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The 2014 Fellows

The 2014 Maharam STEAM Fellows are working in arenas not typically associated with art and design students and have the opportunity to effect real change in policy and practice in local and global organizations and communities. As part of the program, fellows blog about their experiences throughout the summer and make a final report to Maharam about what they discovered through their internships.
Adria Boynton | Massachusetts Port Authority
BArch 2015 | Architecture 
Adria is interested in the human aspects of architecture: how design can improve the spaces and structures that we interact with each day.  This summer Adria will be working in Boston, in Massport’s Department of Capital Programs & Environmental Affairs, studying the role of design in resilience.  Resilience is an emerging field.  Its development indicates a transition between a defensive approach to emergency management and an offensive approach.  These two strategies mark the difference between waiting for a disaster to strike and recovering afterward, versus preparing for a disaster preemptively.  As a Maharam Fellow, Adria will study Massport’s infrastructure and potential vulnerabilities, compile a taxonomy of design approaches to resilience, and draft design guidelines based on her findings.  By developing resilience recommendations for future disaster scenarios, Adria hopes to encourage a creative role within this critical field.
Patricia “Patchi” Dranoff | Porvir
BFA 2015 | Industrial Design 
Patchi loves talking, listening and connecting. She feels that design can be used as a means of action and communication. This past January, Patchi worked with RISD’s DESINE-Lab to bring opportunities to Sri Lanka’s war torn north. She was also on the planning committee for the annual A Better World by Design conference and continues to be involved in collaboration efforts between Brown and RISD. She feels strongly that successful design is about synthesizing many aspects of one’s environment and applying a variety of disciplines toward problem-solving.  This summer, she will be joining Porvir in Sao Paulo, where she is originally from, to compile a resource for education media accessible to all. The objective of her project is to create a document that wills serve as a guiding resource for Brazilians interested in education policy and news from around the world. With the upcoming Brazilian presidential elections, Porvir is working to provide the best coverage of each candidate’s education platforms. Patchi is thrilled to work in this dynamic environment, and will keep you posted with regular updates!
Gabriela Epstein | Three Mile Island Alert
BFA 2016 | Illustration 
Gabriela is passionate about environmental issues and how art can be used to influence social change and spark progressive legislation. This summer she will be conducting research with Three Mile Island Alert, a Harrisburg-based non-profit organization, to commemorate the 35th Anniversary of the Three Mile Island nuclear accident. The research will include interviewing members of the community affected by the accident and visiting several nuclear facilities including TMI, Susquehanna & Peach Bottom station. The research will be used to create a graphic interpretation of these people’s stories to be released as a web-comic series, and later published for distribution by TMIA, in an effort to spread awareness of nuclear power to younger generations. As a Harrisburg native who grew up in the shadow of TMI’s cooling towers, Gabriela hopes to provide her generation with a humanistic window to the accident and nuclear energy, which will hopefully sow the seeds of empathy and prudence in the nation’s future energy policy-makers.
Blake Hiltunen | Maine State Beekeepers’ Association
MFA 2014 | Sculpture
Originally from New Hampshire, Blake is currently concluding his MFA degree in Sculpture. After graduating from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in 2008, Hiltunen worked for artist Marguerite Kahrl in the north of Italy before returning to New England where he operated the custom powder coating shop Colortec in Portland, ME. It was here he was introduced to Master Bee Keeper Erin MacGregor-Forbes. This summer Blake will be working with Ms. MacGregor-Forbes on the design, construction and presentation of a mobile observation honeybee hive. The hive’s intent is not only to support and display a living colony of bees but also to draw public attention to the relationship honeybee health has to biodiversity and sustainable food sources. Accompanying the hive will be a series of prints distributed to the public with images and information about simple, inexpensive ways to support the honeybee.
Hannah Koenig | The Collaboratory
BFA 2014 | Printmaking and International Relations (RISD/Brown)
Hannah Koenig is motivated by a desire for positive social impact and a curiosity about systems and processes of communication. Beginning this summer, Hannah will continue her career in public service as the Designer in Residence at the Collaboratory, a new public diplomacy initiative in the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The Collaboratory seeks to integrate virtual technologies into ECA’s cultural exchange programs, develop new pilot programs, and connect the State Department with technology companies and public intellectuals. In addition to advocating for design thinking in government, Hannah is passionate about athletic endeavors, high-top sneakers, and printed ephemera, especially banknotes.
