Liberal Education and Effective Practice

2012 LEEP Pioneers and Their Projects

Read about LEEP Pioneers and their projects in
Arts | Business Development | Humanities | Science | Social Science | Sustainability and Environment

Arts Projects

Worcester Art Museum Renaissance Portraiture Research

Casey HarringtonArt history major Casey Harrington '13, of Shelton, Conn., is helping to establish the authorship, historical context, and importance of a little-studied, Renaissance painting in the Worcester Art Museum, "Donna Giovanna Chevara and Her Son," that is currently attributed to a follower of the famous Mannerist painter, Agnolo Bronzino (1503-1572). She has explored issues of connoisseurship, deciphered conservation data related to the work, and is continuing to learn about Bronzino's works and Renaissance portraiture on the whole. In October, she will be traveling to Florence, Italy to study first-hand dozens of works by the artist. In the spring of 2013, Harrington will present her findings to the Worcester Art Museum in hopes of broadening the conservation and curatorial departments' understandings of the portrait, after which her work will be filed in the WAM's library for future researchers, and may provide valuable information if the museum decides to hold an exhibition about the work and artist. Read more about Casey's project.

CBS Comedy Development Script

Alexander KumpTheater arts major Alexander Kump '13, of Belchertown, Mass., spent his summer working for the Comedy Development Department at CBS in Los Angeles. His responsibilities included general clerical work, reading and analyzing scripts, and learning how to write coverage for scripts. Alexander also had the opportunity to sit in on pitches, tour studio lots, and see run-throughs of shows in development. Watch an interview with Alex and his LEEP mentor Prof. Gino DiIorio

The Reinvention of the Myth of the American West Documentary Film

Alison MayerScreen studies major Alison Mayer '13, of Carlisle, Mass., is shooting a feature-length, road-trip documentary that seeks to address issues surrounding American identity and the myth of the West. Alison's research addresses the following questions: In an increasingly globalized and visibly multicultural world, how do Americans reinvent the myth of the West to work with—rather than against—other nations? How do Americans find a balance between rugged individualism and global community/brotherhood? Watch an interview with Alison and her LEEP mentor Prof. Hugh Manon

Art, Media and the Affects on Human Behavior

Divya SasidharanCommunication and culture major Divya Sasidharan '14, of Singapore, is gaining a practical understanding of the implications of human behavior through media avenues. As the position requires the use of both online and offline media in promoting art exhibitions and workshops, the role of marketing in shaping and affecting human behavior will have to be fully understood. Her experience in an art gallery will allow for a first-hand look at the workings of the art world where artists and patrons shape the discourse of art and representation through art.


Business Development Projects

Community Supported Finance

Taylor BeardenGeography major Taylor Bearden '14, of Hayfork, Calif., is working with the Hopkinton (Mass.) Chamber of Commerce to advance the framework to support the development and sustainability of small business. Taylor's research will inform the development of a business model for a Community Development Financial Institution serving Worcester's Main South district. Read Taylor's blog.

Scaling Distributed Systems Through Cluster Abstraction

Zach HaritonComputer science major Zach Hariton '13, of Topsfield, Mass., is building a protocol and Java library that allows distributed systems to scale more easily by treating fault tolerant clusters as if they were nodes.

Group Project Management Web Application

Zachary HermanKrzysztof KotarbaDouglas RourkeComputer science and mathematics double major Zach Herman '14 (left), of Sherman Oaks, Calif.; computer science majors Krzysztof Kotarba '15 (center), of Wallington, N.J.; and Douglas Rourke '14 (right), of Belmont, Mass., are developing a project management web application. Their final product will provide an intuitive scheduling tool for group projects. Users will be able to input their individual schedules and the web application will help them better manage their time and easily avoid the common scheduling conflicts that accompany group projects.

