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Scholarship Recipients 2015

Elizabeth Browning, UC Davis, History

Elizabeth's dissertation--"Nature's Laboratory: Chicago and the Rise of a New Aesthetics of Labor, 1880-1930"--examines "how socioeconomic power dynamics created environmental inequalities and how urban space became problematically defined as the antithesis of 'natural.'" She focuses on Chicago, which was "the epicenter of . . . the conflict between labor and capital" during that period. She contends that "early twentieth-century Chicago reformers, sociologists, and artists crafted an environmental aesthetics of labor to counter the threat of labor radicalism."

She served as the first graduate student assistant for UC Davis' new weekly colloquium that hosts visiting scholars from many different disciplines. The director of the project noted that she was "instrumental in . . . the transformation of a group of faculty and graduate students into a remarkably inquisitive and collegial circle of scholars around issues of environmental history, literature, and justice."

Her professors call her a "warm, gregarious, unassuming person with a great sense of humor" and an "absolutely wonderful person . . . thoughtful and funny" who "takes her work but never herself seriously."

We have received a thank you note from Elizabeth:

Dear Joanne,
I want to send my sincere thanks to you and the Phi Beta Kappa Northern California Association Graduate Scholarship Committee. I am grateful for the generous support that I received as a scholarship recipient this past spring--it has proven invaluable as I research and write my dissertation in U.S. urban environmental history. Many thanks again for your generosity.
Lizzie Grennan Browning
Ph.D. Candidate
Department of History
University of California, Davis

Colette DeJong, UC San Francisco, Medicine

Colette's research interests "focus on the use of health technology to expand access to care without compromising patient safety." Interest in telemedicine is increasing, and the use of telemedicine has the potential to revolutionize access to care. In light of this, Colette studied commercial e-visit websites,identifying such key policy issues as that, when telemedicine is practiced across state lines, the involvement of participants from more than one state is something for which there is absolutely no prior regulatory experience. Based in part on this published research, the Federal Trade Commission is examining the issue of regulation, and the Department of Justice is investigating how oversight can be developed in telemedicine. Her future research will focus "on an exciting frontier in mobile health technology: adolescent mental health."

Her volunteer activities have included launching a community health worker program for scores of families in Bamaki, Mali; being a facilitator of the Women's Support Group at the UCSF Homeless Clinic; and serving as a student delegate to the American Medical Association.

Her professors note that she has demonstrated "creativity, intellectual rigor, and commitment to teamwork" and is "a serious optimist with boundless energy and intelligence."

Rebecca Elliott, UC Berkeley, Sociology

In her dissertation--"Underwater: Floods and the Social Classification, Pricing, and Distribution of the Risks of Climate Change in the United States"--Rebecca is studying how "the risks that lie at the heart of climate change are constructed through social and political processes [and] what factors shape how the financial costs of those risks are distributed across populations." Recent studies have concluded that "under neoliberal regimes," risk has tended to be shifted off "the broad shoulders of states and corporations and onto the backs of individuals and families." Rebecca is focusing on how responses to climate change are socially structured. Her dissertation "looks beyond and behind assertions of neutrality, objectivity, and common good to uncover how actors build and organize knowledge about climate change risks, how they establish the costs of those risks, and how they plan and justify 'solutions' in light of those costs." She hopes that her publications will help inform policymaking in these areas.

In May 2014, Rebecca received the Berkeley Sociology Alumni Prize for Public Sociology, which recognized her ability to engage audiences beyond the academy. She has also received the Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award and the Teaching Effectiveness Award.

Her professors call her "an absolute gem--a brilliant researcher [and] an outstanding student . . . thorough, inquisitive, [and] well-trained in both qualitative and quantitative methods . . . [with] a natural ability to think and write well."


Danielle Glynn, UC Santa Cruz, Ocean Sciences

Although oceans cover 70 percent of our planet, humans have explored less than 5 percent of Earth's oceans. Danielle's research is focused on determining how the oceans behaved in the past and how they have changed to get to their present state. She is developing new coral paleo-archives for use in understanding these changes. Her research aims "to improve the growing utility of deep sea corals as oceanographic climate proxies and to add to our understanding of nutrient dynamics in both the open ocean and coastal upwelling ecosystems." Records from her research will "enhance our knowledge of biogeochemical cycles and carbon sequestration" and inform our basic understanding and implementation of fishery management and ecosystem conservation. The corals she is now studying are in Monterey Bay and the California margin. Previously, she worked on corals in the Palau Archipelago and the Galapagos.

While at UC Irvine, Danielle was highly involved with CLEAN, a graduate student group aimed at addressing climate change through learning, empowerment, action, and networking education. Its goal was to teach science to underprivileged children and the community. Danielle created lesson plans and wrote and edited blog posts to explain complex scientific subjects in a way that children and non-scientists could easily understand.

