SHASS announces 12 research fund recipients for 2015

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The School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (SHASS) Research Fund supports MIT research in the humanities, arts, or social sciences that shows promise of making an important contribution to the proposed area of activity. The projects funded in the 2015 cycle include research on patient/doctor decision models; language technology for distance learning; U.S. class inequality; political violence; electronic music archives; gender and history; identity and power; new music and theater works; and housing.

Congratulations to the 2015 recipients:Takako Aikawa, senior lecturer in Japanese, to support the design of an effective curriculum to support the JaJan distance-language-learning tool, a collaboration between MIT and Kanda University of International Studies in Chiba, Japan. The aim is to assess the effectiveness of technology on language learning and to identify the most effective practices in the use of JaJan, which can provide a basis for the development of programs to teach all languages.Fotini Christia, associate professor of political science, to support exploratory research into political attitudes toward sectarian violence and United States foreign policy in southern Iraq. By surveying pilgrims to Shiite religious sites in that region, Christia hopes to gain unique insight into the political and economic views held by Shiites from both Iraq and Iran.Michael Cuthbert, the Homer Burnell Career Development Professor and an associate professor of music, to support the completion of the Electronic Medieval Musical Score Archive Project, which encodes the entire repertory of polyphonic music from 1300-1420 into computer-searchable formats.

Lerna Ekmekcioglu, the McMillan-Stewart Career Development Assistant Professor of History, to support archival research associated with a monograph, tentatively titled “Suffering Remnants of an Ancient Christian Nation: A Gendered Reading of Modern Armenian History,” which investigates gendered representations of the nascent state of Armenia in the aftermath of World War I.Robert Fogelson, professor of history and urban studies, to support travel and research toward a book project that explores the rapid decline of non-profit cooperative housing in New York City. The research will focus on the United Housing Foundation, a consortium of labor unions at the forefront of the non-profit housing movement, and Co-op City, the largest housing cooperative in the country.Eric J. Goldberg, associate professor of history, to support research toward a book project, tentatively titled “With Practice, Skill, and Cunning: Hunting and Identity in Frankish Europe, AD 312–987.” The project will explore the changing mores of hunting in post-Roman Europe and its relationship to secular manhood, Frankish identity, and aristocratic power.

Frederick Harris Jr., director of the MIT Wind and Jazz Ensembles, to support the production of a documentary film on the life of contemporary conductor and composer Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, entitled, “Through Music I Commune With the Universe: Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, A Life in Music.”

Anna Kohler, senior lecturer in music and theater arts, to support the conversion of seminal theater performances from the past 35 years, currently on deteriorating videotape, to digital formats. The digital archive will then be available as a resource for MIT students and faculty.

Elena Ruehr, lecturer in music, to support the final production and release of an album of six new original works for violin, viola, cello, and piano. These pieces — including “Lift,” a composition for solo cello dedicated to 2014 Nobel Peace Prize co-recipient Malala Yousafzai — were written over the past 17 years at MIT.

Jay Scheib, director of theater arts, to support the development of a new interdisciplinary performance project, which uses the 18th-century “Sturm und Drang” movement as a point of departure to remix Goethe’s classic bildungsroman of unrequited love, “The Sorrows of Young Werther.”

Paulo Somaini, assistant professor of economics, to support research that attempts to establish a model of patient/surgeon decision-making in order to analyze the benefits of cadaveric kidney transplants. This new empirically-based model will be used to construct and evaluate various alternatives to the existing market.

Christine Walley, associate professor of anthropology, to support the final stage of the Exit Zero Project, a collaborative transmedia history project undertaken in partnership with the Southeast Chicago Historical Museum. Exit Zero leverages personal narratives and archival materials from a former steel mill community in Southeast Chicago to document the impacts of deindustrialization and expanding class inequalities in the United States.
MIT SHASS is engaged in generating ideas to help meet the world’s great challenges, and is home to research that has a global impact. With 13 academic fields, the school’s research portfolio includes international studies; history; poverty alleviation; science, technology and society; literature; anthropology; digital humanities; linguistics; philosophy; global studies and languages; music and theater; political science; writing; security studies; comparative media; and economics.

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