Mia Chin '12 is a Sociology Major with a concentration in Gender and Sexuality Studies. Mia is interested in studying tourism in Latin America, specifically focusing on the sector of volunteerism. She will study the impacts of volunteers from places like the United States and Europe on community organizations in Latin America and communities that host and house these volunteers. She is particularly interested in understanding the roles of women from Latin America in organizations and home-stays to see how they are specifically affected by volunteer tourism. She hopes to highlight how tourism can give agency to women in the domestic sphere running home-stays and show how local organizations have sustainability despite the inconsistent number of/length of volunteer involvement. This research also aims to question if volunteerism is beneficial or not and under what conditions it can be. This summer Mia will be in Peru taking Spanish classes, volunteering and living with different families in Cuzco and Arequipa. She plans on continuing her research in Buenos Aires when studying abroad and the following summer in another Latin American country. In mentoring her, Professor Nathan Wright will guide her in her research.
Liana Donahue '12 is from New Orleans, LA, and is a Philosophy major and Africana Studies minor. She is interested in the idea of moral responsibility and judgment within a criminal gang. Liana’s research focuses on the Cape Coloured gang population in Cape Town, South Africa. During Liana’s junior year abroad in Cape Town, she worked at a juvenile detention center as an anger management teacher. This experience allowed her to interact firsthand with youth who were members of prominent gangs in the country. Liana’s interaction with the youth lead her to question the ways in which people from low-income, gang-ridden communities unconsciously commit immoral acts because of their environments. These thoughts led her to her main research questions: Is being a moral agent a privilege? Should people be held accountable for their actions if they were taught those actions are acceptable within their environment? Her mentor is Professor Christine Koggel.
Cristina Muñoz '12 is from Los Angeles, CA and majored in Growth & Structure of Cities with a minor in Environmental Studies. Her research interests lie at the intersection of environmental justice and sustainability. Along with her mentor Gary McDonogh, she explores these topics using ESRI ArcGIS spatial analysis to recreate the sitting patterns of toxic facilities and their proximity to an ever changing demographic population through space and time. Using Los Angeles as her study area, Cristina’s analysis covers a 20-year period of toxic facilities sitting that disproportionately expose minorities in the region to environmental health hazards. Through extensive literature review from the environmental justice and sustainability fields, her thesis compiles frameworks and projects that other cities have done on the matter. Her thesis awarded her second place in the Bolton Senior Award administered by the department of Growth & Structure of Cities since 1985. Since graduation, Cristina has begun her PhD in the Geographical Sustainability & Sciences department at the University of Iowa.
Cristina Smith '12 is from Richmond, Virginia, and is a Sociology Major with Concentrations in Middle Eastern Studies and Environmental Studies. She is interested in sustainable development, food politics and food security in the Levant region of the Middle East. Cristina’s research project looks specifically at Jordan by examining its food system for insight into the environmental consciousness of the individual and collective. More broadly her research seeks to answer questions about the shape of environment and society in the Middle East’s near future. Her mentor is Professor Deborah Harrold in the Department of Political Science. While conducting her research Cristina has interned with environmental organizations in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Amman, Jordan.
Elena Swartz '12 is a senior from Newton, Massachusetts majoring in Growth and Structure of Cities. Her mentor is Professor Gary McDonogh. The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship has allowed Elena to pursue a variety of academic interests throughout the past two years. During her first year as a Fellow, Elena conducted independent research on environmental public health disparities in marginalized communities in Boston, Massachusetts and Cape Town, South Africa. After studying abroad at the University of Cape Town in Fall 2010, Elena began a new project researching representations of history at heritage sites in post-apartheid South Africa. In summer 2011 she carried out independent research at significant heritage sites in four different cities in South Africa to better understand the ways these sites fit into the larger context of urban spaces in the country and the ways memory is inscribed on these sites. This independent research project contributed to Elena’s senior thesis, Leaving No Stone Unturned: Examining the Role of Heritage Sites in Post-apartheid South Africa and Their Possibilities for Facilitating Socioeconomic Development and Reconciliation. In February 2011 Elena presented a paper at the MMUF Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference entitled Re-visioning Memory in the Rainbow Nation: Challenges and Critiques of Post-Apartheid Nation Building through Memorials in South Africa that will be published in the 2011 MMUF Journal. She welcomes comments and criticisms of her work.
Sana Venjara '12 is a Growth and Structure of Cities major with a concentration in Middle Eastern Studies and a minor in History of Art. Her mentors are Professors Gary McDonogh and Deborah Harrold. In the Fall of 2010, Sana was fortunate enough to study abroad at the site of her research in Cairo, Egypt. Complex opposing female realities pervade Cairo media and everyday street life. Sana’s aim is to deconstruct the multifaceted nature of Cairo Muslim women’s public image through the perspective of clothing and its resultant effects on how women navigate the city and their lifestyles. While these decisions are not directly “revolutionary,” clothing serves as a point of contestation for conscious and active resistance against social inequality when public space is renegotiated in times of social change and political opportunity. After completing her thesis this past Fall, she will be interning this semester at Next American City, an online urban magazine for a greater understanding and practical application of her Cities degree.