2020-2021 Senior Fellows

Muriel Ammon

Hometown: Eureka, CA

Project title: Hupa language revitalization through alternative education

Project description: Na:tinixwe: mixine:xwe', or Hupa language, is the heritage language of the Hupa and Tsnungwe tribes of Northern California. Currently, there are less than a handful of first language speakers. My language is just one of the many indigenous languages that have and continue to be negatively impacted by globalization and colonization. Fortunately, our community has come together in efforts to create new language learning opportunities for our young people. This fellowship will add to the community's efforts as we conduct a study to determine the feasibility of opening a Hupa language and culture immersion school. Looking to existing indigenous language immersion programs, we hope to gain logistical advice about starting and sustaining a school that will immerse students in the language, that reflects our customs, beliefs, and natural environment, and that will support our students' wellbeing.

Extracurricular activities: At school, I am a part of Native Americans at Dartmouth and the Dartmouth Chamber Orchestra. I have worked in book preservation for the library and love spending time in the Book Arts Workshop. Ever since taking Language Revitalization, where we made children's books in our Professor's native language, Chatino, I have been writing and illustrating books in Hupa language to promote language learning and increase cultural visibility. I am currently studying Hupa language from my dad through the Master Apprentice Program and through an internship with the Hoopa Valley Tribal Education Department. I also enjoy making earrings with my little sister.

Future plans: After graduation, I plan on taking a gap year and coming home to study Hupa and would like to work for Hoopa Valley Tribal Education. Then I hope to attend grad school to study linguistics or indigenous education. Eventually, I would like to be a Montessori instructor at a Hupa immersion school.

Theodore Green

Hometown: Rochester, NY

Project title: On Large Igneous Provinces and Phanerozoic extinctions

Project description: The eruption of large-scale flood basalts, called Large Igneous Provinces, throughout geologic history has been linked to various catastrophic environmental changes like ocean anoxia and global warming. My project aims to better quantify the environmental impacts of Large Igneous Provinces, particularly how they may act as trigger mechanisms for mass extinctions. Building on existing qualitative analyses linking Large Igneous Provinces to four of the five mass extinctions, I will be working on quantifying the correlation between Large Igneous Provinces and extinction events over the past 540 million years. Further information about why some provinces are more environmentally impactful than others and how the Earth system responds to volcanism can then be gathered by using models from the open-source GPlates project to reconstruct the eruptive latitude and subsequent movement of Large Igneous Provinces, particularly those closely tied to biotic turnover. Additionally, I will be examining the most recent mass extinction, at the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary, by generating new paleomagnetic data for a high-latitude section thought to span that interval. This data could then be combined with biostratigraphy and other records as part of ongoing debates surrounding the causes of that mass extinction.
Large Igneous Provinces also provide valuable historical analogs for anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions by acting as a direct test of Earth system sensitivity to rapid CO2 injection to the atmosphere. Improved quantification of how the Earth system was perturbed by and recovered from Large Igneous Province volcanism throughout geologic history can contribute to more informed predictions about the effects of anthropogenic climate change.

Extracurricular interests: On campus, I am a member of the Amarna undergraduate society and the Byrne Scholars Program. I also work in the Evans Map Room and do research in the Earth Sciences department. Outside of school, I spend a lot of my time hiking and reading sci-fi books.

Future plans: I plan to go to graduate school and continue exploring questions in Earth History, especially related to Large Igneous Provinces. I would like to continue studying geochronology, paleogeography, and paleomagnetism with the goal of eventually becoming a professor.

Chengzi Kaku

Hometown: Saratoga, CA

Project title: Structure-based design and conformational stability assessment of full-length and truncated coronavirus spike glycoprotein

Project description: The ongoing SARS-CoV-2 pandemic highlights urgent needs to develop broadly protective therapeutics and vaccines against current and pre-emergent human coronaviruses. A key target of neutralizing antibodies and thus of current research efforts is the viral spike (S) glycoprotein, a large metastable trimer that irreversibly folds, or triggers, from the prefusion to postfusion state upon receptor binding. Many strategies for vaccine development and antibody discovery require use of engineered S antigens that retain biologically relevant conformations, but there is no direct assessment of S triggering to date beyond biophysical characterization and antibody binding. Additionally, receptor-mimicking antibodies that can induce conformational changes of S upon binding has been proposed as a mechanism of antibody-dependent enhancement. Hence, I propose the development of a platform that assesses degree of S triggering via a direct readout of HR2 peptide binding, which theoretically can only occur in the postfusion state. The platform will subsequently be used to guide design of an S2 only antigen, a region conserved across beta-coronaviruses that has the potential to elicit broadly cross-reactive antibodies. Collectively, the system offers unique opportunities to inform S engineering and dissect humoral immune responses to infection and vaccination.

Extracurricular interests: In my free time, I like to spend what little money I have on my spoiled horse Becks and exploring fine dining (safely and socially distanced).

Future plans: I plan to work for two years at Adimab as a pre-doctoral research associate before applying to graduate school. During this time, I hope to continue to work on viral immunogen design-related projects in Dr. Ackerman's lab as an extension of the proposed project here or other new ideas. 

