Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Draper Student News, 08 - 09

Both current Draper students and alumni had a great deal of exciting news during the 2008 - 2009 academic year. Here are the accomplishments, scholarships, and acceptances that students shared with us this year:

Andrei Boutyline was accepted to Berkeley's doctoral program in Sociology. His initial goal is to pursue a computational/mathematical study of culture.

Katherine Carlson (Alumna, 2008) was accepted to NYU's MFA Program in Creative Writing. Katherine will start the program in fall 2009 and will be studying fiction.

Myong Yee Chin, a dual degree student at Draper and the Palmer School of Library and Information Science, was awarded the LCU Foundation Scholarship for women in Palmer's Rare Books and Special Collections concentration. Myong was awarded $8000 award for the 2008 - 2009 academic year.

Russell MacKenzie Fehr (Alumnus 2009) was accepted to doctoral programs in History at the University of California, Riverside, the CUNY Graduate Center, and SUNY Binghamton, with fellowship offers from Riverside and CUNY. Russell is currently interning at the Sacramento City Clerk's office and will be starting at UC Riverside in fall 2009.

Shayne Figueroa (Alumna, 2009) presented her paper, "Selling the Casual Dining Franchise to Housewives in Postwar America," at the 2009 Association for the Study of Food & Society conference in May 2009. Her paper was presented as part of the panel "Marjorie DeVault's Feeding the Family -- 20 years of Research on Gender and Domestic Food Labor."

Jennifer Kelly (Alumna, 2008) has been accepted to the University of Texas, Austin's doctoral program in American Studies, where she will be funded through Teaching Assistant and Assistant Instructor positions in both American Studies and the Department of Rhetoric. She will start her coursework and Assistant Instructor position in the Department of Rhetoric in the fall of 2009.

Elena Landriscina (Alumna, 2009) has been accepted into the Juris Doctorate programs at American University, Northeastern University, and George Washington University.

Pei Palmgren (Alumnus, 2008) has moved to Bangkok, Thailand and is working as the International Development Officer for the People's Empowerment Foundation. This independent Thai NGO works to strengthen civil society networks throughout the country and Southeast Asia.

Susan Rosenfeld is giving a lecture entitled "A Culture of Letters: David F. Dorr's and Frederick Douglass' Travel Narratives as Early Pan-African Texts," this summer in Ghana for the Association of the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora (ASWAD) conference.

Kate Simpkins (Alumna 2008) was accepted to the English doctoral program at Northeastern University, where she will begin in fall 2009.

Alana Smith presented her paper, "Citizen/Terrorist: Security Problems of the Biopolitical State" at NYU's Poetics and Theory Conference "On Security" on March 7, 2009.

Claire Sommers (Alumna, 2009) was accepted to the University of Massachusetts, Amherst's doctoral program in Comparative Literature.

Interview with Draper Alumna Brooke Borel

Brooke Borel graduated from Draper in 2007. Since her graduation, she has embarked on a successful career as a freelance science journalist. Brooke took the time to answer some questions about her career path and her time at Draper.

For those who may not be familiar with the field, what kind of stories does a science journalist cover, and for what kind of publications?

I write for a few different publications: Popular Science, Cosmos, and G: The Green Lifestyle Magazine. The latter two are based in Sydney, Australia, and I interned with them there around a year ago, which is how I got started in the field. I also do research and fact checking for Science Illustrated, which is a sister publication of Popular Science here in New York.

Science journalists write about a number of different topics-- basically anything science related. Some have specialties, but right now I'm writing about any science topic that I personally find interesting. My undergraduate work in biomedical engineering covered a wide range of areas, from chemistry and biology to mechanics and electronics, so I feel pretty comfortable covering a number of different fields. My work for Cosmos has been mainly reporting on basic science. G is an environmental magazine, so all of my articles for them are green-themed. And for PopSci, I've done a number of different projects, including consumer product reviews, a book review, and basic science coverage. I write fairly regularly for their blog at, and I have an article coming out in their May print issue, which is the first time I'll have a byline in a print magazine here in the US (I've had a handful in Australia). It's a pretty small piece, but check it out if you see it on the newsstand!

As social awareness and interest in topics such as climate and environmental issues increases, it seems likely that scientific reporting will be increasingly in demand. How do you think the field is changing and developing, and how do you see yourself involved in that development?

I think that there has been a vast improvement in science journalism over the past decade or so, and it is continuing to improve. I think the main challenge is finding reporters who both understand the science that they are covering and can write about it in ways that the general public can understand. I see myself as part of a larger movement of people with science backgrounds who have moved to journalism as a way to participate in science communication and to bring science news to the public. I think the current issues today, from climate change and other environmental issues to medical breakthroughs and controversies, will really impact people's lives directly, and that more people are realizing this and are seeking ways in which to become better informed. Hopefully this demand will continue, and the need for people like me will continue to grow with it.

How has your interdisciplinary background been useful in your career?

