to the design and synthesis of high performance “biotic” bonding agents. The overall goal of this proposal is to identify and characterize the proteinaeous component of C. crescentusholdfast using liquid chromatography and tandem mass spectrometry.
Wesley H. Bernskoetter, Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry: $15,000
Sedimentary Hydrocarbon Functionalization by First-Row Transition Metals
Reserves of sedimentary hydrocarbons used in transportation fuels have diminished, yet other deposits in the form of tar sands, heavy oils, and natural gas reservoirs remain an expansive resource that are primarily exploited as energy sources — contributing substantially to climate change. A small fraction of these resources are used in the production of recyclable commodity chemicals for manufacturing consumer goods, such as plastics and lubricants; however, the chemical transformation of unreactive alkanes (the main component of sedimentary hydrocarbons) into precursors for commodity chemical production is inefficient. Bernskoetter proposes to develop cobalt and nickel metal sources as economically and chemically viable catalysts for such processes, thus enabling widespread utilization of sedimentary hydrocarbons in recyclable applications and perhaps ultimately fostering society’s responsible stewardship of these valuable resources.
Marcy Brink-Danan, Assistant Professor, Program in Judaic Studies: $15,000
Local News, Global Jews: An Ethnography of European Jewish Journalism
How do today's European minorities imagine the public sphere? How it is imagined for them? What political, economic and social implications do these imaginaries have? “Local News, Global Jews” enters into a timely conversation about Europeans' changing understanding of the public sphere by observing minority media makers, the texts, and the images they produce. We are increasingly subject to popular debates about the “death” and “rebirth” of journalism and, in many locales, a parallel rhetoric applied to Jewish culture itself. This project, the first ethnographic study of Jewish journalism, takes the example of European Jewish news to outline a theory of how minority journalists reckon with the global and local as well as the aesthetic and political pressures that define the publics they produce.
Christian Franck, Assistant Professor, Division of Engineering: $15,000
Custom-built Mechanical Testing Device for Determining Material Properties of Soft Biomaterials
Recent developments and advancements in regenerative medicine and tissue engineering have underscored the need for quantitative approaches and experiments in cell biology. In particular, it is necessary to understand the mechanical properties alongside the biochemistry of artificial tissues to guarantee long-term success after surgical implantation. Traditional mechanical testing devices are generally unable to provide accurate material information for soft biomaterials and tissues, and so Franck proposes to build a mechanical testing device specifically designed to characterize tissue and soft biomaterials for applications to study cell-tissue interactions quantitatively. The results from the mechanical testing device will be used in the development and prediction of cell motility and cell adhesion studies, which results are anticipated to advance our understanding in the emerging fields of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.
Françoise N. Hamlin, Assistant Professor, Departments of History and Africana Studies: $15,000
Coming of Age in the Movement
Few histories of the civil rights movement focus on the children involved. Many of these children, now parents and grandparents, suffered some kind of trauma as a direct result of their activism or the activities around them. This project probes more deeply in the history of children and activism and the direct correlation to and significance of trauma. Hamlin draws on theoretical work from fields such as child psychology, children’s mental health statistics and care, trauma studies, and black communities and mental health. This project demands a rethinking of the civil rights movement history away from the triumphant-oriented narrative toward a more nuanced assessment of the prices paid by those who fought during the black freedom struggle.
Joachim I. Krueger, Professor, Department of Psychology: $13,000
Interpersonal Trust and Self-Regulation
According to most psychological theories, the decision to trust is a positive, if fragile, achievement. In contrast, traditional economists view the decision not to trust as the rational response. Krueger will run three experiments to test, and possibly refute, the following hypothesis: “Before a person decides whether or not to trust another individual, the options of trusting and not trusting are in a state of balance (i.e., they are equally likely to be endorsed a priori).” Guided by theory and research on self-regulation, he expects to find that distrust is a psychological default option, whereas the decision to trust requires mental work.
Ed Osborn, Assistant Professor, Visual Art Department: $15,000
Standing Wave is planned as a large-scale, interactive, and kinetic sound installation that forms deeply layered and visceral patterns of sound and physical motion. A number of speakers and resonating objects are held aloft by a set of tall, flexible, motorized poles that move in large arcs. The motion of these objects resemble both the waving of flags and the launching of catapults; the fluctuation of meaning that this implies is central to the reading of the piece. The title, Standing Wave, describes the reflection and interference patterns created by sound waves as they dissipate their energy in an enclosed space — patterns that define the space acoustically as the patterns themselves are contoured by that same space.
Domenico Pacifici, Assistant Professor, Division of Engineering: $15,000
High-throughput, Polychromatic, Compact Interferometric Sensor Array for Label-free Detection of Chemical and Biological Analytes
Detection of extremely diluted chemical and biological species is generally accomplished by using low throughput, non-scalable methods that rely on labeling the target analyte to reveal the presence of specific molecules within a single device. Pacifici proposes a new type of nanofabricated bio-chemical sensor, consisting of a dense, planar array of submicron-size interferometers milled in a thin metal film, each working as an individually addressable device, integrated on a single lab-on-a-chip. This approach relaxes the labeling requirements of conventional devices, allowing for unprecedented high throughput, universal sensing capabilities in an ultra-compact geometry.
Stephen Parman, Assistant Professor, Department of Geological Sciences: $14,900
Atom Probe Tomography of Geologic Materials
Atom-probe tomography (APT) is a rapidly advancing analytical technique holding great promise for geological sciences due to its unique combination of extremely high spatial resolution along with high sensitivity. A recent technology breakthrough has allowed pulsed-lasers to assist the analyses, so that now semi-conducting samples may be analyzed. The bulk of planets, as well as the moon, are made of Fe-bearing minerals that are semi-conductors. Thus laser-assisted APT has potential applications in nearly all geoscience fields, although to our knowledge, it has yet to be applied in geoscience. Parman’s proposed research explores the potential for APT analysis of both natural and synthetic geomaterials, focusing specifically on the mineral olivine, which is a main constituent mineral of many planetary interiors.
