Wendy Kelly (03S), who graduates on May 20, completed her Division III in geology, researching the formation of serpulid reefs in Baffin Bay, Texas. Serpulids are marine worms that secrete calcareous tubes and attach to hard surfaces, such as stone or shell. They are found around the globe and in a range of environments, but almost always in an individual form. In an aggregate form they are extremely rare.
Kelly wanted to know why the reefs formed: what caused this unique and fascinating grouping of serpulids in intertwined, layer-upon-layer growth? She found that it was most likely due to an environment with just the right balance of salt and warmth.
Her impressive research might well be used as a metaphor for the Division III itself. While outstanding individual senior theses are found all over and on most campuses, the aggregate nature of outstanding capstone projects at Hampshire does seem to suggest some rare environmental conditions just right for fostering the organic production of creativity.
Here are but a few of this year's topics:
For his project, Music as a Rehabilitative Tool for Cochlear Implant Users, Mark Blumberg (03F)
conducted research at an MIT lab and presented his findings at the Music and Mind Symposium at Harvard University. Read MoreMalia Politzer's (02F)
thesis, Dying for a Dream: A Closer Look at Failed Border Policy on the U.S.-Mexico Border, involved an ethnographic and journalistic look at the link between U.S. border policy and rising numbers of migrant deaths. By documenting experiences of individual migrants—and those of activists, Border Patrol officers, and vigilantes—Politzer poignantly put a human face on a story that has become a major national issue.Melissa Mendes (02F)
created a graphic novel that drew on her background in art and education to explore the thoughts and emotions of a child, blending reality and imagination into a seamless and visually rich experience. Read MoreLily Henderson (02F)
made a film, Elderhood: Reports from an Unknown Country
, exploring what she thought was old age. In the process, she discovered she was exploring transitions and that she responded strongly to seniors, in part, because retirement and college graduation can generate many parallel feelings and anxieties.
Those of you who attend commencement will have an opportunity to view Henderson's film and to see and hear a number of this year's graduates present their Division III work on Friday, May 19, the day before graduation. These annual presentations by volunteering students are always a highlight of commencement weekend.SANDER THOENES AWARDS:
Recipients of 2006 Sander Thoenes Division III Research Awards are Alexandra Cordts (03F), Cierra Pacheco (03F), and Sophie Woodruff (03F). These annual awards honoring the memory of Sander Thoenes (87F) go to students working in journalism, international relations or peace studies, and support fieldwork and other research costs involved in completion of the Div III.
Cordts will study mediation and peace education, and the award will support her summer internship with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Africa Bureau in Washington, D.C. Pacheco, an aspiring filmmaker, is focusing on the African Diaspora. She will use the Thoenes award for work on a film examining the demeaning effects of a colonized standard of beauty on women of color, including interviews with girls in Ghana and in New York City. Woodruff's project will focus on the development of Kurdish international identity in Berlin. She will work with an activist organization that pulls Kurdish women seeking asylum in Berlin from situations of isolation and encourages them to experience their own "voice" in contemporary German society. We can all look forward to seeing their completed Div IIIs next year.DENICE O'NEILL FELLOWSHIPS:
Sarah Morehouse Antunes (02F) and Colleen Kerrigan (03F) are the 2006 recipients of Denice O'Neill Fellowships, which will fund their Division III research over the next year. These annual awards support research on topics that passionately interested Denice O'Neill (85F), who died tragically on the 1988 crash of Pan Am flight 103 as she was returning from Nigeria, where she conducted Div III research. Antunes is investigating the effects on health of immigration, gender, and economic and political factors within a Portuguese-American community in southeastern New England. Kerrigan is researching reproductive health on the U.S.-Mexico border.SAM MORRIS AWARDS:
Dhyana Miller (02F), who will graduate May 20, received a 2006 Sam Morris Award in Sustainability for her Div III project, Conservation Biology: The Interplay of Male Song, Plumage, and Provisioning in the Gray Catbird. Jared Gerschler (04F) was also a recipient, for his Div II work, Environmental Sustainability Through Catalysis: Water-Friendly Metal-Proline Complexes. These awards were established by the family of Sam Morris (97F).BEST PAPER:
Alum Andrea Davis's (01F) Division III, A Nutritional Analysis of a Local and Seasonal Diet in the Pioneer Valley, recently won the 2006 Undergraduate Paper Competition of the Association for the Study of Food and Society. Davis, who graduated in 2005, published a local foods cookbook, Local Delectables: Seasonal Recipes from the Pioneer Valley
, based on her Div III research.DIV III IN FILM FESTIVAL: Letters to Dolly
, the Div III film of 2005 graduate Haley Ausserer (03S), will show at the San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Film Festival in June. Festival Site