Class of 2021

Aman Aberra

Biology, Psychological & Brian Sciences, and Thayer; Mentors- Michael Hoppa, Matt van der Meer, and Geoffrey Luke (Ph.D. expected 2021)

Aman is a biomedical engineer interested in bioelectrical phenomena of the nervous system and how electromagnetic fields can be used to modulate neural activity and treat disorders. In his doctoral work, Aman developed multi-scale computational models of the neural response to noninvasive brain stimulation methods, including a technique called transcranial magnetic stimulation, which provided mechanistic explanations for experimental observations that were previously not well understood. As a Neukom fellow, Aman will use novel genetic and optical tools to characterize the dynamic molecular and electrical properties of axons and synapses during normal brain function, as well as during stimulation with applied electromagnetic fields.

Laura Chapot

German Studies and Computer Science; Mentors – Petra McGillen, Jed Dobson, and Dan Rockmore

Laura's research brings together comparative literature, modern languages, cultural history and computation to study the ways in which different representational practices shape how we perceive, interpret and act in the world. As a Neukom fellow, Laura plans to investigate the intersections between literature and computation as complementary cultural practices of representation. Considering literature and computation in relation to the notion of representation highlights the respective possibilities and implications of literature and computation as formal languages that encode, process and distribute cultural knowledge and experiences. She grounds her investigations in comparative analyses of developments in conceptions and practices of representation in the late nineteenth century in Germany and Sweden.

Olivia Chu

Mathematics and Sociology; Mentors - Feng Fu and Kimberly Rogers

Olivia's research focuses on the dynamics of human behavior and in particular, the effects that heterogeneous population structures have on these dynamics. Her thesis work focuses broadly on group-structured populations and the interplay between behavior, group memberships, and interactions. Olivia has incorporated data collection and empirical evidence into her models in collaboration with social scientists from psychology and political science. As a Neukom Fellow, Olivia will explore problems such as: why we often see more cooperation in small groups; how personality types impact how well individuals are able to integrate into new environments; and how we can take advantage of small-scale, interpersonal interactions to avoid large-scale polarization in an increasingly divided world.

Joanmarie Del Vecchio

Earth Sciences, Geography, and Thayer; Mentor – Marisa Palucis, Jonathan Chipman, Colin Meyer, and Caitlin Pries

Joanmarie is a geoscientist who investigates how climate change has shaped the landscape, both past and present. In her doctoral work, she used field sampling, isotopic analyses, geophysical imaging, remote sensing and numerical models to determine how permafrost thaw in Appalachia and Alaska altered the pace and pattern of landscape change. As a Neukom Fellow, Joanmarie will use topographic, climate and vegetation data from high latitudes to find signatures of permafrost processes and thaw on the landscape and consequences for sediment and carbon release.