My project explores how Americans reimagined the social contract, or how individuals relate to their society, following the ratification of the Constitution in 1788. Historians and legal theorists often interpret ratification as the culmination of a national debate that set the new political order in place. But in the first decades after ratification, Americans—as they still do today—continued to discuss and redefine what individual rights, representation, citizenship, and other concepts should mean. My research will examine the important place of Samuel Williams (1742-1817), an influential though understudied figure, in this discussion. In the critical early years of the republic, Williams revised orthodox political theories toward the larger purpose of developing a moral vision for America. Specifically, he articulated new understandings of equality and democracy. I wish to travel to the University of Vermont in Burlington, where I can read Williams’ unpublished sermons and personal correspondence kept at UVM’s Special Collections. Given the correspondence headings and sermon titles, I have reason to believe that Williams expanded his political philosophy in these documents by advising congregants and friends about how to effect political change. This research is central to my American Studies honors thesis, in which I explain how Williams’ thinking complicates scholarship that divides early American political philosophy too simply into categories of ‘liberal’ and ‘republican.’
The Irish Famine (1845-1852) was a significant crisis during the Victorian era. Discourse in the press about the Famine was prevalent throughout England; yet, as the most Catholic and Irish county of England, Lancashire experienced the Famine in a unique way as the public opinion was influenced by the Irish who had already settled there and also took into account the influx of immigrants during the Famine who either received sympathy by their predecessors or were rejected as a source of instability. I will analyze the unique perspective from which the people of Lancashire viewed the Famine by studying five Lancashire-based newspapers of varying political, social, and religious affiliations. The articles featured in the Blackburn Standard, the Lancaster Gazette, the Liverpool Mercury, the Manchester Times, and the Preston Chronicle will reveal whether the opinions of the Lancashire press differed from the national press due to different social conditions and relationships. Through the project, I look forward to pursuing my interest in history and international relations and potentially using this research to develop a senior thesis.
Biofilms are communities of microorganisms such as bacteria that attach to boundaries separating different phases of matter, such as a solid surface in contact with a liquid (Wimpenny et al., 2000). Characterizing the structure and mechanical properties of microbial biofilms is highly important to understanding their overall function, but current methods are individually insufficient to fully characterize the biofilm and there are large inconsistencies between methods (Böl, 2013). I believe that optical monitoring of the behavior of biofilm under a shear test in real time, rather than observing changes from before and after the test, could lead to a better characterization of biofilm structure and provide an explanation as to why different mechanical testing methods produce different results. I therefore propose to improve the mechanical characterization of biofilms by combining a current testing method, microjet impingement, with rapid three dimensional imaging. I believe that I am well suited for this project because of my
experience in Professor Wells’ lab in the Civil and Environmental Engineering department that performs research on the use of biofilms in waste water treatment and my academic knowledge in the field of mechanical engineering.
Along the southwest coastal fields of Ecuador and in the offices of fair trade product distributor Equal Exchange ripens a movement to change the structure of the banana industry. The legacy of bananas in South America is a highly political one, though many U.S. consumers do not know that this nutritious breakfast fruit happens to be the symbol of twentieth century U.S. involvement in Latin America, the region’s capitalist transformation and intense popular struggle. We aim to produce a documentary film focusing on the first transnational effort to amend the course of these contentious legacies: a pioneering partnership between Equal Exchange, a Boston-based worker-owned cooperative, and two cooperative banana farms in Ecuador and Peru, El Guabo and CEPIBO. There is a dearth of research on such efforts, where the voices of producers are often lost in the jungle...the reality of their lives hidden beneath marketing copy.3 Our preliminary research in March in Boston, funded by the Academic URG program, will give us a strong base of knowledge and provide continuity in our perspective and our footage as we head to South America this summer. We will travel to Ecuador and Peru for six weeks in our project’s second phase to visit EE’s banana farming cooperatives. There, we will film the banana growing, harvesting and packaging processes and interview farmers to capture the producer story and highlight their perspective in this new fair trade supply chain. After our time in South America we will fly back to Boston to interview EE cofounder Rink Dickinson and Nicole Vitello, EE’s banana branch’s director. The third phase of this project will allow us to get footage of US-based operations and get answers to hard-hitting questions gained from our time spent at EE’s partner co-ops. The documentary medium is the best way for us to tell this story using our complimentary reporting skills and passions for visual storytelling. We hope to produce a film that not only informs U.S. consumers about where their favorite fruit comes from, but also deepens our understanding of the grassroots movements increasingly renegotiating our global food system. This project would be the ultimate practical application of all that NU has taught us, and we are eager to expand our international reporting and technical video experience through this independent project.