Fifty Five Fund for Senior Thesis Research

Fiscal Year 2020


Date: October 2, 2020

Report prepared for: Princeton Class of 1955

Year established:1980 – 25th

Reunion Purpose: Princeton Senior Thesis

Fund Description: Provide grants to defray expenses related to Senior Thesis projects of unusual promise.


 2019-20 2018-19 2017-18 2016-17 2015-16
Book Value, May $102,309 $102,309 $102,309 $102,309 $102,309
Market Value, May $2,094,690 $2,134,525 $2,146,396 $2,002,238 $1,888,514
Appreciation $1,992,381 $2,032,216 $2,044,087 $1,899,929 $1,786,205
Income Available $112,401 (fy21) $112,401 (fy20) $108,077 (fy19) $87,328 (fy18) $79,970 (fy17)
Recipients to Date 1,335 1,271 1,217 1,161 1,111
Recipients Last Year 64 54 56 50 64


Book Value: Gift amount vested in Princeton’s investment pool, before earning any return. This capital consists of the original contribution plus any other contributions to the fund, including matching gifts.

Market Value: Total value of the fund, including additions and appreciation.

Appreciation: Difference between book value and market value, indicating how much the fund has grown.

Income: Amount available for spending during the fiscal year.


Report prepared by: Eric Martin, Assistant Director, Office of Donor Relations, Princeton University 609.258.8947 or



2019-20 Recipients; Including concentration and certificate program, if applicable, and abstracts, if available.


Nathalie Jimenez '20


Department: Spanish & Portuguese Language & Cultures

Certificate(s): Program in Latin American Studies, Program in Global Health & Health Policy

Thesis Title: Don y Responsabilidad: Initiatives Towards Sexual and Reproductive Health Education Reform in Costa Rica

Advisor: Dr. Mariana Bono


Maia Hauschild '20

Department: Anthropology

Certificate(s): Program in Global Health & Health Policy, Program in African Studies

Thesis Title: From Clinic to Chapel: A Genealogy of the Therapeutic Efficacy of Hallucinogens Advisor: Prof. Elizabeth Anne Davis

Thesis Abstract: Despite an extensive history of human experimentation with natural hallucinogenic substances dating back to hunter-gatherer societies, psychedelic substances have only become a subject of clinical research since Albert Hofmann accidentally synthesized lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) in 1943. Although the safety and therapeutic benefit of hallucinogens have been established in a multitude of clinical, religious, and cross-cultural settings, psilocybin and LSD remain categorized with drugs of high potential for abuse. In this thesis, I will contextualize current modes of inquiry in the field of psychedelic research by providing a genealogical account of clinical trials investigating the therapeutic use of psychedelic substances from the 1950s to the present. I will supplement my discussion of the current state of psychedelic research with empirical evidence from conversations with a psycho-oncologist at the forefront of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s psychedelic research.


Emma Coley '20

Department: Religion

Certificate(s): Program in Humanistic Studies, Program in Ethnographic Studies, Program in Urban Studies Thesis Title: Open Your Hearts and Your Buildings: Occupation, Urban Theology, and Faithful Responses to Portland’s Village Movement

Advisor: Prof. Eric Sean Gregory


Colleen Heidorn '20

Department: Sociology

Certificate(s): Program in Spanish Culture

Thesis Title: A Different Kind Of Social Service Institution: The Expansive and Transcendent Capacities of the Soup Kitchen

Advisor: Prof. Kathryn Jo Edin

Thesis Abstract: This study uses qualitative interviews to examine how 13 soup kitchens across the state of Connecticut work to meet the complex needs of their clients. Because of the intimate and recurring nature of the service they provide, these kitchens are uniquely positioned to form holistic understandings of their clients and functionally act as an institutional form of the traditional social worker. Furthermore, through the extensive referrals and cultivated networks in which they engage, they can act not as a barrier but as a point of entry, transcending structural limits, and widening client opportunity. Rather than adjusting their work to fit within an existing framework of limited resources and ample constraint, soup kitchens, therefore, meet these challenges with creativity and innovation, working to expand their frameworks and, wherever possible, meet full client need.


Somi Jun '20

Department: Comparative Literature Certificate(s): Program in Creative Writing

Thesis Title: Filmic poetry and poetic video: seeking home through experiments with ekphrasis in Pinpoint Skin

Advisor: Prof. Susan Wheeler


Mona Clappier '20

Department: Neuroscience

Certificate(s): Program in Cognitive Science

Thesis Title: Early Life Adversity-induced Defensive Behavior in Females: The Protective Role of Naturally Fluctuating Ovarian Hormones

Advisor: Prof. Elizabeth Gould

Thesis Abstract: Experiences of early life adversity (ELA), such as childhood maltreatment, neglect, or trauma, are known to increase a person’s risk for developing anxiety disorders in adulthood. To investigate how ELA impacts the brain, researchers have developed several animal models. In particular, a previous study from our lab has shown that the maternal separation and early weaning model (MSEW) increases defensive behaviors in adult male mice but not in females. This finding is inconsistent with clinical trends seen in humans, which suggests that the prevalence of anxiety and mood-related disorders is two times greater in females than in males. This inconsistency illuminates a need to further investigate MSEW female mice and to assess the translational validity of MSEW as an ELA model. Other studies have also shown that estrogen levels can influence activity levels and cause molecular and cellular changes on a short time-scale. Therefore, in this study, we characterized the behavioral and neurobiological changes of MSEW C57BL/6J females, while controlling for estrous cycle stages. We found that females of both control and MSEW groups exhibit increased levels of activity during the estrus (high estrogen) stage of the estrous cycle in the open field test. Moreover, MSEW females present increases in defensive behaviors on the wet elevated plus maze and the light-dark test, but only when they are tested and compared to controls in the diestrus (low estrogen) stage. These increases in defensive behaviors did not appear in control and MSEW mice during the other stages of the estrous cycle. We also analyzed cellular changes in the vHIP, mPFC, and BLA—three key brain regions associated with defensive behavior regulation in rodents. Specifically, we looked at the densities and c-Fos expression of PV+ inhibitory interneurons in these regions, which have been shown to contribute to changes in neuronal oscillations commonly associated with increases in defensive behavior. We found that there were no differences in PV expression or activation in inhibitory interneurons between the control and MSEW groups, suggesting that the MSEW-induced behavioral changes in diestrus females may be caused by alterations in PV+ cell firing patterns, rather than simple binary on/off changes in the firing.


