Five Senior Fellows selected for the upcoming academic year
History, English, linguistics, music and chemistry will be the fields of expertise of next year’s Senior Fellows. The program announced last week that five students — Julia Marino ’17, Annelise Brinck-Johnsen ’17, Corinne Kasper ’17, Tyné Freeman ’17 and Emmanuel Hui ’17 — have been chosen as the 2016-2017 fellows.
Senior Fellows are not required to enroll in class in their senior year nor are they required to complete a major. Their project will earn them six academic credits, but they must still complete any distributive requirements or remaining credits.
Former senior fellowship committee member and music professor Theodore Levin said that the program is intended for projects that cannot be completed within the existing College curriculum.
Application numbers have gone down in recent years, which Levin attributed to an increasingly flexible curriculum.
Marino will be researching the history of polio and the polio eradication effort spearheaded by Dartmouth alumnus Basil O’Connor, Class of 1912.
A course in United States political history sparked her interest in the topic during her sophomore fall. Since then, Marino has taken seven different courses at the College for which she wrote several papers about the history of polio.
“I’m interested in how the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis directed one of the largest public health experiments in history,” Marino said. “It tested a vaccine that hadn’t yet been proven safe on more than 600,000 schoolchildren within one year, without government oversight.”
Marino said that foundations and non-profit organizations play a large role in shaping American health care policy and the direction of scientific research. This large influence raises questions about who should set priorities for health care and research, she added.
She has already written 250 pages toward her final product, which she intends on rewriting and revising after she travels to 10 more archives in the next few months to gather new primary source material. She intends to publish her work as a book and said she plans on attending graduate school to pursue a doctorate in American history and wants to continue to study the history of polio.
History professor Bethany Moreton, Marino’s advisor, said students who apply to programs like the Senior Fellowship program are self-selecting and already self-directed and motivated.
Brinck-Johnsen will be pursuing research into Mary Shelley’s novel “Frankenstein.” She hopes to write scholarly and general interest articles focusing on different aspects of the novel, including its relation to climate change and connecting it to elements of Shelley’s later work.
Brinck-Johnsen first became interested in “Frankenstein” after she had to read it for three separate courses a few years ago.
“Instead of getting sick of it, it made me realize there were so many different aspects you could explore,” she said.
Brinck-Johnsen’s plans to travel to the United Kingdom in the fall to conduct research before returning to Hanover in the winter and eventually publishing her research. Next summer, she plans to take the LSAT and apply to law school as well as a few graduate schools in English literature.
“Frankenstein” is the most assigned novel written by a woman across college campus syllabi worldwide, Brinck-Johnsen said.
“It’s a huge cultural thing, but at the same time, a lot of people have never actually read the book and don’t know much about the book,” she added.
Brinck-Johnsen is interested in how a novel written 200 years ago can still have such a grip on the Western psyche without people necessarily needing to exactly delve into the text.
English professor Alysia Garrison, one of Brinck-Johnsen’s project advisors, said that this research unfolds across three interdisciplinary fields: the crisis of human rights in the Age of Enlightenment; questions of women’s literary authorship, copyright and law; and the relationship between anthropogenic climate change, literary form and the inhuman.
Garrison said that the most challenging aspect of Brinck-Johnsen’s project will be managing the workload and scope of the research, as a full year of archival research and writing could yield a thesis and one publishable article or op-ed, but probably not more.
“The archives can be very seductive and it’s very easy to get lost in its tangled pathways,” Garrison said.
Kasper, who is Pottawatomi, will be conducting a comparative analysis of the Ojibway, Odawa and Pottawatomi languages. She will also be examining the morphology of these languages and will be looking at the situations that arise due to language attrition and loss.
Kasper’s maternal great-grandparents, both Pottawatomi, attended Native American boarding schools. These schools did not allow her great-grandparents to speak the language and they did not pass it on to Kasper’s mother or Kasper. There are currently three native Pottawatomi speakers in the world.
“I feel like I have a duty to do [this research],” Kasper said. “Revitalization efforts and retaining language are very important and I have the ability to have an impact in revitalization of this sacred heritage language.”
