Six faculty win grant fellowships

Six Mount Holyoke College faculty members have been selected as recipients of the Marion and Jasper Whiting Foundation Fellowship. The awards will fund travel to further advance their studies, leading to increased opportunities for students.

Each spring, the Marion and Jasper Whiting Foundation announces the recipients of their annual fellowship for current and prospective teachers at the college and university level across New England. The fellowship funds travel for research that enhances their teaching, aiming to stimulate and broaden their minds to improve the quality of instruction. This year, six faculty members from Mount Holyoke College have been selected to receive this fellowship, among a total of forty-six winners across New England.

Michelle St. James, the sponsored research officer for Mount Holyoke College, says that while the College typically has one or two recipients, this year is much different.

“Mount Holyoke has been fortunate to have one or two faculty per year receive this fellowship. This year was a little different. Out of the eight faculty who applied, six have been notified that they will receive awards. I am so excited for and proud of our outstanding faculty and their dedication to — and passion for — meaningful, innovative and thoughtful research and teaching.”

The faculty members selected as recipients for the Marion and Jasper Whiting Foundation Fellowship are as follows:

Associate Professor of Politics Cora Fernandez Anderson — Anderson will travel to El Salvador and the Dominican Republic to learn about the status of abortion access and the movements for abortion reform. Her findings will be used in two courses: First Year Seminar on Reproductive Rights and The Politics of Abortion in the Americas.

“I am honored to have received the Whiting Foundation grant. Meeting with scholars, policy makers and activists there will enable me to gain in-depth knowledge of two important countries in Central America and the Caribbean,” Anderson said. “I look forward to sharing my findings with the Mount Holyoke community. The connections I make and knowledge gained will directly impact my teaching and advising. Thanks to this grant, I will be able to bring to my students the voices of activists fighting for reproductive rights and share with them primary sources and my observations from the field.”

Associate Professor of Art Studio Ligia Bouton — Bouton will travel to the DARK astrophysics research section at the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark, for a semester of research and teaching. Bouton’s research will focus on the life and work of Sophia Brahe, whose invaluable contributions to astronomy research were attributed to her brother. The historical narrative will combine spectroscopy and imaging data used by astrophysicists in the DARK group to study supernovae such as SN 1572. The result will create a new body of photographs and sculptures that present Sophia Brahe’s life and contributions.

“I am thrilled about receiving the Whiting! Being invited to collaborate with the scientists at DARK is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and will push me as an artist to come to terms with contemporary research in cosmology relating to exploding stars and what that can tell us about the formation of our universe,” said Bouton. “It doesn’t get much more exciting than that! I am so grateful to the Whiting Foundation for helping to make this opportunity possible for me.”

Associate Professor of Music Thomas Ciufo — The fellowship will support Ciufo’s travel for an artist-in-residency at the historically important electronic music studio Elektronmusikstudion EMS in Stockholm, Sweden, where he will study international electronic music history and practice. Ciufo will work and conduct research in the Elektronmusikstudion EMS studios, meet and engage with a number of international electronic music composers and explore the extensive library collection associated with the EMS studios.

“I am very appreciative of the generous support from the Whiting Foundation. During my time at the EMS studios, I will be working on my newest electronic music CD project, to be released on Neuma Records in the coming year.”

Associate Professor of Psychology John Tawa — Traveling to Hawaii, Tawa will undertake a mixed-method research study on Japanese, Native Hawaiian and White racial and ethnic dynamics in Hawaii while establishing personal and professional connections with both the Japanese and Native Hawaiian communities. This trip will enrich his teaching, especially in relation to the course Psychology of Racism. Tawa’s goal is to expand the course’s module on inter-minority race relations to include the analysis of inter-minority ethnic relations; for example, relations between Japanese and Native Hawaiians, within a historical context of white dominance.

“While I was born in Hawaii, my family moved to the mainland when I was young. Thus, this opportunity to immerse myself in Japanese, Native and White Hawaiian communities will be a kind of homecoming experience for me, particularly as a mixed-race Japanese American.”

Associate Professor of History Lan Wu — The Marion and Jasper Whiting Fellowship will support Wu’s travel to European museums documenting collections on cultures of the Himalayas. Wu’s findings will form valuable primary source nontextual materials for a new course expected to be offered in spring of 2025, titled To the Himalayas: Studying History from a Distance. This course will have students examine collections in various museum institutions, which complement textual contents written by and about the Himalayas in English, to better comprehend how knowledge about distant lands and cultures is categorized and disseminated.

“I was very excited to be selected for the Marion and Jasper Whiting Foundation grant. Without it, I would not have been able to travel to Europe.”

Associate Professor of Gender Studies Sarah Stefana Smith — Smith will be traveling to Jamaica and Senegal for research focusing on fiber and textile traditions, especially indigo dyeing. In Jamaica, Smith will collaborate with the Daughters of Indigo to explore folk art practices, and in Senegal, she will delve into the rich history of indigo dyeing. The fieldwork conducted will inform the curriculum of the fall 2024 course titled Abolition and Radical Fiber/Textiles, which will be co-taught by Smith. This course will integrate these textile traditions into a broader examination of social justice and abolition.

“I am pleased to receive a Whiting grant, and I look forward to Whiting Foundation support for a longer research arc that centers on the radical histories and potential of Black gendered folk traditions of textile making as they connect with abolitionist practices.”

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