Whitney Oldenburg | Mayo Clinic-Jacksonville
MFA 2015 | Painting
Whitney Oldenburg is interested in how the fine arts are applicable to scientific and medical fields. With the launch of the Affordable Care Act, and the recent focus on individual health care, she sees this as pivotal time to focus on what health care really means. This summer she will conduct a research project in the Pain Rehabilitation Center at Mayo Clinic Jacksonville to see if critical art making can produce biological improvements in patients suffering from chronic pain. Through this research, Whitney not only hopes to substantiate the impact critical art making has on medical fields, but she hopes that her pilot study will help enrich the dialogue surrounding health insurance, patient satisfaction, and hospital budgeting. Whitney also feels that it is important for artists to look not just to other artists and art history, but have a more encompassing approach to art making. Whitney’s upcoming project in Mayo Clinic Jacksonville is a testament to that. 
Zoya Puri | Adhyayan  MLA 2014 |Landscape Architecture Originally from India, Zoya Puri is synthesizing her backgrounds in Architecture and Landscape Architecture by studying the impact of spatial design on social interactions. This summer Zoya is working with Adhyayan, a community-driven NGO on issues of social inclusion and empowerment of marginalized communities of the urban villages of New Delhi. She is using her graduate thesis to test the impacts of the design of public space on the type and quality of human interactions, and by implication, the efficacy of the designer as an agent of change. It is this work that she will try to further this summer – identifying design strategies that allow negotiation of urban conditions that are unfamiliar or perceived as threatening, as well as those that foster community, collaboration and respect. Her interest in socially conscientious design has also inspired her work with RISD DESINE-Lab’s initiative in Sri Lanka on the physical rebuilding and livelihood development efforts within war-impacted communities, as well as her personal work on animal rights issues in India.
Mariya Sitnova | National Museum of American History
MID 2015 | Industrial Design 
An amateur Lego enthusiast and avid people-watcher, Mariya is interested in all things 3D. She came to RISD after receiving her Bachelor’s degree in Bioengineering to expand on her technical foundations with human-centered product design. Her work at RISD investigates 3D printing applications both through experimenting with its technical capabilities and exploring its societal implications. This summer, Mariya will be working with educators at the National Museum of American History and the Smithsonian X 3D (SIx3D) initiative. Her role will focus on designing learning modules for K-12 students to interactively engage with digital versions of historical artifacts by bringing them into the physical realm through technologies like 3D printing.
Allison Wong | NuLawLab
BFA 2015 | Industrial Design and Urban Studies (RISD/Brown) 
As a Brown/RISD Dual Degree student, Allison believes in the potential for interdisciplinary collaborations to create meaningful and sustainable impact.  This summer, she will be bringing her passion for community-driven design and persuasive storytelling to the emerging field of legal design, exploring how user-centered design strategies can improve the delivery of legal services and increase access to justice.  She will be working with the NuLawLab – Northeastern University School of Law’s innovation laboratory – to investigate unmet legal needs in Rhode Island with a design approach.  This work will support the current efforts of the law firm DeLuca & Weizenbaum in cooperation with Roger Williams University School of Law to launch a public interest law center in the state.  When she’s not in class, Allison can be found running the RISD/Brown Design for America studio, thinking about models of university/community partnership at the TRI-Lab, and looking for pugs to play with.

The 2013 Fellows

The 2013 Maharam STEAM Fellows are working in arenas not typically associated with art and design students and have the opportunity to effect real change in policy and practice in local and global organizations and communities. As part of the program, fellows blog about their experiences throughout the summer and make a final report to Maharam about what they discovered through their internships.
