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The Past Fellows

The 2022 Maharam Fellows 

Santiago Alvarado | Tomaquag Museum
BFA 2024 | Industrial Design

Santiago Alvarado is an enthusiastic person, dedicated towards working with people and bringing community together. He is a first-gen Peruvian-American student currently studying Industrial Design and double concentrating between Nature, Culture, Sustainability Studies (NCSS) and History, Philosophy, and the Social Sciences (HPSS). He is interested in systems design, ethnobotany, and storytelling. He currently resides on Narragansett Land and is Quechua of the Andean Region (Arequipa, Peru). This summer, he will be working with the Tomaquag Museum, a space to recognize living history and dedicated to engaging and educating communities about erased indigenous histories. This summer to support their mission, Santiago will be hosting community workshops on decolonial mapping practices and memory as well as working with Native youth. He will also be working to support the expanding the Indigenous Empowerment Network and supporting the work towards building solidarity and community amongst indigenous peoples and nations.
Carmen Belmonte Sandoval | HYPOTHEkids
BFA 2023 | Industrial Design

Carmen Belmonte Sandoval was born and raised in Singapore, of Mexican heritage, and brought up in New York City and Brazil. As an Industrial Designer with a concentration in Nature-Culture-Sustainability Studies at RISD, Carmen is interested in designing for accessibility by providing transparency in her projects that work toward an equitable and regenerative future. Carmen has worked with the Isamu Noguchi and the Guggenheim Museums, where she respectively designed family art activity banners and worked on their first sustainable future research practicum. She questions our public spaces, their uses, and our roles in the community. This summer, Carmen and her partner, Mei Zheng, will be creating a curriculum with interactive and empowering toolkits that facilitate intergenerational education in outdoor spaces with the NYC-based non-profit, HYPOTHEkids, which currently brings science classes to marginalized communities. She contends that there is a disparity in environmental-education opportunities, thus provoking accessible and public interventions that welcome a broader dialogue because it takes the efforts of all generations to contribute to mending our future that gives everyone agency over their lives.
Abena Otema Danquah | Disapora Affairs Office of the President of Ghana
BArch 2023 | Architecture

Abena Otema is an interdisciplinary designer passionate about contributing to the contemporary West-African architectural landscape informed by local practices, material, and spatial thinking specific to climatic and local needs. Raised in Accra, Ghana, her sense of making work that was reflective of the culture and people of the environment grew increasingly as she realized more and more – “what is our future if it’s not reflective of our past?” This summer, she will be working with the Diaspora Affairs Office of the President of Ghana to starts a database exploring Ghanaian Cultural Heritage under three categories: the people and oral culture, local craftsmanship, and local architecture. This will be an ongoing process of documenting their craftwork, enterprises, and experiences through digital and mixed media forms to be shared with the diasporic and local youth. Her hope is for this audience to not only gain a better understanding of the culture and those ensuring its preservation through their artistry, but to generate support and investment in these practices and their continuity.
Helina Yuheng He | LDONGTSOG
BFA 2023 | Industrial Design

Helina Yuheng He is a student of Industrial Design at Rhode Island School of Design, and she concentrates in Theory and History of Art and Design. Born and raised in Guizhou, China, Helina cares about protecting ethnic cultures through creative thinking methods such as museum education and service design. She used to volunteer in environmental protection groups, through which she found meaning in creating humanitarian impacts through design thinking. This summer, Helina will be working with LDONGTSOG, a non-profit Chinese-Tibetan environmental organization in Kehe Village, Sichuan, China, to develop configurations of communication materials that address both their indigenous culture and environment. She will identify LDONGTSOG’s visual cultures and facilitate their public education programs. Helina hopes to use the fellowship to bridge the communication gap between Kehe Tibetan, who has been directly impacted by climate change, and their city audience.
Pei-Yu Hung | Taiwan Youth Association for Transitional Justice and Kiong Seng
BFA 2024 | Industrial Design

Pei-Yu is an interdisciplinary designer from Taiwan, currently studying Industrial Design double concentrating in Nature Culture Sustainability Studies and History Philosophy Social Studies. Throughout her study, Pei-Yu has been focusing on anti-colonial design principles and has been passionate about social justice, transitional justice, and historical awareness. She is interested in storytelling through different media and translation between form and emotions that empower untold stories for marginalized groups. She believes that to move toward the future, we must be grounded in the past and that designers have the power of creating bridges between time and communities. This summer, she will be working with Taiwan Youth Association for Transitional Justice and Kiong Seng on their website and collaborating on a digital mapping project documenting stories on the 228 Massacre in Taiwan. Through this project, information about this historical injustice event can be more accessible online in order to share the unspoken history of Taiwan and reignite the conversation between generations and the land.


Lucia Li | Literacy for Environmental Justice
BFA 2024 | Industrial Design

Lucia is a designer and illustrator exploring the intersection of design, education, and environmental justice within community contexts. As a current Industrial Design undergraduate with a concentration in Nature, Culture, and Sustainability Studies, she hopes to apply some of her academic interest in environmental science and communication towards human-driven process design and on-the-ground environmental justice work. This summer, Lucia will join Literacy for Environmental Justice (LEJ) in her hometown of the San Francisco Bay Area as a designer and educator. Building off the organization’s pre-existing community ties, Lucia will implement design thinking and visual learning strategies to strengthen youth-centric ecoliteracy curricula and make environmental justice more accessible to local marginalized communities. Ultimately, Lucia hopes their work will help build genuine connections between young people and nature — cultivating new understandings based on stewardship, reciprocity, and community while also developing an educational foundation that individuals can draw upon to advocate for their own environmental futures.


Derek Russell | Fundación Raiz
BArch 2022 | Architecture

Derek Russell is an architect, environmental sociologist, and multi-disciplinary artist from Colorado who dedicates his efforts to community driven design as a way to incite resilience. He has worked between art and governance, for various environmental advocacy groups including Brown University’s Climate and Development Lab and the Public Interest Network. He is the founder and director of Creature Conserve’s Mentorship Program. Sumak Kawsay, or ‘good living,’ is an Ecuadorian philosophy that imbues nature with inalienable rights. However, many local communities who embrace humanity in symbiosis with the natural world have been rapidly destroyed by climate disaster and fossil fuel drilling. With Fundación Raiz’s CAEMBA initiative, bamboo architecture employed as a form of disaster relief and mitigation, Russell plans to develop community planning strategies that can help the organization ethically engage in the relocation of their emergency housing to new indigenous communities across the Amazon. He hopes to foster adaptable tools for working between groups without common languages, terrains, and climate to incite other modes of engagement for indigenous sovereignty and women’s empowerment as the organization expands in a warming and disappearing world.


