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2018 September



September 30, 2018


September 30, 2018 | By | No Comments

I’m Shewonda Leger. I am a fourth-year doctoral candidate in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures, with a specialization in women’s and gender studies. I take my responsibilities as a scholar seriously, because there are very few Haitian American women like myself in academic spaces. Therefore, my research makes space for conversations about diasporic Haitian women’s embodied learning practices and lived experiences in both academic and nonacademic spaces.

I am invested in finding modes of creating and circulating knowledge for communities that have always been othered or silenced. I continue to find the best ways of incorporating digital technologies and multimodal practices in my teaching, because traditional standards of teaching have privileged text-based forms of writing.

I love making films. I love watching films. I love telling stories. I love listening to stories.



September 27, 2018

There and Back Again: A CHI fellows tale-Taylor Panczak

September 27, 2018 | By | No Comments

Hi my name is Taylor Panczak and I am a 1st year graduate student at MSU. I have recently transferred into the anthropology program from Northern Illinois University where I completed my first year of graduate studies. I am an archaeologist with a specific focus on lithic technology and the construction of digital representations of  archaeological artifacts. For my masters thesis, I am currently working on creating a projectile point typology from the Terminal Pleistocene highland site of Cuncaicha rockshelter located in the southern Andes of Peru. I am also exploring the nature of inter-zonal connections between the highlands and the coast of Peru by comparing projectile points of similar morphology. I am working with Dr. Kurt Rademaker throughout this project and plan on perusing my PhD soon after I have completed my M.A at MSU.

I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in the spring of 2017 with a B.S. in Anthropology. During my undergrad, I had the opportunity to travel to Ukraine twice to participate in excavations at the neolithic archaeological site of Verteba cave During these field seasons I learned valuable information about archaeological methodology and how to be culturally relative. This was my first experience leaving the United States and I quickly learned that no matter how much you wanted to be on time, sometimes the bus just doesn’t show up for that day and you had to take this setback in stride.

This past summer I spent 10 weeks in Peru where I conducted research for my own thesis and also participated in geologic survey of southern Peru. My experiences this summer have changed my outlook on archaeology and have shaped the way I will conduct research in the future. Throughout the field season I would encounter setbacks while attempting to create 3D models of projectile points. Some days the models would not render, the hostel I was staying at would not have electricity, or a variety of issues would occur with the model making software. I quickly learned that it did not matter if I had created 1 3D model or 30 on a given day, I could not give up and had to keep pressing on no matter how much I pleaded with Aegisoft to work.

I am very excited about the upcoming year with CHI and hope to leave a lasting impact on archaeology by creating a large digital archive of the projectile points at Cuncaicha.



September 26, 2018

Identifying Amber Plemons

September 26, 2018 | By | No Comments

Hello, unidentified individuals. I use that term frequently. Unidentified individuals.

My name is Amber Plemons. I am identified. I have the ability to speak and advocate for myself. But what happens when unidentified human skeletal remains are discovered? Their voice has to be restored through someone else, whether the goal is to provide justice for a cruel act bestowed upon them or closure for loved ones.

I am a third year PhD student in Biological Anthropology, focusing in Forensic Anthropology. As a forensic anthropologist, much of my days are spent attempting to narrow down candidate lists for identifying unknown persons, researching new methods to improve identification efforts, or improving and building upon these established methods.

I began this career path years ago (more than I care or am willing to admit) at Texas State University, where I received a B.S. in Anthropology, followed by my M.A. in Applied Anthropology at Mississippi State University. At Mississippi State, “the other MSU”, I managed databases for prehistoric and historic skeletal assemblages. Here, I realized the power of digital curation of information for past populations, both biological and cultural material, and became interested in digital projects involving bioarchaeological and forensic skeletal collections.

At “the real MSU”, Michigan State University, I work with Dr. Joseph Hefner to build a reference databank of cranial macromorphoscopic trait data, traits used to estimate ancestry in skeletal remains. The goal of this project is to record the patterns of trait variation across the world in hopes of increasing accuracy and reliability of ancestry estimations. By folding these efforts into a digital project, we increase the ability to exchange data with researchers around the world. This is what encouraged me to become a CHI Fellow, where I hope to map trait expressions to create a visual representation of human craniofacial variation. We can then easily relate trait variation patterns to geographic barriers, climate and humidity, population histories, and genetic data to understand what shapes craniofacial morphology. This project will help to improve and refine ancestry estimations and aid in increasing the likelihood of identifying ‘unidentified individuals’.