Leah Erica Chung | Plan International BFA 2014 | Industrial Design Leah Chung is passionate about applying a user-centered design approach to the often top-down, Western-dominated field of international development. This summer she intends to focus on the severe communication gap between Africa and the West. More specifically, she will address “poverty porn” – the obsession with using high shock-value words and/or images when portraying women and children in developing countries. In partnership with senior advisors from Plan International and Ugandan social entrepreneurs, Leah will conduct primary bottom-up research in Uganda. Through this research, she hopes to substantiate the downside of typical Western media representations of Africa and contribute to better representing African thought in the West. When not thinking about ways to solve global issues through design, Leah likes to play soccer, read the paper or groove to Beyoncé and Motown tunes.
Bianca Diaz | Project NIA BFA 2013 | IllustrationBianca Diaz strives to connect with people in ways that are mutually empowering. She believes that if people are to be happy and independent, they need the support of strong communities. Using art and education as her tools, she strives to collaborate creatively with these communities. This summer Bianca is working with Project NIA in her hometown of Chicago, supporting the organization’s goal of getting communities involved in creating effective strategies to address violence and crime, and put an end to youth incarceration. Her goal is to write, illustrate and disseminate a children’s book that addresses the impact of incarceration on families. In recognizing that strong relationships make for more successful transitions from prison to home, she hopes that the book will become a valuable tool in building supportive relationships between incarcerated parents and their children.
Michael Jacobs | Lower Eastside Action Plan (LEAP) MArch 2014 | Architecture This summer Michael Jacobs is working with the Lower Eastside Action Plan (LEAP), a community-driven project to transform vacant Detroit properties into useful spaces that improve the quality of neighborhood life. Working with LEAP and residents of the city’s Lower Eastside, he will use green infrastructure and environmentally responsible design to create aesthetically appealing spaces. Born and raised in the Detroit area, Michael grew up surrounded by modest, working-class people who show great pride for their city. He studied architecture in and around Detroit before finding a second home in Seattle. During his four years on the West Coast, he worked at several architecture firms and refined his photography work. Michael has spent much of his free time outdoors on the lakes of Michigan and in the mountains of Washington, and always seizes any opportunity to explore new landscapes. He has backpacked through rugged landscapes in Montana, Colorado and Hawaii, and his art and design interests reflect his love and respect for nature.
Lizzie Kripke | Marine Biological Laboratory BFA 2014 | Painting/Neuroscience (RISD/Brown) Originally from the suburbs of Philadelphia, Lizzie Kripke is currently enrolled in the Brown/RISD Dual Degree Program. She is motivated by the desire to better understand, describe and respect nature, and is interested in new methods of science communication and education. As co-director of Synergy, an MIT-based program that promotes partnerships between fine artists and research scientists, she’s able to pursue her special interest in fostering a mutually beneficial relationship between artists and scientists. In the summer of 2012 Lizzie began working with Roger Hanlon at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA, where she helped develop digital, three-dimensional visualizations of the biological mechanisms underlying dynamic camouflage in cephalopods. This summer she’s continuing her work at MBL and is also working on a body of fine art based on this research. Before getting involved with the Marine Biological Lab, Lizzie assisted and led large-scale mural projects in Philadelphia. She enjoys endurance sports, yoga, healthy/sustainable cooking, music, friends and family.
Kelsey Lim | Rhode Island Board of Elections BFA 2014 | Graphic Design This summer Kelsey Lim is partnering with fellow Graphic Design major Keela Potter to build on the presidential election initiative they mounted last fall. Called RISD Votes, the initiative aimed at encouraging, educating and assisting RISD students through the voting process while also raising awareness and promoting political involvement within the community. This summer Kelsey and Keela are working with Rhode Island’s Board of Elections and Elections Division to research and pinpoint areas in which design can be used to improve how elections are run throughout the state. Originally from Andover, MA, Kelsey served as vice president of the Undergraduate Student Alliance and as a member of the student Design Guild. In addition to spending time with family and friends, she likes making lists, collecting nostalgic ephemera, drinking tea and eating highly caloric foods.