Abenda Sohn | Liberian Community Association of Rhode Island
BFA 2022 | Illustration

Abenda Sohn is a Liberian American interdisciplinary artist whose works explore identity, memory, and Liberia’s history as it connects to his American experiences. These themes capture a dialogue between the viewers and him, which creates a feeling and knowledge he cannot explain but can express visually. His process involves critical academic research, family albums, public archives, and oral communal dialogues. These resources allow him to shift through time; a fragment of moments in time are being assembled with what he creates formally, conceptually, and spiritually. This summer, Sohn will be working alongside the Liberian Community Association of Rhode Island, a small non-profit organization, to help bring awareness to their efforts toward immigration reform through the form of artmaking. Using art as a link will connect personal narratives and advocacy to assist those who need to complete the process regarding their immigration status.
Ruth Wondimu | Green Ethiopia
MArch 2023 | Architecture

Born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Ruth Wondimu is a RISD graduate student in Architecture who is passionate about working towards building a more equitable global society. Throughout her education and working experience, Ruth has developed a great passion towards developing an interdisciplinary understanding of architecture and urban design by looking through the social, ecological, and political lenses of development. This summer, Ruth will be working as the Architectural and Design Correspondent for Green Ethiopia. Green Ethiopia is an organization initiated to create awareness on environmental sustainability with the goal of facilitating discussions around current ecological issues in Ethiopia. With the support of the team, Ruth will be conducting outreach and community organization programs for professionals within the architectural industry as well creating educational platforms to raise awareness on sustainable systems and practices for the public. With this fellowship, Ruth hopes to contribute to a more sustainably aware community of professionals as well as a better-informed public on the benefits and processes of sustainable social and technological practices.
Mei Zheng | HYPOTHEkids
BFA 2023 | Industrial Design

Born in Lenapehoking [Brooklyn, NY] and raised on Lenapehoking/Schaghticoke/Wappinger land [Stamford, CT], Mei Zheng [they/them] is a first-gen, queer, Chinese-American, discursive and experience designer valuing presence, resiliency, and love languages in organizing community-led solidarity and action. Double concentrating in Nature-Culture-Sustainability Studies + History-Philosophy-Social Sciences with Industrial Design at RISD, Mei explores how we care for the earth through degrowth: spatially, emotionally, and materially. This summer, Mei Zheng and their partner, Carmen Belmonte Sandoval, plan to join HYPOTHEkids’s STEAM the Streets initiative in reframing curricula centering on the outdoors for empowerment and healing of intergenerational NYC communities as Public Design Educator and Coordinator Interns. This program works directly with the New York City Housing Authority community to support low-income youth in bridging the gap within STEAM education, located in Harlem, NYC. Together, Carmen and Mei, aim to reaffirm and embrace the need for collective stewardship towards surrounding ecosystems, understanding the history of the land, and designing accessible iterations of – small yet impactful – tools for social intervention. Mei hopes to create space and gain knowledge with HYPOTHEkids, in engaging community-based applications and socially-driven impact.