Explora! Dominicana Ecotourism Operations Investigation

Rachel SorensonRachel Sorenson '13, of Flagstaff, Ariz., observed and studied Explora! Dominicana, an ecotourism organization in the Dominican Republic, to see how it operated in a developing country. Rachel spent the summer investigating how the organization was started, their impact on the economy, and their overall operations to make tourism more sustainable. She took trips to local nature preserves, national parks, and ecological hotspots around the country (such as a mangrove forest) with members of the organization, and talked with the staff. Rachel is double majoring in economics and international development and social change.

Implementing a Sustainable Evaluation Plan for ASODILL

Lila TrowbridgeInternational development and social change major Lila Trowbridge '12, of Peterborough, N.H., is beginning her fifth year tuition-free through Clark University's Accelerated B.A./Master's Degree Program this fall. Lila worked with ASODILL, a community-based organization in a remote village of Loma Linda, Guatemala. ASODILL is a partner program of the Seven Hills Global Outreach Foundation in Worcester, and works to promote ecotourism, sustainable food production through organic farming and basket weaving from bamboo. Together with the members of ASODILL, she implemented a sustainable evaluation plan for the organization that can be used to assess the effectiveness, strengths and weaknesses of its programs. She also traveled to Kenya to serve as the Spanish translator for ASODILL at the Seven Hills Global Outreach International Conference. Watch an interview with Lila.

National Strategies Real Estate Analysis

Benjamin AugustNicholas UsmanPolitical science major Benjamin August '13 (left), of Beverly, Mass., and management major Nicholas Usman '13, of Glenshaw, Pa., worked on "Real Estate Analysis at National Strategies in D.C." at National Strategies Incorporated (NSI), a consulting firm that helps clients reach government entities to further their business whether it is through procurement, public affairs, or legislative and regulatory processes. Benjamin and Nicholas conducted research for several projects and coordinated directly with in-house project managers and clients. 


Humanities Projects

"Who is the Third Gender?": The Social Identity of the Transgender Population

Deviyani DixitEconomics and international development and social change double major Deviyani Dixit '13, of Nepal, is studying the relationship of the transgender community in Kathmandu, Nepal, to Nepalese society. Deviyani is exploring the construction of the transgender identity in relation to the "other." While one aspect of her research will cover a scholarly framework, another aspect will be an artistic depiction of her findings via a photographic series that will be shown in an exhibition both in Nepal and at Clark.

Holocaust Education: Breaking Binaries and Shifting Categories 

Shelby MargolinInternational development and social change major Shelby Margolin '13, of Danville, Calif., spent the summer with Facing History and Ourselves, a leading organization in Holocaust education dedicated to combating racism, anti-Semitism, and prejudice. There, she analyzed Facing History's educational material and created a lesson plan for the organization focused on the stages of the final solution. Facing History and Ourselves facilitated Shelby's individual research surrounding how the Holocaust can be used not only to teach about morals and values, but also as a way to develop critical thinking skills by complicating binaries such as "good" and "evil" and "right" and "wrong".  Shelby will be working on her senior honors thesis, which examines the representation of Holocaust perpetrators in popular culture, through March 2013. Watch Shelby discuss her project.

Haiti School Five-Day Teacher Workshop

Alina MichelewiczInternational development and social change major Alina Michelewicz '14, of Nelson, N.H., organized a teacher training workshop for dozens of teachers in Villard, Artibonite, Haiti with the Haiti School Project. Eric Demuelenaere, from Clark University's Education Department, facilitated the five-day workshop for teachers, and a one-day workshop for principals in the area on topics such as powerful learning, curriculum design, and lesson planning.


Science Projects

Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust

Cynthia AlonsoDoug RiceEnvironmental science majors Cynthia Alonso '14 (left), of Austin, Texas, and Doug Rice '13 (right), of La Grande, Ore., spent the summer at the Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust, one of the most active land protection NGOs in Massachusetts. Their two major projects involved water quality and macroinvertebrate sampling in the Otter River watershed, and invasive plant surveys of Mt. Grace conservation lands. The students gained experience in conservation-restriction monitoring, habitat-improvement efforts, and public outreach. Read Cynthia's blog.