Nupur Mathur | Integrated Development Education Association (IDEA) MFA 2014 | Digital + Media Nupur Mathur is an Indian national currently pursuing her MFA in Digital + Media. Prior to coming to RISD she completed an undergraduate program in visual communication and digital video production at the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology in Bangalore, India. She also worked in Delhi for four years – as a freelance visual communication artist who established her own design studio with three partners. This summer Nupur will work with fellow RISD MFA candidate Bathsheba Okwenje on a joint internship with the Integrated Development Education Association (IDEA), an NGO based in India. In the wake of the much-publicized December 16, 2012 gang rape and murder of a young woman on a public bus, they intend to create an online platform to stimulate dialogue about gender politics and sexual violence in India. The platform will present audio and visual interviews with a wide range of Indian citizens about how and why the tragedy happened and more generally about how social and cultural norms in India enable sexual violence. As a multimedia artist and thinker, Nupur creates work that centers around public space – be it virtual or physical – and wrestles with issues relating to what constitutes public space, privacy, ownership, belonging and identity. She is also inspired by and concerned with fundamental notions of time and space and how humans relate to these notions.
Ryan Murphy | World Economic Forum BFA 2015 | Industrial Design Originally from Philadelphia, Ryan Murphy came to RISD to pursue Industrial Design. He is passionate about the role of design on a global scale and is currently working on international development projects in India and Sri Lanka, government and industry research for the STEM to STEAM movement at RISD, visual process mapping on the effect of Islam on democracy and design in South and Southeast Asia and a commodity exchange platform and asset database for emerging economies at the MIT Media Lab.This summer Ryan is working at the World Economic Forum on its Rethinking Personal Data project. He will work directly with Bill Hoffman, who is leading the project for the WEF, and jointly collaborate with Intel Labs on mapping personal data worldwide. The focus of the project will be on protection and security, rights and responsibilities for using data, and strengthening accountability and enforcement – all areas where design thinking can play a huge role.
Bathsheba Okwenje | Integrated Development Education Association (IDEA) MFA 2014 | Digital + MediaPrior to coming RISD, Bathsheba Okwenje – a native of Uganda – spent 11 years with the United Nations in countries in Europe and Africa focusing on advocacy and communications efforts related to HIV and AIDS. This summer Bathsheba will work with fellow RISD MFA candidate Nupur Mathur on a joint internship with the Integrated Development Education Association (IDEA), an NGO based in India. In the wake of the much-publicized December 16, 2012 gang rape and murder of a young woman on a public bus, they intend to create an online platform to stimulate dialogue about gender politics and sexual violence in India. The platform will present audio and visual interviews with a wide range of Indian citizens about how and why the tragedy happened and more generally about how social and cultural norms in India enable sexual violence. Using a variety of media – including photography, video, audio, cartography and sewing – Bathsheba creates installations and other works that explore the interior lives of people and the interactions between them.
Keela Potter | Rhode Island Board of Elections BFA 2014 | Graphic DesignKeela Potter co-founded RISD Votes with fellow Graphic Design junior Kelsey Lim in response to the lack of political engagement and voting resources on campus. Keela and Kelsey recognized the need for an initiative that would provide students with the necessary tools to cast their ballots in the 2012 general election and would highlight the role of design in government. This summer they are teaming up again to work with the Rhode Island Board of Elections and the Secretary of State’s Elections Division to help analyze current voting systems and processes in order to propose design solutions that will improve the government’s efficiency and its communication with citizens. Keela was raised in Minneapolis, MN. When not busy in her studio, she can be found working for the RISD Museum’s Family + Youth programs or planning ambitious undertakings like the 2013 A Better World by Design conference.
Eliza Squibb | Grupo Interdisciplinario Amazonia BFA 2013 | TextilesAs a textiles artist and designer, Eliza Squibb is interested in the intersection of textile arts and cultural identity. During her summer internship with the Grupo Interdisciplinario Amazonía, she is documenting the textile production of the Shipibo-Conibo people, an indigenous Amazonian group in Cantagallo, Perú. This community uses traditional textile production as a tool for economic gain and cultural visibility. This spring Eliza designed a textile in collaboration with Providence-based immunologist Annie De Groot, head of EpiVax and the GAIA Vaccine Foundation. The goal of this project is to raise awareness of cervical cancer and encourage screening and vaccination at the Gaia clinic in Bamako, Mali. At RISD Eliza’s abiding interest in the intersection of art and science has led her to work as an artist in residence at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA and as a student researcher at RISD’s Nature Lab.