Alaa Ghoneim '20

Department: Near Eastern Studies

Certificate(s): Program in History & Practice of Diplomacy

Thesis Title: Modernity and "A Different Era": A Study of Contemporary Urban Attitudes Towards Family Planning in Egypt

Advisor: Prof. Satyel Larson


Leslie Chan '20

Department: Molecular Biology

Thesis Title: Identifying the role of DNA ligase I in hepatitis B virus cccDNA formation in human hepatoma cells

Advisor: Prof. Alexander Ploss

Thesis Abstract: Over 257 million people are chronically infected with the hepatitis B virus (HBV) worldwide, and these patients are at a 100-fold higher risk for developing cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma compared to the general population. Current treatment can only suppress the virus but rarely lead to a cure. Limitations to current treatment options are largely due to the persistence of the viral covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA)—the critical viral replication intermediate. While previous studies have identified cccDNA elimination as the key to curing HBV infection, the mechanism for cccDNA formation and maintenance remains to be fully elucidated. Recent findings identified a minimal set of host factors necessary for cccDNA formation by biochemically reconstituting this reaction. To validate these findings in a cellular environment that more closely resembles the native biological context of an HBV infection, we first established a system to rapidly and conditionally deplete DNA ligase I, one of the five identified host factors, in HBV-susceptible human hepatoma cells by dually introducing CRISPR knockout and the degron system. Following HBV infection in this tissue culture model, we observed that neither LIG1 overexpression nor partial knockout demonstrated any effects on cccDNA levels, and the challenges of establishing a complete knockout precluded us from drawing definitive conclusions on the role LIG1 plays in cccDNA formation. The findings in this study extend the applicability of the degron system to studying the role of essential host factors in viral-host interactions and contribute to current work in decoding the mechanisms of cccDNA formation. By establishing an experimental framework to interrogate the effects of essential host factors in cccDNA formation, this study lays the foundation for identifying promising therapeutic targets for chronic HBV patients.


Annabel Lee '20

Department: Molecular Biology Certificate(s): Program in Cognitive Science

Thesis Title: Investigating the Role of Chronic Stress in the Regulation of Telomere Length in Mice Advisor: Dr. Daniel A. Notterman

Thesis Abstract: Chronic stress is a well-established risk factor for many adverse health effects; however, the mechanism is poorly characterized, and it remains unclear as to how stress influences the onset of age-related disease. Some research has suggested that allostatic load mediates this mechanism through increases in cortisol levels, and this relationship between chronic stress, cortisol elevation, and reduced telomere length has been investigated in humans, rodents, and birds. This thesis utilizes two models of chronic stress – chronic restraint stress (CRS) and repeated corticosterone injection (CORT) – to explore the biochemical mechanisms through which stress affects telomere shortening in mice. This research aims to provide evidence for the pivotal role of corticosterone in the regulation of telomere biology as well as in the manifestation of chronic stress as negative physical and behavioral health outcomes. To find differences in physical, behavioral, and telomeric changes, mice were examined for corticosterone levels, epinephrine levels, body weight, blood glucose levels, anxiety behaviors, and changes in telomere length of hippocampus, testes, and ten other tissues. Both CRS and CORT mice showed high levels of corticosterone in the serum. Differences in telomere homeostasis appeared to be tissue-specific: specifically, CRS and CORT mice showed telomere shortening in brain tissues and telomere lengthening in testes. Further examination of telomerase activity in these tissues will help determine whether telomere length regulation during chronic stress occurs through a telomerase-dependent mechanism.

Fleming Peck '20

Department: Neuroscience

Certificate(s): Program in Applications of Computing, Program in Cognitive Science

Thesis Title: Autism spectrum disorder prediction at 12 months using nonlinear analysis of language- related EEG

Advisor: Prof. Casey Lew-Williams

Thesis Abstract: With the increased prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), an expanding body of scientific literature has focused on the challenge of identifying children at risk for ASD as early in life as possible so that they can benefit from early intervention. Currently, diagnosis is determined by measuring behaviors that often do not emerge until toddler or preschool age, but emerging neuroimaging research suggests that brain changes occur much earlier. My senior thesis is focused on using high-density, task- related electroencephalography (EEG) data collected from 12-month- old infants to detect future ASD using neural activity instead of behavioral symptoms with the hope that earlier identification will lead to more effective treatment. Electrical activity recorded from the brain has complex dynamic properties that traditional linear analyses are not able to quantify. Therefore, this study uses nonlinear measures, including entropy and fractal dimension, computed from the preprocessed EEG signal as features in a machine learning algorithm aimed to differentiate ASD from non-ASD outcomes. Because language is a domain frequently affected in ASD, this study uses EEG data collected during a language task. A cross- validated support vector machine predicted ASD diagnosis of high-risk infants (those with an older sibling with ASD) with 95.5% accuracy. Other performance measurements, including sensitivity and positive predictive value, were all over 92%. These results suggest that early brain function may be indicative of later ASD diagnosis, demonstrating the potential for early risk assessment before observable behaviors of ASD emerge.


