Campus & Community

Radcliffe Fellows include scholars, artists to work on range of projects

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The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University has announced the names of 34 women and 18 men selected to be Radcliffe Fellows during the 2008–09 academic year. These 52 fellows include 16 humanists, 14 scientists, 12 creative artists, and 10 social scientists. Selected for the quality of their scholarship, research, or artistic work and the expected long-term impact of their projects, the fellows include the poet laureate of Wales who plans to compose an epic poem about the journey of a patient and caregiver; a social scientist who will investigate how U.S. politicians and policymakers have grappled with the energy crisis since the 1970s; and an astronomer who will search for transiting extrasolar planets in multiple systems throughout the universe.

“With great enthusiasm for the promise of the year to come, we welcome these distinguished scholars, scientists, and artists to Radcliffe. We look forward to watching their work develop into exciting discoveries and to witnessing the meaningful collaborations they form with one another and with members of the Harvard and local communities,” said Barbara J. Grosz, dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and Higgins Professor of Natural Sciences in the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Unique among the nation’s centers for advanced studies, the Radcliffe Institute annually welcomes artists as well as scholars from a wide array of specialties, including among its class filmmakers, mathematicians, musicians, anthropologists, biologists, and writers. The 2008–09 fellows —who were chosen from a pool of 785 applicants — represent a distinguished group of groundbreaking scientists, social scientists, artists, and humanists from the United States and beyond.

Examples of the fellows in their respective fields appear below; a full list of the 2008–09 fellows appears at the end of this article.

Selection of fellows, projects


Among the 12 creative arts fellows is Gwyneth Lewis — poet laureate of Wales and an award-winning poet, playwright, and librettist — who will research and compose an epic poem titled “A Hospital Odyssey.” As she traces the journey of a patient and caregiver through a hospital, Lewis will draw on current medical research and ethical discourse to reimagine the emotions that accompany the stages of illness, diagnosis, and healing.

Susan Faludi is an independent journalist and writer, and winner of the 1991 Pulitzer Prize in explanatory journalism and the 1992 National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction for her book “Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women” (Anchor, 1992). At Radcliffe, she will contemplate the trajectory of historical mother-daughter relations in the United States and their implications for American feminism. She will pay particular attention to how certain characteristics of mother-daughter affiliations in the United States may have influenced and perturbed the women’s movement.

Anne Makepeace is an independent filmmaker who has been a directing fellow at the Sundance Institute and a Sundance Film Festival judge. Her recent documentary about the migration of Somali Bantu refugees to America, titled “Rain in a Dry Land,” earned her several awards and was broadcast on PBS. Makepeace will spend her year at Radcliffe chronicling, again through documentary film, the disappearance and resuscitation of the Native American Wampanoag language.


The 14 science fellows include Tsevi Mazeh, an astronomer and the Oren Family Professor of Experimental Physics at Tel Aviv University, Israel. By carefully analyzing accurate photometric and satellite data, Mazeh hopes to discover transiting extrasolar planets in multiple systems throughout the universe. His goal is twofold: to find more planets in systems currently known to have at least one planet, and to find planets orbiting around double stars.

Joanna Aizenberg, the Susan S. and Kenneth L. Wallach Professor at Radcliffe and Gordon McKay Professor of Materials Science at Harvard, will join the community of fellows as she continues her research into the complex behavior in certain species’ mineral components and continues to use biological principles to design multifunctional materials and devices. Her work has shown, for instance, that the skeletons of some simple marine creatures not only provide the expected structural support for the organisms, but also function as exquisite optical devices. Aizenberg’s project will draw on her already interdisciplinary field of biomimetic materials, while also benefiting from Radcliffe’s unique environment of artists and scholars; for instance, she will also consider how art and architecture influence her work and her field.

