Announcing our Summer 2024 Research Award Recipients

07 Apr, 2024

Announcing our Summer 2024 Research Award Recipients

Congratulations to our 2024 Summer Research recipients from Geography, Music, Education, Architecture, East Asian Studies, Public Health, Theater, Dance and Performance Studies, and Film & Media.

Adrian Montufar

Adrian will be conducting a research stay at McGill University in Montreal during the Fall semester. Hosted by McGill's Graduate Research Trainee program, Adrian will explore music composition by connecting improvisation with digital instrument design. Inspired by musicians like Derek Bailey, Adrian aims to create a handheld, self-powered, wireless device for sound input/output and physical touch. This device will serve both performers and audience interaction during live shows. At McGill's Input Devices and Music Interaction Lab, Adrian will collaborate with Director Marcelo Wanderley to prototype the instrument. Beyond the lab, Adrian will engage with Montreal's improvised music scene for insights. While preparing in the Bay Area over the summer, Adrian will also teach a BCNM R1B class.

Alexis Wood

The fracturing of the American state is intrinsic to its history, gaining significance amid contemporary socio-political tensions. Alexis' dissertation explores rural socio-political movements, digital spaces, and climate change, focusing on state secessionist movements in the United States. Alexis is developing State of Mind, State of Mine (SoMSoM), a qualitative database documenting these movements over time. Seeking funding from the Berkeley Center for New Media's Summer Research Grant, Alexis aims to organize, host, and publish SoMSoM as a user-friendly website database. Highlighting ongoing movements often overlooked, such as the State of Jefferson's role in the 2021 Newsom Recall, this project offers crucial insights for policymakers and researchers, especially amidst the 2024 election cycle. Notably, SoMSoM analyzes how modern movements utilize social media, engaging undergraduate researchers to profile movements and track their online presence. By providing accessible historical and current data, this project enhances understanding of lesser-studied regions and their digital socio-political dynamics.

Caleb Murray-Bozeman

This summer, Caleb will travel to Boston, MA, to further his independent documentary on maps and neighborhood transformation in Union Square, Somerville. Started in fall 2022, the film explores the broader relationship between maps and place, and specifically, how differing representations of Union Square influence ongoing debates over its development. It delves into historical maps of the area, from colonial times to modern renderings by real estate firms and activists. Caleb's research will focus on two key areas: the Indigenous history of the region and digital spatial representations of Union Square. Caleb will continue investigating real estate development, tenant rights movements, and transit expansion while conducting interviews and gathering footage. Additionally, Caleb will explore aesthetic strategies to convey the complexity of Union Square's mapping, particularly navigating the digital processes underlying digital maps.

Eda Er

Eda is in the process of creating an installation project that incorporates the traditional Ottoman marble art technique from Turkey. Eda's goal is to develop this into an interactive audiovisual installation that could potentially become the focus of a dissertation. To achieve this, it's essential to construct the system and conduct a test as part of a performance this coming fall. In preparation, Eda plans to delve into the historical connections of this art form, seek learning opportunities with an expert during the summer, and secure the necessary equipment for the project while documenting the journey. The equipment list includes specialized paints, a container for painting, lighting, motion sensors, and thermal cameras. Eda's research will cover the art's history and its potential projection into new media art. Additionally, Eda intends to create a custom patch to integrate into this system.

Elizabeth Sun

This summer, Elizabeth will develop her research on border discourses and feminist video art practices through a visit to the Video Data Bank at the Art Institute of Chicago, one of the largest distributors of video art and experimental media. In her dissertation, she focuses on German and Dutch artists including Ursula Biemann, Hito Steyerl, and Fiona Tan, who reflect on issues of race and its intersections with environmental crises. At the Video Bank, Elizabeth will organize a series of screenings which will include sessions on Ursula Biemann, Border Practices (Lonnie van Brummelen, Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Colectivo Los Angrávidos) and Race and/as Technology (Tiffany Sia, Shu Lea Chang Peng Zuqiang).

