Students Harness Tech Tools for History, Art, Literature, Education, Politics, and More

Media technologies conceptOne pair of Bowdoin students has spent the summer creating a stop-motion animated film telling the story of how Huntington’s disease works at the molecular level. Two others have developed mobile apps to enhance the experience of visitors to the Bowdoin Museum of Art and Arctic Museum. Another has devised a way to scrape campaign tweets during next fall’s campaign season, and several more have been mapping information such as language spread in Africa, 19th-century shipbuilding records in Maine, and 18th-century literary landmarks in London.

Gibbons presentations 2014The list goes on: in all, sixteen Bowdoin students have been harnessing digital technology in impressively original ways through this year’s Gibbons Summer Research Program. Coordinated through Information Technology by Educational Research Consultant Jennifer Snow, the program was established by John A. Gibbons, Jr. ’64 to enable rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors “to work with members of the faculty on projects that use technology to explore interdisciplinary areas and to develop fresh approaches to the study of complex problems.” The caliber and creativity of the projects was evident in a recent presentation of their work.

Here’s a quick guide to the wide-ranging topics the students tackled, working in close collaboration with faculty advisors from all across the curriculum (and with support from Bowdoin’s IT staff):

Nicole Wetsman ’16 and Marcela Zegarra-Ballon ’16 produced stop-motion animations to tell the stories of proteins involved in Huntington’s disease and other neurological disorders (faculty advisors: Hadley Horch, Biology, and Russ Rymer, English).

Clara Belitz ’17 scraped and analyzed data from Tumblr to study cultures and identities of trans men (Jack Gieseking, Digital and Computational Studies Initiative).

Roya Moussapour ’17 used data scraped from Twitter to study dissatisfaction of current and former K-12 teachers from across the country, as expressed in 140 characters or fewer (Doris Santoro, Education).

Emily Mumford ’17 mapped London through the lens of two figures featured in 18th-century literature, the journal-keeping James Boswell and Daniel Defoe’s fictional Moll Flanders (Ann Kibbie, English).

Venecia Xu ’16 used computational tools to analyze the art of Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky, studying the transfer of art from artist to canvas (Mohammad Irfan, Computer Science, and Sarah Montross, Museum of Art).

Daniel Cohen ’15 developed an application for creating Admissions Office tour schedules that not only accommodate each guide’s personal schedule but can also optimize parameters such as diversity (Laura Toma, Computer Science).

Hannah Rafkin ’17 contextualized Galileo’s book collection within the literary world of early modern Italy, by analyzing and mapping data such as publication dates and geographic origin of 350 works in his library (Crystal Hall, Digital and Computational Studies Initiative).

Melody Moon ’15 studied the college experience for rural Maine students by analyzing information ranging from graduation rates to recreational and work habits during college (Ingrid Nelson, Sociology and Anthropology).

Christopher Lu ’16 developed a framework to scrape campaign tweets during the Fall 2014 campaign season to study the influence of social media on voters (Michael Franz, Government and Legal Studies).

Tyler DeAngelis ’15 used GIS, historical maps, topography, artifacts, and photographs to map the town and culture of Mitchelville, South Carolina, which has since been replaced by Hilton Head (Dana Byrd, Art History).

Lucy Knowlton ’16 mapped shipping routes and other records from Pennel & Brothers, a shipbuilding company of Brunswick, Maine, with the help of logbooks, payrolls, and other documents from Bowdoin’s Special Collections (Sarah McMahon, History).

Gina Stalica ’17 used information from publication archives to map and analyze the lesbian-queer gentrification of New York City (Jack Gieseking, Digital and Computational Studies Initiative).

Tristan Van Kote ’15 created a series of maps illustrating the spread of dozens of languages in Africa (Ericka Albaugh, Government and Legal Studies).

Ryan Kulesza ’15 developed an app to showcase the 22,000 artworks and objects in the Bowdoin College Museum of Art collection (Anne Goodyear, Museum of Art).

Inho Hwang ’16 developed an app that allows visitors to Bowdoin’s Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum to easily learn more about each artifact on display (Genny Lemoine, Arctic Museum).

thumb:Jamie Tatham