Student Research Fellowship Winners Address Critical Social, Political and Environmental Issues
Preparing students to critically investigate our rapidly changing society and develop the knowledge – both theoretical and practical – that will enable people to better understand the world is a key part of The New School’s mission. One of the tools that the university uses to achieve this goal is the Student research grants (SRA), which award scholarships each semester to undergraduate and graduate students for research in all fields of study available at the new school. Recently, ten students received awards for their projects, supporting their development as researchers, scholars and creative practitioners.
The recent cohort of winners includes Samantha Bakke, MA Psychology ’22; Anthony Boiardo, PhD in psychology; Tea brands, MFA Interior design ’22; Aryana Ghazi-Hessami, PhD Anthropology ’25; Bettine Josties, PhD Sociology ’23; Eliza Newman, MFA Photography ’22; Marissa Pizziferro, MA Psychology ’22; James Tee, MA Psychology ’22; Emily Weiss, Ph.D. psychology; Isaiah Winters, MFA Photography ’22; and Guillermina Zabala Suarez, MA Media studies ’21.
SRA is a collaboration between the University Student Senate and the Office of the President and is managed by the Office of Research Support (ORS). For Adam Brown, vice-president of research and associate professor of psychology, overseeing this year’s SRA process has been particularly difficult given the challenges created by the ongoing pandemic. âDespite the many challenges and disruptions COVID has posed to research and creative practices, we have received an unprecedented number of proposals of the highest caliber,â said Brown. âThe nominees presented bold ideas reflecting the diversity of intellectual interests, backgrounds and methodologies of our community. There were many outstanding proposals, and those that were selected for funding demonstrated the importance of the work and also effectively articulated the processes and potential impacts of their research.
The SRA grant provided an essential foundation for Aryana Ghazi-Hessami’s project, Imagining queer futures: queer audiences in the digital space: the case of MyKali. âIt is extremely important to have this type of research funding, especially in anthropology, because we have to do some preliminary fieldwork – which can be expensive!
Fittingly for a university that prides itself on a desire to challenge the status quo, the SRA expands the concept of academic research to apply to art and design in addition to areas traditionally considered legitimate research topics. . âStudents at The New School have always found a way to use art and design to document, represent and respond to pressing social, political and environmental issues,â says Brown. âThe proposals we received this year further underscored the importance of art and design in research. Numerous proposals from designers and artists this year have shown how they do their work in partnership with communities, outside of college, in a way that they think deeply about co-creation, fairness and visibility in research and scholarship. I think they are in many ways at the forefront of what it means to create knowledge, and I hope the SRA can continue to be a catalyst to support this work.
Interior design student Teah Brands was determined to leave nothing behind during her time at Parsons, especially since starting studies remotely meant going beyond usual sources of support. âStarting the course online was difficult, as it meant I wasn’t able to take full advantage of the resources on campus, but I knew there were more opportunities related to The New School than I could. explore from home, âsays Brands. She thanks SRA for helping her refine her interests, especially with her project Ambitious black houses: an aesthetic analysis of domestic interiors in Ebony Journal, 1959-2009. âIt’s wonderful to know that this institution is interested in supporting my ideas beyond the curriculum. I learned so much about my design practice and career goals through this process.
The winning projects were selected on the recommendation of a committee of faculty, staff and students representing a range of fields and areas of expertise. âI was particularly touched by the thought that guided the discussions and considerations of the faculty reviewers,â says Brown. âPeople are juggling a lot right now, but it was clear that they were paying their full attention to all aspects of this process. It was a real encounter, and even on Zoom I think we all felt energized and inspired by the ideas of our students. “
More than just financial support, the award connects students to a wide range of resources, from ORS advice on grant management to academic relationship opportunities. âThis academic award is valuable not only in terms of financial support, but also in terms of research resources and academic networking,â says Guillermina Zabala Suarez, principal investigator for Young artists: the journey from artist to activist. âAs my career plan is to continue working in media research, I believe that the selection of my research proposal by the SRA selection committee reaffirms the importance of the theme and direction of my research. and encourages me to pursue it so that I can contribute to the field of media and activism studies.
Students also work with a faculty mentor who helps introduce students to the most pressing research culture, methods, and issues in their chosen field of study or practice. Photography student Eliza Newman approached photography teacher Simone Douglas, one of her main teachers, for her photography and text project Hay There: Hay as an Ethical and Economic Solution for Central Texas Farmers. Through Douglas, Newman connected with Joel Towers, university professor and director of the Tishman Environment and Design Center, who became a mentor offering his knowledge of the environmental and economic aspects of his proposal. âSimone and Joel are both phenomenal people as well as mentors,â Newman says. âIt means so much to have not only their support, but also the support of many other professors that I have yet to meet. I know that everyone involved has my best interests at heart and want to see me succeed because they have given me this opportunity.