2011-12 Brown International Scholars Program Awardees

Marie Atterbury  ‘12

Capturing Brain Iron: MRI Development in Germany’s Imaging Capital

Marie spent the summer working in a medical physics research group in Jena, Germany, where she helped develop signal processing tools for use in a novel type of magnetic resonance imaging, called quantitative susceptibility mapping (QSM). QSM calculates the magnetic susceptibility, or degree of magnetization of different types of tissue subjected to a magnetic field. These values are expected to provide information about the distribution of iron and other minerals in soft body tissue, notably the brain. Such knowledge could equip doctors and researchers with the ability to monitor the progression of neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's.

Faculty Sponsor: James Valles


Urmila Chadayammuri ‘13

Science in Transition: A Study of Educational Structures Before and After the Dissolution of the Soviet Union

Urmila worked at Moscow State University’s Sternberg Astrophysics Institute to research dark energy, an “anti-gravity” force that corresponds to gravitational repulsion and not attraction, thus accelerating the expansion of the Universe unlike anything known before. She worked with a research team attempting to determine what kind of dark energy model best explains our Universe. 

Faculty Sponsor: Sergei Khrushchev

Kassandra Costa ‘12

Volatile Content and Distribution in the Mantle and the Effects on Azorean Volcanism



The Azorean archipelago (Portugal) is located along the mid-Atlantic ridge, which produces gas-poor magmas; however, heavy isotope and noble gas isotope analyses indicate magma mixture with a gas-rich source, such as plume. Kassandra travelled to the Azores and collected tephra samples in an effort to assess the volatile content of the mantle and the magmas that are rising beneath these islands. Understanding the volatility of magmas in the Azores is important because it is directly related to volcanic explosivity and, therefore, to hazardous risks for humans. Because an explosive eruption could cause disruptions in air travel, as in the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull (Iceland), the explosivity of Azorean volcanoes has global significance.  

Faculty Sponsor: Stephen Parman

Chishio Furukawa ‘12

Randomized evaluation in rural Uganda: how can replacing kerosene candles by solar lamps improve respiratory health and school performance of students who study by them?

Chishio conducted a randomized controlled trial on the efficacy of solar lamps as an alternative to kerosene candles in rural Uganda. Simple wick kerosene candles emit PM2.5, an order of magnitude higher than the WHO standard, while giving only dim light. Replacing kerosene lamps with solar-charged LED lamps would likely improve health outcomes and school performance. Chishio chose 180 upper primary students and randomly distributed solar desk lamps to 90 students. The follow-up observations will be taken monthly through November. Through microeconomic modelling of intra-household negotiation and purchasing decision, Chishio hopes the study provides data on the impact of kerosene candles and solar lamps.

Faculty sponsor: Sriniketh Nagavarapu


Leslie Howitt ‘12

The Urchin's Tale: A Global Conversation



This summer, Leslie studied the population ecology of Hevaplex Princeps, a large marine snail, in the Galápagos Marine Reserve, Ecuador. Hevaplex consume barnacles and are fished by the local community for ceviche, a seafood dish. Using size, growth, and fecundity measurements, she modeled the population and artificially inflicted fishing pressures to see whether the population is affected by fishing. This population study can serve as a model system for how to study the affect of fishing pressures on populations.  

Faculty Sponsor: Jon Witman




 Judy Hwang ‘12

 Ethnography of Global Connections: African Palm from the Secoya Community

Judy traced African palm oil from the ancestral land of the Secoya, a people indigenous to the Ecuadorian Amazon, in a linear fashion towards the plant’s varied consumers. By tracing palm oil, she demonstrated the global connections between seemingly unconnected groups, places, and people and documented the local social and environmental impacts of its international trade.

Faculty Sponsor: Keith Brown


Molly Lao ‘13

Analyzing the Impact of an NGO on Sport and Disability in the Cambodian Community

Molly worked with the Cambodian National Volleyball League for the Disabled (CNVLD) in an effort to better understand the stigma attached to disabilities and Phnom Penh’s disabled population. In addition to supporting the day-to-day operations of CNVLD, Molly created materials that she hopes will contribute to a burgeoning disability rights movement in a local and international context, examining ways in which sport can be used to alleviate some disparities in the political and human interaction processes of Cambodia’s disabled. 

