Meet our 2020-2021 Graduate Student Summer Research Fellows!
Ben Barson’s work lives at the intersection of academic, activist, and performing arts worlds. His research on jazz musicians’ activism will be published as a chapter in a forthcoming volume Black Power Afterlives: The Enduring Significance of the Black Panther Party (2020). He is an ASCAP award-winning composer and protégé of the late baritone saxophonist and composer, Fred Ho. He has been unrelenting is his commitment to make music that fights racism, inequality, and the destruction of the planet. He has been acknowledged as a “Pittsburgh arts innovator “ (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) and his work has been called “utterly compelling” (I Care if You Listen), “fully orchestrated and magnificently realized” (Vermont Standard) and “pushing boundaries in a well-conceived way.” (Midwest Review).
Darius is a 7th year doctoral candidate pursuing the joint degree of Ph.D. and M.P.H. in Medical Anthropology and Behavioral & Community Health Sciences, respectively. Incorporating interdisciplinary methods, including social network analysis and ethnographic observation, his research investigates the intersection between infrastructural communication technologies, information networks, and the experience of chronic disease within the lives of Syrian refugees in Jordan. His other academic interests reside within the subjects of human ecology, economies of surveillance, and science and technology studies.
History of Art and Architecture
Sarah Reiff Conell is a PhD candidate in the History of Art and Architecture Department at the University of Pittsburgh. She employs art-historical and digital methods to investigate late medieval and early modern cults of the Virgin Mary in Bavaria, Austria, and Switzerland. Her research traces the flow of miraculous agency through objects that participate in various forms of replication both within and across media.
History of Art and Architecture
Ellen Larson is a PhD candidate in the Department of the History of Art and Architecture, specializing in contemporary art from China. Before joining Pitt, she earned a Chinese MA degree as a Chinese Government scholar focusing her studies on Modern Chinese History. Her second MA thesis, completed in 2018, “Cao Fei’s Nostalgia for the Future,” focused on the acclaimed Chinese artist’s presentation of space and environment, contemplating the legacy of utopianism and ongoing constructions of national and post-socialist identities. Her current dissertation project investigates domestic temporalities within the history of contemporary moving image art from China. Her methodological approach to the study of art history includes curation and design as forms of applied practice. Ellen has been awarded a 2020-2021 Fulbright Fellowship to China. She was also chosen to participate in a Getty Foundation Dissertation Workshop, received a Marstine Prize for Excellence in the Public Humanities in 2020, and was the recipient of a 2019 Henry Luce Foundation Predissertation Grant.
Steven's work broadly focuses on the intersection of music, haptics, and scientific/medical research. His dissertation, titled “Sound, Science, Islam: Music as Healing in Istanbul,” examines contemporary biomedical research on Turkish classical music therapy in Istanbul, and is funded by a Fulbright/IIE Fellowship. He earned his MA at Pitt with a thesis titled "Listening, Elsewhere: Enacting Affective Exodus in Gay Azerbaijan," which explores the lives and listening practices of college-aged gay men in Baku, Azerbaijan, and elucidates the relationship between gender and technological embodiment. He has presented at regional and national meetings of SEM and AMS, as well as international meetings of ICTM on my dissertation work as well as American popular music, critical race theory, and queer theory. He has twice received the Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship, as well as the Critical Language Scholarship, for Turkish study, in addition to a third FLAS for Ottoman Turkish. His work can be found in current or forthcoming issues of Current Musicology and Etnomüzikoloji Dergisi, the journal of the Association for Ethnomusicology.