Jordan McDonald

Hometown: Seat Pleasant, Maryland 

Project title: Trust and Believe: The Black Indoors, Popular Skepticism, and the Critical Inheritance of the "House Slave" 

Project description: Merging pop culture criticism with intellectual history, my project Trust and Believe consists of an essay collection and digital exhibition that will explore the use of "house slave" as a pejorative in American speech and narrative, with a focus on how the enduring "slurred" status of this historical figure can be understood as a tradition of criticism within Black American politics, culture, and art.

The term "house slave" is most often employed to insult those with perceived proximities or allegiances to white power structures. With this practice in mind, this project seeks to articulate how this narrative configuration of the "house slave" is deeply problematic—where the historiography of chattel slavery is concerned—yet, extremely powerful as a framework for representing popular ideas about community policing, notions of racial betrayal, and the failures of representation politics. Centering the usage of the term in black political rhetoric and art, my project will explore historic invocations of the "house slave," such as those found in writer Zora Neale Hurston's 1943 essay "The Pet Negro System" and activist Malcolm X's 1963 speech "Message to the Grass Roots." Drawing special attention to the ways this "house slave" insult has been appropriated by non-black figures as well, Trust and Believe will also wrestle with non-black references to the "house slave," looking to figures such as American late-night comedian Bill Maher and Maori member of New Zealand parliament Hone Harawira.

All in all, both the essay collection and the digital exhibition for Trust and Believe set out to illustrate how black American art and popular culture in the late 2010s reveals a mode of skepticism that functions as a rejection of the representation politics that were so adamantly proposed during the Obama-era in particular. My research project will articulate how and why this trope-based critique reemerges in the public zeitgeist—film, media scandals, music videos, and other cultural events—and what impact this has had on leftist political thought and organizing. 

Extracurricular activities: On-campus, I am the editor-in-chief of Black Praxis and President of Music in Color. I have served as a staff writer and Arts editor for The Dartmouth as well as a member of the Inter-Community Council, Sexperts, Afro-American Society, and the Hood Museum Club. Typically, you could find me hiding out in the practice rooms in the Hopkins Center, waiting in line at KAF, or working at the Circulation desk in Baker-Berry. Off-campus, I have been working as a freelance writer since high school. My essays, criticism, and poetry have been published in Huffington Post, Artsy, Africa is a Country, The Offing, Smithsonian Voices, Teen Vogue, Bitch Media, Lady Science, Hayden's Ferry Review, and more.

Future plans: After graduation, I hope to continue doing creative intellectual projects where I get to use my skills as a writer, researcher, and curator. As a Beinecke scholar, I feel like I can plan for graduate school with less financial anxiety. My mom was a middle school teacher, and I've always loved the idea of teaching, so I am interested in becoming a professor someday. Outside of academia, I am really interested in storytelling, and I plan to continue pursuing opportunities to write fiction and poetry as well as explore screenwriting and publishing. 

Mike McGovern

Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia

Project title: The Tiger Tool: The Complex Relationship Between Charismatic Megafauna and the Communities Around Them

Project description: For my Senior Fellowship, I will be working on an extension of my Stamps project - The Efficacy of Tiger-centric Ecotourism as a Tool for Sustainable Economic Development. My project seeks to highlight the effectiveness of safari-based tourism as a means to improve regional conservation, promote economic growth, and empower local communities. My work is attempting to deconstruct the narrative that wildlife preservation and economic growth are mutually exclusive, when in many circumstances the two can serve as complements. For my project, I will be focusing on the status and implications of tiger conservation on the Indonesian island of Sumatra as a case study. After carrying out preliminary field research in Indonesia, the vital role of media in tiger conservation became clear - even in a developing country with limited internet access outside major cities. Upon further investigation and interviews with experts in the field, I discovered the shortcomings of social media use as a mechanism for conservation in Southeast Asia. As I continue my research into Southeast Asian tiger-centric ecotourism and conservation, I will add an evolved focus on the growing importance of social media on high impact conservation.

Extracurricular activities: My main extracurricular interest is using film and photography to benefit conservation. My wildlife photography has been displayed on the National Geographic website and featured at the High Museum of Art. In coordination with my Senior Fellowship, I am working with National Geographic on big cat conservation and media projects. I have interned with documentary film crews working on projects surrounding the environment and animal rights, and through this work, I have traveled to all seven continents and to over 100 countries. On-campus I am the former president of the Dicky Center International Business Council and an Economics TA. I am the captain of the Dartmouth club basketball team and have played on the varsity basketball team while at Oxford. I have served as Vice President of my fraternity and worked as the head of Dartmouth's largest student-run business. While at Oxford I was a member of the Energy Society, Climate Society, Centre for Animal Ethics, and the Oxford Law Society. 

Future plans: After my time at Dartmouth, I plan on attending graduate school and eventually hope to pursue a career working on wildlife conservation policy and sustainable development. More specifically, I hope to continue my work on charismatic megafauna conservation as a tool for economic development and community empowerment in low-income countries.