Although I really liked many things about my undergraduate program, and it covered a wide range of topics in science and technology, it was a pretty narrow program on a larger scale. I had hardly any opportunity to study anything outside of science and math. I think we were required to take a total of six social science or humanities courses during our entire four years as undergraduates. I don't think this gives students a broad enough view of the world, or the opportunity to see how their field might connect with other, seemingly disparate fields.

My work at Draper allowed me to explore so many different areas of study, including the history of science and science's relationship to both social and cultural forces. I think this gave me a unique perspective on science, and I'm not sure I'd be where I am now without that perspective. Also, just on a personal note, I liked that each Draper student had a unique curriculum, yet we were all able to take classes together. Each person really brought an interesting set of skills to the table. There aren't many programs out there that allow for such a broad set of academic interests.

What were your research interests when you started at Draper? Did these change throughout the course of the program?

I was actually pretty unfocused when I first started-- all I knew is that I wanted to write and that I wanted a better basic understanding of the humanities and social sciences. After a semester or so, I started realizing that I could pull from my experiences with science in both my writing and my research at Draper. I mainly took science studies and gender politics classes, as well as some science education classes outside of Draper. At the time, I hadn't considered the possibility of being a journalist, otherwise I probably would have tried to take classes at SHERP, which is a great program. Instead, I was focusing my work on the debate on gender bias in university science and engineering faculties and labs, which is what I wrote my thesis on.

So yes, my interests evolved during my time at Draper, and they are still evolving. I think it takes some time to figure out exactly where your niche is in the world.

What advice would you give current Draper students, particularly those who are interested in pursuing a career in your field?

This is actually advice that was given to me by Andy Jewett, my thesis advisor. He said this during a seminar at Draper a couple of years ago: be tenacious. And he's right. It's easy to get discouraged when you are looking for jobs, particularly in the current economic climate. But you just have to keep trying, submitting your resume and letters of interest, networking. Something is bound to come from all of that, but you have to keep trying in order to make it happen.

For those interested in pursuing a career in science journalism, or any kind of journalism for that matter, I think the best thing you can do is find an internship. One way to get jobs is to show what you've done in the past, which means you need published clips. But it's sort of a Catch 22, because in order to get published, you first need some sort of writing job. Most internships give you a chance to write, and you have a handful of bylines by the time you are finished, as well as some good connections. After that, you just have to be tenacious until you find solid work. Also, I know the climate isn't that great right now, particularly in publishing. But even if print is dying, there is still a need for people to write content for websites and other electronic media, so don't be discouraged. Just get your name out there and see where it takes you.

From the Bobst Library: Summer Classes

This summer Bobst Library is offering the same hands-on classes as offered during the fall/spring semesters along with a small sampling of the Data Service Studio tutorials. There's still time to register at

Physical & Virtual Tour of the Library
Tue., May 26 -- 2:00 pm
Thu., May 28 -- 6:00 pm
Tue., July 7 -- 2:00 pm
Thu., July 9 -- 6:00 pm

Finding Books and Articles
Wed., May 27 -- 2:00 pm
Wed., June 10 -- 6:00 pm
Wed., July 8 -- 2:00 pm
Wed., July 22 -- 6:00 pm

Thu., May 28 -- 2:00 pm
Thu., June 11 -- 6:00 pm
Thu., July 9 -- 2:00 pm
Thu., July 23 -- 6:00 pm

Intro to Endnote
Fri., May 29 -- 2:00 pm
Tue., June 16 -- 6:00 pm
Fri., July 10 -- 2:00 pm
Tue., July 28 -- 6:00 pm

Google Expert
Thu., June 4 -- 2:00 pm
Fri., July 17 -- 2:00 pm

SPSS Intro
Tue., May 26 -- 4:00 pm
Wed., May 27 -- 4:00 pm
Mon., July 6 -- 4:00 pm
Thu., July 9 -- 4:00 pm

Thu., May 28 -- 4:00 pm
Tue., July 7 -- 4:00 pm

Wed., July 8 -- 4:00 pm

Finding Data Sources
Wed., May 27 -- 5:00 pm
Mon., July 6 -- 5:00 pm

Ying Zhu Chin on the Arizona State University Art History Graduate Symposium

Draper student Ying Zhu Chin recently attended the Arizona State University Art History Graduate Symposium. She shares on the experience below:

The 3rd Annual Arizona State University (ASU) Art History Graduate Symposium was held on March 28, 2009, with a theme of "Convergence, Divergence, and Intersection: Movements and Encounters of Cultural Constructions." The symposium was organized around the ASU Art Museum's exhibition of Japanese-American(-Vietnamese) artist Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba's ongoing new work, Breathing is Free, in which Nguyen-Hatsushiba plans to run the diameter of the earth.

