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We are pleased to announce that the steering committee has awarded 9 microgrants and 4 leave-term grants. 
You can learn more about funding and support on the website or by emailing us at

Microgrants Spring 2021

Erick Gong, Economics, Vermont
Re-envisioning Economic Statistics: Moving towards Inquiry Based Learning and Technological Agnosticism
A grant to redesign Middlebury’s Economic Statistics Course.  Students from more privileged backgrounds will typically have a head-start on coding or statistics, encouraging quicker acquisition of statistical fluency and proficiency with data.  By designing a curriculum that frames each week’s statistical and coding work around a pressing social problem (e.g. income inequality, police violence, climate change, data privacy), and creating coding modules in both STATA and R, we believe that we can address these twin factors that are leading to what we term the data/statistics divide.  

Hemangini Gupta, Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies, Vermont
Making/Unmaking Technological Futures
A grant to support my class Gender, Technology, and the Future taught in Gender, Sexuality, Feminist Studies in Spring 2021. The class will critically interrogate the promises made by technological platforms, objects, and imaginaries that they will offer us a more just world. 

Chris Herdman, Physics
Discovering phases of matter with machine learning
A grant to support research with students in applying machine learning methods to study quantum systems.  I hope to incorporate some of the data analysis techniques I’m learning through this project into a course in the future (e.g. PHYS 0230 “Computation Physics”).

Kristina Jackson, Translation and Interpretation, Monterey 
Teaching Consecutive Interpretation Skills in First-Year Interpretation
A grant to fund an iPad and stylus for use in teaching consecutive interpreting note-taking skills to first-year interpretation students at the Middlebury Institute in Monterey. With the rise in digital learning, this new method of digital teaching will further students’ understanding of the note-taking techniques (symbols, segmenting, visualization) that are critical to their future success as interpreters.

Alex Lyford and Genie Giaimo, Mathematics and the Writing Program, Vermont
Teaching Communication and Writing Skills in an Intro Data Science Course
A grant to support inquiry into data science curricula.  With the rise of big data, data science classes are now a staple of most undergraduate colleges. In this project, we seek to better understand the content of these disparate data science courses and quantify the proportion that emphasize communications skills—both oral and written.

Jamie McCallum, Sociology, Vermont  
Data Science research assistance
A grant to pay a research assistant to provide instruction and support for acquisition and analysis of data from Safegraph and other sources, such as the census, the national election polls, and others. Our goal is to analyze and visualize this data in charts, graphs, and maps that I will use in my next book.

Will Nash, American Studies/Black Studies, Vermont  
Re-Presenting American Chattel Slavery: A Web Museum
A grant for training with OMEKA and classroom support for students in AMST 259 as we create a web museum highlighting and analyzing artifacts that represent American chattel slavery.  My intention is to establish and maintain the web museum so that students in subsequent iterations of the course can add to the museum.

Deniz Ortactepe, TESOL, Monterey
Critical Pedagogy and Intersectionality in Online Education
A grant to support research which examines the affordances of using WordPress over Learning Management Systems in terms of how the former allows a better digital learning space that foregrounds social justice issues in language teacher education. This project is based on an online platform that aims to build an online community of practice by  allowing students to analyze real world issues from a social justice oriented perspective. The resulting paper will explain how digital learning spaces can be transformed in a way that not only educates language teachers about how to integrate social justice issues in their classes but also embodies the very same principles and practices to provide more equitable learning opportunities to its learners. 

Martin Seehus, Psychology, Vermont 
Learn Python programming Language
A grant to support online Python courses offered by the University of Michigan through Coursera during sabbatical leave in Spring 2021. 

Leave Grants 21-22 Academic Year

Chris Herdman, Physics, Vermont  
Machine learning quantum matter
This project will extend an ongoing research project into new directions during my leave year. This project focuses on developing and applying machine learning methods to simulate and classify quantum mechanical phases of matter.  Although quantum mechanics is usually thought to describe the microscopic world, even macroscopic objects can display properties that can only be explained by the laws of quantum mechanics. Such quantum effects are most often present when ordinary matter is cooled to very low temperatures and transforms into a “quantum phase of matter”. For example, ordinary aluminum cooled down to 1 Kelvin becomes a “superconductor”—a quantum material that allows electrical current to flow without dissipation; this quantum material has many technological applications, including medical MRI machines. Other even more exotic quantum phases of matter have potential applications in quantum technologies such as the design of a quantum computer which could solve problems that are infeasible to solve with ordinary computers. Consequently, the study of quantum matter has the potential to lead to new technologies.

Michelle Leftheris, Studio Art, Vermont  
THERE/NOW uses footage from multiple live stream cameras from several locations around the world as source material for a web-based collage. Investigating the phenomenon of being in multiple places simultaneously, the work will encourage contemplation of one’s presence physically and virtually, crystalizing how the viewer constructs time and place differently between the two.

Peter B. Nelson, Geography, Vermont  
Pandemics and Pathways to Rural Space
This will project draw on the limited publicly available federal data along with an innovative combination of data from the US Postal Service and private companies tracking mobile devices (made available to pandemic researchers) to provide the first extensive understanding of the migration response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the impacts of this migration on rural communities. The project will shed new light on the ways extensive shocks transform urban-rural migration systems, how the pandemic has reshaped relationships between home and work, and illustrate the insights gained by exploring non-traditional forms of digital data to ask and answer new spatial and temporal questions.
Christopher Star, Classics, Vermont
Tracing the Apocalypse: From Ancient Texts to Contemporary Media
This project documents and analyzes the millennia-old history of the word apocalypse. By focusing both on its earliest uses in ancient Greek, and the increasingly multiple contexts in which apocalypse has been used since the middle of the 20th century, I am investigating what counts as an “apocalypse” today, as well as how this word brings together ancient and modern eschatology, reason and revelation, and science and religion. 

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