NSF-Supported PolyPEET

Alexis CarlsonBiology major Alexis Carlson '13, of Brooklyn, N.Y., spent her summer working in a Clark biology lab, wrapping up her research on the National Science Foundation-supported PolyPEET project, which focuses on the taxonomy of a genus of mushroom forming fungi called Trametes. Alexis used this research to explore the different ways that the excitement of scientific discovery can be communicated to a general audience. Read Alexis's blog.

Mapping Burn Severity Using the Composite Burn Index

Joseph Danko IIIGeography major Joseph Danko III '13, of Shrewsbury, Mass., is involved with a yearlong project aimed at restoring a 20-acre parcel of land owned by the EcoTarium, Worcester's museum of science and nature. The objective is to apply fire ecology theory and GIS techniques to develop a burn plan for a prescribed fire on the parcel, which represents the last remnant of the once expansive Oak Savannah in Worcester. This work will lay the cornerstone for a long-term partnership between Clark University and the EcoTarium, with the restoration of the area envisioned as the first of many unique learning laboratories for future students at Clark.

NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center Marine Resources

Christina M. GellerEconomics and geography double major Christina M. Geller '13, of Bozeman, Mont., worked on her project, "Understanding the Importance of Marine Resources to Alaskan Fishing Communities," which entailed study at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Alaska Fisheries Science Center (AFSC), based in Washington. Data she collected will contribute to information for study by a NOAA economist to determine impact and indicators of climate change on Alaska communities. Those results are being mapped by her supervisor at NOAA, eventually to be turned into a paper for an academic journal. Christina presented her research at an Intern Symposium at the AFSC in July.

American Museum of Natural History Evolution of Terrestrial Leeches

Rebecca Rood GoldmanBiology and studio art double major Rebecca Rood Goldman '14, of Merrick, N.Y., spent the summer studying the evolution of terrestrial leeches at the Richard Gilder Graduate School at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. She is incorporating her research with her interest in art. Throughout the next couple of years, Rebecca will put together a visual display of photographs that exhibit the beauty of biology in a way that appeals to both biologists and non-scientists. Read Rebecca's blog. Watch an interview with Rebecca.

Capturing the Form, Fall and Surface Landing of Liquid

Pascal JundtPhysics major Pascal Jundt '13, of Newton, Mass., is studying the behavior of a specific type of fluid: a liquid with a very large number of very small particles suspended inside of it. Working with Physics Professor Arshad Kudrolli, Pascal is using a high speed camera to observe in great detail the behavior of this fluid as it forms a drop, falls through the air, and lands on several different surfaces.

Padilla Bay Estuarine Research Reserve Eelgrass

Karissa O. LearBiology major Karissa O. Lear '13, of Seattle, Wash., studied estuary eelgrasses based at Padilla Bay (WA) National Estuarine Research Reserve. Her research entailed monitoring the eelgrasses that thrive along the mouth of the Skagit River at Puget Sound. The reserve is managed by NOAA and the Washington State Department of Ecology. According to the Padilla Bay Reserve website, eelgrass is "valuable because it is a habitat for wildlife and commercially harvested animals. Eelgrass is used as a nursery by salmon, crab, perch, and herring." Karissa assisted the Reserve's monitoring team with a number of ongoing projects, including water quality and plankton monitoring. The goal is to track changes in the density, biomass, and species composition of the eelgrass over time.

Role-Playing Video Game Creation and Computer Building

Ryan OsbaldestonComputer science major Ryan Osbaldeston '13, of Ayer, Mass., spent the summer at EMC, a global leader in Cloud Computing and Big Data analysis, learning valuable programming techniques that will aid the beta testing phase of his honors project. Ryan's honors project involves creating a Role-Playing Video Game using the Creation Kit, a graphical and physics engine developed by Bethesda Softworks and used for games such as the winter 2011 blockbuster Skyrim. He is building a computer capable of handling both the graphical demands of the engine and a small server that will eventually host the game online for the beta-testing phase of the project. The game will have a short storyline which will be closely aligned with his 500-page fantasy novel, which he is editing as part of an independent study. Watch an interview with Ryan.

