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The Neukom Fellows Program launched in 2012. Fellows have two-year appointments with the option for a third year and for their interdisciplinary work which has a computational theme, are co-sponsored and mentored by faculty in at least two departments or programs. Fellows teach one course in each year of their residency. The current Neukom Fellows with their Ph.D. granting institutions and departmental affiliations are given below, along with descriptions from the Fellows of their research plans.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Anthropology, Mathematics, Biological Sciences, Thayer, and Psychological and Brain Science; Mentors – Thalia Wheatley, Nathaniel Dominy, Hannah ter Hofstede, Gene Santos, and Peter Tse (PhD., expected 2019)
Kelly Finn studies animals as an information processing system. Her research uses computational methods to describe and link patterns in an animal's environment to patterns in their behavior. Using multiple animal models (e.g. humans and octopi), Kelly plans to compare how independently evolved intelligent minds respond to environmental complexity and process uncertainty. Considering their sensory systems, what aspects of an environment matter to an animal? Given their cognitive capacitates, how do different patterns of information affect them? By manipulating patterns of environmental information and assessing behavioral responses with measures of attention, affect, and movement, Kelly aims to answer these questions and learn more about the internal world and experiences of nonhumans.
Earth Sciences and Mathematics; Mentors - Justin Strauss, C. Brenhin Keller and Anne Gelb (Ph.D. expected 2019)
Akshay Mehra research centers on discovering spatial relationships that reveal form, architecture, and organization to illuminate function at multiple scales. At Princeton, he has largely focused on using serial grinding and machine learning to produce and analyze three-dimensional models of the earliest biomineralizing (shell-building) animals. As a Neukom Fellow, Akshay will study ancient microbial constructions to understand how environment and biological processes lead to the varied morphologies that are preserved in the rock record. Prior to starting his graduate studies, Akshay was a researcher at Situ Studio, where he primarily worked on projects involving human rights violations. Akshay holds a Bachelor of Architecture from Cornell University.
History, Anthropology, and Geography; Mentors – Colin Calloway, Deborah Nichols and Mona Domosh (PhD., 2017)
Jeremy Mikecz is a historian doing research at the intersection of geography and Indigenous, social, and digital history. His current research uses data visualization, digital mapping, and spatial analysis to reconstruct Indigenous activity and its role in shaping the events of conquest-era Peru. In other ongoing projects, Mikecz is using geographical text analysis techniques to map early colonial Indigenous geographies in the Andes and data-mining techniques to chart the resilience of Indigenous place names across the Americas. More broadly, his research examines the ways digital tools can be used to interrogate historical narratives and reconstruct the histories of people normally marginalized by these narratives. Mikecz's work was most recently published in the International Journal of Humanities and Arts Computing (Edinburgh University Press, March 2017): Peering Beyond the Imperial Gaze: Using Digital Tools to Construct a Spatial History of Conquest.
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.