Clark undergraduates receive Steinbrecher Fellowships to support creative research

The Steinbrecher Fellows 2012-13 pose with Stephen Steinbrecher ’55. Front row, from left to right, are Kulani S. Panapitiya Dias ’13, Tricia M. Labbe ’13, Stephen Steinbrecher ’55, Alexis L. Carlson ’13, Alina P. Michelewicz ’14, and Alison D. Berlent ’13. Back row, from left to right are Shane L.J. D’Lima ’14, Kristin M. Withers ’14, Alison H. Mayer ’13 and Joseph J. Danko III ’13. Missing from photo is Natalie S. Cilem ’13.

Ten Clark University undergraduate students were recently named Steinbrecher Fellows; all will undertake projects this summer and during the 2012-2013 academic year.  The Steinbrecher Fellowship Program was established in 2006 to encourage and support Clark undergraduates’ pursuit of original ideas, creative research, and community service projects.

The 2012-2013 Steinbrecher Fellows and their projects are:

Alison D. Berlent ’13, of Medfield, will spend the summer doing research on the stress-response system in stickleback fish in Professor Susan Foster’s laboratory.  Berlent, who is interested in pursuing a career in veterinary medicine, is interested in this topic because of its base in evolution and connection to broader vertebrate systems.  Berlent is a biology major and a chemistry minor.

Alexis L. Carlson ’13, of Brooklyn, N.Y., will study the taxonomy and evolution of Trametes, a genus of mushroom forming fungi, in Professor David Hibbett’s laboratory and present that research at the annual meeting of the Mycological Society of America.  Carlson will then work with Clark University’s Marketing and Communications Department to learn how to best communicate scientific information and write a series of essays on her blog for a lay audience.  Carlson is a biology major.

Natalie S. Cilem ’13, of Raleigh, N.C., will be a summer intern at the International Labour Research Information Group in Cape Town, South Africa.  Cilem is interested in studying the relationships, actions, principles and goals of this non-profit research group that produces research publications on labor unions and social movements around the globe.  Cilem is an International Development and Social Change major.

Joseph J. Danko III ’13, of Shrewsbury, will attend a controlled burning in Myles Standish State Forest in South Carver, Mass., as he lays the foundation of a restoration plan for Oak Savannah for the EcoTarium, Worcester’s museum of science and nature. Oak Savannah is a 20 acre parcel of undeveloped land that would be used for educational purposes by the EcoTarium.  Danko is a geography major.

Kulani S. Panapitiya Dias ’13, of Sri Lanka, will travel home to study the social psychological processes that hinder reconciliation in a post-war society.  She will examine the psychological mechanisms that maintain and propel violence and hostile attitudes between ethnic groups.  Panapitiya Dias is pursuing a double major in psychology and English.

Shane L.J. D’Lima ’14, of India, will travel to Kenya to assist Tearfund, an international nongovernmental organization that works with highly impoverished and marginalized urban and rural populations.  D’Lima’s primary objective is to measure change in the lives of community members that Tearfund Kenya has been assisting through educational empowerment and financial assistance to small businesses.  D’Lima is pursuing a double major in economics and geography.

Tricia M. Labbe ’13, of Waterville, Maine, will travel to Halifax, Nova Scotia, to examine documents at the Nova Scotia Archives relating to the Arcadian Deportation of 1755 (i.e., Le Grand Derangement).  Labbe is particularly interested in the interactions of the three ethnic groups at that time (the Acadians, Mi’kmaq Indians, and British) and any political and cultural motivations that led to the deportation.  Labbe is a history major.

Alison H. Mayer ’13, of Carlisle, will travel to Texas and then San Francisco as she explores the concept of westward expansion and the West in current American thought and culture.  Mayer intends to produce a documentary that explores whether nationalism and multiculturalism are mutually exclusive ideologies or whether American identification with the West can co-exist in today’s multicultural society. Mayer is a screen studies major and computer science minor.

Alina P. Michelewicz ’14, of Nelson, N.H., will travel to Villard, Haiti, to facilitate the Villard Teacher Training Workshop that she has organized and for which she has raised much of the funding.  Michelewicz is also co-founder of the club Clarkies for Sustainable Development in Haiti.  She is a double major in International Development and Social Change and economics.

Kristin M. Withers ’14, of Amherst, N.H., will spend the summer working on an archeological project in Turkey; she will be part of a team led by Rhys Townsend, associate professor of art history at Clark.  Withers is pursuing a double major in art history and studio art.

The Steinbrecher Fellowship Program was established in memory of David C. Steinbrecher, class of ’81, by his parents, Phyllis and Stephen Steinbrecher, class of ’55, and is funded by generous gifts from the Steinbrecher family and friends of David.

Deborah Merrill, associate professor of sociology and acting director of the Steinbrecher Fellows Program, said that the committee was very impressed by the intellectual depth of the projects being pursued and expects that all will result in significant findings.

“These ten projects represent the best of innovative, creative ideas that will yield exciting, intellectual findings while simultaneously allowing our students to ‘do good’ in the wider world,” said Merrill.