Class of 2020

Adam Steel

Psychological and Brain Sciences & Computer Science; Mentors - Caroline Robertson and Andrew Campbell (Ph.D. 2019)

Adam Steel is a neuroscientist investigating how humans navigate through the world. Specifically, he seeks to understand how vision (what we see) and memory (what we know) interact dynamically to support spatial cognition. During his doctoral work, Adam identified a new network in the brain that appears to support spatial memory in humans. As a Neukom Fellow, Adam will focus on elucidating how memories of new places are formed, stored, and recalled in this network of brain regions, as well as what algorithms the brain uses to implement these processes. 

To conduct this research, Adam uses a combination of immersive virtual reality, functional magnetic resonance imaging, mobile sleep and GIS tracking, and neural network models. Before joining the Neukom Institute, Adam received his PhD from the University of Oxford as a National Institutes of Health/Oxford-Cambridge Scholar in 2019. 

Ryan Collins

Anthropology & Geography; Mentors - Deb Nichols, Jesse Casana, and Jonathan Chipman (PhD. 2018)

Ryan has conducted archaeological field research in the northern Maya lowlands since 2011, he graduated with his doctorate in anthropology from Brandeis University in 2018. Currently, Collins's research focuses on the role of ritual and identity in the development of urbanism and complex society in the ancient Maya world with a regional focus in the Northern Lowlands of Eastern Mesoamerica. To explore deep contexts and minimize destruction, Collins' research is using remote sensing to detect and digitally model and conserve the ancient landscape while working to precisely excavate areas of ritual activity. More than investigating the past, his research is part of larger public engagement initiatives to involve local stakeholders in the conservation of community heritage. 

In tandem, Collins is the co-founder of the digital media project, This Anthro Life: Podcast. Through digital media, Collins is building platforms to engage anthropological research and empower local communities to share public dialogues.

Recently Collins co-authored "Los origines de los mayas del norte: investigaciones en el Grupo-E de Yaxuná" in Arqueología Mexicana with Travis Stanton.

You can learn more about Collins' work and public engagement with his TEDxBrandiesUniversity Talk, Lessons on Social Difference from an Ancient Maya City.