For her project, Kasper will be attending Pottawatomi language classes in Wisconsin. She said she hopes to create pedagogical materials to facilitate the learning of the language. The final product will likely be a thesis-style dissertation which will consist of the comparative analysis as well as outline a Pottawatomi grammar, Kasper said.
Kasper is also a Mellon Mays Fellow, a research-oriented program for minority students, which has taught her about the importance of academia in language revitalization and restoration.
“The breadth that she’s gotten in the three years at Dartmouth is exactly what prepares her to undertake something like this,” linguistics professor Laura McPherson, one of Kasper’s advisors, said, adding that Kasper is drawing from knowledge both from classes and from experiences in her own community.
Kasper said her project will actively work to re-indigenize academia, noting that indigenous frameworks deserve a place in mainstream academia.
“It’s not like I’m creating this for the consumption of others, I’m creating this for the consumption of my people,” she added.
Mellon Mays coordinator Michelle Warren said that by connecting linguistic research to language pedagogy, Kasper has the potential to make an impact on language revitalization that could last for generations.
Freeman said her project will be centered on intercultural and music collaborations, and she will be working with various musical artists that she has met during her past travels.
This past fall, Freeman traveled on the African and African American studies foreign study program to Ghana, and during her break, she stayed with a friend in Kenya, where she had the opportunity to meet an artist who sang multilingual songs with a mix of different styles. This experience inspired her to collaborate with artists from different places and write multilingual songs that express different cultures, musical traditions and genres, Freeman said.
She will be co-writing songs with the different artists to produce a music album focusing on the African continent and diaspora, in addition to a reflexive ethnography reflecting on the process and its implications. The Senior Fellowship program will fund studio time for the artists, as the collaboration will be virtual and every artist will be recording remotely.
Freeman said her project will be a musically rewarding one for herself as well as for the other artists involved.
“When I collaborate with someone I don’t leave the same artist,” she said. “I’m always able to learn something from the people that I work with.”
She added that the ethnography will allow her to reflect on how intercultural exchanges have shaped her identity.
Levin, who is also one of Freeman’s advisors, said that the project is ambitious for both its artistic and humanities components.
Freeman’s project will be an emotional one as she will be dealing with cross-cultural and multicultural connections, her advisor and music professor Hafiz Shabazz said, adding that music is a universal language.
“In a way, Tyné’s project is a 21st century version of the Silk Road,” Levin said. “It’s her coming together with musical artists coming from Africa and using their differences as a catalyst for creativity.”
Hui is the only Senior Fellow pursuing research in a science field. His project, named Pharm Project, aims to grow and extract ibuprofen. Hui wrote in an email that recent clinical trials have shown that curcumin extractable from turmeric is equally as effective as ibuprofen when sufficiently concentrated. He will be developing a way for people to grow and extract curcumin at home and hopes to bring his methods to Thailand.
As a Red Cross officer, Hui has participated in several medical relief missions, where he has seen the desperation of people needing medication. People should have a supply of medicine, independent of foreign aid, that is not poisonous, he said.
Hui said that as his extraction process requires alcohol and rapid evaporation measures, he may have difficulty acquiring both in the middle of the Thai jungle.
He added that he wants to continue working on the Pharm Project after graduation until the final product becomes approved for human consumption and he can port his model of medicine making to other rural communities. He plans on pursuing medical school in the future.
He said that the Senior Fellowship program will grant him the time, funding, lab space and professor support he will need for his project that he otherwise would not have as an undergraduate.
Chemistry professor Gordon Gribble, one of Hui’s advisors, noted that the project has an immediate, concrete application.
“The benefits are very direct, it’s not hypothetical or something in the future,” he said. “It would happen right away.”
Correction appended (June 16, 2016):
The original version of this article incorrectly said that Corinne Kasper '17's grandparents went to boarding schools. Her great-grandparents went to boarding school. The original article stated they lost their ability to speak Pottawatomi. In fact, her great-grandparents were forced not to speak Pottawatomi at boarding school, but did not lose their ability to speak the language.