Current Fellows and their Projects


  • Mikhayla Armstrong, Biology
    Mutations in the SERT gene: how autism and OCD may relate to behavioral changes in drosophila

    Past research has shown that some mutation sites in SERT may contribute to both obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and autism. I will be investigating how specific amino acid mutations result in behavioral changes in drosophila melanogaster, which will be used as my model organism. I will measure these behavioral changes through the use of an optomotor assay, a quantitative form of measuring behavior.

  • Arkey Barnett, Economics
    Matching Towards Diversity: Measuring the Effects of QuestBridge on the Student Composition at an Elite Liberal Arts College

    My research confronts the problem of improving access to highly selective schools for students from underrepresented communities and investigates the role of college access organizations in reaching this endeavor. This summer, I will work to gain a broad perspective on college access by exploring the relevant literature on the history of efforts to diversify top colleges. I will then narrow my lens by analyzing the ways in which Williams College has pursued this objective, especially through the relationship with QuestBridge, a non-profit organization that connects high-achieving, low-income students to top colleges in the nation. I will explore how interactions between colleges, students, and outside organizations, such as QuestBridge could be evaluated using new tools in the economics of search and match theory.

  • Arno Cai, Mathematics/Economics
    Corruption and the Environment: Modeling Regulator and Firm Behavior in China

    I want to research the extent to which government corruption in China affects air pollution. I intend to pinpoint certain forms of corruption I want to focus on, measure the costs (perhaps using effects to GDP as an indicator), and to derive possible fixes. I intend to first develop a neoclassical, theoretical model that lays out channels in which corruption could affect air pollution. After that, I will use empirical and qualitative evidence to validate or reject the model.

  • MarChe Daughtry, Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies, American Studies
    Investigating the Mysteries of Marginalization": New Detective Work in Black Disability Studies

    My project is a critique of a study published by Martha E.  Banks in the journal Women and Therapy entitled "Disability and Whiteness: Double Marginalization." In the essay, Banks argues that White women with disabilities lose access to white privilege.  Yet, they will thrive if they are able to develop a sense of self and learn to navigate the "multi-cultural experience of being white, woman, and disabled." While not denying the fact that White, disabled women experience oppression and have a hard time developing a healthy identity, my critique will focus on the author's exclusion of the inequities to identity and health care that are faced by people of color that prevent them from achieving the same quality of life as the women in the study.

  • Neftaly Lara, Art History, French
    A Museum for Living and Surviving: The National Museum of Mexican Art and Mexican Identity as a “Cultura sin Fronteras”  through “Nuestras Historias”

    What is “community” within the context of the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago, IL and what does it contribute to the discourse of “saving” communities through art? By recognizing the National Museum of Mexican Art as an institution within a Mexican American community in the City of Neighborhoods, I hope to engage in the multiple layers of “community” to analyze the dynamic relationships at play with a marginalized neighborhood and population. Furthermore, the interpretations of “community” will allow for an investigation into how or if the museum functions as a “savior” for the community and what that means during the Trump era.

  • Merudjina Normil, Comparative Literature
    Give a Girl A Break: Fighting for Adolescence in Eve's Bayou and Just Another Girl on the I.R.T.

    This article will engage with the theories and criticisms of Toni Cade Bambara and Bell Hooks on the use of black female bodies in film and how they adhere to or combat the white male gaze. It differentiates between black women filmmakers and black feminist filmmakers by exploring the works they are producing, and questioning if these filmmakers are affectively combating the white male gaze.

  • Isabel Pena, History
    From Citrus Groves to Suburbia: Voices of protest, housing rights and democracy in Orange County’s Barrios 1970-1990

    Long thought of as a white conservative enclave, Orange County, California has changed dramatically in just four decades. Rapid waves of migrations, both domestic and foreign, during the 1970’s and 1980’s would come to define Orange County’s politics, culture, and conflict late into the 2000’s and the 2016 presidential election. In 2014, Garden Grove, Orange Country elected Bao Nguyen as its mayor. Nguyen, an openly gay, tri-lingual Vietnamese-American born in a Thai refugee camp, offering a strong divergence from the 1960’s narrative of homogenous conservativism in Lisa McGirr’s account of Orange County.

  • Bethel Shekour, Chemistry
    Bacterial Two-Component Signaling Systems: Employing Histidine kinases as targets for novel antibiotics

    Bacteria are growing increasingly resistant to conventional antibiotics. This is the primary reason why we need to explore the development of novel antibiotics that target areas in the bacteria that have not been targeted by conventional antibiotics. One such area is the histidine kinase (HK).  Blair lab specifically targeted the highly conserved ATP binding domain of HKs.