The 2021 Maharam Fellows 

Kaanchi Chopra | Remake BFA 2021 | Industrial Design Kaanchi is a designer and an activist from New Delhi, India pursuing Industrial Design and Sustainability Studies at RISD. She is passionate about using design as a tool to create social and environmental impact. Through her work, she aims to empower marginalized communities and create sustainable change in people’s lives. This summer, she will be working with Remake as a Digital Content Intern to humanize the fashion industry by putting a face to the 75+ million women who make our clothes. Fast fashion today is synonymous with forced and child labor, and it puts the ecology at risk throughout all steps of the supply chain. Kaanchi will be working on the PayUp Fashion campaign, by digesting research reports and translating them into compelling visual content for the public. She will also aid with the creation of editorial articles, the design of public-engaging infographics, and the collection of worker testimonials. The hopeful outcome of this role will be campaign growth and accruing pressure on apparel brands through education and engagement with the public.
Jasmine Gutbrod | Eating With The Ecosystem MA 2021 | Teaching + Learning in Art & Design Jasmine Gutbrod is an artist, designer, and educator working at the intersection of climate science and social justice. She received her bachelor’s degree in Furniture Design and Nature-Culture-Sustainability studies and is currently pursuing her masters in Art and Design Education. Through physical object-making she studies ecological processes and how natural material properties influence behavior, often conceptualizing the borders between inside and outside spaces. She sees art and design as valuable tools for community building and empowerment, and innovative education as a pathway for those tools. As a Maharam STEAM Fellow, Jasmine will be collaborating with local Rhode Island non-profit Eating with the Ecosystem to investigate the ways that climate change affects our diets. Jasmine will build off of the organization’s current research project “Climate-Resilient Supply Chains: Adapting to Fisheries of the Future” by developing community-centered educational materials on sustainable and equitable seafood consumption.
Jason Hebert | Groundwork Rhode Island MID 2022 | Industrial Design Jason Hebert is an interdisciplinary designer focusing on sustainable systems with a current interest in design for waste accountability and climate justice. Born and raised in Vermont, he has a background in digital media theory and production; however, he now is enrolled as an Industrial Design graduate student with an intent to design for good. As a Design Education Coordinator (joined by Juliana Soltys), Jason plans to join Groundwork Rhode Island’s Green Team Youth Program to add design and systems thinking to its current curriculum. This program works directly with hired youth of color in recovering redlined neighborhoods, located in the Providence metropolitan area of Rhode Island. These coordinators aim to support the high-school aged youth in understanding the history of their communities, discovering ways for articulating solutions, and implementing iterations of small—but impactful—interventions. From this experience, Jason hopes to experience the local impact of grassroots stewardship practices and gain a clearer understanding of the interlaps between social-oriented, bottom-up initiatives and design.
Zibby Jahns | Transform Drug Policy Foundation MFA 2022 | Sculpture Zibby Jahns is an interdisciplinary artist who explores themes of connection and loss within community space through memory, as invoked by debris and objects made sacred. They navigate these themes through performance, illustration, textile and sculpture. The concept of making an offering within their visual art practice is integral to their social practice work. During their MFA at RISD, Zibby has focused their practice on building sculptures that offer resources and solace for those who are grieving. Outside of their art practice, Zibby has spent the past five years working to combat the detrimental effects of the drug war on their New Orleans community through herbalism, harm reduction, affordable alternatives to the medical system, ear acupuncture and group therapy. This summer, Zibby will be working with Transform, a desk-based research organization focusing on the catastrophic effect drug policies have on communities, to create a collection of images corresponding to Transform’s literature to make their briefings and research more accessible to a broader population, and to de-stigmatize some of the misconceptions people have around drug use.
Shreya Kaipa | Sankofa Food and Cultural Initiative BArch 2023 | Architecture Shreya is a spatial designer and organizer who values community-centered design that prioritizes socio-economic conditions of place, and ecology. She is interested in finding ways of working with immigrant communities to create opportunities to celebrate and revive cultural ecological practices through land and space. This summer, she will be working with and learning from the Sankofa Cultural Initiative from the West Elmwood Housing Corporation in the West End of Providence. Sankofa manages a community garden and farmer’s market that positions immigrants to be able to grow and share culturally specific produce. Through conversation with growers, chefs, and vendors, she will work with them to bring awareness to under prioritized communities by proposing a spatial intervention that considers underutilized urban space as a resource. Shreya hopes to create an opportunity for members within food deserted areas to have more access to growing, cooking, and sharing produce that in addition, has cultural significance.
Vrinda Mathur | Social Enterprise Greenhouse MID 2022 | Industrial Design Vrinda Mathur is a graduate student of Industrial Design at the Rhode Island School of Design. She made a pivotal shift in her professional career after gaining entrepreneurial experience with Studio Wood, a furniture design practise she co-founded in 2014 in India. With her academic leap, she aspires to hone her creative abilities to solve larger humanitarian problems through the medium of art, design and thinking in systems. As a Maharam Fellow she will be working with Social Enterprise Greenhouse (SEG), a non profit organisation based in Providence, Rhode Island. She will assist on projects in the realm of community empowerment through the lens of a changing climate. With the fellowship, she hopes to bring voices of historically excluded and marginalised communities to the forefront and amplify systemic inequities that continue to weaken their stature as a stakeholder in climate action policies. She will be working in collaboration with SEG’s affiliate organisations focusing on equity and inclusion, water, energy, and food systems.
Leslie Ponce Diaz | Kansas City Public Schools USD 500, Enough Is Enough BArch 2023 | Architecture Leslie Ponce-Díaz is currently a First-Generation Mexican American student studying Architecture at Rhode Island School of Design with a double concentration in Nature, Culture, Sustainability Studies and Theory and History of Art and Design. This summer, Leslie will be returning back to her hometown in Kansas City, Kansas to work with an initiative created by her past school district called, Enough is Enough, whose aim is to raise gun violence awareness within the KCK community. Leslie will be pursuing community building within the initiative, Enough is Enough as well as her community organization, First-Gen Chisme to help provide First-Generation and BIPOC students the necessary resources for post-secondary education. Leslie is a proud member of RISD’s Latinx club, Mango Street and RISD NOMAS. She continues to explore her passions in architecture, community, and education through her involvement as a RISD Museum Spalter Teaching Fellow, Newman Civic Fellow, and First-Gen Chisme. She will also be dedicating a part of her summer in the Brown University B-Lab in hopes of creating a non-profit tech app with First-Gen Chisme!
Kate Reed | BosLab BRDD 2021 | Industrial Design / Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship Kate is a Boston-based designer building wearable technology leveraging the principles of nature to connect humans and computers. She built her first wearable when she was 13, before the introduction of the Apple Watch. Since then, she has designed, engineered and built hundreds of wearable computers. After becoming the first graduate of the MIT-backed NuVu Studio, Kate received two undergraduate degrees, one in Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship at Brown University and the other in Industrial Design & Computational Technology at The Rhode Island School of Design. Her designs and inventions have been featured at the White House, New York Fashion Week, Museum of Design Atlanta, the Hackaday Superconference, MIT Museum, and more. This summer, Kate will be working at BosLab, a community built molecular biology lab in Cambridge, MA, as their artist in residence. She will be researching bacteria in search of a planet-friendly alternative to traditional textile dyeing methods.
Juliana Soltys | Groundwork Rhode Island MID 2022 | Industrial Design Juliana is an interdisciplinary designer with an interest in agriculture, systems thinking, and sustainable design. She comes from a mechanical engineering background and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Industrial Design, focusing on food systems, video production, storytelling, and education. This summer, Juliana Soltys and her classmate, Jason Hebert, will work with Groundwork Rhode Island (GWRI) Green Team Youth in the Providence metropolitan area as Design Education Coordinators. Working with the Green Team Youth leaders and hired youth, they will incorporate design thinking and systems-centric & solution-finding skills into the preexistent curriculum to develop environmental stewardship design proposals. The goal is to increase the youths’ agency and autonomy by understanding the history of their communities, designing solutions, and engaging in effective action. Juliana hopes to gain knowledge by working with a grassroots organization and learn from a community-based philosophy.
Avantika Velho | Living Systems Laboratory BFA 2021 | Industrial Design Born and raised in Goa, India, Avantika is an interdisciplinary designer and inquisitive thinker fascinated by the intersection and integration of design, science, and technology. Her studies in Industrial Design and concentration in Nature, Culture, and Sustainability Studies at RISD fuel her passion for designing sustainable, accessible, and regenerative future technologies. Through her work, she seeks to explore our intricate living world and translate her understanding into meaningful products, systems, and interactions that encourage curiosity and facilitate shifts in people’s mindsets and behaviors to help create lasting socio-ecological impact. This summer, Avantika will be working with the Living Systems Laboratory in South Grafton, MA as a researcher and designer. She will immerse herself in the laboratory’s bioremediation research and subsequently work to design a more interactive lab experience that connects observers to the invisible natural systems they might encounter. Additionally, she hopes to develop ways to engage the local community in the regenerative work being done at the lab to help improve the facility’s role as a community resource for environmental remediation and applied ecological education.
The 2020 Maharam Fellows 
Yunni Cho | Lighting Detectives
BFA 2021 | Interior Architecture