Natasha MacManus '20

Department: Psychology

Certificate(s): Program in History & Practice of Diplomacy

Thesis Title: “If Education Works, Society Works”: An Analysis of Teachers’ Preparation to Meet Syrian Refugees’ Educational Needs in Lebanon

Advisor: Prof. Elizabeth Levy Paluck

Thesis Abstract: This study aims to analyze how prepared teachers are to meet the educational needs of Syrian refugees in settlements across Lebanon. With the influx of Syrian refugees who are now living in Lebanon, the Lebanese education system has been put under immense pressure. Non-formal education (NFE) has played a key role in alleviating some of this pressure by opening schools to supply education to Syrian students. Educating refugee children and adolescents presents an extremely challenging task as students have experienced loss due to war, trauma from being forcibly displaced, and are dealing with harsh living conditions. In the present study, teachers from NFE schools were interviewed about the preparation they received to teach in these difficult circumstances and the challenges they face. The interviews revealed that the majority of participants felt that they were well-equipped to meet their student’s educational and psychological needs. There were variations in the training received across participants from both the same and different schools. Inconsistencies in teacher training were also identified. Participants expressed that there were certain issues facing students that felt out of their control such as problematic family situations, child labor, or poor living conditions. Possible interventions and interesting findings are discussed, and suggestions are made regarding future directions for further study.

Celeste Claudio '20

Department: Molecular Biology

Thesis Title: Probing the dynamics of Usutu virus infection, replication, and spread using an in vitro cell culture model

Advisor: Prof. Alexander Ploss

Thesis Abstract: Viral outbreaks such as those caused by H1N1 influenza, Zika, Ebola viruses, and most recently, SARS-CoV-2, are unpredictable and potentially devastating to global health. Yet many of these emerging/re-emerging pathogens lack research and public health prioritization. One such pathogen,  Usutu virus (USUV) is a mosquito-borne, positive-sense single-stranded RNA virus in the Flaviviridae family. Despite its discovery over 60 years ago and reports of human neuroinvasive infection, the mechanisms of USUV replication, virulence, and pathogenicity are not well understood. As USUV exhibits a wide host range with varying degrees of pathogenesis, we examined its replication in relevant reservoir, host, and vector cell lines. Here, we show USUV replicated differentially across human, murine, avian, and mosquito cell lines, and induced the most severe cytopathic effects in human Huh7 hepatoma cells.

Given the little genetic diversity among USUV strains, we hypothesize other isolates demonstrate similar replication kinetics across these cell lines. To facilitate the interrogation of the USUV genome, we generated an infectious complementary DNA clone and recombinant USUV reporter virus. RNA transcribed from our infectious clone produced USUV proteins but exhibited low replication in cell culture.

Characterization of its replicative ability in comparison to USUV isolates is still needed. Additionally, recombinant USUV expressing Gaussia luciferase did not yield fluorescent activity in cell culture. During replication, the flaviviral polyprotein is processed by a virally-encoded protease, which also targets host proteins. We established a cell culture expression system to investigate the role of the USUV putative protease in species-specific antagonism of host innate immune responses during infection and expect USUV to possess a similar mechanism to that of its flavivirus relatives, cleaving proteins required for a 10 intracellular antiviral response. Overall, this study represents steps toward reducing knowledge gaps in USUV molecular virology crucial to future surveillance, diagnosis, and antiviral development.


Elizabeth Wahlstedt '20

Department: Economics

Thesis Title: Financial Incentives on Family Formation Behavior: Evidence from Health Insurance and the United States Affordable Care Act (ACA) Dependent Coverage Mandate

Advisor: Dr. Nancy E. Reichman

Thesis Abstract: In September 2010, the ACA dependent expansion went into effect. This paper examines how a reduction in financial incentives caused by the ACA dependent expansion affected family formation habits in young adults age 19-25. I exploit the ACA dependent expansion implementation as a natural experiment that removed the financial incentive to marry for spousal healthcare coverage by providing a new channel for coverage through a parent. Using unexamined data from the Behavior Risk Factor Survey ( BRFSS) which captures the family formation habits, demographics and socioeconomic characteristics of nearly 3 million adults each year and an age/time linear probability model with DD and DDD estimations, I find that the ACA dependent expansion significantly decreased the probability to marry for affected young adults, especially those with low income, and those who were black. By contrast, cohabiting rates significantly increased, and while income did not affect an individual’s propensity to cohabit, the race did significantly increase an individual’s likelihood to cohabit. Finally, my analysis indicates that the ACA dependent expansion led to a significant increase in the likelihood of young women to have out of wedlock births. Together these results demonstrate that pre-ACA dependent expansion spousal insurance served as a financial incentive to marriage, and those young adults responded to increased access to health insurance and financial changes by altering family formation behavior.

Alex Laurenzi '20

Department: History

Certificate(s): Program in Humanistic Studies, Program in African American Studies

Thesis Title: Freedom to Freedom Now!: The Expansion of Jazz's Political Tradition During the Civil Rights Movement

Advisor: Prof. Joshua B. Guild

Olufeyikewa Popoola '20 (FERPA hold)

Department: Linguistics

Certificate(s): Program in Cognitive Science


Michael Liapin '20

Department: Neuroscience

Certificate(s): Program in Creative Writing

Thesis Title: Automated Cell Detection Mapping by Analysis of Immediate Early Genes Reveals Potential Nodes in Aggression-seeking and Sex-seeking Circuits

Advisor: Prof. Annegret Falkner

Thesis Abstract: Aggressive and sexual behaviors are both critical to an organism’s survival. While two drastically different behaviors, both carry a rewarding valence. Seeking either behavior recruits traditional reward centers as well as the areas involved in that respective social interaction. Such behaviors also are sexually dimorphic. Thus, depending on the actor of social behavior (an animal’s sex) and the context of it (aggression or reproduction), different circuits are recruited. In an operant social interaction task, I present data that show that different actors voluntarily behave to engage in aggressive or sexually investigative behavior. Of note, data suggest that proactive aggression-seeking behavior is not as sexually dimorphic as previously considered and that female mice also become motivated to seek out aggressive episodes. This is then supplanted by novel whole-brain light-sheet microscopy imaging and automated cell detection analyses that present candidate regions for further investigations. Traditional ground truth candidate regions for these behaviors did not come in automated analyses. However, whole-brain mapping of areas using immediate early gene expression reveals serotoninergic raphe nuclei as being significantly activated following operant social interaction assays as well as other areas involved in goal- directed behavior that should be considered in future experiments targeting aggression seeking and sexual-seeking circuits.