  • Gabriel Silva-Collins, Anthropology
    Bodies of Work: Finding Philosophy in Mexica Religious Statuary

    This project will examine Aztec statuary in order to determine how Mexica people considered the manifestation of the divine in the real world on Earth. Were expressions of divine bodies on Earth considered regular corporeal entities that were then uplifted into divine status, or were divine beings metaphorically brought down to a mundane realm? The possibility of a combination of those two approaches, or a completely different understanding of divine presence, will also be studied. This project will work from resources available to Williams College libraries, several Aztec statues located at WCMA, and eventually resources and works present in New York City.

  • Valeria Sosa-Garnica, American Studies
    Water is Life:  Interrogating Democracy through Flint and Standing Rock

    This summer, I will research how connections forged by organizers in Standing Rock and Flint are informed by their analysis of settler colonialism, and particularly within that analysis, their critiques of capitalism and environmental racism. Primarily, I seek to understand how the most marginalized in our country develop their own theories and analysis into active solidarity and political action. My launching point will be contemporary social movement theory and analyzing social media content from Flint and Standing Rock organizers.


  • Gabriella Carmona, Political Science/History
     The Suez Canal: An Understanding of High Modernist Ideology
    I will be looking at the construction of the Suez Canal as a colonialist project, meant to organize Egypt into a legible country for European Powers. Through a comparison of other French colonial model constructions in India and Latin America, the Suez Canal’s history can be defined as a transitionfrom an imperialist tool to anationalistic one. I plan to study this transition to help incorporate the Canal’s history into the events seen todayin Egypt and across the world in other waterway and canal constructions.
  • Naomi Francois, Religion
     The Hermeneutics of a Defacto System

    In this project I complete textual analyses of sermons delivered by black ministers and pastors from different denominations of, time periods, and geographic locations to study the stigma of Mental Illness and Mental Health services present in predominantly black protestant churches. Thus far I have found strong evidence (in 10 of 15 sermons) to suggest that the stigma is strongly attached to both unintentional and direct victim shaming in sermons. I plan to continue analyzing sermons in hopes that a larger sample size will yield to a deeper and more complex analysis.

  • Ayami Hatanaka, Political Science/WGSS
    Learning from the Māhū of Hawai‘i: Non-Binary Indigenous Identity in Trans* Rights Discourse

    Māhū is a gender identity, in Native Hawai‘ian culture, that is the embodiment of both kāne (male) and wāhine (female). By unpacking māhū and legal discourse on trans* rights, and then repacking them together, I seek to explore dimensions of māhū identity and how it complicates, informs, and challenges the current discourse on trans* rights in the United States.

  • Ekekiel King Phillips, Geosciences/Chinese
    Death in the Devonian: An Analysis of Microfossils Across the Frasian-Fammenian Boundary

    Short abstract of project (1-3 sentences): I am going to analyze the morphology, biodiversity, and relative abundance of microfossils found in black shales from the Kellwasser horizons Western New York in order to better understand the nature of the Late Devonian biodiversity crisis.

  • Karen Linares, Anthropology/LATS
    The Internalization and Embodiment of “Undocumentation": When do Latinx Im/migrants seek health care?

    I attempt to assess the reasons for the possible changes in perceptions byanalyzing the influence of the terminology used by US immigration law to describe immigrants and thus further deconstruct the act of being an im/migrant in the US. Focusing on Latinx immigrants’ medical experiences before they arrived to the US, while simultaneously conducting ethnographic research on their medical experiences in the US, allows me to interpret the degree of impact immigration has on their health. By having a point of reference, regarding the internalization of “illegality” which includes tracing from the earliest point possible, the process of internalization will allow for a more nuanced understanding of the full scope and effects of US immigration laws on an immigrant’s access to health care and the extent to which they are able to lead a healthy life in the place they now call home.

  • Daniel Maes, Mathematics/Statistics
    The Criticality of Understanding Critical Mass

    I am working on an applied mathematics and statistics project focused on the notion of critical mass. Critical mass is a loosely defined term used in affirmative action policies, and I would like to better define and quantify it in order to increase the workability.  My ultimate goal is to generate predictive models that can be used to assess contemporary racial affirmative action policies in specific undergraduate universities in the US.

  • Carlos Malache Silva, Philosophy/German
    Alienation for All: Towards an Evaluation of Hegelianism and Marxism as Anti-Colonial Thought

    My research focuses on characterizing the experience of an individual in contemporary society, by using the approaches of political philosophers and critical theorists. This year, I aim to use the personalized structure of WEPO tutorials to explore influential thinkers (Hegel, Marx, Althusser, Adorno) and determine their relation to a de-colonizing project (Spivak, Said).  Through written pieces, I will integrate useful aspects of these theories into my own project, which I will form with the help of my mentor and other advisors at Williams.