Rebecca Weitz-Shapiro, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science and Taubman Center for Public Policy: $15,000
“Rouba, mas faz?”: Understanding Popular Attitudes Towards Corruption in Latin America
Indices published by the World Bank and Transparency International repeatedly rank Latin America’s democracies as among the most corrupt places in the world to do business. Cultural explanations are often used to explain the prevalence of corruption in the developing world, and the existence in the region of phrases such as rouba, mas faz — “he robs, but he gets things done” — seem to support this. However, cultural explanations overlook the possibility that voters choose to overlook political corruption only if they believe that politicians are otherwise competent at their jobs. This project will investigate popular attitudes towards corruption in Latin America, paying particular attention to citizen perceptions of the potential trade-offs between politician corruption and competence.
Mark Zervas, Assistant Professor, Department of Molecular Biology, Cell Biology, and Biochemistry: $15,000
Genetic Dissection of Midbrain Dopamine Neuron Diversity
Heterogeneity of neuronal cell types is essential for the diverse functions of the mammalian nervous system including movement and cognition. Parkinson’s disease and schizophrenia are devastating neurological diseases and significant human health issues that involve midbrain dopamine neurons. These disorders arise from different etiologies and affect distinct subtypes of dopamine neurons. A currently problem is that we do not understand how dopamine neuron dichotomy is established during development. This project will identify novel genes that control the molecular identity of distinct classes of dopamine neuron progenitors. Determining the genetic logic that controls progenitor diversity will be instructive for understanding neural development. Additionally, uncovering how dopamine neuron progenitors are allocated will likely provide a molecular scaffold that can be exploited to effectively guide stem cells to acquire a unique dopamine identity.
Rosa M. Cho, Assistant Professor, Education: $15,000
Maternal Incarceration and Children’s Outcomes
Until now, analysis of the effect of maternal incarceration on children has been limited to existing studies that are narrow in scope, size and reach. Empirical literature offers little insight into the effects of the schooling environment, receipt of social welfare services, and the intervention of child protective services on their well-being. Employing a range of social science disciplines, from economics to psychology and sociology, Cho will examine a large, longitudinal population-based sample to provide information on both the short-term and long-term effects of maternal incarceration.
Kfir Eliaz, Associate Professor, Economics: $15,000
Decision making Under Ambiguity: Unknown probabilities vs. Unknown Outcomes
Almost all major decisions are reached with incomplete information. However, the research that grounds decision theory has relied solely on uncertain probabilities about certain outcomes. Eliaz will first aim to provide experimental evidence that individuals’ attitude towards ambiguity is sensitive to the domain of ambiguity. Moreover, an individual may be ambiguity averse when only probabilities are unknown but ambiguity loving when only outcomes are unknown. Then Eliaz will propose alternative models that accommodate these possible reversals in individuals’ attitude towards ambiguity. His findings will reach beyond economics into other fields that study decision-making and uncertainty, including psychology, cognitive language sciences, and neuroscience.
Paja Faudree, Assistant Professor, Anthropology: $15,000
The Ruins of Babel: Linguistic Difference, Social Movements, and Violence
Dr. Faudree identifies a “systematic linguistic blind spot” — inattention to the practical consequences of language diversity — in both popular and scholarly writing on ethnic violence and cross-cultural social movements. As a remedy, Faudree will combine archival, oral historical, and ethnographic research to illuminate how language difference has been a factor in political violence and popular protest in Oaxaca from the Mexican Revolution of 1910 to the national teachers’ strike of 2006. The research will offer a fresh perspective on the practical politics by which social movements coalesce and social conflicts unfold.
Ömür Harmanşah, Assistant Professor, Artemis A.W. and Martha Sharp Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World and Department of Egyptology and Ancient Western Asian Studies: $15,000
Southern Beysehir Lake Basin Archaeological Research Project: First Field Season
Despite the growing scholarship on “places” and their meanings, little has been done to explore them on the ground. Harmanşah will investigate what ‘took place’ at the sites of carved rock reliefs and spring sanctuaries in Central Turkey that date from the Late Bronze and Early Iron Ages (ca. 1500-830 BC). Juxtaposing survey strategies of settlement archaeology, geomorphological analysis of changing landscapes, and the ethnographic and ethnohistorical research on the more recent past, he will explore everyday human activities that create fragile but culturally meaningful localities.
Margot I. Jackson, Assistant Professor, Sociology; Affiliate, Population Studies and Training Center, Spatial Structures in the Social Sciences: $15,000
Nativity Differences in Health Trajectories During Adolescence and the Transition to Adulthood: Patterns, Determinants and Consequences in the United States
Roughly 20% of U.S. youth are first- or second-generation, meaning they were born abroad or have at least one foreign-born parent. How this group fares will reflect in patterns of social inequality and health, as well as in the composition and performance of the educational and health care systems. Current research suffers from two important limitations: a focus on infancy and a reliance on cross-sectional data that cannot identify long-term patterns and changes in those patterns over time. Jackson will analyze longitudinal data to identify nativity differences in adolescent health trajectories, as well as their socioeconomic determinants and consequences.
Eunsuk Kim, Assistant Professor, Chemistry: $15,000
Development of Biomimetic Catalysts for Carbon Dioxide Conversion
In a timely response to the urgent need for alternative fuel sources and carbon reduction, Kim’s project will attempt to synthesize CO2-reducing mechanisms found in nature. While research has established how enzymes work to reduce carbon in nature, this is the first time this process will be replicated. New inorganic catalysts to convert carbon to useful fuels, such as methane or methanol, will be developed, along with revolutionary ways to reduce carbon in our environment.