September 24, 2018

Titi Kou: The one who can’t think of a good title

September 24, 2018 | By | No Comments

Hallo! Titi here. My full name is Tianyi Kou and I am a second year PhD student in German Studies. Titi is my nickname that my family used to call me when I was younger and I really liked it. When I moved to Michigan, I just decided to go with it and so far it’s been working well. (laugh)

I was born and raised in Beijing, China, where I received my bachelor and M.A degrees in German Studies. During the second year of the M.A, I moved to Erfurt, Germany for a year as an exchange student. Aside from attending seminars, I spent most of the time traveling in Germany and in Europe. I rode a bike to a small town on the west side of Europe in the Netherlands and touched the North Sea. I also spent ten hours down in a mine, eating bratwurst and quarrying beautiful minerals. With an extroverted personality, I prefer to talk to local people and learn about their life and culture. Older people tend to have the best stories to share. They are the living history book!

MSU German department and its supportive attitude towards my research interest attracted me to move here and to start a new chapter of my life. Within the field of German Studies, I mainly focus on examining how soccer as a cultural phenomenon relates to German national identity. In order to present a clear picture of how Germany’s soccer competition system evolved to the present days, I intend to use digital tools to enhance the accessibility of the history and provide a more explicit overview.

In addition, I am also looking forward to getting to know more people from other fields and to observe how they conduct their research. So far I’ve been working with Dan, Zach, and Shewonda and they are great teammates! Each one of them has their specialties and they are all super charming in different ways.

Next thing that needs our full attention: WHAT SHOULD WE EAT FOR LUNCH next Friday? (All suggestions are welcomed.)



September 21, 2018

About Zachary Francis-Hapner: New CHI Fellow

September 21, 2018 | By | No Comments

Hello World! I am Zach, and this is currently my second year as an archaeology student in the anthropology PhD program. The first 23 years of my life were spent in Grand Rapids, Michigan where I graduated from Grand Valley State University. I’ve been fortunate enough to branch out geographically since then and experience some fun stuff. This includes backpacking across Europe, doing some archaeology in Ukraine, and walking dogs in New York City. There have been some unfortunate experiences as well, like being scammed by taxi drivers, not being able to find a free European bathroom and seeing some unfortunate things on the NYC subway. All of these experiences have made me who I am today and given me an appreciation for how people go through life. On some level, this is what cultural heritage is all about.

As with most people, I imagine a large part of my interest in cultural heritage stems from my family. My dad’s side of the family is Ojibwe while my mom’s side is essentially Polish. One upside to this multicultural upbringing was the availability of Indian Tacos and Kielbasa growing up. I lived in a suburban neighborhood and went to Catholic School until I graduated from high school which was a lot fun. But the downside was a lack of exposure to my Native American heritage. Growing up, I would have jumped at the chance to learn more about where I came from.

With many major revitalization efforts taking place on this front, I hope to one day help contribute to making cultural heritage more accessible with digital skills. Thus giving kids like myself a resource to discover their past. On a lighter note, I enjoy fantasy football, playing video games casually and am sort of a movie buff. I also have a girlfriend who’s the bee’s knees that I recommended read this blog. Hi Kayla!



September 20, 2018

CHI Fellow: Lauren Elizabeth

September 20, 2018 | By | No Comments

I am Lauren Elizabeth (LJ) and I am a third-year PhD student in the Curriculum, Instruction and Teacher Education program. My research interests currently include considerations of the cultural epistemologies of New Orleans Black women and youth, Black feminist geographies, storytelling, and English Education. Narratives and stories are essential to my work, if not the work itself, and so I believe that the CHI fellowship will be an invaluable learning experience.

Prior to my time at MSU, I received my Master’s while also working as a Secondary English and Literacy teacher. Working with youth was a constant reminder of digital space and the critical conversations being had already by youth, as well as those that needed to be had by schools.