Born in Seoul, South Korea, Yunni Cho provides design as a solution to solve socio economic problems within the existing space. Yunni is a dual degree student at Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). At RISD, Yunni is majoring in Interior Architecture, practicing adaptive reuse. At Brown University, Yunni is double concentrating in urban studies and cognitive neuroscience. With her unique combination of degrees, she hopes to explore the interdisciplinary nature of design and question the boundary of space through its history and perception. Through the Maharam Fellowship, Yunni is hoping to apply her design skills towards solving the problem of global light pollution, therefore developing new ways to approach sustainable lighting.
Chetan Dusane | Panvel Municipal Corporation
MID 2021 | Industrial Design
Chetan hails from Nashik, India where he completed his undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering. He has worked for five years on Lighter-Than-Air & Unmanned Aerial Systems research & design at the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, India. He is a hands-on experimentalist who enjoys inter-disciplinary, systems-based design. He believes sustainability should be central to design practice rather than an end goal. Design for him is critical, catalyzing and provocative, a superpower with a world of responsibility. This summer Chetan will be working with Panvel Municipal Corporation, India, to develop a problem identification and establishment framework, as a tool to comprehend Sensory Overload, its multi-dimensional attributes and their interrelations, in select public spaces in the city of Panvel. This work will be an attempt at introducing Design/Systems Thinking in the corporation’s process of developing overload mitigation measures and policies for public spaces across the city. Chetan wishes to explore the complex, systemic and real-world problem of Sensory Overload to understand Strategy/Systems Design better.
Holly Gaboriault | RI Historical Society
MA 2021 | Global Arts and Cultures
Joining the inaugural Global Arts and Cultures MA program, Holly Gaboriault returned to RISD to expand upon her ongoing work exploring multivocality and layers of process in history, design, and cultural narratives. Holding a BFA in Illustration, storytelling is a vital thematic element in her work spanning design, art direction, curation, documentary filmmaking, and interdisciplinary production. Coinciding with the women’s suffrage centennial, Holly will work with the Rhode Island Historical Society researching a multimedia archive, including film, documents, and textiles to connect diverse stories of women who pioneered civic and cultural leadership in early Rhode Island history. This project continues her work exploring hidden histories that provide context, leadership of thought, and empowerment where ideas and innovation grow and expand with stories that cross cultures, religions and generations. Crafting contemporary relevance for the future within the contexts of the past, through this Fellowship Holly intends to activate the archives through projection, film, and contemporary interviews to produce a multiphonic platform illustrating how people contribute to a place, how they shape it, and how it ultimately shapes them in extraordinary ways.
Kevin Hubbard | Government of Yukon, HRU
MFA 2020 | Digital Media
Kevin Hubbard is a research-based transdisciplinary visual artist, designer, systems thinker, educator, and meditator who advocates for personal, social, and global sustainability. An alum of RISD, Emily Carr University, The Cooper Union, and Vancouver Film School, over the summer of 2020 Kevin will investigate the unique circumstances surrounding the Yukon Ice Patches in Canada’s westernmost territory. Thousands of years old, the Ice Patches are windblown snow accumulations that are now melting—due to climate change—and are revealing exceptionally preserved Indigenous archaeological artifacts, some more than 9000 years old. He will liaise with the Government of Yukon (Heritage Resources Unit), six self-governing Yukon First Nations, local industry members, NPO arts and community organizations, and UNESCO delegates. He will further these groups’ efforts to research, document, and educate the public about the Yukon Ice Patches, their cultural, economic, and climatological significance, and he will critically examine their groundbreaking consensus-based and collaborative working relationships.
Aisha Jandosova | Federal Hill House Association
MA 2020 | Teaching+Learning in Art and Design
The Zapatista ideal of a “world where many worlds fit” is at the heart of Aisha Jandosova’s practice as a designer, educator and human. In her work, Aisha explores how intergenerational making in public can challenge the ways that older adults’ lives are pushed out of sight. As 2020 Maharam STEAM Fellow, Aisha will design and facilitate Her Story Press, a feminist publishing project at Federal Hill House senior center in Providence, that will engage older women in art-making, storytelling and discussion, and culminate in a collaboratively-produced zine about their lives, in the past and present. By placing low-income, older women of color in positions of artists and creators, providing these women with creative means and, via self-publishing, a platform for voicing their opinions and personal stories, through Her Story Press, Aisha hopes to make space for individual and collective wellbeing, empowerment, and visibility for this multiply marginalized community.

Eli Kauffman | Wasatch Community Gardens
BFA 2021 | Painting
Originally from Salt Lake City, Utah, Eli Kauffman is a fine artist who will be collaborating with the non-profit organization Wasatch Community Gardens, in their home-town. The fellowship centers on a public art project designed to increase community engagement in an overlooked area of the city. Building on a shared understanding of permaculture, Eli will co-produce a mural with members of Wasatch Community Gardens’ urban farm, a unique garden location centered on providing job training for women experiencing homelessnes. Additionally, using their experience with curation and the local arts scene, Eli will advocate for the finished work to be integrated into a Salt Lake Gallery Stroll event. Through this process Eli strives to provide an artistic outlet for these women, while also using their painting education to represent a marginalized community. The public art project in combination with the publicity of the Gallery Stroll will increase community involvement and blur the lines between artistic and agricultural spaces.

