Current Fellows

About the Fellows

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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.