2015 Daniels Fellows Will Pursue Dream Projects Ranging from Family History to Climate Change

November 20, 2015
The six students named as 2015 Daniels Fellows

In her 1977 book, Working it Out, Pamela Daniels ’59 wrote, "Doing what you love means knowing yourself well enough to be able to answer the question, ‘What would you love to do?’ and loving yourself enough to ask it."

Daniels was a Class Dean at Wellesley from 1981 to 2000. When she retired, her former students, classmates, family, and friends endowed the Pamela Daniels ’59 Fellowship.

The Daniels Fellowship, which is offered annually in the fall, is a merit award that provides seniors with an opportunity to envision and carry out a creative or analytic project that allows them to explore who they are and what they know.

Congratulations to the 2015 recipients, whose projects are described here:

Fiona Boyd '16
Roots Revival: The Music of the Carolina Chocolate Drops and Valerie June

Two years ago, Fiona Boyd, a music and French major, attended a Boston performance by the Carolina Chocolate Drops, a traditional African-American string band. Boyd fell in love with the band and the genre, which was popular at the turn of the century in the American South and is a precursor to country and bluegrass. Through academic research and interviews with musicians, she will delve into topics of authenticity, race, gender, and the transfer of music from one region to another. "I am so excited to be studying a genre that is relatively new to music scholarship, and that makes me want to dance!" said Boyd, who plans to work in the music industry after college. "I'm studying the music I listen to every day!"

Kimberlee Coombes '16
Cute Culture and the Female Identity in Japanese Society

As a child, Kimberlee Coombes greatly enjoyed Japanese popular culture, specifically anime (cartoons). A Japanese Language and Culture major, she studied in Japan during the spring semester and summer of her junior year. There, she became interested in cute culture and wanted to research why women in Japanese society identify so strongly with childlike colors, clothes, and characters. "I think there is more to this phenomenon than the common misbelief that Japanese culture fetishizes youth," she said. Her research will focus on why women buy and wear cute items and what that says about the society in which they live. "Thanks to the Pamela Daniels Fellowship, I will be spending Wintersession in Tokyo conducting interviews for my research," she said.

Pauline Day '16
Reforming Politique de la ville in Pantin, France: A Study in Urban Peace Building

Pauline Day’s project idea came out of an internship she completed while studying abroad in Pantin, a suburb of Paris. There, she worked on the reform of Politique de la ville, a government mechanism focused on low-income communities in the city, and discovered gaping holes in community participation and government transparency efforts. The Daniels Fellowship will allow her to return to Pantin in January and conduct interviews with community members and leaders of local nonprofits. She also hopes to conduct field research on the conditions of the neighborhood.

"This project is hugely important to me given that I grew up in a low-income neighborhood in Chicago (West Humbolt Park), and am a dual citizen with France," said Day, a peace and justice major. "In addition to integrating two essential parts of my identity, this project will play a significant role in my understanding of urban peace-building, and the mechanisms we can, must, and I hope to, use in the future to build better cities and reduce systemic inequalities."

Amelia McClure '16
Contextualizing and Communicating Climate Change Research

Climate change is a global issue, but some areas and communities are more vulnerable than others. With her project, biology major Amelia McClure hopes to learn more about this vulnerability and consider the roles of researchers in these fragile communities. She will also continue the scientific research she began in Sweden last summer when she worked with an interdisciplinary team of scientists from the United States, Sweden, and Australia who were studying how changes in microbial communities as permafrost thaws affect carbon cycling, with a focus on greenhouse gases. The Daniels Fellowship will allow her to return to the study site in Abisko, Sweden, and meet with project collaborators. "I am excited to travel to Sweden this winter and experience the flip side of the midnight sun I experienced this summer, and I’m especially excited to see the northern lights!" she said.

Julia Um '16
Year Zero: A Visual Narrative of the Cambodian Genocide

As a first-generation Cambodian-American, Julia Um, an economics major, grew up hearing about the struggles of her mother’s family to survive during the Khmer Rouge genocide that killed more than 1.7 million Cambodians. Her project is an exploration of alternative methods of biographical storytelling as well as an ethnographic research project focusing on the Khmer Rouge genocide and the subsequent Cambodian diaspora. While Um’s primary vehicle of expression will be visual art, she will also incorporate sound, video, and other media to tell the story of the sacrifices and decisions her family made in the face of adversity. "Theirs is a story that can reach anyone who understands some part of the human struggle," she said. "I hope to remind those who are willing to listen of the inspiring nature of human perseverance."

Chloe Williamson '16
Roosevelt County: A Creative Writing Thesis Exploring the Role of Intersectional Identity in Regional Literature

Chloe Williamson grew up on a cattle ranch in Dora, New Mexico, a rural part of the state’s Eastern plains. She began writing as soon as she learned how to string sentences together, but she only began to write about New Mexico and her hometown when she arrived at Wellesley. As an English major, Williamson has pursued her interest in creative writing through workshop courses, and she has discovered a new love for regional literature through courses on the American South. Her thesis will be a collection of stories (fiction) told from the perspective of various characters but set in the same time and place. The project will explore the role of intersectional identity in regional literature, and will synthesize the analytical and creative aspects of her work at Wellesley. "With the support of the Daniels Fellowship, I will be able to take multiple trips to New Mexico, conduct additional research and interviews, and further investigate the role of place and memory in my writing," she said.