Featuring selected student research projects from the Dean's Award for Summer Research, the Africa House Bergman Summer Fellowship, and the Horn Family Fund for Environmental Research. Panelists, Listed in Presentation Order: Yagmur Akyurek (BA ’22), Haleemat Dyenaba Laguda (BA ’22), Moosa M. Waraich (BA ’22), Troy Gibbs-Brown (BA ’22), Alex Ates (MA ’22), Leo Frank Yablans (BA ’22), Emma Waddell (BA ’22), Claire Dause (BA ’22); David Brooks will lead a panel discussion following the student presentations. All student video presentations, including those not speaking during the conference, can be found on the Gallatin Summer Research Blog.
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Keynote Panelists, in Presentation Order:
Yagmur Akyurek (BA ’22)
Place-Based Poetics: Olive as Palestinian Symbol
Yagmur Akyurek researched the history of the symbolism of the olive in Palestinian poetry, analyzing how Palestinian representations of olives have crystallized throughout time and place. Despite decades of displacement, violence, and settler colonialism, Palestinians worldwide have returned to the olive tree as a longstanding source of collective identity. Olive farming has provided material, spiritual, and artistic benefits for many Palestinian families. Akyurek is interested in the question of how people extract culture from something biological and essential, with the aim of elucidating food’s role as a primary source of the Palestinian narrative poetic tradition and mapping an “olive topography” of Palestinian poetry.
Haleemat Dyenaba Laguda (BA ’22)
A Look into the Past and Present: Life of the Talibé in Senegal
This past summer, Laguda traveled to Senegal to see research ideas unfold in real life. A Look into the Past and Present: Life of the Talibé in Senegal highlights the lives of young Islamic scholars (talibés) in the West African nation. Talibés have long been at the center of accusations of human rights abuses in Senegal. In addition to discussing these abuses, Laguda’s research provides the necessary historical and current contexts to understand what being a talibé in Senegal has meant over time. This project closely examines the role of government, religion, and society in shaping the lives of talibés and how they are viewed in the country.
Moosa M. Waraich (BA ’22)
The Shrine, The City, and the African Patrons: The Forgotten Histories and Invisible Realities of the Afro-Pakistanis of Karachi
Waraich's research looks at the impacts of colonialism and modern-day nationalisms on the Afro-Pakistani community in Karachi, Pakistan. In the investigation of the community’s heritage, Waraich chose to focus on its relationship with the Manghopir shrine, arguing that the passive neglect of the Pakistani state, the colonial imposition of race through the British policy of divide and rule, and ethno-racial blindness post-independence has led to a condition of Afro-Pakistani invisibility.
Troy Gibbs-Brown (BA ’22)
Habitat suitability mapping for Cyanea capillata in the Hudson River
This study investigates the presence and abundance of lion’s mane jellyfish(Cyanea capillata) in New York’s Hudson River. Combining established information with innovative technological methods, Gibbs-Brown aims to create habitat suitability maps which can project the timing and magnitude of lion’s mane jellyfish blooms. Using the data analyzing program, Matlab, Gibbs-Brown visualized data from regional ocean monitoring system dataset Doppio. Data collection in the field, in the form of water quality testing, was also incorporated to empirically ground incoming data.
Alex Ates (MA ’22)
Avant-Folk Ways of Seeing Black Mountain College in Total Identity
Black Mountain College (1933-1957), formerly located in Black Mountain, North Carolina, is frequently credited as a pivotal force for innovative education and progressive artistic movements in the twentieth century. In this presentation, evidence is offered to demonstrate that the school’s site predisposed it as a place of avant-garde activity, the “avant-folk.” Ates calls this historical reframing of the college its “total identity”—and looks at the implications for the national narrative about where innovative art is practiced and perpetuated.
Leo Frank Yablans (BA ’22)
The Exile Aesthetic: How Jewish Composers used Music to Challenge the Third Reich
This project examines the music of four modernist-Jewish composers—Arnold Schoenberg, George Ligeti, Stefan Wolpe, and Hanns Eisler—exiled by the Third Reich vis-a-vis a number of literary and aesthetic theory texts, such as Adorno’s Aesthetic Theory and Kant’s Critique of Judgement. The Exile Aesthetic hypothesizes that the atonal, rootless aesthetic to which these four composers collectively contributed not only helped them adjust to their lives in exile, but also served as an intellectual rebuke against the Nazi regime.
Emma Waddell (BA ’22)
Creative Neural Networks: Generating Live Video Game Soundtracks Trained on User Choices
Neural networks are incredibly powerful tools that can be used to solve a multitude of problems. However, these problems often cannot be solved in a single “correct” way, making them difficult to use in music composition where there is no correct answer other than that of a composer’s own judgments. This project uses neural networks to generate live soundtracks for a video game as a user plays it, continually retraining the network as the user makes more choices. The result is a large variety of cohesive yet unique compositions that enhance the gameplay experience.
Claire Dause (BA ’22)
Illinois Ballot (Re)Design
This summer, Dause researched ballot design in her home state of Illinois. Though she has been interested in politics and elections for a few years now, this was her first exploration into seeing how ballots are designed and what the best design practices are. The core of her project centers around guidelines provided by the Election Assistance Commission, a federal agency that offers guidance and suggestions regarding the design and distribution of election materials. Dause conducted a systematic review of a sample selection of ballots from various Illinois counties and compared them to the guidelines and ran a short online survey of Illinois residents to get their input on current ballot design.
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