Aleah Jennings-Newhouse

The impacts of COVID-19 on socioeconomic relations, spatial arrangements, and the role of government, have increased the precarity of life for poor and working class communities and communities of color, who are disproportionately impacted by the current crisis and pre-existing systems of exploitation. At the same time, this moment offers opportunities to develop networks of production and distribution that center justice and solidarity, reconcile the organization of our communities with the realities of the climate crisis, and realign public goals with public actions. This project aims to address a pressing contemporary contradiction of the situation of urban agriculture (UA) in the Bay Area. That is, existing research has elaborated how the benefits of UA extend beyond the confines of gardens themselves and provision for the general public on various scales of time and space, yet community-based UA efforts have been treated with a generally hands-off public sector approach and continue […]

Jacqueline Forsyte

How do we imagine Queer and Transgender pasts? My project aims to investigate 19th century and early 20th century Queer and Transgender spaces in Los Angeles. I will be exploring the intersections of Decolonial and Queer theory to study the city of Los Angeles. I am exploring the Indigenous communities who preceded the city and understanding how their resistance to violence informs a Queer reading of the past. Using research on the colonization of the American West, I will begin by studying the formation of the city, then begin to investigate specific sites of Queer and Trans life. I am also researching the judicial and prison systems formation in Los Angeles, seeing how the city enacted violence onto Queer and Transgender people. How does class, race, and gender inform the experience of being Queer? Using archival material in Los Angeles, I want to map how Queer and Trans spaces changed […]

Cedegao Zhang

My research project investigates the cognitive processes underlying peoples modal reasoning. Modal reasoning concerns the possibility and probability of events. It is linguistically expressed by modal words such as certainly, probably, and might. As an example, if you see a person running on the street, you can reason about the scene and infer that he or she might be catching a bus. This kind of reasoning is prevalent in everyday life. Thus, modal reasoning is an interesting topic for cognitive scientists, and studying the use of modal words can reveal how people deal with certainty and uncertainty. My project will collect and analyze behavioral data about how people judge the acceptability of propositions modified by modal words. It contributes to two specific topics in cognitive science. (1) There is a long-standing debate about whether there are two distinct processes for inductive and deductive reasoning. Using modal reasoning as a case […]

Anthony Benjamin

The current decline of global institutions, breakdown of negotiations and treaties, and strong emergence of new nuclear energy sectors indicate major diplomatic efforts will be necessary to curb nuclear weapon proliferation. As government cooperation withdraws from these existential political crises, scientists, engineers, academic experts, and other non-state actors may increasingly fill in diplomatic roles. However, there is a lack of consensus on the future role and strategy of these civilian efforts known as track-II diplomacy. Under what conditions do track-II dialogues successfully contribute to non-proliferation success? Track-II diplomacy is championed for preventing loose nukes after the Soviet Union collapsed, but these efforts were carried out by autonomous scientists in a uni-polar world. This study evaluates track-II efforts in non-proliferation in an increasingly undemocratic and multi-polar world with declining global leadership. Past and current non-proliferation cases supplemented with participant anecdotes are analyzed to suggest policy for non-proliferation threats on the horizon.

Dayna Stimson

My research focuses on the growing recognition that the scientific study of consciousness is lacking in one crucial element: a rigorous methodology for examining the first-person, qualitative aspects of conscious states. While neuroimaging and computational cognition have greatly enhanced our knowledge of brain function, we are no closer to bridging the explanatory gap. That is, how does neuronal activity create the deeply complex, subjective, and personal world that each of us experiences? Though conventional scientific study does not currently recognize introspection as a valid method of inquiry, I will examine the ways in which Buddhist contemplative practices may be used to study consciousness directly, as they have been used for more than 2,000 years. I seek to define and develop a precise methodology of meditation techniques to be used in conjunction with neuroscientific studies to heighten our understanding of consciousness. I will spend my time perusing the literature on contemplative […]

Kaiji Gong

To judge whether an economic bubble would lead to a financial crash and to estimate the critical time of a crash are significant in financial areas. The Log-Periodic Power Law (LPPL) is an equation that describes how bubbles evolve and grow. By fitting the equation into a financial time series, it is possible to predict the event of a crash. The equation proves to be effective in predicting several financial crises, such as the one in 2008. My research will focus on extending the model to predict market behaviors after the crash. I will adopt some assumptions in LPPL (i.e., imitation behaviors among traders) as well as some more theories from other literatures, and follow the similar track to construct a model that predicts when the market will stop crash. I will then fit the model into financial time series to examine the accuracy of the model.

Megan Clement

The mirror literally and symbolically reflects opposites. In medieval times, it seems that the mirror symbolized a gateway to the divine; now the mirror is more often associated with the monstrous. Spending the summer studying Dante’s Divine Comedy, I will begin my research into how the evolution of the meaning of the mirror perhaps parallels the move from a societal focus on religion to a focus on individual actions and psyches. I aim to prove or disprove the assertion that the perceived split between the body and soul mirrors the one between the self and the other, and what light this connection can shed on defining what would constitute a modern American secular religion.

Mathilde Bonvalot

The reassertion of Catholicism’s essential principles after the Council of Trent had a major impact on religious art production in 16th century Italy. Consciously putting together reliques from the early years of Christianity with Rinascimento painting techniques, the new visual programs created within Roman churches became the place where sacred space and ideas could be rebuilt, generating a new meaning for the Catholic community. I will travel to Rome to investigate the emergence of the discipline of Archaeology as the crucial event that allowed early Christian antiquities discovered in the Catacombs to be reinvested in churches during the Counter-Reformation. My research will focus mainly on the modest basilica of Santi Nereo e Achillo where infamous scenes of Christian martyrdom are believed to have been composed by Renaissance painter Pomarancio to understand how this gruesome imagery participated in the establishment of the Roman Catholic Church’s claims for historical legitimacy.

Kiara Covarrubias

The Chinese Exclusion Act is considered the most racist law in U.S. history; it entailed quarantining immigrants for up to two years on Angel Island, resulting in a collection of poetry carved by the detainees onto the walls of the detention barracks. Given the tumultuous history of immigration from south of the border, where is this poetry for Mexican and Central American immigrants? While immigration has been extensively studied through various academic perspectives, the literature from the immigrants themselves has largely remained untouched. By identifying the trajectory of literature by undocumented immigrants, I will analyze how policy may have driven the changes in language and style of this corpus of literature and, conversely, what the literature reveals about policy itself. In creating an aesthetic for The Literature of the Undocumented, I will argue for its differentiation from Chicano Literature, under which the literature is currently (mis)categorized.

Emily Doyle

I am currently exploring the question of the ways in which the phrase as if — as it appears in novels by Henry James, particularly What Maisie Knew — implicates integration into a social existence in which the curious and problematic acceptance of both reality and unreality is required of the self, particularly the pre-adolescent self. This is a vital question because, first, it offers a foundation from which to examine the complex interplay between several important novelistic factors: the self in relation to the other, the socialization of the child, the divide between the conscious and unconscious mind, and the necessary falsehoods perpetuated by social existence (to name a few). Second, the words as if and the work these words do within the novel as a literary genre is a topic which has received little attention and, yet, is of paramount importance in regard to both novelistic form and […]