Faculty Sponsors: Greg Elliot and Eli Wolff


Leland Lazarus ‘12

The Economic Crossroads of the Americas and Asia

Leland conducted research in Panama to ascertain how the China-Taiwan conflict is affecting the isthmus.  His research sought to determine to what degree a small, relatively under-developed country can hold economic influence in a world structure that favors developed countries.  His research may also provide insight into how the Chinese-Panamanian community benefits financially and socially from Panama’s new relations with China and Taiwan.

Faculty Sponsor: Nukhet Sandal


Hui Ning (Natalie) Low ‘12 


Sea Stars

Natalie traveled to the Galápagos Marine Reserve, Ecuador, to study the role of seas stars in the food web. At least one common Galápagos sea star is known to prey on the pencil sea urchin, which is an important grazer in subtidal Galápagos communities. Sea stars, together with predator fish species, may therefore be involved in controlling sea urchin populations and their grazing rates. Unlike predatory fish, sea stars are not commercially exploited, so their effects on sea urchins may become more important with increased fishing pressure. Natalie conducted field surveys and predator inclusion/exclusion experiments to look at sea star diets, abundances, and their effects on urchin populations.

Faculty Sponsor: Jon Witman 


Catherine Mardula ‘12


Gaul And Beyond: A Survey of the Latin Inscriptions of Paris

 While adequate study has been done on Latin epigraphy outside Rome's city limits, most scholarship on the subject is limited to the span of time before the fall of the Empire in the West. Catherine spent this summer in Paris documenting the city's later Latin inscriptions, mostly found in church interiors and on public monuments. After compiling and analyzing this data, she plans to compare the inscriptions with those from ancient Rome in a senior thesis, which will likely argue for the existence of a distinct later European tradition (or traditions) of Latin epigraphy.

Faculty Sponsor: John Bodel


Stephanie Saldarriaga ‘12


The Healing Story: Belief and Truth in Colombia’s Therapeutic Systems

 Stephanie traveled to Bogotá, Colombia to investigate alternative forms of healing in Colombia's urban sector - an area where biomedical services are theoretically available. However, in light of the country's recent violent history and the inadequacy of the healthcare system in providing sufficient and holistic care, many in the capital city have turned to alternative forms of healing. Stephanie partnered with a medical anthropology research group based out of the University of the Andes to study primarily Afro-Colombian religion-based healing practices in Santeria, Umbanda, and Espiritismo, as well as Catholic charismatic healing masses. Far from the observatory role she planned to play, Stephanie soon found herself participating in Santeria consulations, Catholic masses, and Umbanda gatherings, feeling and partaking in the same experiences as her subjects. In conducting her research, Stephanie was able to immerse herself in the very specific cultural and social context that is present-day urban Colombia and better understand how specific aspects of Colombia's history, government policy, and religiosity affect how people define their illnesses and seek treatment today.

Faculty Sponsor: Bianca Dahl


Sabrina Skau ‘12


Anthropology There and Back Again: Reflections on a Field Science 

 Sabrina traveled to Madrid to explore subjects for a future documentary film that will explore issues of trauma, memory, history, personal experience, and subjectivity. She is interested in the art of the filmed interview and the use of documentary video in both producing personal testimony and bearing witness.  

Faculty Sponsor: Lina Fruzzetti


Cos Tollerson ‘12


Projected Images: Propaganda and the Brazilian Military Dictatorship 1964-1985

 Cos travelled to Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo to conduct research at the National Archives and the CPDOC archives at the Fundação Getúlio Vargas. His research concerned the discourse of the Brazilian military dictatorship from 1964-74 and focused on their attempts to construct democratic legitimacy. The research Cos conducted will be used to write a History Honors thesis in the 2011/2012 academic year. 

Faculty Sponsor: James Green