Megan Ormsbee '20

Department: Anthropology

Certificate(s): Program in Musical Performance

Thesis Title: Identity Resonance and the Resonant Encounter: Deaf Identity Development in Rochester, NY Advisor: Prof. Laurence Ralph

Thesis Abstract: Deaf culture emerged in academic discourse as a full cultural entity several decades ago, and since then there have been attempts to create tools with which to measure the development of a Deaf cultural identity. In this paper, I attempt to develop a tool to help conceptualize a multi-faceted and fluid identity. I call this tool identity resonance: the idea that each person’s identity can be visualized as an energy wave that is composed of all the parts of themselves cumulatively developing the person’s sense of self. Using this tool, I look at how intersubjective encounters can help inform the development of a given entity’s identity, whether that entity is an individual or a community. Combined with key principles from linguistic anthropology, this tool helps to highlight tensions and moments of erasure within a culture. I apply this tool to my field research with the Rochester Deaf Community.

Katherine Powell '20

Department: African American Studies

Certificate(s): Program in Latin American Studies, Program in Humanistic Studies

Thesis Title: Throwing the Voice, Constructing the Self: Black Feminisms and Literature in Martinique and Sénégal, the 1930s – 1970s

Advisor: Prof. Wendy Laura Belcher


Tatum Turetzky '20

Department: Anthropology

Thesis Title: Feminists versus Femtech: Female Bodily "Empowerment" in the Age of Femtech Advisor: Dr. João Biehl

Thesis Abstract: The past few years have seen rapid growth – in the form of capital investment and consumer market size – of not only the digital health industry but more specifically, the femtech industry: those companies that work at the intersection of technology and women’s or reproductive health.

Simultaneously, there has been a rise in the use of the term empowerment by these femtech companies and others, seeking to align tangible consumer goods with social-good missions beyond the economy.

This study investigates femtech’s claims of providing female bodily empowerment by offering a holistic perspective on how femtech companies interact with female-identifying users and consumers, institutions like biomedicine, and social media. By focusing on the unique gendered foundations of femtech, this study seeks to illuminate underlying notions of knowledge and power, the creation of female bodies and subsequent interaction between bodies and femtech, emerging forms of control and surveillance, socioeconomic status and financial accessibility, as well as a shift in the current healthcare ecosystem in the United States.


Camille Liotine '20

Department: Astrophysical Sciences

Certificate(s): Program in Applications of Computing

Thesis Title: Simulation Analysis of High-Mass X-Ray Binaries as Merging Binary Black Hole Progenitors Advisor: Prof. Neta Bahcall

Thesis Abstract: Binary black holes (BBHs) as observed by the Laser-Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) and the Virgo Interferometer are thought to experience a high mass x-ray binary (HMXB) phase. However, at most 3 HMXBs observed in x-ray are predicted to be LIGO–Virgo BBH progenitors, and there are uncertainties regarding these predictions. The lack of x-ray observations of these progenitors raises the question of whether we expect to see such systems in standard models of stellar evolution. It also opens the possibility that we can constrain uncertainties in binary evolution through the absence of HMXB detections and determine if these systems could be targets for future x-ray surveys. We use the COSMIC population synthesis code to simulate a large population of double compact object systems at 1/10 Z _{\odot} and find that 99.98% of LIGO–Virgo BBH progenitors achieve HMXB luminosities above the 10^{35} erg s^{−1} observable threshold. Most of these binaries emit above this threshold for 0.5-2.0 Myr, and their luminosities exceed 10^{37} erg s^{−1} for a majority of that time. We identify clear correlations between the peak luminosity, duration of observable emission, system mass, and binary separation for LIGO–Virgo BBH progenitors. Finally, we calculate that, at low metallicity, 41.8% of observable HMXBs will become LIGO–Virgo BBHs.


Gemma Zhang '20

Department: Physics

Certificate(s): Program in Applications of Computing

Thesis Title: Predictions and Constraints on the Anisotropies in the Cosmic Neutrino Background

Thesis Abstract: The cosmic neutrino background is one of the most important predictions made by the standard cosmological model that has not been directly detected by experiments. The PTOLEMY experiment is the first experimental effort aiming to detect the relic neutrinos. The cosmic neutrino background is the result of neutrino decoupling shortly after the Big Bang. Compared to the cosmic microwave background which came from photon decoupling at about 380,000 years after the Big Bang, the C?B was produced only 1 second after the Big Bang when the temperature of the universe was approximately 1 MeV (equivalently, 12 billion K). Today, these neutrinos have cooled down to about 0.17 meV (1.9 K) through 13.7 billion years of Hubble expansion. In this thesis, using the N-body simulations from CLASS and CONCEPT, we simulate the cosmic evolution and make predictions of the anisotropies in the cosmic neutrino background. We examine the neutrino power spectra as a function of the scalar spectra index for different sets of neutrino masses for the three neutrino species. From our analysis, we conclude that the measurements from the PTOLEMY experiment may be able to put a constraint on the scalar spectral index with improved sensitivity, particularly on the scales of 102 Mpc1 to 101 Mpc1.

Shun Yamaya '19

Department: Politics

Thesis Title: Voting Across the Government: An Exit Poll Experiment in South Carolina Advisor: Jonathan Frank Mummolo

Thesis Abstract: Decades of political science research has focused on voter behavior. However, this literature often ignores the multifaceted nature of ballots. In elections, voters are making a series of choices across different levels of government, and recent work shows sizable shares of voters who defect from their national party choice, especially in local races. How do split-ticket voters and strict party loyalists differ? I use both Ballot Image Data and an original exit poll survey implemented in the 2018 South Carolina midterm election to show that ticket-splitters not only tend to be moderate but also perceive candidates of the opposing party to be moderate. I experimentally show that both in partisan and non-partisan local races, voters regret their vote after learning local candidates’ policy positions. Together, these findings suggest that while partisanship is a strong heuristic on the long ballot, it does not guarantee issue congruence at the local level. Furthermore, in down-ballot races, voters are often not informed about their local candidates’ policy positions, and instead, candidate perception facilitates split- ticket voting.


