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Scholarship Recipients 2018

The Scholarship recipients 2018 Information is from the applications

William (Will) Callison, UC Berkeley, Political Science

"Political Deficits: Twentieth-Century Theories and Critiques of Economic Rationality"

Will's dissertation "examines influential currents of twentieth-century social science . . . that developed concepts of economic rationality to define the 'rational' core of markets or to criticize capitalism's 'irrational' outcomes.
. . . Working at the intersection of political theory and intellectual history, [his] dissertation uses tools from each discipline to rethink how paradigm shifts in social scientific methodology have manifold consequences for institutional and governmental practice." He focuses on "nineteenth- and twentieth-century European and American political thought, social scientific methodology, and changing conceptions of capitalism, power, and subjectivity."

Will is committed to interdisciplinary inquiry as a way of "cultivating new insights and bridging divides across the humanities and social sciences."

His professors noted that he is "exceptionally talented and erudite" as well as "intellectually careful and precise" and that he is also a "fine writer."


Yvanka de Soysa, UC San Francisco, Biomedical Sciences (Reed Scholarship)

Yvanka is studying heart development, specifically, the first heart cells, cardiac progenitor cells. As she noted in her application, each year one in every hundred babies is born with congenital heart defects, and "congenital heart disease is the leading non-infectious cause of death in the first year of life and arises from embryonic heart development. . . . [Her] work has uncovered new and unique genes that are turned on as distinct heart muscle subtypes. . . . [It is hoped that] the insights gleaned from these studies can be leveraged to uncover new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to prevent and potentially reverse the formation of congenital heart defects."

Her professors have been "impressed by her enthusiasm, creativity, drive, and genuine excitement in the pursuit of her experiments" and call her "highly focused and motivated." In addition, she is a "talented and poised speaker" who is "eager to teach and mentor others to pursue scientific careers, especially underprivileged students."

Jordan Eizenga, UC Santa Cruz, Bioinformatics

We were all excited at the news that the Human Genome Project had completed sequencing the human genome. As Jordan points out, though, "in reality there is no one, single human genome. People have genetic differences, which give rise to differences between individuals." Using a single genome as a reference "biases all analyses to look like the reference" and could lead to ethnic biases. The focus of Jordan's research is to develop the methods to create population-level reference genomes, thereby helping to "improve our understanding of human genetics and eliminate biases in biological and medical research."

Jordan graduated from the University of Michigan in mathematics and political science. His turn toward the biological sciences came when, two months after graduation, he had the first presentation of a chronic pain condition that continues. While his health was holding him back, he began to occupy himself by trying out a massive open online course on introductory biology. That was the turning point.

One professor called him "consistently the most active and engaged student in the class." Others noted his "intense curiosity" and his communication and educational skills.

Lelia Glass, Stanford, Linguistics

As a linguist, Lelia focuses on "lexical semantics--the meanings of individual words, as well as what we know about the things described by those words
--as a window into meaning as a whole." She studies the inferences that people draw from particular sentence patterns and words and how world knowledge is fundamental to these inferences. Her skills in programming, experimental design, and statistics have made it possible for her to study "how people actually use language by conducting experiments and searching corpora of attested language use."

Her professors applaud her for "not taking anything for granted and questioning standard assumptions." They also note her "unusually deep commitment to undergraduate education," which were recognized when she was awarded a Gores Award for Excellence in Teaching, Stanford's highest teaching award, in 2017. 

Marie Paulina Hartono, UC Berkeley, History (Gilliland Award)

"Socialist Soundscape: Radio in the Early People's Republic of China, 1949-1966"

Paulina's dissertation examines radio and everyday life in Mao's China. She focuses on "that remarkable tension between the central state's plans for radio broadcasting and its actual implementation through examining the on-the-ground experiences of local cadres, radio announcers, and listeners during the first decade of the PRC." Broadcasters were to think of themselves as "the mouthpiece of the Party" and to use their voices "to reach people's hearts." The state aimed "to make radio broadcasting heard everywhere" and thereby to usher in "a new political culture."

As a budding professional historian, her goal is to teach the "political, social, and cultural context of places and people," to give her students "a more critical eye to the present and a more sensitive ear to the past."

Her professors noted her "unusual intellectual ability to identify core problems" often buried in theoretical debates and her excellence as an organizer and communicator of ideas.

Adam Lichtenheld, UC Berkeley, Political Science. Not able to attend the Annual Awards dinner

"Making Migrations: Population Displacement Strategies in Civil Wars"

Forced migration has been a feature of our post-Cold War world. Adam's dissertation "identifies different types of strategic displacement" and shows that population displacement is not simply an unintended consequence of violence. Rather, "combatants use displacement not only to expel 'undesirable' communities but also to identify the undesirables in the first place by forcing people to indicate their political loyalties and affiliations based on whether, and to where, they flee." The dissertation is "the first systematic study of population displacement as a weapon of war."

Adam's "overarching personal and professional goal is to promote complexity and empathy in a world where modern technologies often facilitate, and even encourage, simplicity and self-absorption." He seeks to "combat caricatures and highlight nuances" of the issues he studies. His goal is to "help bridge the gap between academia and policy" and to pursue research that is "not only rigorousbut also relevant for a broad audience."

His professors praise the clarity and conciseness of his writing and the creative thinking he has demonstrated in his course work and his research.