Jessaca Leinaweaver, Assistant Professor, Anthropology: $13,500
Transnational circulations: Peruvian migrants and adoptees in Spain
While many social scientists study the issues of labor migration, refugees and trafficking in terms of nation states, this project will focus through the unique lens of kinship. Leinaweaver will compare the lives of two populations of Peruvians in Spain: labor migrants and adopted children. Spain is a top foreign recipient of both Peruvian children in adoption and Peruvian migrant labor. The research will explore how the presence of one such “migrant” affects the integration and existence of another. Her work will lay a qualitative foundation for the concept of international adoption as a kind of migration.
Jason K. Sello, Assistant Professor, Chemistry: $15,000
Development of New Chemical Methods for the Analysis of Metabolites in Biological Samples
The goal of this project is to develop new chemical technologies that will facilitate characterization of metabolites. Given the universality of most low-molecular weight metabolites across all kingdoms of life, it is anticipated that the project’s methods will have a broad impact on research in the life sciences and in diagnostic medicine. Prof. Sello will use these technologies to engineer Streptomyces bacteria for the production of useful antibiotics. These bacteria are best known as producers of half of the 10,000 antibiotics discovered in the past sixty years; they produce two-thirds of the antibiotics used in clinical medicine as antimicrobial drugs, anticancer agents, and immunosuppressants. The proposed work will place Brown University at the forefront of metabolic engineering and analysis, burgeoning areas of biotechnology and medicine.
Jessica H. Whiteside, Assistant Professor, Geological Sciences: $15,000
Tropical Climate Forcing and Biotic Provinciality in Triassic-Jurassic Pangea
Based on an analysis of the distribution of terrestrial biotic communities on the supercontinent of Pangea, which lacked significant geographic barriers, biotic provinciality develops due to climatic zonation, including patterns of variability, and ecological barriers. This project aims to collect and analyze core samples from the Triassic (220 Ma) Deep River basin, the Dan River Basin and the Newark Basin in order to examine the correlation between climate proxies and biotic provinces of tetrapods within narrow swaths of time constrained by existing paleomagnetic stratigraphy and cyclostratigraphy. Data and conclusions from this project will form the basis for several research proposals to extramural programs, and will contribute to the development of a tropical continental paleoclimate research program in the Department of Geological Sciences at Brown.
Vazira Fazila-Yacoobali Zamindar, Assistant Professor, History: $15,000
Ruined Histories: Archaeology, Islam and the Making of Gandhara Art in Divided South Asia
This project engages contemporary questions around Islam's relationship to non-Islamic material culture by investigating the colonial and postcolonial history of a World Heritage Gandharan Buddhist site, Takht-e-Bahi, in a Muslim region on the northwestern frontier of Pakistan. It examines transformations in the meaning of the ruins through the discursive and institutional interventions of archaeology ‘on the ground’, and how they shaped relationships of Muslims to the site. The Salomon Grant will enable Zamindar to draw upon her well-established personal and research networks in Pakistan to conduct potentially path-breaking research where few, if any, American scholars are able to go at present.
Rashid Zia, Assistant Professor, Engineering: $15,000
Direct Laser-Writing of Epitaxial Graphene
This Salomon project explores a new fabrication technique which leverages the electromagnetic resonances to synthesize graphene – an electronic material of tremendous potential. In collaboration with the Molecular Beam Epitaxy Laboratory of Professor Rod Beresford, this project investigates a selective laser irradiation technique to grow patterned, large area graphene devices on insulating CMOS compatible substrates.
Inscriptions are to students of ancient society what documents are to historians of more modern periods: essential primary sources. Their publication in print, however, has always been problematic and is becoming increasingly impractical. Brown has rich but scattered resources in the emerging area of digital epigraphy; a central administrative umbrella for projects in this area will facilitate cross-fertilization and will enable more efficient use of existing resources. It will also establish Brown as a leader in the field nationally and, in certain respects, internationally. For the first year, the Center will support two existing projects, “The U.S. Epigraphy Project” and “Inscriptions of Israel/Palestine.”
Nitsan Chorev, Assistant Professor, Sociology: $15,000
From Smallpox to HIV/AIDS: On the Global Governance of Health
Health policies advocated by international organizations have rarely been based on biomedical knowledge alone. Rather, international health policies, like other international initiatives, reflect political considerations and economic calculations. Chorev’s proposed book project will offer the first comprehensive analysis of the political-economic dynamics underlying international health cooperation, from the establishment of the U.N. World Health Organization in the 1940s to the present. Drawing on an extensive original research, Chorev will examine how North-South relations, struggles among international organizations, and the rise of multinational corporations, private foundations and non-governmental organizations, affected the shifts in international health policies.
Deborah Cohen, Associate Professor, History: $15,000
Family Secrets: The Rise of Confessional Culture in Britain, 1840-1990
Cohen examines the interplay between families and secrecy over the course of a century in a half in Britain. Charting the shifting boundaries between what was considered private or shameful, and what could be freely disclosed, she makes two main arguments. First, there is no straightforward story of progressive, enlightened de-closeting to be told; different family secrets had different trajectories. Second, families did not simply enforce social norms. Rather, they played a crucial role in arbitrating and even creating them. Cohen’s grant will fund archival research in Britain. Her book, “Family Secrets,” is under contract to Viking Penguin.