East Branch Swift River Host-Parasite Relationship Study

Audrey SeizBiology major Audrey Seiz '13, of Portland, Maine, is studying the potential parasite-host relationship between the freshwater pearl mussel, Margaritifera margaritifera, and the blacknose dace fish, Rhinichthys atratulus, in the East Branch Swift River in Massachusetts. During the life cycle of M. margaritifera, the fertilized embryos must leave the female and attach to the gills of an appropriate host fish, which seem to be salmonids such as trout and salmon. In the East Branch Swift River though, the population of trout seems to be too small to support such a large population of M. margaritifera, begging the question: Is this population of M. margaritifera using an alternative host fish like the blacknose dace?

Importance of Pacific Salmon and Their Marine-Derived Nutrients

Emily SturdivantGeography major Emily Sturdivant '13, of Seattle, Wash., conducted research in Idaho river basins, with a focus on Pacific salmon. Emily's research project is titled "The Importance of Pacific Salmon and Their Marine-Derived Nutrients in Salmon River Basin Streams of Idaho." Her research entailed moving from campsite to campsite at streams where her team set up nutrient indicators and collected insects. The group conducted pre-spawning sampling in July, and in September another group will return to the sites to gather the post-spawning samples. In July 2011 Emily was a member of The Polaris Project: Rising Stars in the Arctic field course team, studying arctic systems with some of the top scientists in the field.

Coastal Ecology Research Supporting Ecosystem-Based Management

Lauren ZiemerEnvironmental science major Lauren Ziemer '13, of Arlington, Mass., worked on a research project, "Coastal Ecology Research Supporting Ecosystem-Based Management," that entailed field and lab work studying estuaries at the Wells Reserve on the Maine coast. She monitored changes in the marsh vegetation from the effects of increased amounts of freshwater and nutrient runoff from land-use shifts and climate change, such as sea-level rise.  Lauren also is leading a wading bird survey for the Wells Reserve. 


Social Science Projects

The Clearing House Association Advocacy Initiatives

Jong Whan (Calvin) ChoiPolitical science and philosophy double major Jong Whan (Calvin) Choi '12, of New York, N.Y. who begins graduate school at Columbia University this fall, worked at The Clearing House Association, a non-partisan advocacy organization representing the interest of its owner banks on a variety of critical commercial banking issues. The organization comments on regulations and proposals to impact decisions and advance policies that are critical to its owner banks. Calvin provided administrative and research support to the Regulatory Affairs and Research staff members who developed comment letters, studies and other advocacy initiatives.

Sri Lankan Post-War Trauma and Victimization

Kulani Panapitiya DiasEnglish and psychology double major Kulani Panapitiya Dias '13, of Sri Lanka, set out to investigate the prevalence of the psychological processes of moral disengagement, ingroup glorification and essentialism in post-war Sri Lanka by focusing on narratives of trauma. Following a study she conducted in December 2011 in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Kulani interviewed and surveyed both Tamil and Sinhalese individuals in the war-afflicted areas of Jaffna and Galle, respectively. Her study examines how individuals cognitively disengage themselves from the injustices that their ingroup may commit, and the means by which one justifies and sanitizes atrocities that occur during conflicts. This research is geared toward aiding reconciliatory efforts in post-war Sri Lanka by helping to identify the obstacles that linguistically, and socially, propagate conflict and difference between groups. Read Kulani's blog. Watch an interview with Kulani.

Partners in Health Community Organizing Initiative

Siobhan KelleyInternational development and social change major Siobhan Kelley '12, of Williston, Vt., is beginning her fifth year tuition-free through Clark University's Accelerated B.A./Master's Degree Program this fall. Siobhan is working as a community engagement intern at Partners in Health (PIH), collaborating on the creation of the Community Organizing Initiative, a new project that will connect supporters across the country in a grassroots organizing structure. The Community Organizing Initiative aims to raise the dialogue on global health and social justice in communities across the country by educating, advocating and fundraising. Siobhan will spend the 2012-13 academic year exploring the other side of the organizing initiative by acting as the New England regional organizer. She will work to empower local communities to connect with PIH's mission and impact programs on the ground. 