Kevin Moch, UC Berkeley, Classics (Norall Scholarship). Not able to attend the Annual Awards dinner

"Quoium Pecus? Representations of Italian Identity in Vergil's Eclogues and Georgics"

Kevin's dissertation "seeks to illuminate . . . the ways in which a local, specifically non-Roman Italian identity informs the early works of . . . Vergil," who is often treated as "the quintessential Roman poet" even though he originated from the province of Cisalpine Gaul, a region that didn't become incorporated into the province of Italy until well into the poet's adulthood. The project "proceeds largely as a literary study engaged with various aspects of the two poems," showing how Vergil negotiates between state and regional identities.

"The contributions of this project are not only valuable for the field of classical literature, but also hold great relevance for current sociological and anthropological studies of biculturalism, ethnic identity, and the social and cultural integration of minorities in modern societies."

His professors note that he is "never one to shy away from a challenge." He is also a "keen-eyed and creative reader of Latin poetry," a "genuine star in multiple ways."


Jeremy Nowak, UC Berkeley, Chemistry. (Hendess Scholarship) Not able to attend the Annual Awards dinner

"Development of Analytical Techniques for a Comprehensive Investigation of Transformation of Crude Oil's Chemical Composition in Response to Biodegradation"

Jeremy's research focuses on unraveling the biodegradation of crude oil. He examines how oil's chemical composition changes in different microbial environments. "The importance of microbial biotransformation of crude oil hydrocarbons has been increasingly realized in the context of industrial petroleum production, environmental oil spills, and enhanced oil recovery from subsurface oil reservoirs." The goal of his research is to apply comprehensive chemical analyses to provide insight into such biotransformation. The hydrocarbon-degrading microbial communities revealed in his study "possess the potential to be incorporated in oil spill remediation technology in order to significantly aid environmental cleanup response."

Jeremy is, according to his letters of recommendation, "hard working, conscientious, creative, and highly intelligent." He has "excellent leadership potential," "is extremely skilled in communication, thrives on teaching, and loves to write."

Lisbet Gabriela Ramirez-Chavez, UC Santa Cruz, Literature

"Telling the story that cannot be told: Trans-American Black and Latinx Poetic Archives"

As part of the first cohort of a new, experimental Creative/Critical Writing concentration within UC Santa Cruz's Literature Program, Gaby produces "hybrid work" that incorporates her own poetry on the forced disappearance of her uncle from Guatemala in 1981 with her study of testimonial literature in Latin America and documentary poetry in the United States. She views these as "archives that offer an alternative viewpoint to official histories and thus forge a more encompassing trans-American perspective." Her dissertation crosses linguistic, national and field boundaries "to examine contemporary trans-American black and Latinx experimental texts as archives and to contribute, as a poet, to this type of work," giving voice to histories omitted by the state and academic institutions.

According to her professors, she is "an outstanding scholar, a remarkable poet, and a dedicated academic" who will be "a stellar college teacher."

Kerry Shannon, UC Berkeley, History (Hardardt Award)

"Cleanliness and Civilization: Public Health and the Making of Modern Korea and Japan, 1870-1910"

Kerry's dissertation examines "the social and political transformation that resulted when global ideas of public health began to circulate in the Japanese archipelago and the Korean peninsula during the late-nineteenth century. . . . Changes to health practices encompassed not only state-directed anti-disease campaigns, but also transformations atypically associated with public health policy, including alterations in hairstyle, sartorial choice, and ways of holding the body." Kerry argues that "public health functioned as a medium for internally strengthening state control over the individual while also externally broadcasting the nation's attainment of a higher level of civilization."

Kerry's picture of public health in Korea and Japan thus extends beyond the usual emphasis on prevention of disease and into such fields as dress and the "ordering of domestic space." He also found that Japan "used descriptions of Korea's dirtiness and sickliness to justify an agenda of territorial aggrandizement."

His professors note his "dedication to scholarship" and that his investigation of this topic "combines rigorous research with imaginative reach."

Shiran Victoria Shen, Stanford, Political Science/Civil & Environmental Engineering

"Political Pollution Cycle: The Inconvenient Truth and How to Break It"

Victoria's dissertation sheds light on the "political determinants of environmental policy in China." Motivated by the problems caused by air pollution and climate change, Victoria is examining how political incentives shape environmental politics. She shows that "in the pursuit of multiple policy goals" Chinese leaders often "change their prioritization to augment their prospects for career advancement." She examines political pollution cycles, environmental causes and consequences of government policies, and public opinion on implementing environmental policies. In addition to methodologies from the social sciences, she uses knowledge and methods from her work in civil and environmental engineering (e.g., using NASA satellite data in support of her arguments). Website

Her recommending professors call her "a brilliant scholar" and "a dedicated and much appreciated teacher" and praise her interdisciplinary skillset.

Kathryn Wilsterman, UC Berkeley, Integrative Biology

"Mechanisms underlying Sensitivity of the Female Reproductive System to Metabolic Cues"

Kathryn's "primary interest is in understanding how an animal's environment (e.g., food availability) and physiology (e.g., fat stores) translate into a reproductive 'decision'--to breed or not to breed." Her research provides data supporting "a thorough and holistic understanding of how maternal physiological state, specifically metabolic fuels, directly affects reproductive success."

As she stated in her application, her aim is to "reframe reproduction function as an output of integration that occurs across the whole female reproductive tract (brain, ovaries, and uterus) rather than just in the brain." Her research program will provide "novel conceptual approaches to basic researchers trying to understand the sensitivity of animal populations to environmental stress."

Her professors note her "self-motivation, intelligence, love of endocrinology, and willingness to work hard." She also has "an outstanding record of undergraduate teaching" and is "a dedicated mentor."

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