Sarah Delaney, Assistant Professor, Chemistry: $15,000
Elucidating the Roles of DNA Damage and Repair in Trinucleotide Repeat Expansion
The molecular basis for a family of neurological disorders, including Huntington’s disease and fragile X syndrome, is the expansion of a trinucleotide repeat region of DNA. These repetitive regions are known to form non-canonical secondary structures and, furthermore, recent work in mice has implicated DNA damage and repair in the expansion. Delaney plans to study the mechanism by which the disease-initiating expansion occurs by unraveling the connections between secondary structure, DNA damage, and repair. A molecular level understanding of how the expansion occurs will enable the design of agents to inhibit this process and consequently prevent a variety of neurological disorders.
Gerwald Jogl, Assistant Professor, Molecular Biology, Cell Biology and Biochemistry: $15,000
Structural Biology of the Human Sir2 homolog, Sirt6, in complex with the Gcip tumor suppressor
Mammalian homologues of the yeast Sir2 histone deacetylase target a multitude of cellular proteins in addition to histones. These enzymes function as protein deacetylases or ADP-ribosyltransferases and have been implicated in processes such as chromatin regulation, DNA maintenance, and energy metabolism. They are considered promising targets for drug development against cancer and aging-related diseases. Human Sirt6 is a chromatin-associated protein, which is essential in DNA base-excision repair. Jogl’s research will attempt to determine the three-dimensional structure of Gcip (Grap2 and Cyclin D Interacting Protein) alone and in complex with Sirt6 to study the structure and function of their interaction.
Stratis Papaioannou, Assistant Professor, Classics: $14,600
Study, Edition, and Translation of the Writings of Michael Psellos (11th cent., Byzantium)
Prolific writer, ingenious courtier, and radical thinker, Michael Psellos (1018 - ca. 1078, Constantinople) represents Byzantine culture at a transitional moment. The eleventh-century is a time when across Europe a movement from premodern to modern cultural patterns is palpable, and Psellos, writing in Medieval Greek, is the earliest and most eloquent figure of this transition. Papaioannou has a comprehensive approach to his research on Psellos: he is completing a study of Psellos' aesthetics and autobiography, editing Psellos' letter-collection for the Teubner Series, and, in collaboration with an international team of scholars, he is preparing an anthology of Psellos' texts in English translation.
Sherief Reda, Assistant Professor, Engineering: $15,000
ProHunter: A Platform to Accelerate Protein Identification from Mass-Spectrometry Data
Mass-spectrometry based proteomics is a powerful technology for protein identification. One of the main challenges in this technology is the sheer volume of data that needs to be processed and analyzed. Despite the algorithmic advances in the last few years, mass spectrometry data analysis remains computationally challenging. Reda’s project will be the design and implementation of a new reconfigurable software/hardware platform that accelerates protein identification from mass spectrometry data using commodity hardware components. In addition to increased speed of computation (more than 1000x), the proposed platform will allow researchers to substitute bulky computer cluster nodes with a small inexpensive device running the same computations much faster and at a much reduced cost.
Deborah Rivas-Drake, Assistant Professor, Education: $15,000
An Examination of Changes in Ethnic Identity and Campus Engagement Among Latino College Students Over One Year
Rivas-Drake’s research will examine the identity processes and academic and social adaptations of Latino students in higher education settings. One of her goals is to identify specific ways in which academic and social contexts inform Latino students' ethnic identity beliefs. She also seeks to identify the ways in which ethnic identity beliefs influence students’ decisions regarding how to spend their time in terms of academic work, extracurricular involvement, and recreational activities. Understanding changes in Latino students’ decision-making processes longitudinally will provide critical insight for programmatic efforts aimed at retaining such students in higher education.
Joseph "Butch" Rovan, Associate Professor, Music: $13,700
Studies in Movement
Studies in Movement pays homage to the great French physiologist and inventor Etienne-Jules Marey (1830-1904). Marey analyzed, by means of non-invasive sensor systems and stop-action photography, the motion of humans and animals in the natural world. Rovan’s multimedia project, which includes musical composition along with the development of custom gestural interfaces of his own design, will reconsider Marey’s legacy by combining his words and images with new sounds and gestures. The material for the performance aspect of the project—text, music, and image—will draw on Marey’s considerable vision: technical writings, photographs, engravings, and the mysterious graphic tracings from a wide array of his uncommon writing machines.
Vivek Shenoy, Associate Professor, Engineering: $15,000
Mechanics of intracellular pathogens and biomimetic systems propelled by actin comet tails
A number of pathogenic bacteria responsible for diseases like listeriosis, meningitis and gastroenteritis hijack the protein machinery of the infected cells to form a filamentous actin comet tail that propels them within these cells and to other cells in their neighborhood. A physical understanding of the forces that lead to this motion can provide a means to control spreading of infections to healthy cells. Shenoy’s preliminary research has derived a dynamic model that provides a unified description of the seemingly unrelated trajectories of bacteria. The goal of his proposed work is to understand how macroscopic variables in the trajectories are related to molecular level properties of the actin filament network such as the statistical distributions of their lengths and orientations, degree of cross-linking and kinetics of polymerization.
Marcus Spradlin, Assistant Professor, Physics: $15,000
New Computational Methods in High Energy Physics
Spradlin's research has focused on the development of efficient new algorithms for performing otherwise formidable calculations in gauge theories such as quantum chromodynamics, which describes the strong nuclear force. This project aims to put these theoretical advances to practical use by involving Brown undergraduates in building efficient and user-friendly computer software tools. This project will lead to technology that would be of great benefit to the field, rendering feasible a number of important calculations in theoretical physics which are presently out of reach.
Tracy Steffes, Assistant Professor, Education: $15,000
A New Education for a Modern Age: School, Society, and State, 1890-1940
Steffes’ project explores the efforts of reformers to define a “new education” for modern, industrial society in the early twentieth century. She will analyze the ways in which the organizational changes in schooling extended the reach and power of the school and the state over young people in new ways. In taking a national approach and placing it within the broader context of American responses to modernity and American political development, this project offers a significant reinterpretation of educational development in this period which places the growing role of state authority and national policymaking at the center.