Foundation for Hospices Economic Outcomes in Sub-Saharan Africa

Champo MapulangaEconomics major Champo Mapulanga '12, of Zambia, attended the Institute of Economics and International Affairs at Georgetown Universiry and spent the summer working at the Foundation for Hospices in Sub-Saharan Africa, researching the effect of cognitive and non-cognitive skills on economic outcomes. She is continuing her research this fall.

Fourth Grade School Literacy Intervention

Olivia McGillPsychology major Olivia McGill '13, of New York, N.Y., is researching techniques for combating the fourth-grade slump (test scores leveling off in fourth grade among low-income students). A number of concepts will be incorporated into lesson plans for a literacy intervention, stemming from various fields both within and outside of psychology. The main goals for the intervention include engaging the students through small discussion groups, using specific language shown to improve intrinsic motivation, preparing students for making meaning of novel words (i.e. fourth-grade level decontextualized text rather than narrative text), and working with certain grammatical constructions found in later textbooks. Part of her project will draw from her summer experience, which focused on engaging students in educational activities during the summer months.

Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education: Duty Hour Comprehension

Irene Nakabonge-LugudeEconomics major Irene Nakabonge-Lugude '13, of Boston, Mass., is working on a duty-hour research project to evaluate medical trainees' comprehension of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education's duty-hour requirements through the analysis of a sample survey, duty-hours reports and moonlighting data. The project provides Irene, a former fellowship program coordinator, a valuable opportunity to keep current on the ACGME's requirements.

Pathways for Change Prostitution Education and Awareness

Laura OvertonInternational development and social change major Laura Overton '12, of Sedgwick, Maine, is beginning her fifth year tuition-free through Clark University's Accelerated B.A./Master's Degree Program this fall. Laura is researching the relationship between socio-economic status, early-age sexual abuse, and sex work in Worcester.

Pre-Bystander Program for International Students

John PrestonComparative literature major John Preston '14, of Round Lake, N.J., is working with the Clark Anti-Violence Education (CAVE) program to develop a pre-Bystander Program for international students, and is working to create a student internship within the office. John is also working with Worcester's Center for Nonviolent Solutions to expand its outreach and education efforts. His project will continue into the 2012-13 academic year. John hopes to attend the Santo Domingo Internship Program in the spring of 2013 to further complement his Liberal Education and Effective Practice project.

Hedonic Price Modeling and House Market Sale Price

Therese SmithEconomics major Therese Smith '13, of Houston, Texas, used hedonic price modeling to estimate a house sales price model for Worcester. The model predicts how attributes like proximity to open green spaces like parks and nature reservations among other neighborhood and housing characteristics affect a house's market sales price. Therese used data from the Warren Group, the Greater Worcester Land Trust, and MassGIS. She worked with professors in Clark's Economics Department and graduate students in economics, geocoding and mapping housing data from the Warren Group. Read Smith's blog.

Research Fatigue in Community-University Relations

Elora WayInternational development and social change major Elora Way '12, from Santa Fe, N. M., is beginning her fifth year tuition-free through Clark University's Accelerated B.A./Master's Degree Program this fall. Elora is addressing the documented experience of research fatigue in community-Clark University relations. Research fatigue exists when individuals or groups of people resist, avoid, or are reluctant to participate in research for reasons such as distrust, annoyance, exhaustion, or a lack of perceived benefit attributable to participation. Since such fatigue is counter to Clark's goal of being a responsible, engaged community partner, Elora hopes to present her research to Clark administration and staff to facilitate institutional change that could ameliorate research fatigue at the community level. Since little is known about research fatigue within academia, she plans to present at an academic conference and produce a publishable manuscript.