Her professors call her "simply exceptional, . . . a real self-starter . . . [and] a genuinely pleasant and an unfailingly positive person."

Marius Cătălin Iordan, Stanford, Computer Science (William and Adeline Hendess Scholarship)

It's said that "A picture is worth a thousand words." Catalin's research seeks to help us understand how our brain goes from the picture to the thousand words. His aim is to help develop technology that will change the world. As he wrote, "In the short term, I seek to explore the space of object category representation in the human brain. There are so many unanswered questions about how we extract and organize information about the world, and we're only beginning to understand basic principles that guide this process. . . . In short, my research aims to leverage the computational strength of machine learning to model, distinguish, and characterize neural responses across human visual cortex, with the hope that in doing so we can glimpse some of the guiding principles behind its development and organization. Ultimately, we endeavor to translate this knowledge into designing human-like artificial recognition systems."

During the course of his studies, Catalin has been involved in outreach and mentorship efforts, which include being the coordinator of Stanford's STAr (Science Teaching through Art) program, which focuses on improving scientists' communication skills. He is also involved in outreach activities to spark interest in science for Bay Area high school and community college students.

According to his professors, he is "an excellent teacher and mentor, able to communicate effectively with audiences of varying sizes," and "a wonderful student . . . hardworking [and] collegial." 


Karen Lloyd, UC San Francisco, Medical Sociology

Karen is exploring "The Discourses of HIV Treatment as Prevention: Their Roots, Travels, and Implications." As she notes, antiretrovirals have historically been used as solely individual-level clinical tools. "The idea of HIV treatment as prevention has been heralded as a paradigm shift towards the pharmaceutical prevention of HIV . . . [and] has been integrated into health policy and medical practice through changes in treatment policy in the United States and globally." She notes, however, that often "the very programs aimed at preventing HIV transmission unintentionally produce stigma and discrimination directed at people living with or at greatest risk of HIV." Thus she is embarking on a project "that not only talks to people living with HIV and taking antiretrovirals themselves but also with the scientists, policymakers, clinicians, and community activists who, in varying ways, are wrestling with creating and applying the guidelines that are putting this shift to biomedical prevention into practice."

She has been a teaching assistant for the N212A Qualitative Data Collection and Ethics course at UCSF and an instructor at New York University's London Campus. She also was a community-based research consultant in Maharashstra, India, where she developed evaluation plans and provided research, evaluation, and technical assistance to an NGO that focused on HIV services for HIV positive people.

Her professors note her "combined strengths in policy, social justice, and science" and judge her to be "head and shoulders above the rest."

Derin McLeod, UC Berkeley, Classics

Derin's dissertation is "The Point of a Politeia: Changing Conceptions of Regimen and Regime from 500 to 350 BCE." Politeia was arguably the central concept in Greek political thought by Plato's day and provided the focus for discussion of everything from moral education and citizenship to political organization and politics in general, often all at once. The dissertation traces the concept from its origins in debates about the relation between nature and culture to its role in debates about constitutional structure as well as the way Plato in his Politeia (which we now translate Republic) responds to and repurposes the ideas he found in those debates. Derin here also speaks to urgent political issues in modern thought and life--the question of "the character and proper ambitions of government or collective life more generally."

In addition to his dissertation project, Derin has serious interests in intellectual history and the history of political thought more broadly. He is also committed to expanding access to education. During his time at Berkeley he has taught and tutored regularly for the Prison University Project, a program at San Quentin State Prison that allows men incarcerated there to take college courses and earn an associate's degree.

His professors have called him "one of the super-stars of our program," with a voracious and incisive analytical intelligence."

Cheri Mah, UC San Francisco, M.D.

Cheri is studying sleep. The sleep medicine literature has largely demonstrated the detrimental consequences of sleep deprivation and chronic inadequate sleep. Cheri's research has focused on investigating the opposite--"how sleep extension and sleep patterns can positively impact daytime functioning and improve performance." She worked at the Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research Laboratory for more than a decade. More recently, she has examined "the impact of circadian rhythms on performance outcomes in professional football" and is currently "characterizing sleep patterns across an entire student-athlete population." Among other things, she has found that West Coast teams have an advantage over East Coast teams during evening games, beating the point spread.

In addition to her work with professional and collegiate athletes, she has worked with U.S. Special Forces. Her research has significant implications for performance-related jobs from military personnel and pilots to working professionals (e.g., doctors, truck drivers). 

Her professors cite her "compassionate heart" and "deep commitment to and genuine enthusiasm for" her endeavors. She also stood out for "her motivation for learning and care of patients" and her "mature and consistent empathy for her patients and their families."