Evan Sakuma

Evan's BCNM-funded summer research contributes to a broader investigation titled, "Triggered Aiiieeeeedentities: Unpacking the Online Persona of Asian American Gun Enthusiasts on Social Media.” This work delves into the online behaviors of Asian American Social Media personalities who prominently feature firearms or identify with the category of incel. Another potential texture of this work will be immersive field research at influencer gun shows like the NRA Annual Meeting and Exhibits in Dallas, Texas, or The Original Fort Worth Gun Show, which would aim to reveal insights into how online personas translate into offline experiences. While interview participation is uncertain, informal conversations and on-site observations will provide valuable insights into the cultural influences and motivations behind the calcification of these more jarring forms of Asian American being. It's crucial to emphasize that this research is not akin to 'gotcha journalism'; rather, it seeks to engage authentically with the community, avoiding sensationalism in favor of genuine understanding and connection. Drawing from a background in feminist, queer, and disability studies, the project champions relationality between circulating dominant aesthetics of these marginalized Asian American communities.

Haripriya Sathyanarayanan

In Haripriya's doctoral research, she investigate "Immersive Virtual Environments and Patient-Centered Design in Pediatric Healthcare Built Environments." With millions of children spending considerable time in hospitals annually, creating age-appropriate healing spaces is crucial. Pediatric healthcare facilities face the challenge of meeting clinical needs while addressing children's unique concerns during hospitalization. As a Ph.D. candidate in Architecture at UC Berkeley, Haripriya explores the intersection of technology, patient-centered design, and healthcare accessibility, focusing on families and children in pediatric healthcare, particularly in socioeconomically disadvantaged communities. Collaborating with hospitals like Oakland Children's, Haripriya prioritizes the needs of diverse populations. This summer, she aims to complete her dissertation, emphasizing VR's role in involving patients and families in design processes. She plans to publish three journal papers and explore grant opportunities for future research in this area.

Jaclyn Zhou

Jaclyn will travel to Japan for two weeks this summer to conduct research for her dissertation, which investigates the visual and material culture of anime fan tourism: a variety of activities undertaken by Japanese and international anime fans whose touristic practices are shaped by their attachments to certain anime texts, characters, and settings. Her project asks how the transnational circulation of Japanese media and subsequent media-induced leisure travel have become sites for the affective, embodied, and place-based negotiation with complex histories of race, migration, imperialism, war, and gender in Japan and the Transpacific. By attending to the affective hermeneutics of fandom – “a set of ways of gaining knowledge through feeling” (Wilson 2016) – the project focuses on how race and nation in particular become felt and sensible through the ostensibly non-political activities of fan tourists.

Jon Turner

Jon's research investigates the complex dynamics among musicians, instrument makers, and technicians in California, USA, and São Paulo, Brazil, focusing on underrepresented communities. Jon explores how economic shifts, climate change, and new media affect guitar making in these regions. Key questions include the intertwining and divergence of guitar-making histories, responses to material scarcity for sustainability, and the impact of automation like the Plek machine on craftsmanship and economics. Jon also examines the role of peripheral devices and their influence on guitar culture and economics. In São Paulo, Jon conducts ethnographic research, particularly engaging with marginalized luthiers, to highlight their unique challenges and opportunities compared to California. Raised in Phoenix, Arizona, Jon has practical experience in guitar building and repair, informing his academic journey. The grant will support completing his dissertation, focusing on new materials for environmental responsibility and online marketing strategies among diverse luthiers. Through interviews and observation, Jon aims to amplify marginalized voices in guitar making, especially in the Global South.

Lani Alden

Over the Summer, Lani will digitize a series of vinyl records recorded by early 20th century onnagata in order to interrogate the idea of the onnagata voice. She will read these recordings alongside research on trans voices by contemporary media studies scholars. This will be done in support of her dissertation project, one chapter of which foregrounds the development of the onnagata 'voice' in Japan and how new media forms like the vinyl record which presented this in a disembodied way commodified the gender non-conforming voice and made it ownable (and imitable) by gender conforming audiences.