Linda Shortliffe, the Stanley McCormick Memorial Professor and chair of the Department of Urology at the Stanford University School of Medicine, is chief of urology at Stanford University Hospital and Clinics and the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. She is the only woman chair of urology in the country and there are currently very few women in the surgical specialty of urology. Believing that the pipeline into surgical specialties has not been adequately addressed with relation to race, gender, and family and socioeconomic backgrounds, Shortliffe will investigate and document historical and current data about individuals entering and advancing within the field of urology.

Paul Ginsparg is a professor in the physics and information science departments at Cornell University. He is well known as the creator of the online system that distributes scientific research results. At Radcliffe, he will embark on a theoretical and experimental investigation into how researchers’ interactions change as a result of ever-growing open access. Ginsparg plans to create tools and resources for researchers to communicate more efficiently with one another.


Among the 16 humanities fellows is Meg Jacobs, an associate professor of American history at MIT and author of “Pocketbook Politics: Economic Citizenship in Twentieth Century America” (Princeton University Press, 2005), which won an Organization of American Historians’ 2006 Ellis Hawley Prize. At Radcliffe, Jacobs will complete her current project, which centers on the energy crisis and the challenges of conservative governance in the United States during the past three decades.

Marla Frederick is an assistant professor of African and African American Studies and the Study of Religion at Harvard University and co-author of “Local Democracy Under Siege: Activism, Public Interests, and Private Politics” (New York University Press, 2007), which was the 2008 winner of the Society for the Anthropology of North America’s Best Book Award. Frederick will be combining cultural studies theory and anthropological methods to examine how people of African descent in the United States and Jamaica interpret and employ religious broadcasting as a tool for social change.

Guoqi Xu, the Wen Chao Chair of History and East Asian Affairs at Kalamazoo College and an expert on modern Chinese history and Chinese foreign relations, will be working on a book about Chinese laborers in France during World War I. Xu will hone in on this rarely studied group in a bid to uncover buried truths, including the laborers’ contributions to the search for a new Chinese national identity and internationalization.


Among the 10 social science fellows is John McCormick, a professor of political science at the University of Chicago, who will probe the writings of Niccolo Machiavelli and re-examine institutions, other than elections, that enable ordinary citizens to keep political and economic elites accountable. His project has already been featured in the Boston Globe and will culminate in a forthcoming book titled “Machiavellian Democracy” (Cambridge University Press).

Hauwa Ibrahim comes to Radcliffe from Nigeria, where she is a senior partner at Aries Law Firm in Abuja. During her fellowship year, she will examine women’s rights in Western Africa and how these rights have been affected by the theoretical foundations of Islamic Shariah law and by subsequent legal practices. She plans to publish the results of her research for wider use, particularly for use by legal practitioners who must interpret Islamic Shariah law in accordance with doctrines of the rule of law. Ibrahim has received the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, which is the European Parliament’s highest honor to recognize human rights work.

Mona Lena Krook is a professor of political science and of women and gender studies at Washington University in St. Louis. At Radcliffe, she will continue her research into the use of quotas in electing female candidates to political office and explore the challenges posed by gender quotas in politics for current democratic practices. Her work has been published in numerous political journals and she has a book forthcoming, titled “Quotas for Women in Politics: Gender and Candidate Selection Reform Worldwide” (Oxford University Press, 2009).

Now in its eighth year, the Radcliffe Institute Fellowship Program is a highly competitive program that has provided yearlong residencies to more than 400 award-winning writers, artists, scientists, and other scholars. Examples of past fellows include acclaimed installation artist Shimon Attie, who uses contemporary media to animate sites with images of their lost histories; author Junot Diaz, whose novel “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” (Riverhead, 2007) — which he worked on in part during his Radcliffe Fellowship year — recently won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction; biologist Susan Lindquist, whose discoveries about protein folding have profoundly affected our understanding of diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and mad cow and who recently won the prestigious Otto Warburg Medal; and anthropologist Nancy Scheper-Hughes, a leading commentator on the global traffic in human organs.

The 2009–10 fellowship applications tions for creative artists, social scientists, and humanists are due Oct. 1; applications for natural scientists and mathematicians are due Dec. 3 (postmarked for materials sent by mail).