The 2012 Fellows

The 2012 Maharam STEAM Fellows interned with a wide range of organizations that readily recognize the tangible contributions art and design students make to the work they do. Read more about the inaugural group of fellows and the internship partners who welcomed them during the summer of 2012.
Ayodhya Ouditt | NPR Science
BFA 2013 Industrial Design
Ayodhya will focus on the creation of visual storytelling techniques, which can take complex topics in science and health and make them understandable, engaging and accessible to the public. Ayodhya is an artist, writer and designer, focusing on social entrepreneurship – using design principles to address complex social and environmental problems. Science and nature are his obsessions, and illustration and photography are his tools for storytelling.
Olivia Foss | National Defense University, STAR-TIDES
MID 2012 Industrial Design
Olivia’s project will focus on international and domestic development efforts, using strategic design thinking to effect sustainable, positive change in the way we make, produce and consume. STAR-TIDES (Sharing To Accelerate Research-Transformative Innovation for Development and Emergency Support) is a research effort that promotes sustainable support to stressed populations. Olivia earned an undergraduate degree in Liberal Arts (with a focus on New Media studies) from the Evergreen State College and is interested in how new forms of participatory engagement can help guide and inform the design process. Olivia was raised in Fargo, ND and issues relating to changing relationships between farmer, food and environment are of special interest to her. Her master’s thesis borrowed techniques from the disciplines of foresight, performance art and critical design to speculate about the future of trash, food and farming as it relates to the maintenance of soil health.
Giles Holt | City of Providence
MArch 2014 Architecture
As a Maharam Fellow, Giles is working with the city of Providence, RI to find effective methodologies to engage residents in creative problem solving. As a student Giles organized A Better World by Design, an annual three-day conference focused on the power of design to positively affect our built and social systems. While working at Sasaki Associates last summer Giles designed an open platform for city level policy makers to publish and receive feedback from residents as they work through policy decisions. Giles’ interest in the Maharam STEAM Fellowship stems from an unrealized level of constructive engagement with existing inquiry generated by RISD and Brown to affect policy decisions for Providence, RI.
Joseph Escobar | City of Providence
BFA 2013 Industrial Design
Joe and his team at RISD’s 2nd Life (an art supply and materials recycling source) meet with key leaders in the public and private sectors to determine creative ways that upcycling (the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality / higher environmental value) can be integrated into the community. The goals are to empower youth and reduce landfill waste. Born and raised in Southern California (a westcoaster at heart), Joe has a twin and is the youngest of five children. Every summer he reads the Calvin and Hobbes anthology, enjoys cooking and loves eating.
Samantha Dempsey | Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation
BFA 2013 Illustration
Samantha will use this unique opportunity with the world’s only imbedded design group to function within a live clinical setting to participate in a learning process where designers and doctors work together to create ideas and products that are neither art nor medicine. Samantha is a rising senior in illustration and the daughter of two engineers in Massachusetts. She studies healthcare at Brown University in addition to her studio courses at RISD and believes that the best ideas come through collaboration. Samantha is always on the lookout for the gray areas where art and science combine and once designed a card game based on early Victorian germ theory. Her favorite microorganisms are daphnia.
Andreas Nicholas | GlobeMed
BFA 2013 Film/Animation/Video
Andreas will collect and communicate the incredible stories that embody the change that the GlobeMed network promotes. GlobeMed is a network of university students that partners with grassroots organizations around the world to improve the health of people living in poverty. Through their involvement today, students commit to a life of leadership in global health and social justice. Andreas believes in the power of stories and that artists and designers are uniquely positioned to tell these stories in ways that are beautiful and accessible to wide audiences. As the son of two architects, design has been an intrinsic part of his life since birth. Through a small documentary that he produced with Paul Farmer on Partners in Health’s new hospital in Haiti, his involvement with GlobeMed, and his studies of and visits to Haiti, he has come to realize that health is not simply a medical issue but a human factor that allows people to live well. His goal is to use film and design to convey this idea by evaluating the root causes of issues through ethnographic filmmaking, including these stories as an integrated piece of the data that aid organizations use to evaluate where they place their funding and ultimately adding a humanistic layer to information that is so often simplified and pared down.

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