  • Anika Mitchell, WGSS
    Utilizing Epigenetic Arguments to Bolster Reproductive Justice Advocacy in Prisons

    What is the standard of care for pregnant women in prisons in Spain and how does this care better the outcome of cognition in infants?  How does this relate to the prison industrial complex and public health system of Spain. How do these institutions and systems relate with race, ethnicity, sex and gender?

  • Keiana West, Psychology
    Investigating Psychological and Psychosocial Risk Factors of the School-to-Prison Pipeline

    I will be spending the next few weeks revising my literature review on the psychological and psychosocial risk factors of involvement in the school-to-prison pipeline for submission to the Undergraduate Research Journal of Psychology at UCLA. I will then be spending the remainder of the semester designing an empirical study and possibly conducting a pilot study in order to collect preliminary data. Although the study has not yet been designed, this project may be a social psychology experiment testing race and gender bias in teachers’ perceptions of student misbehavior and appropriate responses to this behavior.

  • Noah Wright, English
    Rethinking Freud: The (In)Visibility of Race to Psychoanalytic Theory

    My project aims to explore notions of language, art, historiography and identity politics in addressing the intersection of blackness, performance and flesh. To date, my primary interlocutor is black feminist and literary critic Hortense Spillers, whose research is focused on articulating the idea of black culture and the importance of black womanhood to this discussion.


  • Eduardo Avalos, Political Science/LATS
    "Art is a Weapon": Questioning Community and Complicity in Boyle Height's Cultural Economy

    Through the study of the contestation over the existence of Chicanx art galleries in the Boyle Heights neighborhood in Los Angeles, my work explores the viability of community-bred alternatives to the inevitable narrative of displacement that accompanies gentrification. By mapping out the particularities of the politics of identity and its contestation in community dialogue and action, gentefication, or non-white gentrification, in Los Angeles operates as a distinct community-driven processes working in tandem with Chicanx historical nationalisms and place-making strategies, but crumbling as an alternative vision to gentrification and displacement. Understanding the racial economies of cultural production highlights the various ways art is a weapon over community and place-making, and the ways it affects the racial repackaging of histories and futures in the Eastside communities in Los Angeles.

  • Kiyana Hanley, Political Science
    The Philosophy of Education: A Close Look at Imprisoned Populations

    This research focuses on public education institutions and how neoliberalism has become deeply engrained in every aspect of its transformation. Through reflection of my time as a teaching fellow with Uncommon Schools, a charter school network, I will be highlighting the dangers of the neoliberal panopticon and offering suggestions for sites of resistance for incoming educators that are constantly under surveillance.

  • David Jaramillo, Chemistry
    Gemini Surfactant-Based Lanthanide Ion Complexes for Bioprobe Applications

    Gemini surfactant chemistry has long been utilized in various industries to create petroleum purification products, shampoos, soaps, and gene transfection agents as a result of their solvation characteristics. Similarly, lanthanide metals are a crucial part of the average citizen's arsenal of appliances and modes of transportation due to their unique spectromagnetic properties. In the Patrick S. Barber laboratory, we are exploiting both surfactant and lanthanide chemistry in the design of a gemini surfactant based ligand for complexation with an Ln(III) cation for cellular imaging purposes.

  • Alejandra Mejia, Comparative Literature/LATS
    Latina rebeldes: Agency and resistance within digital spaces

    This semester, I will be conducting an interpretative textual analysis of the social media platform Latina Rebels to investigate the resistance and agency exercised by self-identified U.S. Latinas within digital spaces.

  • Tyrone Scafe, Political Science/Africana Studies/Africana
    Decoloniality and its Limits: Student Movements and US Structures of Antagonisms

    This project proposes a comparative study of the trajectory of student-led contestations of higher education in public institutions from the 1960s to private institutions in contemporary times. Ultimately, the aim of this study of institutions of education and student movements is to build on the relatively new theory of structures of antagonism by looking at the contradictions of proposed solutions such as diversity initiatives and affirmative action as well as the formation of “radical” fields such as African-American studies. This work will help future scholars pursue conclusions and solutions that differ from the stagnation of structural antagonisms as proposed by previous scholars.