Yasmin AlKhowaiter '20

Department: History

Certificate(s): Program in Near East Studies

Thesis Title: Western Fantasy, Ottoman Reality: Tourism in the Holy Land in the Nineteenth Century Advisor: Mr. Randall Todd Pippenger


Talia Anisfeld '20

Department: Anthropology

Certificate(s): Program in Environmental Studies

Thesis Title: “In the end, we’re neither here nor there. And yet we’re almost there”: Disidentification Among Ethiopian Jewish Israelis

Advisor: Prof. Rena S. Lederman

Thesis Abstract: Ethiopian Jews make up a small but significant portion of the Israeli population. Their arrival in the State of Israel, primarily between the 1980s and the early 2000s, was seen as the fulfillment of an ancient longing. Yet the promise of this return has been complicated and compromised by the persistent realities of discrimination, violence, and racism that they have faced – and continue to face – as they negotiate their place in contemporary Israeli society. This thesis is based on ethnographic work that I conducted in the Ethiopian Jewish community in Israel in the summer and winter of 2019- 2020, in the wake of the police killing of 18-year-old Solomon Teka and explores the paradoxes of identity and belonging with which Ethiopian Jews in Israel wrestle today. I examine various implications of the stories and perspectives I heard from my interlocutors: for their evolving relationship to Zionism and Israeliness; for the possibilities of political solidarity across racial, religious, and national boundaries; and the construct of community. In these explorations, I center Ethiopian Jews’ embodiments of disidentification: the creative, flexible, and ambivalent ways in which they simultaneously act on, with, and against various codified narratives of belonging. I try to illuminate how this process can allow narratives to become sites of expansion rather than erasure: how stories can become spaces of great potential – spaces that, if broken open through the work of deep listening, can hold and reflect the contradictions and rough edges of lived experience, and make room for new realities to emerge.


Caroline Bailey '20

Department: English

Certificate(s): Program in Cognitive Science, Program in Linguistics

Thesis Title: The Dark Imaginary: Tracing the Use of Constructed Languages in Fantastic Depictions of Evil Advisor: Prof. Maria A. DiBattista


Sarah Betancourt '20

Department: French & Italian

Certificate(s): Program in Dance, Program in Teacher Preparation

Thesis Title: Dancing Modern Paris: The Ballets Suédois & Technologies of Mechanical Reproduction Advisor: Dr. Efthymia Rentzou

Thesis Abstract: In this dissertation, I examine four performances by the Ballets Suédois which have represented, each in its way, the lived experience of modern life in Paris: Les Married de la Tour Eiffel (1921), Skating Rink (1922), Within the Quota (1923) and Release (1924). Les Ballets Suédois, participating in the process of modernizing art and life, created shows that both embodied the ideas of the associated artists and also the experience of a typical Parisian. The particular use of dance for this purpose is what makes this company unique: while painters, poets, and composers sought to strike against materials and forms, “ballet” offers a context in which the different elements of art can enter into artistic dialogue. These "ballets" where the dance was subordinated to other aspects of the performance also represented a human context, bodily or even carnal, to question the relationship between modern life and art In short, it is a new fusion, which all four ballets present in a particular way, between the

performing arts and the experiences of technology in urban life that reveals that the Swedish Ballets had as objective to question the relationship between modern art and modernity itself and to examine this relationship through the spectacle of dance.


Kelli Calhoun '20

Department: Sociology

Thesis Title: No Place Like Home: A Qualitative Analysis of the Experience of Homelessness and Housing Instability Among College Students

Advisor: Prof. Matthew Desmond

Thesis Abstract: This research examines the sociological phenomenon of collegiate homelessness in the United States. Drawing on the present scholarship regarding the many obstacles faced by homeless communities -- especially homeless youth -- this project focuses on the unique hardships of students who struggle to find permanent, stable housing while also navigating college life. In-depth interviews with ten college students experiencing homelessness and/or housing instability reveal four major themes: (1) the lived experience of homelessness and/or housing instability is diverse; (2) housing instability is perceived as both an obstacle and a motivation for college success; (3) college students without stable housing create and maintain diverse support networks; and (4) these same students reject the trajectories prescribed for them and write their own success stories. The findings of this study call for more qualitative research that recognizes the voices of this understudied population and examines effective strategies and programs to support college students without stable housing.


Amy Cass '20

Department: History

Certificate(s): Program in Cognitive Science

Thesis Title: A Theistic Naturalism: The Union of Science and Religion in the Work of Dr. William Benjamin Carpenter

Advisor: Prof. Angela N. H. Creager


Caroline Castleman '20

Department: History

Certificate(s): Program in Neuroscience

Thesis Title: “Opinions, Statements, Knowledge, Hearsay”: Scientific Controversy in AIDS Origin Theories Advisor: Prof. Katja Guenther


Joseph Collins '20

Department: Architecture

Certificate(s): Program in Urban Studies

Thesis Title: Between Glass and Transparency: Architectural Agency after Images Advisor: Prof. Stanley T. Allen


Leora Eisenberg '20

Department: Slavic Languages & Literature Certificate(s): Program in Russian and Eurasian Studies

Thesis Title: Finding a Common Language: An Exploration of Language-Based Tropes in Contemporary Ukrainian and Russian Media

Advisor: Prof. Elena Fratto


Christiana Esowhode '20

Department: Neuroscience

Certificate(s): Program in Ancient Rome, Program in Cognitive Science

Thesis Title: Who’s Who to Whom? Investigating Social Referents in the Context of Authority and Personality

