The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Mini-Grants

Melissa Dunham '17 Attends the American Geophysical Union’s 2017 Fall Meeting

Attending the American Geophysical Union’s (AGU) 2017 Fall Meeting as an undergraduate was a priceless, unique, and inspiring experience that I will take with me through my journey as a geoscientist. There were ample poster sessions, enlightning talks, technical presentations, and keynote lectures, including one entitled “How Geoscientists Can Change the World”.

With the over 20,000 scientists that attended AGU’s 2017 Fall Meeting, there were no limitations to learning and networking. Not only was I able to present my ongoing senior thesis research to geoscientists from all reaches of the globe, but I was also exposed to how the global scientific community interacts, communicates, shares, and expands knowledge first hand.

In addition, I was also able to network further with fellow undergraduate and graduate students as well as with professionals from organizations such as NASA, USGS, NOAA, and the US Naval Academy in an exhibition hall setting. As a result of attending AGU’s 2017 Fall Meeting, I truly feel a part of the greater scientific community and understand how my research can directly contribute to future scientific discoveries.

Vibhor Khanna​ '19 Attends Techcrunch Disrupt Berlin

At Techcrunch Disrupt Berlin, a conference that brings together revolutionary startups and entrepreneurs, I was able to learn from experts in the fields of artificial intelligence, machine learning, autonomous vehicles, cryptocurrencies, financial technology, and robotics. Such insight taught me more about their respective industries and how these innovative technologies will develop in the future, as well as new applications of these technologies. As an example, I was able to hear from Alexander Zosel, the founder of Volocopter, a prominent German startup creating the first electric air taxis, about his vision for the future of mobility. Hearing directly from the people who are driving change in the world is incredibly inspiring, but was also a reminder of the amount of hard work that goes behind making these startups successful.

Ursula Jongebloed '18 Presents Her Research at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting

This December, I attended the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana. The AGU Fall meeting is a fantastic opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students to present their research as well as learn about the vast amount of research being performed at other institutions.

I presented the preliminary findings of my undergraduate thesis research in the form of a poster at the conference. My thesis explores how the elevation and location of where ice cores are collected affects the concentration of heavy metal pollution in the ice core samples. Ice cores can serve as an indicator for atmospheric processes, such as pollution, so the concentrations of metals in ice cores can reflect the relative amount of atmospheric metal pollution at a site.

Sam Gochman '18 Attends the First Ivy League Undergraduate Research Symposium

As a presenter at the first Ivy League Undergraduate Research Symposium, I had the privilege of joining a group of students who brought with them powerful ideas. At Dartmouth, there is a diversity of exploratory research that enriches both our community and the greater world. I was proud to bring some of that work to an event that hosted students who also represented their esteemed institutions.

The symposium welcomed 135 students from all of the Ivy League schools, showing that we are all together in the effort to learn about the world around us in so many different ways. Research topics ranged from cellular nanoengineering to new uses of CRISPR, x-ray spectromicroscopy to quantum superconducting circuits, social associations of dolphins to arthropod assemblages, sexual risk-taking to conscientiousness and mindfulness, and social change in Chile to education emancipation. It was important to be exposed to and learn from students in a variety disciplines. Some of the most powerful projects were those which I would have never seen as a STEM major.

Ashley Dotson '18 Attends the National Organization of Minority Architects Conference

Over one weekend in October, I had the pleasure of attending the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) National Conference in Houston, Texas as a student participant. During the conference I had the chance to attend workshops and lectures as well as network with professionals in the field. This was a great way for me to get introduced to the architecture profession. While we have many professors who are helpful in guiding students interested in architecture, it is often difficult for us to figure out how to accomplish our professional dreams. Unlike our pre-finance and pre-medical counterparts, we do not fit into campus culture and therefore do not have the same abundant resources—we are a minority on campus. Attending the NOMA conference gave me the skills and the confidence to continue to pursue architecture at Dartmouth and beyond, as well as help my peers with similar interests.

Discussing Free Speech, and Social Justice with Professor Strossen

The Dartmouth Open Campus Coalition, in co-sponsorship with the Rockefeller Center, College Democrats, and College Republicans, recently hosted New York Law School Professor Nadine Strossen, who shared her knowledge of free speech on college campuses and her experience as the former President of the American Civil Liberties Union.

The Dartmouth Open Campus Coalition seeks to bring together a diverse group of students and scholars to discuss issues that are crucial to our society and communities. At a center of inquiry, such as Dartmouth College, it is our responsibility, as students and truth seekers, to challenge our perspectives and beliefs. This is only possible if free inquiry and viewpoint diversity are encouraged. Yet, we also have many questions on free speech, such as does freedom of speech conflict with a commitment to equality? We wrestle with these timely questions and many others.

Exploring Social Justice with the CHANGE Initiative

I had the opportunity to attend a training program for new CHANGE Leaders that took place between July 22 and July 27 in Quincy, Massachusetts. The CHANGE Initiative is a program run by Oxfam America, an international, non-profit organization that fights to end social injustices around the world using a rights-based approach. This initiative empowers college students from all around the country to be leaders on their respective campuses and promote Oxfam's mission in a variety of ways. The 2017 cohort of CHANGE Leaders comprised of 36 students from 36 different universities in the U.S. and a variety of backgrounds and experiences. 

Ugandan Dance Troupe Tabu Flo Brings the Dartmouth Community Together

When we hatched the idea of bringing Ugandan dance troupe Tabu Flo to Dartmouth to debut a dance-theater piece weaving themes of power, representation, and voice, we did not anticipate how much their presence would impact our campus. Their twelve days here were marked by testimony after testimony—from students, faculty, community members, and many others—about their ability to inspire critical reflection on our world through the art of dance. This was encapsulated in their performance of “The Speech”, which painted an evocative picture of state-run systems that afford some people the ability to speak and withhold that opportunity from others. In the piece, Tabu Flo combined passionate expression with nuanced symbolism, using costume and choreography (without uttering a word) to highlight how different institutional actors participate in this exercise of power.

Security Vulnerabilities in Modern Voting

Thanks to the Rockefeller Center, I had the opportunity to attend the DEFCON security conference this past July. Started in 1992, DEFCON now draws roughly 20,000 attendees each year. Notable speakers this year include Gary Kasparov, Elie Bursztein, and Matt Suiche. In addition to the main stage talks, DEFCON also features smaller venues within the conference center – known as ‘villages’ – dedicated to specific topics, such as hardware, networking, social engineering, and biohacking.

The newest village at DEFCON was the Voting Machine village. The objective of the village was simple: to alert the American public about security vulnerabilities in modern voting machines. Instead of focusing on what may or may not have happened during the 2016 election, we made it our mission to understand today’s voting technology and help ensure that future elections cannot be hacked.

Research Opportunities with the International Space Station

I recently enjoyed the privilege of attending the International Space Station Research and Development Conference (ISSRDC) with support from the Rockefeller Center, and I can barely comprehend how many resources and opportunities this experience has provided me. From conversing with scientists about their bleeding-edge research to listening to CEOs and politicians share their visions for the future, the sheer amount of knowledge available at this conference was simply unbelievable. Not only do I now possess a much stronger understanding of current orbital research and technology, I am also enabled with the tools and connections to potentially bring Dartmouth research to the International Space Station.

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