Daniel M. Weinreich, Assistant Professor, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology: $16,000
The Genetic Basis of Adaptation to Novel Environments in Laboratory Microbial Populations
Since Charles Darwin’s observation that natural selection occurs whenever individuals that reproduce more successfully transmit at least some reproductive advantage to their offspring, theory has far outstripped data. Biological novelties often arise when an organism’s environment changes, but the genetic details of this process remain largely unknown. Weinreich’s proposal uses the bacterium Escherichia coli to test the importance of preexisting genetic variation when adapting to new environments. The theoretically most intriguing possibility is that mutants with lower than average fitness in their own environment have higher than average fitness in a new environment.
Ana Baylin, Assistant Professor, Community Health: $15,000
Genetic Modification of Triggers of Acute Myocardial Infarction
Baylin's overall objective is to identify genetic modifiers of triggers of acute myocardial infarction by examining genes involved in the beta-adrenergic pathway and the caffeine metabolism pathway. Using a novel case-crossover design, it has been established that heavy physical exertion and coffee are potential triggers of acute myocardial infarction. This study offers an unusual opportunity to expand our understanding of how genetic background can modify the triggering effect of transient risk exposures and will help us in identifying subgroups of individuals who may be more responsive to the adverse health effects of some triggers than others.
Richard J. Bennett, Assistant Professor, Molecular Microbiology and Immunology: $15,000
Genetic Epigenetic Variation in the Human pathogen Candida albicans
C. albicans is normally a commensal organism, living as a benign part of the microflora in the gastrointestinal tract. However, it is also an opportunistic pathogen and is capable of causing life-threatening systemic disease due to its ability to exist in many host environments. C. albicans has evolved adaptive mechanisms to populate and thrive in diverse niches, and Bennett's research focuses on the adaptations that have made it efficient at colonization and infection in the host. Bennett will focus on an epigenetic process that allows C. albicans to undergo a rapid and metastable switch in phenotype.
Wayne D. Bowen, Professor, Molecular Pharmacology, Physiological, and Biotechnology: $15,000
Correlation of Sigma-1 Receptor Expression and Function with Indicators of Tumor Aggressiveness and Metastatic Potential
This study focuses on the major contributor to cancer deaths: tumor metastasis. Recognizing that rapidly dividing tumor cells and cells that are highly motile have a greater chance for metastasis, Bowen will study Sigma-1 receptors. These receptors serve as ligand-regulated amplifiers of calcium signaling by enhancing the inositol triphosphate-induced release of calcium from the endoplasmic reticulum when agonist activation of G-protein coupled receptors stimulates phosphoinosite turnover. This study will utilize related breast tumor cell lines, MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231, which are weakly and strongly metastatic, respectively, and Bowen's sigma-1 overexpressing cells, Line 41. Bowen and his team will attempt to correlate the expression level of sigma-1 receptors to proliferative rate, sensitivity to mitogens, and changes in cell motility. The study could lead to use of sigma-1 receptor expression as a marker for metastatic potential and as a target for drugs that block proliferation by blocking the receptor.
Elizabeth J. Bryan, Associate Professor, English: $5,670
Vernacular Text Production in Medieval England and Spain
This project focuses on the emergence of early Middle English texts in the late 12th and early 13th centuries. Bryan will investigate the possibility that the political relationships between Plantagenet monarchs of England and the royal houses of Castile in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries created a climate in which the "idea" of producing texts in vernacular languages, rather than in Latin, might have been mutually influential.
Caroline Castiglione, Assistant Professor, Italian Studies: $7,935
Extravagant Pretensions: Women and Family Conflict in the Public Sphere of Rome, 1650-1750
In early modern Rome, aristocratic family conflicts were negotiated by very public means: petitions, letters, trials, and new spheres of sociability, the "conversazioni." To the regret of some male contemporaries, women frequently reshaped popular opinion in their favor, and won the support of popes and papal magistrates. In Castiglione's project female and male viewpoints will be comparatively analyzed to further our understanding of how aristocratic Roman families survived and were influenced by such controversies. The study will also illuminate the origins of the greater freedoms women came to enjoy in the eighteenth century, the respective roles that women and men played, and the larger impact of such changes on the culture of early modern Rome.
John Cherry, Professor, Classics and the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World: $15,000
The Vorotan Project, Southern Armenia: 2007 Season
Cherry's archaeological research explores the long-term human utilization of the Vorotan River corridor (Syunik marz, Republic of Armenia). The team's interests, encouraged by successful fieldwork in 2005 and 2006, revolve around the diachronic record of settlement and exploitation of this river course, and the strategic history of what has long been a recognized passageway for movement, contact, and exchange within the southern Caucasus. In 2007 Cherry will focus on four specific goals for fieldwork: 1) Regional connectivity and control, 2) Test excavations, ceramic study and architectural mapping, 3) Mortuary landscape analysis, and 4) Obsidian studies.
Jennifer Dworak, Assistant Professor, Engineering: $15,000
An Investigation of Pattern-Limited Test Sets for the Detection of Errors Caused by Random Defects, Systematic Defects, and Process Variations
Achieving adequate reliability of integrated circuits (ICs) is a critical problem facing today's semiconductor industry, especially as fabrication processes shrink below 90 nanometers to 65 and 45 nanometers and beyond. As feature sizes decrease systematic defects and process variations become increasingly significant. Dworak's research will explore the detection of systematic and random defects with test sets of limited size. This research will determine the degree to which defects can be detected on groups of ICs with varying defect and process variation characteristics as a function of test set length and quality.
