Current Fellows

About the Fellows

The Neukom Fellows Program launched in 2012. Fellows have three-year appointments 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.

Akshay Mehra

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.

Danielle Poole

Geography and Geisel; Mentors- Jonathan Chipman, Lisa Adams, Margaret Karagas, and Richard Wright (Ph.D., expected 2019)

Danielle Poole is a population health scientist with training in epidemiology, econometrics, and spatial analysis. She applies quantitative methods with a social justice approach to measure and address health disparities among forced migrant populations – including refugees, asylum seekers, and internally displaced persons. Beyond advancing the scientific study of forced migrant health, her work generates methods for population health research in complex environments. She has led research programs internationally in Greece, Kenya, Lesotho, Mali, South Africa, and Turkey, as well as locally in New England. Dani holds a Master of Public Health from Brown University.

Ethan Coffel

Geography and Earth Sciences; Mentors- Justin Mankin, Jonathan Winter, and Erich Osterberg

Ethan studies how climate change is affecting extreme weather, and what impacts these changes will have on human societies and natural ecosystems. His tools are climate models, which enable investigation of the behavior of the climate system both in the past and the future. He strives to understand the physical mechanisms driving changes in the climate, and to present climate information and its uncertainty clearly to facilitate adaptation planning. He has a PhD from Columbia University, where he studied extreme heat and its impacts on human health and infrastructure. As a Neukom Fellow, he will develop methods to analyze how increasingly frequent hot and dry conditions will affect global agriculture.

Jeremy Mikecz

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.

Joseph Dexter

Comparative Literature, Biological Sciences, Computer Science and Classics; Mentors - Michelle Warren, Mark McPeek, Saeed Hassanpour and Margaret Graver

Joseph has broad research interests that span both the humanities and the natural sciences. His main interests in computational biology are the development of mathematical models that capture the collective, systems-level properties of metabolic and signaling networks, and predictive analytics for high-dimensional clinical data. Dexter's humanistic research focuses on quantitative literary criticism, especially as applied to classics and the profound influence of Greek and Latin authors on subsequent culture.

He has a Ph.D. in the Department of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School and co-founder and co-director with Pramit Chaudhuri of the Quantitative Criticism Lab. At the Quantitative Criticism Lab he has been working on diverse problems at the intersection of literature, computation, and biology. Particular interests of the group include the development of enhanced computational methods to support literary criticism and intertextual profiling (often drawing on techniques from bioinformatics), elucidation of authorial, generic, and temporal stylistic signatures using machine learning, and cultural evolutionary studies of literature.

Kelly Finn

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.

Kyle Booten

English and Linguistics and Computer Science; Mentors - Aden Evens and Christiane Donahue

Kyle Booten is an interdisciplinary scholar whose work combines ethnography, media studies, and computational linguistics to study the ways that old and new forms of literacy meet and transform each other. 

His most recent research has explored the circulation of literary quotations on social networks as well as the popularization of new, platform-specific literary genres; he believes that those who are interested in the fate of cultural categories like poetry and philosophy must contend with the ways that these entities are evolving on social networks, largely outside of longstanding literary and educational institutions. 

As a Neukom Fellow, Kyle will design tools and algorithmic agents that intervene politically and aesthetically in these networks, building bridges between them and traditional archives.  Kyle has a PhD from UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Education and the Berkeley Center for New Media.  He holds an AB (English) from Princeton University and an MFA (Poetry) from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Rick Smith

Anthropology and Genetics; Mentors - Zane Thayer and Brock Christensen

Rick W. A. Smith received his doctorate in Anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin in the Summer of 2017. Broadly, his research merges molecular biology and social anthropology to explore the entanglements of matter and meaning, the ways in which social, political, and biological forces interact to shape human bodies past and present. Rick's primary interest is in the field of paleoepigenetics, an emerging area of ancient DNA research that reconstructs chemical modifications to ancient DNA and evaluates their environmental causes.

Rick conducts his paleoepigenetic work within theoretical frameworks from feminist and queer materialisms to understand the effects of class, gender, and ethnic violence in ancient civilizations of the Americas. He is also interested in critical science studies and the biopolitics of DNA research, how social, political, ideological, and historical factors influence knowledge production in genomics.