Kiki Nyagah | African Economic Summit
BFA 2022 | Industrial Design
Kiki Nyagah is currently studying Industrial Design at RISD and Cognitive Science at Brown University. Having built a multi-disciplinary career that spans across NGO programming, business development, and product management, she is interested in expanding her practice into User Research and Multi-channel Service System Design for technology futures. Kiki will be serving as a user researcher and design strategist for Africa Economic Summit (AES). Alongside the AES’ team of engineers, researchers, business strategists, and developers, Kiki will be harnessing the initiatives of the cross-disciplinary team to deploy a high traffic digital product system that can support global networking. Sharing the vision of creating stronger systems to connect the world to economic potentials on the African Continent, Kiki is proud to be architecting and deploying specialized value-driven digital ecosystems that dare to reimagine socio-economic infrastructure for the 6th wave of technology
Valeria Ramirez Ensastiga | The Hunger Project
MA 2021 | Nature Culture Sustainability Studies
Possessing a background in industrial design, urban agriculture and environmental education directed to young children, Valeria Ramirez Ensastiga is currently studying a MA in Nature-Culture-Sustainability Studies. Valeria has worked as a curricular and product designer on several projects whose main objective was to develop local communities and to promote a healthy lifestyle by collaborating with schools, cultural centers and urban gardens. Driven by her passion for food sovereignty, Valeria will collaborate with The Hunger Project (THP) Mexico, an organization that fights against malnutrition in indigenous communities of Mexico, by training women and young adults to become leaders and empowering them through the construction of a self-sufficient community. Deploying her skills as a designer and a sustainable scholar, Valeria will develop educational materials to support the Environmental and Climate Education programs that THP fosters with the objectives of improving the well-being of the communities she will work with and also building resilience against future threats from climate change such as droughts or the loss of crop diversity.
Hannah Suzanna | Prarie Creek Conservation Cemetary
MFA 2021 | Digital Media

Hannah will work with Prairie Creek Conservation Cemetery (PCCC), an organization in Gainesville, Florida that maintains protected land, offers the highest standard green funerals, and allows loved-ones to participate directly in grave digging and burial of the deceased. They will organize presentations to increase awareness that PCCC offers affordable, environmentally supportive, and ceremonially diverse funerals. Hannah will give presentations based on learnings from the organization and their past artworks which involved guided death reflections. Additionally, they will conduct artistic research comparing the burial practices at the cemetery with those desired by her family. Hannah is from Humboldt County, CA and earned their BFA from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. In 2016, they moved to New York where they worked on art pieces including The Benefits of Contemplating Death and the Descent Experience. They are currently an MFA candidate in RISD’s Digital + Media program where they are researching the interconnection between death, disintegration, and their family’s connection to their home. They have exhibited in LA, NYC, Providence, and Boston, and have co-curated a show at Boston Cyberarts.
Satya Varghese Mac | Sylvia Rivera Law Project
BFA 2020 | Sculpture
Satya is driven by the urgency of those who are excluded from current structures of power and justice. As an artist, filmmaker, and activist, Satya’s work is informed by the realities of inequity that are both quotidian and unacceptable. Satya aspires to converge the practice of art, political advocacy, and activism in a way that can work to build futures that are independent of violence and inequity. As an intern, Satya is excited to learn about and support the work of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project to protect transgender and gender non-conforming peoples’ freedom to self-determination and safety. Working with the Movement Building Team and the Prisoner Advisory Committee, Satya is excited to offer skills in storytelling and data representation to collaborate on infrastructure that works towards a future of freedom of expression, safety, and freedom from mass incarceration for transgender and gender non-conforming people.
The 2019 Maharam STEAM Fellows 
Sarah Alvarez | IntegrateNYC
BFA 2020 | Illustration
As an illustrator engaging with design and communication, Sarah Alvarez approaches her practice with an understanding that a cultivated narrative can and should serve as the backbone to any work. This summer she will apply this perspective to her collaborative work with IntegrateNYC, a non-profit organization based in NYC that is primarily led by students in high schools throughout Manhattan and the Outer Boroughs. These student activists and their adult allies advocate for racial integration in NYC schools and in schools across the nation. Sarah will be acting as an artist/designer in residence for INYC, working in tandem with the student leaders and adult allies in order to develop a consistent narrative and aesthetic that will drive all future demonstrations and outreach, in addition to bringing design thinking to all legislative, educational and development work being done during those summer months.
Enrico Giori | ABCittà
BFA 2021 | Architecture
Born and raised in the outskirts of Milan, Italy, Enrico Giori is a candidate for a BFA and BARCH at the Rhode Island School of Design. Enrico seeks to use architecture as a tool to facilitate a wide array of human relationships, and therefore is a firm believer that the voices, opinions and visions of users –past, present and future– of a project are paramount to its success. During his Maharam Fellowship, Enrico will be working in Milan with ABCittà, a social cooperative made up of professionals with different skills and expertise in participatory planning. Enrico will focus on the development, facilitation and analysis of city planning workshop initiatives, helping architects, urban planners and city officials hear the voices of the residents of low-income social housing neighborhoods. Additionally, Enrico will assist with the development of new cultural initiatives in the Milan area, which hope to foster new forms of dialogue and collaboration between cultural institutions and people of all backgrounds.

Joyce Kutty | Tenaganita
MDes 2019 | Interior Architecture
Joyce Kutty is an interdisciplinary artist, musician and designer from Rhode Island. As part of MDes Interior Architecture: Exhibitions and Narrative Environments department at RISD, her thesis is focused on the personal narrative, using hybridized methodologies of storytelling to bring contextualization of intangible cultural heritage to museums and other historically hegemonic institutions. Her work for the Maharam Fellowship will be a continuation of her thesis, investigating and learning more about public policy advocacy for domestic workers in Malaysia and other neighboring countries of Southeast Asia. She will be partnering with Malaysian NGO Tenaganita (“Women’s Force” in Malay), and will be working with women at their shelters and craftswomen from the Myanmar refugee community to create an exhibition exploring the oppressive nature of gendered labor, the rich traditions of womanhood, and all things outside and in between.
Cornelia Overton | Walk Bike Nashville
MLA 2020 | Landscape Architecture
Cornelia Overton came to RISD’s Landscape Architecture program with a background in cultural anthropology, environmental studies, carpentry, farming, and time spent volunteering with cycling and environmental groups. With landscape architecture, she hopes to promote beauty, health, and equitability in the world from an ecological perspective. Originally from Smithville and Nashville, Tennessee, Cornelia cares deeply about advocating for positive urban design in the Southeast. This summer at Walk Bike Nashville, Cornelia will work with activists, bureaucrats, and community members to develop a citizen’s guide to the politics and decision-making around their streets in order to empower Nashvillians to advocate for much-needed public space and transportation amenities in a rapidly growing, car-centric city. In addition, she looks forward to working with the organization as they prepare for community design workshops envisioning improved open space and active transport infrastructure.
Eden Tai | Taiwan Tong Cao Association
BFA 2019 | Photography
This fall, Eden will be teaming up with Irene Wei to research the plant Tong Cao (tetrapanax) and its usage in making Pith Paper. Pith Papermaking is both a traditional craft important to Taiwanese culture and a more sustainable process than pulp papermaking. Most of the documentation regarding pith paper is written in Chinese, and the English literature that is available on the subject is written from a colonialist perspective. Eden and Irene will be the first known artists of Taiwanese descent writing about tetrapanax and Pith Paper in English, and they will produce educational resources which represent Taiwanese culture and the craft more respectfully than previous iterations. The team will be working with the Taiwan Tong Cao Association to learn about the harvesting and usage of Pith Paper. Irene, a skilled papermaker, will focus on learning and teaching while Eden will lead the production of a short, bilingual documentary.
Irene Wei | Taiwan Tong Cao Association
BFA 2019 | Furniture Design
Irene Wei is completing her degree in Furniture Design with a concentration in Nature Culture Sustainability Studies. In addition to her studies at school, Irene is a dedicated papermaker who studies various traditional papermaking methods to investigate how they can be applied in sustainable and practical ways within her furniture practice. This summer, Irene will be partnering with Eden Tai to document and facilitate research on a plant called  Tong Cao (tetrapanax) and its uses for the near defunct craft of Pith Papermaking. Since 1993, Pith Papermaking has hardly been practiced in Taiwan due to plastic’s rise to material predominance. The very little documentation about Tong Cao and Pith Papermaking offered in English are written from an orientalist lens that exoticizes Taiwanese culture. Using photography, videography and translational skills, they will archive knowledge about the methods of harvesting Tong Cao and making Pith Paper. They will partner with the Taiwan Tong Cao Association and the local Hwa Yuan tribe to revive this tradition and document it respectfully.


