Into the Unknown

Eight students win the President's Summer Fellowship.

By Chris Lydgate '90 | June 1, 2015

What if you could devote a whole summer to a project you had designed—a project that combined intellectual pursuit, imagination, adventure, personal transformation, and service to the greater good?

The President’s Summer Fellowship offers students a chance to do just that. Inaugurated by President John R. Kroger, with generous support from trustee Dan Greenberg ’62 and his wife, Susan Steinhauser, the fellowship attracted scores of creative proposals this year. The winners get $5,000 to pursue their projects over the summer.

Art Therapy in Florence 

Margaret MacLean ’16, studio art

Art has always been a huge part of how I see and interact with the world, but it wasn’t until I discovered art therapy that I realized how art can create a space of healing and connection. Inspired by my recent experience interning with a recreational therapist, I will spend the summer immersed in art in Florence, Italy, leading art classes for youth with intellectual and developmental challenges at the Cooperativa Barberi. My goals are to assist young people in need, explore a career path in art therapy, develop my ideas as an artist, and strengthen my understanding of Italian language and culture.


Nanofluidics and Gene Mapping

Abrar Abidi ’16, physics

The last half century has phenomenally advanced our scientific understanding of life. In the young field of biological physics, researchers employ the quantitative skills and experimental methods of the physicist to investigate problems traditionally in the biologist’s arena. I will spend the summer in the lab of Prof. Walter Reisner ’00 at McGill University, in Montreal, Canada, where I will help develop a new nanofluidic technology based on the technique of nanoscale dielectrophoresis. The goal of this research will be to drastically improve a decade-old DNA confinement technology. Our technology would more easily allow researchers to rapidly map complete genomes from a single cell’s DNA, rather than relying on genomic material collected from the ensembles of tens of thousands of cells.

Building a Particle Model for Fluids

Qiaoyu Yang ’16, math

The study of fluid motivates an important branch of mathematics, computational fluid dynamics, a flourishing field that interests both mathematicians and physicists. There are several models describing the flow of fluid using differential equations. However, these models, which are based on the Navier-Stokes equation, cannot yield accurate result, when particle effect is strong. 

My project this summer is to test the performance of a new particle model. I will spend the summer working with Professor Aleksandar Donev in the Courant Institute at New York University. We will use a method called DSMC to perform particle simulation of chemically reactive mixtures of gases, which is one of the cases where traditional models break down. To build up the new model, there are many theoretical difficulties. I will learn, think, and code a lot, which should deepen my understanding of the math involved and hone my mathematical modeling skills.

The Changing Landscape of Livy’s Rome

Haley Tilt ’16, classics 

The Roman historian Livy possessed a unique capacity for creating geographical spaces and populating those spaces with stories, but no one has really succeeded in making an interactive map of them. To fill this gap, I will build a website that will let students experience Livy’s Rome by taking a virtual stroll through the monuments he describes. I will travel to Rome to photograph the monuments and their surroundings. Then I will return to Reed to design a open-source website integrating my photographs into an interactive map of ancient Rome. My project will provide a useful supplement to students in Hum 110, Roman history, and other classics courses, as well as anyone interested by the unique way ancient Romans interacted with monuments, space, and history.

Poetry, Past, and Now in the American Southwest

Nathan Martin ’16, English

Salt Lake City, Utah, is my hometown. It’s also where I learned to call myself a poet and a writer. I carried a notebook with me everywhere, writing poems between customers at my grocery job, while backpacking in the desert, while sitting on the salt flats after attending my first funeral. I went to two open mics a week and hosted a monthly poetry slam in a basement jazz club. Poetry and words were my best connections to other people. I lived for them. Then I moved to Portland and stopped. Now, after seven years, the urge to poetry has resurfaced through study at Reed and I have some questions to explore. What does poetry mean to me now? Why did I drop it for seven years? And why was writing poetry so important to me, for so long? This project is about rewriting my connection to poetry, starting with SLC. I’m taking a road trip back to my hometown and into the desert to search through my roots and answer these questions. At the end, I’ll self-publish a small book of poetry from the trip.

Contemporary Art in (Formerly) Imperial Space

Orla O’Sullivan ’16, Russian

The State Hermitage Museum, founded by Catherine the Great in 1764, is an exemplar of global visual culture and its influences. The Saint Petersburg-based institution houses nearly three million items (dating from pre-antiquity to modernity) within 10 buildings. This summer, I will explore the Hermitage’s collections by interning with the Hermitage Volunteer Service. I will assist staff research, archival projects, and educational programs throughout the museum, particularly with the museum’s newly acquired contemporary collection. I will also develop a research project examining the curatorial, visual, and spatial organization of modern and contemporary exhibits. I want to document reception of controversial exhibits, such as Manifesta 10, which explored themes of queer gender and sexual identities. I am also interested to observe the Hermitage’s newly renovated General Staff Building, which houses the 19th-21st-century collections within a space that marries 19th-century neoclassicism and Soviet classicism and contemporary minimalism, architecturally referencing the museum’s employment of new curatorial strategies.

Revealing Contemporary Armenia Through Poetry Translation

Knar Hovakimyan ’16, linguistics

My goal is to translate 10–20 contemporary poems from Armenian into English and publish the collection online. I want to do this in Armenia in order to have a chance to work directly with the poets during the translation process and to learn more about the culture and literary history. I recently translated two poems by an Armenian poet, Vahun Hovakimyan, who has agreed to work with me on this project and put me in touch with other poets. Armenia has a rich literary history that comes from a unique perspective, and it would be valuable to have more of this literature available to English speakers. This project would be a way for me to begin introducing Armenian literature to English-speaking communities; in becoming involved with the Armenian literary community and gaining experience in translation, I would be equipped to do future projects like this one, eventually working on translations of classical Armenian works.

The Green’s Apartment

Elizabeth Groombridge ’16, psych/theatre

The Green’s place, a crappy college apartment, has some new summer tenants. Gary, Elena, and Tony are bored twenty-somethings spending the summer in Chicago, looking for some fun, or so Tony says anyway. They seem pretty weird to Phoebe, who lives across the hall, particularly Gary. That doesn’t stop him from being entirely too attractive.

I propose to create a queer, supernatural web series based on Shakespeare’s comedy As You Like It, which mocks the trend of English pastoralism and showcases the Shakespearean notion of the “Green World.” 

Playing on this theory of the Green World and attempting to keep the court dynamics, all of the characters from the court are fae, and the Green World has become the modern human world. As You Like It also explores gender roles by having the female protagonist, Rosalind, disguise herself as a man, Ganymede, and then, as Ganymede, act the part of a woman. Unlike many of Shakespeare’s other gender-disguise plot lines, Rosalind fully embodies the male role, remaining in it even when around those who know her “true” gender. I will further explore this through a genderfluid Rosalind.

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