Undergraduate Research Fellowships 2021

03 Nov, 2020

Undergraduate Research Fellowships 2021

The Berkeley Center for New Media is pleased to announce that we have two undergraduate research fellowships that are open for applications! Fellows will complete their research under the mentorship of a graduate student in new media over the course of Spring 2021. This year, all fellowships will be remote. Each fellowship comes with a stipend of $1,000.

If you are interested in multiple projects, please submit separate applications for each project. Applications can be found here and are due on December 1, 2020.

Projects below!

A Forensic Imaginary: The Emergence of Visual Evidence in Law and Policing

This project examines the emergence of photography and film as tools of evidence within policing and the law in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in an attempt to better understand the role that visual evidence plays in our current moment. Thirty years ago, when the videotape of Rodney King being beaten by officers of the LAPD aired on local news, the idea that a camera could capture such evidence of a crime and make it publicly visible was remarkable. Today it is merely expected, as bystander cellphones and police body cameras record incidents of police brutality more often than not. Exploring the shifting ways new media have been understood as evidence by both practitioners who mobilize it to life and death consequences and the public at large following sensational trials in the press, the project argues that the photograph, and subsequently the film strip, have long been treated as analytical tools as much as a demonstrative ones, serving up troves of raw data rather than self-evident images, laying the groundwork for the evidential logic of computation underlies the predictive policing software and facial recognition algorithms that trouble us today. Attending to these old new media forms and the forensic imaginary can profoundly reshape a broader understanding of the role of visual media, particularly its tensions along lines of race, class, and gender. From gilded age millionaires and their heirs attempting to discredit women’s claims to marriage and inheritance, to forensic efforts to fix racial and gendered identities from miniscule bodily traces, to attempts to use film to prove or disprove bodily disability, the project examines the way the camera’s evidence employed forensically played a significant role in mediating negotiations of power, knowledge, and visibility that continue to pulsate through our contemporary forms of visual evidence.

This spring, an undergraduate researcher would be involved primarily in newspaper research, online and on microfilm, concerning a decades-long desire held by police departments around the country to produce a “motion picture rogues’ gallery.” As early as the teens and as late as the seventies, this descriptor was applied to police experiments with filming suspects for diverse purposes, from witness identification to officer training to recidivism prevention. With these experiments and the discourse they generated, we see similar questions that have arisen with police body cameras in the past decade—Whom do they protect? What should be recorded? How do we weigh the value of police accountability against the threat to civil liberties? Hunting down accounts of these experiments in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Miami and Detroit newspapers would be the bulk of the work, using online resources as well as the microfilm readers that have been installed in Moffitt. Additionally, depending on access, there may be the opportunity to help with research on a chapter about the Berkeley forensic expert Edward Oscar Heinrich, whose papers are held at the Bancroft. Depending on that timing, the undergraduate researcher would have the opportunity to learn archival management skills—including documenting, note taking, tagging, performing OCR, and maintaining a research log.

Immersive Virtual Environments and Patient-Centered Design in the Pediatric Environment

Fellows will work on either:

1. Data collection and analysis:

The purpose of the study is to understand the experiences and needs of children within the inpatient department of a children's hospital, and their families, to find out what they thought about the inpatient built environment and patient spaces. It is planned at the Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland using methods such as interviews and surveys. The IRB approval has been obtained. With the COVID-19 restrictions on visitation policies at hospital, part of the data collection (surveys) will be converted into an online format. The student will work on Qualtrics for the data collection and quantitative analysis. The student may also assist in online qualitative interviews – conducting the interviews/observations, transcription, coding and analysis.

2. Pilot experimental study and VR proof of concept (PoC):

This project tests the VR PoC of the patient room designs to gather some preliminary data before conducting in-field experiments. The student will help with the VR PoC that will integrate the immersive experience with biosensor data and the analytics platform. The sensors currently include heart rate (HR), heart rate variability (HRV) and ECG/EEG. It will be preferable if the student has some knowledge in Unity3D and scripting.