Yiyi Wei | Wildlife Conservation Society, China
BFA 2019 | Glass
Yiyi Wei is an interdisciplinary artist interested in perceiving connections between entities—to find a poetic intermediate space, where interconnectivity and interactivity between lives is possible. As a Maharam Fellow, Yiyi will be travelling back to China to work with the Chang Tang branch of the U.S.-based conservation organization Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). The Chang Tang plateau, located in the west of Tibet, has a special climate formation due to high elevation. Disruption as the result of climate change has led to the disappearance of wildlife, alterations in landscape, and conflicts between herdsman and wildlife. Working with WCS, Yiyi is researching and exploring water as a medium that interconnects the habitants of Chang Tang. Through observation, interviews and material investigations, Yiyi wants to find that intermediate space, where she can bear witness to the changing water, and to the entities that are interconnected because of this material. Yiyi hopes that with documentation of her experiences at Chang Tang, she can initiate conversation and education with a greater audience.
Raina Wellman | Volunteers in Medicine
BFA 2019 | Graphic Design
Raina Wellman is an interdisciplinary artist and designer who works with public health, communication, and community engagement. Raina has worked at the Santa Fe New Mexican Newspaper, the American Museum of Natural History, MGMT Design, and the Los Alamos National Laboratory. During this summer’s Maharam Fellowship, she will be working with Volunteers in Medicine and the New York Health Department to study health service practices in the U.S. as a response to healthcare coverage issues and community health needs. Using her experience in brand identity creation, writing, and public engagement, she will work to collaboratively create scalable, user-friendly, and playful design outreach that fits the needs of both organizations. Through exposure and hands on involvement, she hopes to develop an artistic practice that responds to public health advocacy and outreach, and elevates design’s changing roles in healthcare promotion. She will also create a publicly accessible archive relating to material gathered on healthcare inequity, design solution making, and grassroots approaches toward providing better healthcare.
Jisu Yang | Providence Parks Department – Roger Williams Botanical Center
BFA 2021 | Architecture
Jisu Yang is a designer who explores intersections between social engagement and gardening practices. As 2019 Maharam Fellow, Jisu is working with the Parks Department from the City Government of Providence. With The Parks Department, she will be engaged in creating a platform that increases accessibility and communicability of public gardening and farming for immigrant families in the city. As urban agriculture in Providence was initiated by refugees, cultural diversity in the city is manifested by the practice of gardening by different communities. The essence of the project is to map existing gardens to enhance public awareness and allow the city to better advocate for community engagement in urban agriculture. By implementing way-finding systems and organizizing events for cross-cultural interaction, Jisu aspires that this design can increase the interaction among different communities in Providence.
The 2018 Maharam STEAM Fellows 
Adam Chuong | Direct Action for Rights and Equality
MID 2019 | Industrial Design
Adam Chuong is a designer and organizer whose work explores the intersections of designed objects, storytelling, and personal narrative. This summer, they will be partnering with Direct Action for Rights and Equality (DARE), a Providence-based community organization that mobilizes low-income families in communities of color for social, economic and political justice, to combat gentrification and the displacement of low-income communities of color. DARE is currently pushing a for a ballot initiative that would mitigate Providence’s housing crisis, save tenants money, promote community stability, incentivize the creation of affordable rental housing units and investment in the city’s low-income communities of color, and improve landlord-tenant relations. Adam will work with DARE to develop tools and strategies to document and promote community member narratives of a sustainable and equitable future for Providence, with the overall goal of supporting DARE’s ballot initiative.
Micah Epstein | Providence Department of Planning and Development
BFA 2019 | Industrial Design
Micah is an advocate for equity in sustainable transportation and a self-labelled bike geek. He will be working this summer with the City of Providence in the Department of Planning and Development. With experience as a freelance graphic and web designer, a passion for the relationship between equity and sustainable transportation, and a penchant for local action, he will help to design and implement two new sustainable transportation projects: a bicycle/pedestrian corridor called the Providence City Walk, and an e-bike share program. Micah will be using human-centered design concepts and techniques to make city planning, a discipline with a reputation for opacity and bureaucracy, more accessible and equitable to the diversity of citizens living in and moving through Providence. By working on projects with a variety of timelines at a variety of scales, Micah hopes to create designs ranging from education and advocacy to permanent signage and infrastructure.
Nakeia Medcalf | African Alliance of RI
MDes 2018 | Interior Architecture
Straight out of Milwaukee, WI, Nakeia Medcalf has always been driven to fulfill her personal civic responsibility– engage with the community and find new ways through design to do so. Upon completion of her Master of Design in Interior Studies, Nakeia aims to continue her analysis of existing architectural conditions as they relate to economy, race and history to empower communities through a design practice that speaks to an audience of people of African heritage and beyond. Working with the African Alliance of Rhode Island, Nakeia will facilitate workshops in Afrofuturism and how this concept can be implemented to provide social solutions for a local site on the Lower South Side of Providence. Through participatory interviews, conversations and workshops, the community of the African Alliance of Rhode Island will explore ideas of self-design, self-build, self-surveillance and self-governance through a hands-on approach.
Sara Naja | Karam Foundation
MArch 2019 | Architecture
Sara aims to apply the methodologies and practices often embedded in architectural practice to social work. She believes in the universality of the discipline of architecture and sees opportunity for the architectural skill set to be applied in areas where it is often needed. In response to the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis, Sara will deploy her skills as an architect to provide opportunities for Syrian refugee children to achieve their goals and strive towards brighter futures. Over the summer, Sara will intern with Karam Foundation, a non-profit organization whose aim is to restore dignity and quality of life for people affected by conflict by eliminating barriers to success through innovative education, entrepreneurial development, and community-driven aid. Sara’s internship will begin in Lebanon where she will document and analyze the effects of a playground built in the refugee camps of Bekaa. She will then travel to Turkey and continue her work at Karam House, a community workspace that helps provide education for refugee kids in the fields of science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics. She will apply her thinking methods and background to influence the children by personal mentorship and group workshops.