Applicants are evaluated at two levels of review. In the first level, two leaders in each applicant’s field evaluate and rank the applicant. The top applicants are then submitted to a fellowship committee, which selects the fellowship class.


Martha Ackmann, Augustus Anson Whitney Scholar, Mount Holyoke College, nonfiction, “Curveball: Toni Stone’s Challenge to Baseball and America”

Joanna Aizenberg, Susan S. and Kenneth L. Wallach Professor, Harvard University, natural sciences and mathematics, “Connecting Engineering, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Architecture through Biomimetics”

Katharina Al-Shamery*, Carl von Ossietzky University (Germany), materials science, “Using Light for Chemical Reactions”

Anne Becker, Elizabeth S. and Richard M. Cashin Fellow, Harvard Medical School, anthropology, “Navigating Body, Self, and Society Across Adolescence: A Mental Health Crisis in Fiji”

Wendy Cadge, Suzanne Young Murray Fellow, Brandeis University, sociology, “Paging God: Religion in the Halls of Medicine”

Peter Cahn, Katherine Hampson Bessell Fellow, University of Oklahoma, anthropology, “The Great Commission: Direct Sales and Direct Faith”

Vicki Caron, Walter Jackson Bate Fellow, Cornell University, history, “Catholic-Jewish Relations in France, 1870–1914”

Michelle Clayton, University of California at Los Angeles, comparative literary and cultural studies, “Moving Bodies of the Avant-Garde”

Judith Coffin, University of Texas at Austin, history, “Reading Beauvoir: The Second Sex in the Post War World”

Carol Espy-Wilson, Sargent-Faull Fellow, University of Maryland, “Electrical Engineering Robust Speech Recognition”

Susan Faludi, Evelyn Green Davis Fellow, independent writer, nonfiction and current issues, “Mother-Daughter Relations and Their Effect on U.S. Feminism”

David Fisher, Indiana University, mathematics and applied mathematics, “Quasi-isometry Classification of Groups and Graphs”

Ellen Fitzpatrick, Lillian Gollay Knafel Fellow, University of New Hampshire, history, “Where We Were in ’68: Presidential Politics and American Ideals”

Marla Frederick, Joy Foundation Fellow, Harvard University, religion, “Televised Redemption: Religion, Media, and Social Change in Jamaica and the U.S. South”

Paul Ginsparg, Benjamin White Whitney Scholar, Cornell University, physics, “Applied Open Access”

Laury Gutierrez, La Donna Musicale, music, “Artistic Development of Repertory of Early Music by Women Composers”

James Haber, Helen Putnam Fellow, Brandeis University, genetics, “Mechanisms of Recombination and DNA Repair”

Martin Harries, Burkhardt Fellow, New York University, comparative literature, “Theater After Film”

Hauwa Ibrahim, Rita E. Hauser Fellow, Aries Law Firm, women’s and gender studies, “Women, Justice, and Shariah Law”

Meg Jacobs, Jeanne Rosselet Fellow, MIT, history, “Insiders: The Oil Crisis, Conservative Governance, and the Dismantling of the American State Since the 1970s”

Hyun Kyung Kim, David and Roberta Logie Fellow and Radcliffe-Harvard Film Study Center Fellow, independent filmmaker, film/video making, “In Search of a State of Mind”

Mona Lena Krook, Hrdy Fellow, Washington University in St. Louis, political science, “The Global Diffusion and Impact of Candidate Gender Quotas”

Erin Leahey, William Bentinck-Smith Fellow, University of Arizona, sociology, “Interdisciplinarity and Inequality”

Gwyneth Lewis, Mildred Londa Weisman Fellow, independent scholar, poetry, “A Hospital Odyssey”

Anne Makepeace, David and Roberta Logie Fellow and Radcliffe-Harvard Film Study Center Fellow, independent artist, film/video making, “Âs Nutayuneân — We Still Live Here”

Benjamin Markovits, Constance E. Smith Fellow, Royal Holloway, University of London (England), fiction, “Childish Love”