Lee Crandall

Visualizing Crypto-Economic/Ecologic Networks

In my dissertation research, I examine the role of cryptocurrency and blockchain in the reproduction of racial capitalism – from prospecting to property – as evidenced by material-economic-environmental extractions in digital-physical space. Not unlike the Argonauts hoping to strike gold in 1849, today’s Cryptonauts argue for a “return to the gold standard” while those early to the blockchain scene hope for better odds of generating wealth, much of which depends on introducing disproportionate risk to the poor, and marginalized communities of color. This summer research project seeks to document and connect grounded material traces of extraction on the basis of race/gender/class with narratives of prospecting and inclusion in Northern California. At this stage of the project I will visit historical archives; conduct fieldwork at former mining sites; and collect visual and audio documentation of current crypto development sites and social networks both in-person and online. Additional new media methods include geolocative photography, photogrammetry, digital modeling, and animation/rendering. From a critical cartographic approach, this project is meant to help make transparent the often opaque environmental, economic, and social costs to crypto mining, while moving away from universalizing claims towards conveying grounded specificities.

Meg Everett

Dominated by youth and focused on short-form, user-generated content that prizes virality, TikTok has become a potent symbol of social media's penetration into school environments. My research aims to explore the concerns and possibilities that arise from this entangled web of social interactions and their significant overlap with formal schooling environments. In particular, my summer project poses the following question: How do students utilize unofficial TikTok accounts associated with the hashtags #schoolaccount and #schoolaccounts to represent and shape their lived experiences in schools? Through the identification of the themes that emerge from “unofficial” school accounts, this study illustrates some ways in which “what ‘happens’ online…imminently alters the course of lived reality (Wright, 2021, p. 63). Drawing from theories on digital affect cultures (Wright, 2021; Döveling, Harju, & Sommer, 2018), context collapse (boyd & Marwick, 2014), and the attention economy and the net (Goldhaber, 1997), the study will explore how students use of social media shapes discourses around schooling and school environments.

Meghana Ammula

This summer, I am hoping to utilize my foundation in public health and my interdisciplinary New Media studies certificate to carry out a research project gauging perceptions on digital platform usage, mental wellbeing, and social connection among youth who live in disadvantaged neighborhoods. Currently, there is a huge emphasis, from academia to public policy, on the linkages between digital platform usage and mental wellbeing among youth; however, there remain wide gaps in the literature for assessing this impact on youth who live in neighborhoods that face higher negative public health burdens and higher environmental toxins and who are from families of lower socioeconomic status. . I am hoping to fill this gap in the literature by carrying out a research study to gain understanding on the relationship between digital platform usage, mental health, and social connectivity specifically among youth ages 13-18 who live in East Oakland - is there a relation between the built environment and digital environment for these youth? My goal here is not to publish a report, but to gain a better understanding of youth’s perceptions around digital media and their needs for better wellbeing, to build community partnerships in East Oakland, and to lastly amplify the voices of youth who live in disadvantaged neighborhoods who are oftentimes left out of academic research and policy making.

Wan Nurul Naszeerah

Global health equity hinges on health information equity, a challenge in Malay-speaking Southeast Asian communities. Despite being spoken by over 290 million people, Malay is considered a "low-resource" language, lacking AI-assisted social media content moderation. This, coupled with prolonged social media use, exacerbates the health infodemic, impeding well-informed health decisions. Vaccine misinformation in Malay persists, fueled by narratives against former colonizers and non-Islamic entities, impacting vaccine confidence and leading to rising preventable diseases. To address this, Wan proposes co-creating a culturally sensitive intervention video targeting Malay-speaking communities. Through human-centered design workshops and community feedback sessions in Southeast Asia, we aim to counter vaccine misinformation. Applying psychological inoculation theory, the video will expose and debunk misinformation. Testing its efficacy via randomized controlled trials in Fall 2024 across Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore will provide insights for policy changes to mitigate health information disparities in low-resource language communities.