Because my work is informed by various disciplines and epistemologies, I am not only interested in how I synthesize my project(s), but I am also intrigued by the process, especially the exploration of crafting digital narratives and the ethics involved. This includes critical conversations concerning (at times violent) sociohistorical legacies of archives, mapping, and the representation of particular communities. I also hope to began a deeper exploration of my own pedagogical stances, such as “What is access and whom is it for?” What does it mean to digitize a story—especially when we think of authorship, agency, and ownership? Who are the mappers and cartographers—the meaning-makers of a place? While I do not plan to answer all of these questions or neatly tease them out within the year, I hope that as a CHI graduate fellow of the 2018-2019 cohort, I will be able to attend to these possibilities and tensions.



September 20, 2018

Dave Glovsky: Better late than never

September 20, 2018 | By | No Comments

I am in my sixth and final year in the History Department at MSU. I spent almost two of those years overseas conducting research on rural communities in four West African countries: Senegal, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, and Guinea. I spent most of a year talking with farmers, herders, and traders about cross-border movement and migration, exploring what these cross-border relationships tell us about life in these twentieth and twenty-first century borderlands. My interest in these rural communities stems out of two years I spent as a Peace Corps Volunteer in a small town in southern Senegal, located near Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, and Guinea.

So how did I end up as a CHI Fellow? I thought about applying to CHI before, but was unable to do so because I haven’t spent both semesters on campus at MSU for three years. I also wanted to wait until I had actual data collected that I could apply to this fellowship. I plan to use the next year to add a digital component to my dissertation, visually tracing how individuals and communities crossed borders to create a larger space outside of the control of colonial and post-colonial West African governments. As an educator, I find students are increasingly interested in digital tools to gain and produce knowledge.

Additionally, maps have fascinated me since I was a child. They provide a template that people can understand in a way that explaining work through text cannot always do. This is particularly true when tracing how, when, and where people moved. Explaining that someone moved from Guinea to Gambia means almost nothing to 99.99% of Americans. But when a map represents that movement, it becomes comprehendible. After having conducted 200+ interviews in over 100 communities, I am ready to gain the technical know-how to put my research online, not just for people in the U.S., but for the communities I worked with in West Africa while conducting research. Check back at the end of the year to see how well I did!

You can follow me on twitter at @glovsky, where I post mostly about West Africa.



September 18, 2018

Daniel Fandino and CHI: Second Verse, Different from the First

September 18, 2018 | By | No Comments

Greetings traveler on the great ocean of knowledge that is the internet! My name is Daniel Fandino and I am a second year PhD student in the Department of History at Michigan State University and a 2018 – 2019 Cultural Heritage Informatics Senior Fellow. My research is centered on the study of U.S. – Japan relations with a particular focus on the intersection of popular culture, technology, and nationalism. Before arriving at Michigan State I earned my Master’s degree in History from the University of Central Florida and then spent the next few years living in Shanghai, Taipei, and Tokyo. Although my academic pursuits primarily revolve around history I have been able to explore other areas of personal interest such as fandom and video games by assisting in editing a collected volume of essays on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, contributing to an encyclopedia of Japanese horror films, and writing about dark tourism in the massively multiplayer game EVE Online.

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September 14, 2018

Introducing CHI Fellow Ryan Carty

September 14, 2018 | By | No Comments

I am a second year graduate student in the history department where I focus on African history. My specific focus is on the White Volta and Oti River regions of West Africa from the 1890s to 1960s. I am interested in skilled work in that region and its influence on cultural, social, and political changes.

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September 13, 2018

Why the CHI Fellowship? – Erica

September 13, 2018 | By | No Comments

Digital humanities is experiencing a growing presence in history, but many historians are reluctant to embrace it as more than a method for storing their research or creating graphs. While compiling a digital archive is an important component of the modern historian’s repertoire, myriad digital tools exist to enhance research, presentation, and dissemination. I believe that by ignoring these digital methods, many academics are restricting their potential, both individually and their ability to collaborate with other scholars. So for me personally CHI is an opportunity to locate like-minded scholars, and connect with the academics who are utilizing and developing digital tools.

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