Thalia Field, Assistant Professor, Literary Arts: $15,000
Using primary source materials, Field is researching a book entitled, Experimental Animals. Her work inhabits a territory where cultural/science history and innovative fiction overlap. Her passionate stories intertwine through various narrative “experiments,” emerging into a portrait of science and aesthetics as they become increasingly specialized and bound together in the modernist imagination. This project brings together the historical root of the aesthetic term “experimental” and the cultural, scientific and ethical implications of vivisection as it mobilized the artists and scientists of the 19th century.
Matthew Garcia, Associate Professor, American Civilization: $15,000
The Rise and Fall of the Farmworkers Movement: Race, Labor and Justice on the California-Mexican Border, 1940-1980
Garcia's study will explore the Farmworkers Movement from its formation to the purges and defections of key organizers and members of the United Farmworkers Union (UFW). This work focuses on the grassroots efforts of ordinary people, men and women, in the making of a social movement. This project seriously examines the successes and shortcomings of the movement so that we may understand the degraded status of workers who feed the nation and the world today.
Mark Johnson, Assistant Professor, Molecular Biology, Cell biology and Biochemistry: $15,000
How do gametes fuse? Identification of Egg-expressed Proteins Required for Sperm-Egg Fusion
Fertilization is of central importance to the life cycle of all sexual organisms, yet we know very little about the molecules responsible for the fusion of gametes. Using a genetic screen, Johnson has analyzed fertilization mechanisms in the flowering plant, Arabisppsis thaliana and identified a mutation, HAP2, a sperm-expressed gene essential for fertilization. The HAP2 gene encodes a membrane localized and sperm-specific protein. Johnson hypothesizes that HAP2 protein on the surface of the sperm interacts directly with proteins on the surface of the egg and that these protein:protein interactions mediate sperm:egg fusion. Johnson proposes to identify proteins that interact with HAP2 and are required for fertilization.
David Lindstrom, Associate Professor, Sociology and PSTC: $15,000
Migration and Marriage: Union Formation and Dissolution among Mexican Women in Mexico and the U.S.
Using data which provides a unique bi-national, nationally representative pooled sample, Lindstrom examines the impact of U.S. migration on union formation and dissolution among Mexican origin women. The primary objectives of this study are: 1) describe the marital experiences of Mexican origin women in the United States and Mexico, 2) compare marital patterns for first and second generation Mexican immigrant women to non-migrant women in Mexico and native non-Hispanic white women in the United States, 3) identify the relative impact of migrant selectivity, time spent in the United States, and immigrant generation on the likelihood of entry into a union, type of union (marriage verses cohabitation), and union stability.
G. Tayhas R. Palmore, Associate Professor, Engineering: $15,000
Improving the Stability of Polymer-Based Batteries
This proposal seeks to evaluate the stability of polymer-bases batteries for energy storage recently developed in Palmore's laboratory. Palmore's team will fabricate battery prototypes and subject said prototypes to a fixed load for repeated cycles of recharging and discharging. The prototypes will be dismantled and their polymer composites evaluated for mechanisms of degradation (oxidation, leaching of components, dendritic growth) using a variety of spectroscopic and imaging tools (NMR, FTIR, UV-Vis, SEM, AFM, STM, and XPS). Once primary mechanisms of degradation are identified, Palmore will modify the polymer composites to circumvent these deficiencies.
James M. Russell, Assistant Professor, Geological Sciences: $14,850
Paleoclimate Changes and Tropical Glacier Dynamics in the Rwenzori Mountains, Uganda-Congo
Understanding the causes, magnitudes, and frequency of decade-to-century-scale climate variability is crucial to future climate prediction and the development of sound water resource management strategies in sub-Saharan African, yet out knowledge of these events remains rudimentary due to a lack of long, quantitative, high-resolution paleoclimate records. Russell will conduct fieldwork to recover sediment cores from six lakes in the Rwenzori Mountains, and will make laboratory investigations of the age, composition, and stratigraphy of those cores to understand climate variability and glacial history in this unique alpine ecosystem.
Hilary Silver, Associate Professor, Sociology and Urban Studies: $15,000
Explaining Neighborhood Change: The Case for South Providence
Silver's research examines whether Providence's redevelopment or local efforts mainly account for improvements and demographic changes visibly occurring on the South Side of Providence, and whether the improvements represent incumbent upgrading or gentrification. What is the impact of downtown redevelopment on low-income, minority neighborhoods? The answer is of practical as well as scholarly significance. Learning who benefits from urban economic growth obviously has implications for policy, but is also at the center of theories in the fields of urban planning, sociology, economics, and politics. Each discipline helps explain why neighborhood renewal varies across places.
Richard Snyder, Associate Professor, Political Science: $15,000
Does Lootable Wealth Breed Chaos? Natural Resources and Political Order in Comparative Perspective
With the main empirical focus of the project being the three Andean countries that are major producers of illicit drugs (Bolivia, Colombia, and Peru), Snyder will develop and test a novel theory of the contrasting political consequences of lootable wealth. Defining lootable wealth as high-value goods with low economic barriers to entry, Snyder argues that different types of institutions of extraction can be constructed on such goods -- with contrasting consequences for political stability. Within this political economy framework, Snyder will advance a more powerful theory of collapsed states and civil war, one that accounts both for disorder and order in the face of lootable wealth.
Suzanne Stewart-Steinberg, Assistant Professor, Italian Studies and Comparative Literature: $15,000
A History of Italian Repression
Stewart-Steinberg's analysis of Italian culture that begins with 1900 and ends in the present day is centered on a kind of knot tied around the problem of repression, a term that she understands in two senses: as a political term, one that must ask the question of the factuality and the legacy of Italian fascism, but also as a term understood in its psychoanalytic sense, that is, as the creation of both an individual and a cultural unconscious. Stewart-Steinberg will argue that these two meanings of the term are inextricably linked. While, the relative lack of impact of psychoanalysis in Italy has been amply noted, the connection between this lack and the history of Italian fascism has not. In this study, Stewart-Steinberg proposes to investigate precisely this connection, which, she believes, is crucial to furthering our understanding of not only Italian fascism itself, but also of those cultural forces that produced it and then, in its aftermath, dominated the cultural landscape of Italy until the present day.