Advisor: Prof. Elizabeth Paluck

Thesis Abstract: If the COVID-19 crisis has proven anything, it is that we are social creatures who rely heavily on interacting with others outside of ourselves. To this point, I investigated social relationships within Princeton groups and how certain individuals can be more socially salient than others. In this project, I first identified social referents, individuals who are highly connected with others within their group among six student-run organizations within the Princeton undergraduate population. I predicted that each group would have at least one social referent and larger groups would have multiple social referents. This proved to be true for most of the groups with over 10 group members and even small groups did indeed have at least one social referent. Based off of the literature on the effect of authority and personality within social relationships, I also predicted that social referents would have greater than average personality scores on extraversion, conscientiousness, and agreeableness than non-social referents and lower scores on openness to experience and neuroticism, all of which are personality dimensions under the Big Five. Also, I expected power to be predictive of social reference, meaning that holding a position of power within a group would be highly correlated with emerging as a social referent in the group. Finally, I expected social referents in power to have greater influence within the group, mainly measured by time spent with them compared to social referents without power. Interestingly, there was a negative correlation with extraversion and social reference, unlike what I expected. However, as I had expected, conscientiousness, agreeableness, and power were all positively correlated with social reference, and neuroticism and openness to experience were negatively correlated. And as assumed, social referents in power were indeed more socially salient than social referents without power. Overall, this project revealed the intricacies that exist within-group interactions and how group dynamics can differ between small and large groups.

Sarah Kamanzi '20 (Granted leave of absence)

Department: French & Italian


Alexandra Levinger '20

Department: Anthropology Certificate(s): Program in Linguistics

Thesis Title: Exceptional Resistance: Anti-Colonial Narratives and Constructions of Autonomy Among the Accompong Maroons of Jamaica

Advisor: Prof. Lauren Coyle Rosen

Thesis Abstract: The story of the Jamaican Maroons, communities of mixed African and Indigenous descent who evaded slavery and in the 17th century and successfully fought off the British occupation to obtain autonomous rule over their settlements, is a remarkable yet oft-overlooked one. It behooves the scholarly community and the world at large to take a closer look at this story, for the insights that it might provide into conversations on diaspora, pan-Africanism, Indigeneity, and nation-building in (post)colonial contexts. Based on archival analysis and ethnographic fieldwork in the Maroon town of Accompong, this inquiry traces historical and more recent developments in Maroon culture and identity construction, seeking to interrogate and dismantle colonial alienations of the Maroons and to better understand the Maroons’ physical and metaphysical challenges to empire have unfolded and continue to evolve.

Emily McLean '20 (Granted leave of absence)

Department: Religion


Justinas Mickus '20

Department: Politics

Certificate(s): Contemporary European Politics &Society, Program in History & Practice of Diplomacy Thesis Title: European Competition Policy in the Time of Digitization, Geopoliticization, and Brexit Advisor: Dr. Sophie Meunier-Aitsahalia


Julia Pak '20

Department: History

Certificate(s): Program in American Studies

Thesis Title: Sugar and Slavery: The Narratives of Former Slaves on Louisiana Sugar Plantations in History and Memory

Advisor: Micahel Albert Blaakman

Minsu Park '20

Department: Physics

Certificate(s): Program in Applications of Computing

Thesis Title: Constructing a Classically Stable Non-singular Cyclic Cosmology Advisor: Paul J. Steinhardt

Thesis Abstract: Bouncing cosmology is a mechanism for flattening, isotropizing, and homogenizing the universe. A scalar field with a deeply negative potential causes the universe to slowly contract and dilutes any initial anisotropy, inhomogeneity, or curvature. Then by violating the null energy condition (NEC) the universe is brought back to expansion. This is achieved using Horndeski gravity to deviate from Einstein's gravity for a relatively short period. We propose two kinds of cyclic cosmology scenarios in which the above mechanism occurs periodically in perpetuity. In the first, the scalar field oscillates between two positive potential plateaus: starting from one plateau, rolling into a negative potential well, enabling the bouncing mechanism, then climbing onto the other plateau. Eventually, the field stops and rolls back towards the well, restarting the cycle and returning to the original position. In the second, the scalar field periodically enters a region of space in which the bouncing mechanism can occur: starting from one plateau, rolling into a negative potential well, enabling the bouncing mechanism, climbing up a positive potential barrier until turns around, and returning to the original plateau. Again, the field eventually stops and rolls towards the well to restart the cycle. These models call for Horndeski coupling functions that allow the field and the potential to behave as prescribed, enabling it to maintain a stable subluminal speed of perturbation propagation. One set of Horndeski coupling functions constructed strongly suggests the feasibility of the first kind. Another set of Horndeski coupling functions constructed demonstrates the possibility of the second kind.


Nicholas Persaud '20

Department: Molecular Biology

Thesis Title: Rethinking Nicotine Use: An Evaluation of the Efficacy of Nicotine Containing Smoking Cessation Products and the Potential of Nicotine to Treat Diseases

Advisor: Prof. Jeffry Benton Stock

Thesis Abstract: Nicotine is an addictive drug that is naturally found in the tobacco plant which is used to make tobacco products such as cigarettes. Due to the multiple dangers associated with the use of cigarettes, smoking cessation products have flooded the market. This includes products such as nicotine replacement therapy, e-cigarettes, and vape products. However, the efficacy of these products has come under scrutiny due to conflicting research in which some say the products are effective while others say they are not. Therefore, one of the aims of this thesis is to re-evaluate the efficacy of smoking cessation products. This was accomplished by distributing a survey to users of smoking cessation products as well as to general practitioners (GPs) to gain two perspectives on the efficacy of smoking cessation products. Also, regarding nicotine specifically, there has been speculation about its therapeutic potential. This can be drawn back to the self-medication hypothesis which is the theory that people diagnosed with schizophrenia often smoke cigarettes to alleviate the symptoms associated with the disease. With that in mind, this thesis also aims to identify the benefits and adverse effects of nicotine consumption, as well as the different neurological diseases it can potentially treat. This will serve to measure the therapeutic potential of nicotine. To accomplish this aim, a literature search was conducted, and a survey was distributed to current users of smoking cessation products diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and GPs. The findings of this thesis show that NRT and ENDS products are not effective for smoking cessation purposes, but nicotine has great therapeutic potential in multiple diseases including neurological diseases.