Although the symposium was organized by The Council of Graduate Art Historians at ASU, the symposium was receptively interdisciplinary, as evidenced by the diverse papers presented. Mine was the only literature-based paper; I presented on Malaysian writer K.S. Maniam's novel, The Return, addressing the impossibility of immigrants' and their descendants' return to ethnic roots within a transplanted, minority culture in a post-colonial setting. (Thank you, Nicole Rizzuto, for invaluable conference advice!) Other paper topics included an approach to comic books through the lens of anthropology, and the politics of identification in Karaoke. Artists discussed included Rosemary Laing (Australia), Francis Alÿs (Belgium/Mexico), and Rebecca Belmore (Canada), to name three.

Although structured around visual art and art history, the symposium managed to venture outside the confines of disciplines and fields to engage issues of culture, especially those concerning identity politics. I was very glad to be part of a conversation about the "global" issue of identity politics, which was expansive and yet focused, and included contributing viewpoints from many highly specialized fields within the humanities. For me, the best part was the dinner afterward, when exchanges of ideas occurred two ways instead of one. I was also lucky enough to be hosted by ex-Draperite Jo Novelli, who has gone on to be adjunct faculty at ASU. Yay Draper connections!

Ying Zhu Chin is a second semester student at Draper.

Heather Paulson on the American Comparative Literature Association Conference

Draper student Heather Paulson recently attended the American Comparative Literature Association Conference at Harvard University. She shares on the experience below:

This past March I attended and presented a paper at the annual conference of the American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA), held at Harvard University. I went to Harvard with feelings of great trepidation, as this was the first academic conference I had attended, not to mention the first academic paper that has seen the light of day outside a professor’s office or classroom.

The ACLA conference is unique in that it is organized around seminars, not panels, which allow for each presenter to share his or her work and then discuss it with the other participants and public attendees. My seminar, entitled “After Everything is Said,” revolved around ideas of translation, production, and the role of the author/producer in shaping experience with a text. Most surprising was the diversity of the other participants: a professor from Boston University, two others from University of South Carolina, doctoral students from the University of Minnesota and University of Iowa, and an independent scholar from the UK. I was the sole MA student, but felt completely welcomed and inspired by my colleagues, whose work was as diverse as their backgrounds. Along with the seminar I participated in, ACLA had over 200 other seminars that ran from 8:30 in the morning to 4:30 in the afternoon. Needless to say, choosing which seminars to attend was a daunting task, but I managed to see several NYU professors present their work, including Mark Sanders (Comparative Literature) and Emily Apter (French), ran into Professor Shireen Patell (Trauma and Violence) in another seminar, and attended over six different seminars with topics such as, “Worlding of Worlds,” and “South Africa in Translation.”

Although I was uncertain what to expect from the conference, I came away with a greater confidence in my own writing and scholarship. I am also inspired and overwhelmed by the infinite possibilities for study—with every paper that was read, I realized how little I would ever truly be able to know about anything. If any Draper student is considering submitting an abstract or attending a conference, I would highly recommend ACLA; the diversity of seminars makes space for almost any field of study, and the attendees are welcoming and open-minded.

Heather Paulson is a currently pursuing a dual-degree MA/MLS with NYU's Draper Program and Long Island University's Palmer School of Library and Information Science. Her interests include the literatures of Sub-Saharan Africa, political writing, memory and memoir, and academic librarianship. She also works at the New York Society Library and assists Professor Shireen Patell with the Trauma and Violence Transdisciplinary Program.

Draper Student Forums

During the 2008 - 2009 academic year, Draper student Myong Yee Chin initiated the Draper Forums--small, informal discussion groups for Draper students seeking discussion opportunities outside of classes. Myong describes the Forums below:

Draper Forums are small, informal discussion groups for Draper students to ask questions and exchange ideas. We began meeting in January 2009, once or twice a week, for about 45 minutes in the evening after class. Membership is open: any Draper student can join in at any time. So far, topics discussed have included interdisciplinarity, mapping, translation, and literature and science, as well as practical concerns for master’s students, such as how to present at an academic conference.

I started the Forums to address a lack of opportunities for Draper students to come together for serious, but unguarded, discussion. The Forums are also meant to create a greater sense of community for students within Draper. The meetings are low-obligation and do not require advance preparation. With very simple topic prompts, we aim for a free flow of conversation that does not find an outlet in courses or other formal academic venues.

The Forums will continue in the fall semester, possibly with adjustments or expansions to the format. We may create separate groups with thematic or formal definitions, such as a thesis writing support group. The development of the Forums largely depends on the people involved, so please feel free to give your input! We have opened a blog where you can find contact information, a meeting schedule, and recaps of previous meetings:

Myong Yee Chin is a first semester Draper student who is also in the dual degree program at the Palmer School of Library and Information Science. Interested in researching the history of the book and book arts, Myong is a graduate assistant at Fales Library and is pursuing a concentration in Rare Books and Special Collections at Palmer. She will be taking over as the Draper Student Organization president for the upcoming 2009 – 2010 academic year.