  • Akhir Stewart, Art History/French/Africana
    Imagined Liberation: Dismantling the Body Fiction in “Sartorial Anarchy”

    Monica Miller’s Slaves to Fashion offers dandyism as a liberatory project by framing the dandy’s tactical manipulation of ambiguity as a paradigm of freedom. Engaging Arjun Appadurai’s The Social Life of Things, Jose Muñoz’s Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics, and Mignon Moore’s Lipstick or Timberlands? Meanings of Gender Presentation in Black Lesbian Community, this project explores the ways in which the dandy’s apparatus of choice, clothing, complicates the liberatory agenda of creating new social reality from ambiguity. By acknowledging clothing as an agent that actively possesses, obscures, and/or marks subjectivity, challenges to the dandy’s construction of self are revealed. Sartorial Anarchy, a self-portrait series by Nigerian artist Ike Ude, is introduced to not only identify this essential compromise to self-definition specifically as the body fiction, but also present a subversive reclaiming of the body in spite of it. By way of visual analysis, this project reimagines body fiction as a space of ambiguity, thereby expounding on the philosophical ideals of liberation represented in dandy scholarship.

  • Maoli Vizcaino, Geosciences
    Morphology of fossils from the Tsagaan Olom Group, Mongolia-tintinnids or red algae?

    Fossils in the Tsagaan Olom Group in Mongolia may give insight towards the diversity of early eukaryotes and their continued evolution through the Cryogenian glaciations. We investigate what these fossils are (tintinnids? Red algae?), what their morphology could signify, how abundant their populations were, and the nature of the environment they existed in.

  • Jaira Walker, Arabic Studies
    The Aesthetics of Affluence: Is the Hyper - in Hypermodernism the Hyper - in Hypercapitalims?

    This paper will focus on Gulf art (multimedia, exhibitions, installations, film, etc.) and development of a hypermodern visual culture that centers global metropolises as transitional spaces of unaligned diasporic encounters across time, space and imagination. I intend to deconstruct and interrogate how these artists are representing complex histories and identities through technologically nascent narratives of becoming, identity formation and state/national deterritorialization. The other portion of this paper pertains to how shift towards hypermodernity has facilitated a visual culture of Gulf dromo-economics facilitated on oil capitalism, hyper-consumerism and the flourishing tourist industry where massive amounts of capital is going towards constructing cultural/art institutions (i.e. Saadiyat Island’s Cultural District).

  • Rebecca Williams, Classics
    American Law, Athenian Law, and Living Ancient Greek

    This semester I am studying the ancient Greeks and their use of imprisonment. My research is focused on learning about punished in Athens and its rehabilitative effects on victims and criminals. Ultimately, I hope that my research on imprisonment in the Athenian legal system will aid my understanding and conceptualization of the purpose of imprisonment in the American legal system today.

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Kyung Nahiomy Alvarez, Political Economy/Psychology – When National and Local Antipoverty Policies Clash: How

Seattle’s New Minimum Wage Could Impact EITC Eligibility

Ahmad Greene-Hayes, History – “We Charge Genocide”: African Americans and Human Rights, 1944-1955

Todd Hall, Political Economy – Tipping and Discrimination in the Restaurant Industry: Exploring the Implications of Automatic Gratuities

Brandon Mancilla, English/History – Ernesto Laclau and the Global South

Angela Pastorelli-Sosa, Art/History – Religious and Sexual Imagery in Surrealist Art during theSpanish Civil War

Susmita Paul, Chemistry/Sociology – Bengali Immigrants’ Access to Primary Health Care inQueens, New York

Megan Steele, Chemistry/Psychology – Sporulation and the whiJ gene family in Streptomyces coelicolor

Roger Vargas, Math/Economics – A Review of Drosophila suzukii and the Implications of Cytoplasmic Incompatibilities in Host Populations

Cinnamon Williams, American Studies – “Coming Out:” Presenting Real Women and Fabulous Men at Debutante and Drag Balls

Chienfa Wong, Economics – Cuba: Structural Reforms in the 1990s

CLASS OF 2015Class of 2013

Alexis Akridge,  Critical TheoryDetroit, the spatialization of industrialism, or wilderness

Gabriela Azevedo, PhilosphyWhat could be meant by aesthetics?: Remarks on Wittgenstein’saesthetics lectures

Sevonna Brown,  American StudiesCaving In: Bearing Witness to Black Womanist Birthing Spaces

Donald Kost, Comperative LiteratureMagical Realism as Postcolonial Discourse in Haruki Murakami

Tirhakah Love,  Political Science/American StudiesKIPP Culture, KIPP Capital: A Narrative on the Crushing of Cultures

Laurel O’Connor,  Environmental Studies/Ethnic StudiesLandscapes of Climate Justice

Alexander Pena,  English/HistoryGoverning the Other: The Alfonsine Code of Law and Islam inMedieval Spain

Brandon Romero,  Political EconomyIntra-Party Conflict and Induced Policy Stasis: A Modified Theory of Policy Making

Alejandra Rosales,  Political ScienceUnpacking Gendered Representations in Music Video

Daniela Zarate,  Biology/AstronomyUnderstanding the biogeography and genetic diversity of Scottish

Asphodel under the impact of past glaciation and current climate change