Teaching Novel Words to Young Students Through Interaction

Alisa ZeligerPsychology and French double major Alisa Zeliger '13, of Worcester, is spending the fall continuing a series of literacy education studies that have been conducted by Clark's Psychology Department. This study focuses on teaching novel words to young students (first grade) via various methods of interaction (pictures, games, objects). The overall goal of the study is to understand the learning processes behind vocabulary acquisition in children and to contribute insight on successful pedagogical methods.


Worcester Anti-Foreclosure Team (WAFT) Community Housing Ownership Project

Sam MoodyInternational development and social change major Sam Moody '12, of Ellington Conn., is beginning his fifth year tuition-free through Clark University's Accelerated B.A./Master's Degree Program this fall. He has been working with the Worcester Anti-Foreclosure Team (WAFT) to address issues of foreclosure and vacancy in the Main South and Pleasant St. neighborhoods. Sam spent his summer developing a project with WAFT to expand the organization's outreach and service to include residents who have already been foreclosed on and evicted, with the intention of addressing the full historical extent of the foreclosure crisis (which began in 2006). His project also targets Worcester's more than 600 vacant homes as an arena in which to pressure state and financial actors for justice, as well as for restoration of ownership to Worcester's diverse communities. Sam has helped WAFT collaborate with local ministries and submit a grant proposal to the Mass. Attorney General's HomeCorps program, and is investigating further funding opportunities in hopes of starting the project this fall.  


Sustainability and the Environment Projects

Clark University Green Roof Construction Curriculum

Harrison BassGeography major Harrison Bass '13, of Morganville, N.J., has been managing the construction of a green roof on the Clark University campus. He is working to incorporate the technology into the curriculum of the campus, as well as that of neighboring high schools including the University Park Campus School. In addition, funds will be used to acquire specific tools that will enable the public to appreciate the environmental benefits of the green roof.

Recology Inc.: Waste Zero Internship

Sharon BortGlobal environment studies major Sharon Bort '14, of Green Brook, N.J., worked in Recology's San Francisco office. She went on site visits to the company's large-scale composting, recycling, and e-waste operations and conducted research on the recycling and downstream of specific commodities such as e-waste, latex paint, and sharps. Sharon's final project was to construct an educational module about going waste-zero, climate change, and water conservation.

Clark University Interactive Sustainability Map

Benjamin D. GardnerEnvironmental science major Benjamin D. Gardner '12, of Southwick, Mass., is beginning his fifth year tuition-free through Clark University's Accelerated B.A./Master's Degree Program this fall. Benjamin is working on a Clark Sustainability Map, creating an interactive tool that serves as an engaging and informative gateway to Clark's sustainability community and green initiatives. The aim of this tool is to address—but more importantly to transcend—baseline functionalities (e.g., way-finding and self-promoting) in a way that conveys Clark's culture and fosters a connection between audiences and the University.

Sustainability Video for EMC Corporation

Shaun HoltCommunication and culture major Shaun Holt '13, of Cranston, R.I., worked in the media department at EMC Corp., where he learned new technologies and techniques and created a video to educate EMC employees about sustainability issues. Read Shaun's blog. Watch Shaun discuss his project.


National Grid and DPU Sustainability Hub Project

Amy KapitanEnvironmental science major Amy Kapitan '13, of Cambridge, N.Y., worked as a liaison between National Grid and stakeholders within Worcester and Massachusetts, as well as between smart meter customers and National Grid. Amy helped put the plans together for a Sustainability Hub which is part of the Department of Public Utilities pilot that was approved for Worcester. The Hub will be a place where customers can go to have questions answered about the smart grid, smart meters, any related technologies, and sustainable energy in Worcester.

The DC Grid and Efficiency Project

Gabriela SurianoManagement major and engineering student Gabriela Suriano '13, of San Salvador, is creating a converter to transform direct current into alternating current using "green" energies like solar panels and wind energy. She is attempting to introduce these converters to create a more energy-efficient campus. The converter will greatly reduce the loss of energy that occurs with the use of energy-inefficient direct current generators.