Mark S. Bauer, M.D., Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior
“Mad” Poets: Description, Deconstruction, and Destigmatization
This project focuses on the relationship of major mental illness to the creative process, in particular poetry. Unfortunately, much of the current discussion devolves to the level of “Was the poet ‘mad’ when s/he wrote this?” and “Does ‘madness’ help or hinders the poetic process?” Bauer’s work both as a published poet and as an internationally recognized expert in psychiatric diagnosis will provide a unique opportunity to bring both literary critical and clinical research experience to bear on these issues.
Janet Blume, Associate Professor, Engineering; Edward K.S. Chien, Assistant Professor, Obstetrics and Gynecology; Pradeep R. Guduru, Assistant Professor, Engineering
Measurement of Stress-Strain Response of the Cervix
This project will research the biomechanical properties of the cervix. Failure of normal cervical function leads to pregnancy loss and prematurity when it occurs early in gestation or results in prolonged pregnancy and cesarean section when it occurs late in pregnancy. This proposal brings together engineering and obstetrics to develop a device that will be used to measure the biomechanics of the cervix. The device will be used to investigate mechanisms responsible for cervical regulation and will provide quantifiable measures that can be mathematically modeled. In addition, this project will provide interdisciplinary research experience for Brown students, who will play an important role in the experiment analysis.
Keith Brown, Assistant Professor (Research), Thomas J. Watson Institute; James Der Derian, Professor (Research), Thomas J. Watson Institute; Catherine Lutz, Professor, Department of Anthropology
Cultural awareness in military operations: The production of knowledge through doctrine, training, education and simulation
Drawing primarily on qualitative social scientific methods, this project will document and analyze the growing attention paid to culture by U.S. and UN military institutions since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. It focuses on how the challenges of missions such as Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq have driven attempts by military planners and field commanders to define, acquire, disseminate and deploy knowledge about culture. It also explores the ethical and epistemological questions that these military operations raise for professional cultural analysts in the academy, whose input national and international organizations are now seeking.
Will Fairbrother, Assistant Professor, Molecular, Cellular Biology Biochemistry
Discovering Combinatorial Codes in Splicing
This project focuses on modules that are a combination of sequence elements in DNA or RNA that recruits multiple trans-acting factors which function in a coordinated fashion. Several computational methods have been developed to explore these higher order relationships in the field of transcription. Professor Fairbrother will apply these approaches to address an analogous problem in the field of splicing. The experiments are intended to discover how particular combinations of splicing elements are used to regulate alternative splicing.
Dmitri Feldman, Assistant Professor, Department of Physics
Spin Transport in Quantum Wires
This project focuses on the theoretical investigation of quantum transport in nanostructures. Professor Feldman proposes a new method of spin current generation and manipulation in quantum wires, called “the spin ratchet effect”. This effect plays the same role for spintronics as rectification plays in electronics. Insight from this research will be used to understand spin transport in realistic quantum wires, potentially leading to the development of new principles of nanodevices.
Oded Galor, Professor, Department of Economics
Economic Development and Human Evolution
This interdisciplinary research will explore the dynamic interaction between human evolution and the process of economic development. It will advance a unified evolutionary growth theory that will generate hypotheses about the interplay between the process of development and human evolution, shedding new light about the origin of the observed evolution of health, life expectancy, human capital, and risk aversion since the Neolithic revolution.
Katrina L. Gamble, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science
Having a Seat at the Table: Race, Representation and Deliberation in the United States Congress
The project seeks to examine the possible link between racial diversity in Congress and expanded political deliberations. Does the presence of black legislators allow for more diverse political views to be discussed in Congress? More blacks and Latinos were elected to Congress in 2004 than ever before, making the 109th Congress the most diverse in history of the United States. Consensus on how increased diversity affects policy outcomes seems to evade scholars and political analysts and therefore efforts to understand how to provide marginalized constituencies with equitable political representation remain a fertile area for democratic scholarship. This study will contribute to broader discussions about the value of descriptive representation of democratic ideals.
Robert E. Gramling, Assistant Professor, Department of Family Medicine
Family history, inflammatory status and coronary heart disease mortality
A family history of early-onset heart disease is a strong predictor of coronary heart disease yet the mechanism underlying this complex association is poorly understood. Family history is associated with inflammatory status and inflammation predicts cardiac-related death. This project will investigate the degree to which baseline inflammatory status explains this relationship between family history and cardiac death.
Karl Jacoby, Associate Professor, Department of History
Shadows at Dawn: The Camp Grant Massacre and the Borderlands of History
On April 30, 1871, a group of Mexican Americans, Anglos, and Tohono O’odham Indians attacked a newly created Apache reservation in Arizona Territory known as Camp Grant. Striking at dawn, the attackers killed some 150 sleeping Apaches, all but eight of them women or children. This premeditated assault remains among the largest mass murders of women and children in United States history. In spite of the event’s significance, however, there exists no scholarly history of the “Camp Grant Massacre.” Jacoby’s goals in writing the first such study are to recapture an incident now unknown to most Americans and to grapple with one of the most difficult questions of the historical enterprise. How does one narrate the history of an atrocity?
Odest Chadwicke Jenkins, Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science and Meinolf Sellmann, Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science
RobAuCon – Autonomous Control of Robots from Demonstration
Jenkins and Sellmann will conduct research into methods for the autonomous control of robot teams with strategies learned from human demonstration. The team, which includes Brown students, will focus on a specific application domain, robot soccer, to further research in robot learning from demonstration, time-critical combinatorial optimization, and their application to multi-robot task allocation.