Melita Piercy '20

Department: Near Eastern Studies

Thesis Title: Who Has Space to Talk? Navigating People-to-People Initiatives in Palestine/Israel in a Post- Oslo Era

Advisor: Max Weiss

Thesis Abstract: People-to-people (P2P) initiatives in Palestine/Israel grew in popularity during the late '90s as a civil society level support mechanism for the peace process; however, the failure of the peace process led to the rejection of P2P initiatives as similarly failed projects, labeling such efforts at dialogue- like activity in the post-Oslo era as "normalizing" activities. A large body of research has been focused on the history of these programs, the psychology behind such encounters, and why people-to-people work “failed”. Much less has been discussed how organizations and participants of current initiatives navigate critiques and barriers in the present political reality, and why they continue their work now despite the perceived failure of the past. Space and mobility both affect how organizations working within the occupied territories navigate their work and how they respond to critiques of power asymmetry and normalization. While all these organizations rally behind a similar theme of humanization and opposition to separation, how organizations choose to interact with their spatial limitations and environment are reflective of their specific motivations behind their work. Using Lefebvre’s perceived-conceived-lived triad, I will narrate and analyze the work of three different organizations within a framework of space, ultimately arguing that the ideological space produced by organizations in a new paradigm of peace is resistant to the status quo thus justifying its importance in the current moment. This thesis will ultimately attempt to answer the following questions: What are the challenges these organizations face in navigating their spatial reality? How are they combating these challenges and carving their own spaces? Why do they find it important to continue pursuing their work in the current moment? What is the relationship between each of these spaces to the idea of dialogue?


Marah Sakkal '20

Department: Architecture

Thesis Title: Retracing the Cracks: The Destruction and Restoration of Beirut's Heritage Houses Advisor: Prof. M. Christine Boyer



Elizabeth Schwartz '20

Department: Art & Archaeology

Thesis Title: Both/And Compositions: Reconciling the Contradictions of Georges de La Tour Advisor: Prof. Michael Koortbojian


Pulkit Singh '20

Department: Computer Science

Certificate(s): Program in Statistics and Machine Learning, Program in Cognitive Science Thesis Title: Deep Prototype Models to Study Human Categorization Behavior

Advisor: Thomas L. Griffiths

Thesis Abstract: Inspired by the potential synergy between models of visual categorization from cognitive science and neural classifiers from computer vision, this project proposes a probabilistic framework that integrates the mechanism of cognitively-inspired generative classification into an otherwise discriminative deep learning system. Specifically, we integrate a Gaussian classifier into a Convolutional Neural Network, jointly learning embeddings of images and distributions over embeddings. We dub these models Deep Prototype Models (DPMs) and find that they boost validation accuracy and reduce generalization loss under modest distributional shift. Additionally, we examine their similarity to human categorization behavior across two dimensions – the uncertainty or relative activation across categories for stimuli, and the organization of stimuli within categories. For the former, we employ an existing dataset of full-label distributions of human categorizations and find that DPMs provide a better fit for human uncertainty behavior. In the latter case, we explore typicality as a method for inferring the structure of categories from human behavior and collect a novel large-scale dataset of over 350,000 typicality judgments. We find several interesting relationships between typicality, response time, and human agreement; and find that standard CNNs correlate better to human typicality judgments than DPMs. The DPMs proposed and typicality dataset collected represent an initial effort to bridge the gap between cognitive modeling and modern deep learning.


Linda Song '20

Department: Anthropology

Certificate(s): Program in American Studies, Program in Asian American Studies, Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies

Thesis Title: The Millennial Caregiver as the "Canary in the Coal Mine": The Politics of Injury, Slow Violence and Field 'Care'

Advisor: Prof. Serguei Alex. Oushakine

Thesis Abstract: There are more than 40 million unpaid caregivers in the U.S. and growing, and 1 in 4 of them are millennials. This thesis is uniquely positioned to examine the rapid rise of young adult caregivers known as "millennial caregivers” (between the ages of 18 to 39) who are increasingly shouldering the burden of a global “caregiver crisis”. I examine the representational dilemmas obscuring millennial caregiving and posit the notion of Field ‘Care’ as a working schematic to articulate 1) n. the messy ecological patchwork of media-related “care” imaging, symbols and messages that inundate young caregivers and is 2) v. a call to action, a reorientation of millennial caregiving needs through the lens of “slow violence” to underline the distinctive forms of harm and crisis management that millennial caregivers adopt. I draw from conversations and interviews with millennial caregivers, employ mixed methods research, and participant observation in virtual media platforms to articulate millennial caregivers’ negotiations of identity-/-mean-making processes.


Trina Swanson '20

Department: Anthropology

Certificate(s): Program in Global Health & Health Policy, Program in African Studies

Thesis Title: becoming mothers: journeys of young motherhood in a Tanzanian health centre Advisor: Prof. Serguei Alex. Oushakine


McKayla Tyrrell '20

Department: Architecture

Thesis Title: Keeping an Eye on the Ball: An Analysis of Advancements in Technology and Proliferation of Sports Media Consumption, and Their Profound Effect on the Relationship between City and Stadium Advisor: Cameron Wu


Jhor van der Horst '20

Department: Art & Archaeology Certificate(s): Program in Theater and Dance

Theses Titles: Dance: I’m annoyed when the only size is everyone Theater: ‘t kroos

Art: A Senior Thesis Exhibition by Jhor van der Horst

Theses Summaries: I’m annoyed when the only size is everyone, a three-hour improvised dance work. Presented in the round, the piece seeks to complicate the relationship between performers’ embodied experience and audiences’ practiced readership, with audiences encouraged to move between the “performance space” and a “supplementary space,” which includes a library with dozens of texts and practices from which the work is constructed. t kroos, an original solo performance piece written and performed by Princeton senior Jhor van der Horst and dedicated to histories with different people over his lifetime, traced through his current morning rituals and grown from the cracks between his artistic practice. The work includes structured performances as well as an ongoing installation performance. During the installation, visitors are invited to observe the artist continuing to unearth his stories, by himself or in conversation with friends and mentors. The conversation schedule will be posted online. A Senior Thesis Exhibition by Jhor van der Horst investigates pleasure practices. In particular, the work seeks to destabilize anthropocentric understandings of sexual pleasure.