Emanuel Mayer, Radcliffe Institute Fellow, the University of Chicago, classic/ancient languages, “The Ancient Bourgeoisie: Economics, Urban Planning, and a New Aesthetic, 100 B.C.–A.D. 200”

Tsevi Mazeh, Tel Aviv University (Israel), astronomy, “Discovery of Transiting Extrasolar Planets in Multiple Systems”

Gail Mazur, the Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation Fellow, Emerson College, poetry, “In Another Country”

John McCormick, American fellow, University of Chicago, political science, “Machiavellian Democracy”

Elizabeth McCracken, Frieda L. Miller Fellow, independent writer, fiction, “The Upstage Cheek”

Sara Messer, University of North Carolina at Wilmington, poetry, “Mouse Oracle”

Chiori Miyagawa, Bard College, playwriting, “The True Flower: Deity, Warrior, Madwoman, Ghost, and Demon”

Thrishantha Nanayakkara, co-sponsored by the Harvard University Committee on Human Rights Studies, independent scholar mechanical engineering, “Ground Contact, Force Constrained Robot Locomotion on Soft Terrain Conditions for Humanitarian Demining”

Priyamvada Natarajan, Emeline Bigelow Conland Fellow and Bunting Fellow, Yale University, astronomy, “Probing the Nature of Dark Energy with Gravitational Lensing”

Viet Nguyen, Suzanne Young Murray Fellow, University of Southern California, American studies, “The Afterlife of War: Between Viet Nam and the United States”

Rachel Ollivier*, École Normale Supérieure (France), mathematics and applied mathematics, “Representations of p-adic Reductive Groups in Characteristic p”

Sheila Patek, Edward, Frances, and Shirley B. Daniels Fellow, University of California at Berkeley, evolutionary and organismic biology, “Acoustic Communication in Ancient and Living Seas”

Daven Presgraves, Grass Fellow, University of Rochester, evolutionary and organismic biology, “Sex Chromosomes and the Origin of Species”

Joanne Rappaport, Matina S. Horner Distinguished Visiting Professor, Georgetown University, anthropology, “The Meaning of Mestizaje in Early Colonial New Granada”

Kay Rhie, Rieman and Baketel Fellow for Music, Cornell University, music, “Songs Without Words” and a percussion concerto for the Kalistos Chamber Orchestra

Linda Shortliffe, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation Fellow, Stanford University, medical sciences, “Dynamics of Gender, Race, and Background in Urology”

Kathleen Siwicki, Swarthmore College, neuroscience, “Flirt or Flight: The Neuroscience of Social Behavior in Fruit Flies”

Jing Tsu, Yale University, literature, “Bend the Mother Tongue: Modern Chinese Literature in Sinophone Context”

Manuel Vargas, University of San Francisco, philosophy, “Building Better Beings: Agency and the Circumstances of Responsibility”

Koen Vermeir**, Leuven University (Belgium), history, “The Powers of the Imagination: Subtle Vapours Connecting Body and Soul”

Jane Waldfogel, Marion Cabot Putnam Memorial Fellow Columbia University School of Social Work, social sciences, “Britain’s War on Poverty”

Nicholas Watson, Katherine and Peter Sachs Faculty Associate Fellow, Harvard University, literature, “Balaam’s Ass: Vernacular Theology and the Secularization of England, 1050–1550”

Bjorn Weiler, Aberystwyth University (Wales), history, “Kingship in the Medieval West, 950–1250”

Kim Williams, Mary I. Bunting Institute Fellow, Harvard Kennedy School, political science, “Transition: The Politics of Racial and Ethnic Change in Urban America”

Guoqi Xu, Kalamazoo College, history, “Fusion of Civilizations: Chinese Laborers in France during the Great War and Their Role in China’s Search for Internationalization”

Steven Zipperstein, Vera M. Schuyler Institute Fellow, Stanford University, history, “A Cultural History of Russian and East European Jewry, 18th Century to the Present”

*fall only
**spring only