2016 Fellows

Hassan Abdel Salam

  • NYU – Sociology
  • Leslie Center for the Humanities/Religion/Sociology
  • Mentors: Zahra Ayubi (REL), Marc Dixon (SOC)


Headshot photo of Hassan Abdel Salam

I am a sociologist who seeks to use quantitative and computational methods and novel data sources to study law, religion, and human rights at a domestic and transnational level.

At the Neukom Institute, I intend to draw on web scraping and analysis, and social network approaches, to illuminate the topics, themes, and doctrines of online fatwas (Islamic legal opinions). Unlike media depictions that cast Islamic law as violent and cruel, I hope to show how fatwas repeatedly invoke mercy and dignity when adjudicating cases. Drawing on large-scale data generated by Internet users such as social media content and aggregate Internet search data, I also intend to trace the emergence and spread of Islamophobic discourses in Western countries around the world.

Additionally, I seek to trace the rise of civil and human rights in American law. Focusing on the U.S. Supreme Court, I intend to analyze the body of constitutional jurisprudence from the eighteenth to the twenty-first centuries to uncover shifting patterns in how “rights” have been conceptualized in American constitutional law.

Jeff Kerby

  • Penn State – Ecology
  • Arctic Studies/Computer Science/Environmental Studies/Biology
  • Mentors: Ross Virginia (ENVS, Arctic Studies) and Matt Ayres (BIOL) 


Headshot photo of Jeff Kerby

The ecology of high-latitude and high-altitude systems has broad impacts on global weather and economic systems, yet is particularly sensitive to ongoing climate change. My research plans blend classical ecological perspectives with emerging methods in physical computing and quantitative photography to address how and why abiotic change in these seasonal environments affects phenology, demography, and trophic dynamics. Combining experimental, observational, and modeling approaches, my research focuses on the indirect effects of climate change across levels of ecological resolution, primarily in the Arctic and critically understudied Afro-alpine systems.

• New York TimesFor Some Arctic Plants, Spring Arrives Almost a Month Earlier
National GeographicIndigenous Cultures and Hi-Tech Drones Reveal Secrets of Siberia

Awards & Grants:
Parrot Climate Innovation Grant

Teaching & Speaking:
Arctic Change 2017: Latitude Drone Ecology Network
• Neukom Fellow Jeff Kerby Brought New Drone Technology and Analytical Help to Environmental Studies Undergraduates on a Recent Dartmouth FSP trip to Namibia.

Stephanie Spera

  • Brown University – Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences
  • Geography/Thayer
  • Mentors:  Jonathan Winter (GEOG), Mark Borsuk (Thayer) 


Headshot photo of Stephanie Spera

With my Neukom Fellowship, I will continue interdisciplinary research concerning food security, climate change, and sustainable agricultural development. I will focus on the Brazilian Cerrado, a savannah region that spans over 2,000,000 km2 and is home to half of Brazil’s agricultural production. I plan to use remote sensing techniques to generate spatially explicit land cover maps and then integrate these maps into a regional climate model to determine where best to expand agricultural efforts given both climate feedbacks and other biophysical and socioeconomic relationships. 

Gus Xia

  • Carnegie Mellon University – Machine Learning
  • Music/Computer Science
  • Mentors: Michael Casey (Music) Xing-Dong Yang (CS)


Headshot photo of Gus Xia

As both a computer scientist and a musician, I design intelligent systems to extend musical sensation and expression, especially for music performance. Particularly, I build artificial performers that perform music expressively in concert with humans by learning music intelligence from rehearsals. This effort unifies expressive performance rendering and automatic accompaniment in a machine-learning framework, generating expressive and professional performances by computers.

As a Neukom Fellow, I will continue my research on expressive artificial music intelligence. I plan to further decode musical expression through cognitive models and advanced wearable sensors.