Cecilia Vergara '20

Department: East Asian Studies

Thesis: Have you eaten?: Analyzing young Korean women’s relationship with food in K-Dramas and its intersection with K-Pop and K-Beauty

Advisor: Prof. Amy Beth Borovoy


Maya Walton '20

Department: History

Thesis Title: Fashion on the Fairways: A History of Women’s Golf Fashion and Women’s Roles in the United States from the Victorian Age to Present-Day

Advisor: Rhae Lynn Barnes

Thesis Abstract: To conduct my research, I studied the United States Golf Association Digital Archive for primary sources of women’s golf fashion. This archive stores photographs of men’s and women’s golf from the origins of the game to present-day. It is with these photographs that I was able to trace trends within women’s golf fashion history. In addition to the USGA archive, I utilized background research that I conducted on thesis research trips and in oral interviews. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 epidemic and consequent evacuation from Princeton’s campus imposed limitations on my research. Many of my secondary sources remain in Firestone Library and I remain unable to access them as they do not exist in a virtual form. I had planned on spending much more time in Firestone reading, researching, and even citing. Due to the epidemic, some of my citations do not have specific page numbers. Despite this difficulty, I believe this thesis still presents a substantial and well-rounded argument on women’s golf fashion in the United States.


Crystal Wu '20

Department: History

Thesis Title: Contagion!: The Effects of the French Colonial Legacy on the Formation of Black Identity in Interwar France

Advisor: Prof. Beth Lew-Williams


Rose Arbittier '20

Department: Princeton School of Public and International Affairs Certificate(s): Program in Music Theater, Program in Values and Public Life

Thesis Title: Defining "Reasonable Accommodation": Reframing the Americans with Disabilities Act through the Disability Human Rights Lens

Advisor: Christopher L. Eisgruber

Thesis Abstract: This thesis sets out to answer the question, what should reasonable accommodation entail under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990? I argue that as it stands, the ADA’s “reasonable accommodation” standard is ambiguous and so fails both at guiding employers effectively and at securing morally desirable accommodations for employees. I evaluate definitions of “reasonable” that have already been proposed: the fairness and equalizing principles, societal perception as a scale of reasonableness, estimated dollar cost of accommodation compared to job productivity, and judge-made cost-benefit analysis. I find faults in each of these definitions and propose my own. To do so, I look to potential moral frameworks of the Act: under the social model of disability, as civil rights legislation, as a welfare reform document, and under the capabilities approach. Ultimately, I contend that the disability human rights view maintains the benefits of all of these frameworks while eliminating their shortcomings. The view upholds a commitment to the social model of disability while simultaneously recognizing the importance of individual medical characteristics. It supports human, civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights. It recognizes the importance of individuals beyond their economic impact, enabling everyone – regardless of ability – to flourish and achieve a life worthy of human dignity. Using the human right to dignity as a universal moral commitment, I justify the human rights to employment, autonomy, cultural participation, and participation in leisure. With an agreed-upon starting point of these existing human rights for all individuals – regardless of apparent ability – I evaluate three hypothetical scenarios: the Bob, Bill, and Jody problems. In assessing characteristics of these scenarios that may determine reasonableness, I conclude that factors are only relevant insofar as they impact – positively or negatively

– the realization of an individual’s human rights. Under the assumptions that an individual with a disability (1) is qualified to perform her job after she is accommodated and (2) finds value in her employment or artistic situation, I determine that accommodation should be considered reasonable if it allows the realization of human rights for one individual without limiting those of anyone else. This holds in both employment and artistic/cultural scenarios. About implementation, I recognize that a simple reframing of the ADA through the disability human rights lens could be achieved with institutional reforms comparable to those already in place elsewhere. The most notable adjustment would be creating the United States Human Rights Commission that could oversee violations of this new conception of reasonableness, a reform that has demonstrated feasibility by similar commissions in other nations.

Ultimately, I argue that the recommendations of this thesis have implications beyond the particular problems discussed herein. Rather than applying only to the definition of reasonableness for employment and artistic/cultural scenarios, the disability human rights view should govern other life aspects of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to truly achieve human dignity for all.


Will Crawford '20

Department: History

Thesis Title: Clement Comer Clay in Alabama's Public Land Democracy Advisor: Jack Boulos Victor Tannous


Josh Faires '20

Department: Sociology

Certificate(s): Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies

Thesis Title: Bourdieusian Capital as a Method to Examine Assimilation of Gay Spaces in London and Manchester

Advisor: Sanyu A. Mojola

Thesis Abstract: I argue that charismatic leadership operating in the meso level can participate in driving the assimilation of some members of marginalized groups to the mainstream while pushing others further away. Grounded on Bourdieu’s theory of practice and bolstered by new Bourdieusian theories of capital, I examine how capital invested by gay spaces within the London and Manchester gay scene alter what is perceived to be the norm. These occur not only at the level of cities and institutions but also by individual actors who own and/or operate spaces for gay people. Carrying highly valued capital in various combinations, I argue that these space operators have enabled actions that aid in facilitating the process of gay neo-assimilation in the UK.


Electra Frelinghuysen '20

Department: History

Thesis Title: Weaponizing the Instruments of Justice: Trial, Execution, and Internment in the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862

Advisor: Prof. Regina Kunzel


Jeffers Guthrie '20

Department: History

Thesis Title: The Enduring Legacy of a Hawaiian Princess: Preserving Hawaiian Voice at The Kamehameha Schools

Advisor: Prof.Emmanuel H. P. M. Kreike











Copyright © 2021 Princeton University Class of 1955. All rights reserved.

Contact the Class of 1955. | Design by