Shouheng Sun, Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry
Surface modification of magnetic dumbbell nanoparticles for highly sensitive tumor cell detection
The goal of this proposal is to synthesize and modify the surface of the magnetic dumbbell nanoparticles that contain magnetic iron oxide and noble metal Au. In particular the proposal focuses on surfactant exchange on the dumbbell nanoparticles to make the particles stable in physiological conditions and suitable for highly sensitive magnetic detection.
A Multi-Technique Approach to Understand the Specificity of Protein Phosphatase 1
Rebecca Page and Wolfgang Peti, Molecular Pharmacology, Physiology & Biotechnology
Plasticity of Motor Cortex Synaptic Structure
Anna Dunaevsky, Neuroscience
HIV/AIDS Related Risk Behaviors Among Young People in the Context of Expanded Access to Testing and Treatment in South Africa
Mark Lurie, Community Health
A New Architecture and Model for Tasking Wireless Sensor Networks
Ugur Cetintemel and John Jannotti, Computer Science
Epitaxial Printing: A Process for Making Continuous Single Crystal Metal Films
Eric Chason, Engineering
2D Quantum Magnets
Vesna F. Mitrovic, Physics
The Political Economy of School District Mergers
Brian Knight, Economics
Children’s Evolving Social Networks in the Context of High HIV/AIDs Prevalence
Susan E. Short, Sociology
Marketizing Environmental Regulation: consequences for environmental advocacy groups
Simone Pulver, Watson Institute
Inscriptions from the Land of Israel
Michael L. Satlow, Judaic Studies and Religious Studies
This is a Man’s World: Los Angeles and the Politics of Gender in Mid-Century America
Robert O. Self, History
The 1534 Nuremberg map of Tenochtitlan
Catherine Zerner, History of Art and Architecture
Relationship between the Hippocampal rate and temporal codes
Mayank Mehta, Neuroscience
Brain Systems Involved in Paying Attention to Emotional Stimuli
Luiz Pessoa, Psychology
Overweight and asthma in children: “Twin” challenges for public health
Deborah N. Pearlman, Community Health
Asbestos, Knowledge Production, and Activism in South Africa
Lundy Braun, Pathology and Africana Studies
Establishing assays to investigate BMP ligand type and receptor choice
Kristi Wharton, Molecular, Cellular Biology, Biochemistry
Nanoscale sculpting of ferromagnetic thin films using magnetic configurational forces
Pradeep R. Guduru and Brian W. Sheldon, Engineering
Chemotactic trajectory and hydrodynamics of Caulobacter crescentus swarmer cells
Jay Tang, Physics and Engineering
EPIC: The Einstein Polarization Interferometer of Cosmology
Gregory Tucker, Physics
Aerodynamic mechanisms of bat flight: an integrated multidisciplinary approach
Sharon Swartz, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Kenneth Breuer, Engineering; and David Laidlaw, Computer Science
The Changing Context of Social Service Provision in Urban America: Trends in Access to Services in Metropolitan Detroit
Scott Allard, Political Science
State Reconstruction and Social Service Provision in Collapsed Societies
Melanie Cammett, Political Science
The Family Consequences of Child Disability
Dennis Hogan and Frances Goldscheider, Sociology
Fog/Speaking of War
Leslie thornton, Modern Culture and Media
Underwater Locomotion of the Thick-billed Murre
George E. Goslow, Jr., Biology and Medicine, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Physiological Dynamics of Cell-Type Switching
Jeffrey D. Laney, Molecular Biology, Cell Biology and Biochemistry
Segregation, Social Inequality and Links to Disparities in Community Environmental Health
Rachel Morello-Frosch, Center for Environmental Studies and Community Health
Mechanotransduction and Lung Alveolar Differentiation
Juan R. Sanchez-Esteban, Pediatrics
Gene Expressional Network dynamics; from experimental data to gene-gene connectivity reconstruction
Gastone C. Castellani and Nathan Intrator, Institute for Brain and Neural Systems
Yan Guo, Applied Mathematics
Rydberg fingerprint spectroscopy of Proteins
Peter Weber, Chemistry
Household Gods; The British and their Possessions, 1851-1945
Deborah Anne Cohen, History
Not Just a Mimicry: Sound Symbolic Expressions, Cognitive Representations and Discourse Functions in Czech
Masako U. Fidler, Slavic Languages
Funds for a three-dimensional reconstruction of the water system at Qumran – the site of the Dead Sea Scrolls
Katharina Galor, Center for Old World Art and Archaeology and Eileen Vote, Computer Science
Research and translation for publication of La Noche (The Night), a booklength poem by 20th century Bolivian visionary poet Jaime Saenz
Forrest Gander, Creative Writing Program and English
Project Temenos: Cultural Exchange and Appropriation in the Mediterranean World
Kenneth Sacks, History; David Konstan, Classics and Comparative Literature; Kurt Raaflaub, Classics and History
The Power of Advice: Experimental Evidence on Correlated Equilibria
Pedro Dal Bo, Economics and Amy Greenwald, Computer Science
Understanding Sexual Differentiation: A New Paradigm for Psychology
Anne Fausto-Sterling, Medical Science and Cynthia Garcia Coll, Education, Psychology and Pediatrics
Community Organizing and the Ecology of Civic Engagement
Marion Orr, Political Science
The Measurement of Influence: Theory and Applications in Economics, Computer Science, and Personnel Management in Academic Institutions
Ignacio Palacios-Huerta, Economics
The Social Contexts of Partisan Dynamics
Alan S. Zuckerman, Political Science