William Samosir | Strong National Museum of Play
BFA 2018 | Sculpture
Born and raised in Indonesia, William Samosir is an interdisciplinary artist and experimental technologist who is excited about alternative affordances in the realm of computation. As a concentrator in Computation, Technology, and Culture in RISD, he has created multiple experimental technological tool-objects that honor spatial and bodily knowledge, therefore paving ways for computational systems to be worn, performed, and embodied. This summer, William will be working with the Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, NY as an artist-in-residence to build further upon this line of inquiry. He will be conducting hands-on research with the museum’s play artifacts and the collection owned by its sub-department—the International Center for the History of Electronic Games. Together with the museum’s various departments, he will venture into developing an alternative, object-based educational language that teaches computational literacy through spatial thinking and collaborative play—a model which he hopes can be eventually disseminated and recontextualized in different educational institutions. Ultimately through this internship, William is hoping to contribute towards shaping and reorganizing computational language beyond the strictly logical and mathematical, therefore expanding the medium’s creative access and inclusiveness.

K. Sarrantonio | Make The Road NY
MFA 2018 | Printmaking
K. Sarrantonio is an artist and activist from the Hudson Valley, NY. They will receive an M.F.A. in Printmaking from Rhode Island School of Design in 2018. K. studied printmaking at SUNY New Paltz, Mount Holyoke College and UMASS Amherst, and received their undergraduate degree in Art from Hampshire College in 2007. K. has been a member of the Robert Blackburn Printmaking Studio, The Lower East Side Printshop and The Printmaking Center of New Jersey. As a Maharam Fellow this summer, K. will be working at Make the Road NY, a member led organization that works to build the power of immigrant and working class communities. At Make the Road, K. will be engaging in a silkscreen printing project with the Youth Power Program. The process of building printmaking facilities and learning to design images for print aims to empower the youth to create their own messaging for posters and signs that will impact the greater community.
John Shen | Age Concern
BFA 2019 | Photography
John Shen is a photographer and painter from New Zealand interested in the future of how our society is changing and evolving. As a RISD Maharam Fellow, John will be travelling back to his homeland to work with the New Zealand based non-profit, Age Concern. By collaborating with this nationwide organisation, John plans to document and photograph some of the rapidly growing number of citizens who are over 65 and approaching their twilight years. As increasing life spans globally push the percentage of our population over 65 ever higher it is important to think of this issue not simply in a quantitative manner but to also add a human face and perspective into the discussion. By interviewing and documenting the realities of their lives as seniors, John hopes to explore the issue of the aging population in a more qualitative way as well as investigating the intrinsic challenges and problems faced by these senior individuals.
Bobby Joe Smith | Save Money Save Life
MFA 2020 | Graphic Design
Bobby Joe is a Black and Native designer from the Hunkpapa and Oohenumpa Lakota tribes. Raised in North Dakota and Minnesota, he ventured to Vermont after high school to earn a B.A. in Philosophy and Political Science from Middlebury College. After a number of years working in public policy, consulting, photography, computer programming, and advertising, he decided to merge his multi-disciplinary background and passion for creating by earning a post-baccalaureate degree in Graphic Design from the Maryland Institute College of Art. He used this foundation in design to take a deeper dive into the discipline by pursuing his masters in Graphic Design at RISD. Bobby Joe loves designing systems and using design thinking to solve big problems with diverse groups of people. Thanks to the Maharam Fellowship he will be able to engage in both this summer in Chicago with the SaveMoneySaveLife (SMSL) Foundation designing a visual identity for the organization as well as conducting workshops with members of the community to develop SMSL programs.
Juan Javier Syquia | NASA Ames Research Center
BFA 2021 | Graphic Design
Javier is currently studying Graphic Design at RISD and Chemistry at Brown University, and is invested in developing and finding relationships between the two fields of STEM and Art & Design. Javier will be a part of the Stanford-Brown-RISD iGEM 2018 Team that will be focusing on building a synthetic cell at the NASA Ames Research Center. By conducting this research, the team is aiming to understand the basis of evolution of life on earth, or even alternative pathways in evolution, and may continually research its implications. Some questions that arise are – what is the difference between a protocell and life naturally occuring on earth? Is it possible to produce protocells that do not undergo evolution? Additionally, Javier will be creating all necessary designs for the team that will be essential to their success in the International iGEM 2018 Competition. Javier is excited to extrapolate his design skills to a completely new realm. He is thrilled to see how designing around complex scientific ideas will change his process and lead to innovative outcomes.

Kalina Winters | Women’s Campaign International
BFA 2018 | Painting
Kalina is a 2018 graduate from RISD’s painting department. She uses flatness as a metaphor to show the idea that women and other marginalized people are powerful despite the confinements they have to navigate around. She creates 2D vs 3D works, both pictorially depicted and physically executed in sculpture. The protagonists she creates are just a sliver of space yet packed with information, depth and care- a concept reflected in the paper itself. She will be teaming up this summer with Women’s Campaign International (WCI) in Philadelphia to create an art exhibition for the local community. WCI is an organization dedicated to transforming communities for the better by inclusion and support of women. She hopes to do the same for the arts community and to raise awareness for this NGO. Kalina wants to provide a platform for women to show their work and steer conversations. It will also hopefully lead to lasting engagement with the arts for everyone involved.