Stephanie Redmond, UC San Francisco, Neuroscience (Elizabeth B. Reed Scholarship)

Stephanie is studying the central nervous system. As she has written, "Walled off by bone and the blood-brain barrier, the central nervous system (CNS) is protected from many physical and chemical dangers that threaten more exposed tissues. But while many tissues heal and regain function after injury or disease, the nervous system is notoriously poor at repair, even more so as we age." That failure "has long been attributed to cell-intrinsic shortcomings that become more limited over time." "Today we know that "proper myelation of neurons is required for normal CNS function." Stephanie's research centers on "understanding the fundamental mechanisms that underlie the correct formation of myelin in order to develop novel therapies to repair myelin and restore brain function in affected patients [e.g., those with MS]."

Stephanie has been active in outreach activities, including teaching for high school and college students. She has taught hands-on science lessons to kids "who now personally know at least one real-life scientist." She is, according to one of her supporters, "a good ambassador for scientific literacy." She is also a contributing editor Science in the Classroom.

Her professors have been impressed with her "drive, creativity, and enthusiasm" as well as her "excellent work ethic." They have also praised her as an "outstanding researcher who thinks critically and independently" and note that she "possesses great dreams for the future." 


Justine Smith, UC Santa Cruz, Environmental Studies (Norall Family Scholarship)

Justine is studying how human disturbances alter behavioral interactions between animal species, especially the indirect effects of human disturbances on wildlife. She works on two related study subjects in the Santa Cruz Mountains: pumas and mesopredators (e.g., coyotes, bobcats, foxes). She recently reported that "pumas exhibit increased risk-avoidance at kill sites in high housing density areas, resulting in dramatic increases in kill rates to compensate for food loss." To identify what mesopredators are eating, she analyzes their feces--and has trained citizen scientists in animal tracking and local natural history and has organized scat collection events in which those citizen scientists participate. In her application she noted, "There is no silver bullet approach to understanding causal relationships in biotic communities. . . . [Consequently,] I am using a multi-faceted approach in my dissertation research. . . . I am committed to scientific integrity and rigor in the politically charged world of conservation."

She has been a graduate student representative to the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee, Department of Environmental Studies, and has organized and run an internship program to train students in animal handling, research development, statistics, and scientific writing. As a teaching assistant, she taught students ecological theory, field methods, and Leave No Trace backpacking skills in the Montana backcountry.

Her professors call her work "ambitious, cutting edge, and well thought out," and they also note her excellence in teaching and mentoring.


Elise Stickles, UC Berkeley, Linguistics (Gilliland Grant)

In "Metaphors in Motion: The Interaction of Grammar and Metaphor in Gesture and Sign," Elise delves into the "extralinguistic" bin. As she notes, "A full linguistic picture cannot be completed without attention to those phenomena previously related to the 'extralinguistic.'" Her dissertation represents "an addition to a growing body of research within linguistics that seeks to fold linguistic and gestural analysis together." Hence, she seeks to draw together gesture, metaphor analysis, and spoken and signed structures. She shows that our "random" gestures when we talk with our hands have meaning. She examines language as "a combination of the verbal, visual, and kinesthetic." She focuses attention on "how our interaction with space and time is reflected in the metaphors we use to talk about them, and in turn how our language can reveal the ways we think about spatial and temporal relationships. [She works] on both co-speech gesture in English and on American Sign Language."

She has consistently received exceptional student evaluations as a graduate student instructor and was awarded the Outstanding Student Instructor Award early in her career. She is also developing one-on-one mentoring relationships with undergraduate students.

Her professors write that she is "great at cooperative work, thoughtful about others, joyous, very funny, and a lightning fast thinker. . . a scholar whose expertise is both scientific and humanistic--and of the highest order."


Bryan Yazell, UC Davis, English

In "Tramps Abroad: Transatlantic Vagrancy, Migration, Citizenship 1880-1940" Bryan examines the transnational frameworks that defined homelessness as an urgent social problem in the United States and Britain. Specifically, he proposes that the "attention to vagrants during this period dramatizes the links between Anglophone polities on either side of the Atlantic at a time when authorities in the United States and the United Kingdom were developing distinctive versions of the welfare state." Whereas scholars have largely understood homelessness as a local matter, Bryan argues that the "codification of vagrancy" entailed international dialogue. His project follows the "tramp" (a version of vagrancy that emerged in the nineteenth century) from the United States to the United Kingdom and back again in the works of such authors as Mark Twain and George Orwell, Jack London and John Steinbeck. He shows how a whole range of writers participated in the identification of a specific demographic segment among growing populations of un- and underemployed workers. "Ultimately, this examination reveals a nineteenth-century precedent for the current governance of both migrant labor and non-citizen residents."

Bryan is also interested in diversifying the humanities as discipline and has therefore searched for collaborative projects from across the disciplines.In his role with the Postcolonial Research Cluster, he helped organize an interdisciplinary graduate student symposium and collaborated with other groups in organizing large intercampus conferences.

His professors call him a "generous and deft interlocutor as well as a compelling instructor" and note his "theoretical acumen and the sophistication of his literary readings."

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