Gavin Zeitz | Journal of the North Atlantic and Arctic
MLA 2018 | Landscape Architecture
Gavin Zeitz came to landscape architecture from a diverse background in cultural geography, ecological economics, and community design. He seeks to position landscape architecture as a critical tool for understanding our messy global systems and as a common language for connecting people to their everyday environments. Originally from Maine, Gavin has long been interested in northern geographies and for the past two years has focused his research on the dynamic changes currently reshaping the Arctic. This summer Gavin will work in Reykjavik, Iceland with the Journal of the North Atlantic and Arctic (JONAA), a multifaceted media platform providing regional and global stakeholders with information and insight into the current events of the broadly defined Arctic. Gavin will be helping JONAA map the network of Arctic agencies and stakeholders to produce a communal tool to understand the interconnected web of Arctic knowledge, promote collaboration across disciplines, and ultimately work towards a unified and resilient North. He looks forward to traveling around Iceland to observe the relationship between the experience of cultural landscapes and spatial characteristics of infrastructure.
The 2017 Maharam STEAM Fellows
Lauren Campbell | Lowtech Magazine
MFA 2018 | Graphic Design
Lauren is a graphic designer passionate about the intersection of design, art and social change. Previously, she has worked with arts and community organizing nonprofits in the US and Chiapas, Mexico. Together with Marie Otsuka, she will be working with Lowtech Magazine to investigate alternatives to rapid technological advancements and how these may be implemented into public policy. Based out of the Netherlands and Spain, Lowtech Magazine questions the current role of technology and studies its social and environmental implications, drawing on historical and contemporary techniques and practices to propose solutions. She will work with Marie to synthesize the research as an accessible resource, resulting in a content-organization system, a new physical and digital publication platform, and an expanded audience for the magazine.
Sophie Chien | Providence City Hall
BArch 2020 | Architecture
Sophie is an intrinsically community driven person, exploring how to create “overlap” spaces where community can be created through architecture. She is interested in researching specific intersections of global policy, geography, ethnography and institutional equity in the context of civic design. Given the current political climate, Sophie believes there is an undeniably urgent need to strengthen trust in civic institutions by reaffirming the responsive and accessible capability of local government. This summer Sophie will be working in Providence City Hall, in the Mayor’s Center for City Services, to apply design thinking to the bureaucratic structure of municipal government. By infiltrating the “you gotta know a guy” culture and redefining internal silos, Sophie hopes to make city hall more approachable through data visualization and transparency.
Anne Keating | FABSCRAP
BFA 2017 | Textiles

A lover of strange materials and complex structures, Annie is working to complete her BFA in Textile art and design.  Her practice is informed by an acute awareness of the environmental and humanitarian issues that exist within the current system of textile production.  She believes that designers are responsible for taking an active role in re-envisioning the ways we make and dispose of our clothing.  After working last summer for a small run knitwear manufacturing facility focused on supporting sustainable and ethical apparel design, Annie received unique insight into the many barriers that face the industry in becoming more ecological and socially responsible.  This summer, she will partner with FABSCRAP, a nonprofit in New York City working to reuse and recycle pre-consumer textile waste.  Annie is excited to be a part of this emerging industry, and is looking forward to better understanding the ways that nonprofits can not only increase awareness by educating designers and citizens, but also take an active role in shifting systems of waste.  She is looking forward to researching new technologies in fiber engineering and recycling as well as connecting with designers and students with the shared goal of building a more responsive and responsible industry.  Annie enjoys dresses with pockets, likes knitting tiny turtles for her friends and loves hearing passionate people talk about their work.

Molly Millette | Age Friendly DC, Office of the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services
BFA 2018 | Industrial Design
As a student of Industrial Design concentrating in Global Processes, Molly is excited by participatory design and design’s place in public policy. As a RISD Maharam Fellow this summer, Molly will travel to Washington DC to work with the city’s Age Friendly DC initiative through the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services’ Office. In a collaboration between other city-wide initiatives and the DC Office of Planning with the the Age Friendly DC initiative, Molly hopes to explore how universal design principles and other user-centered design theories can be applied to social structures. Through her work with Age Friendly DC, Molly will help the initiative work towards meeting the World Health Organization’s requirements for an Age Friendly City and address how information about available resources and opportunities can be more successfully distributed to residents. By using her user-based research skills to propose tangible solutions under a variety of constraints, Molly hopes the experience will aid her in becoming a designer who straddles lines of public policy and urbanism.

Ana Mosseri | Southside Community Land Trust
BFA 2017 | Furniture
Ana Mosseri is a graduating senior studying furniture design. This summer she will be working with the youth employment team at Southside Community Land Trust in Providence, Rhode Island to explore ways that design can change the way we learn about food systems. Using her spatial design skills and practice of learning through making, she will work with high school students at the Somerset Hayward Youth Enterprise Farm to culminate what they’ve learned through their program. Ana will assist both the full time staff and the youth staff to explore ways that we can internalize knowledge about food systems and change behavior using design. As global and social climates continue to shift, it is important that we all work together to think critically about our everyday interactions with food systems and how they are connected to our economy, social issues, the environment, and health.

Zenzele Ojore | Big Beyond
BFA 2018 | Photography
Zenzele Ojore is a photo and film student finishing her junior year in photo at RISD. This summer, she will be interning at the nonprofit organization Big Beyond, an organization in the Kisoro district of Uganda that aims to integrate the conservation of the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park with sustainable development of the local Batwa Pygmy communities that border it. Her goal is to work collaboratively with a small nonprofit organization while learning how they navigate humanitarian and conversation initiatives in a remote location. She will apply her skills in media creation to inspire creative development within the organization for future outreach initiatives. Her unique method of interpreting the world around her and presenting it visually has been able to reach people from around the world. The opportunity to support Big Beyond in the development of their current outreach program is an amazing opportunity to merge art with global, social, and environmental impact. She plans for this partnership to inform her future creative projects and influence her outlook on art’s ability to evoke social and environmental change.
Marie Otsuka | Lowtech Magazine
MFA 2018 | Graphic Design
Marie Otsuka comes from an interdisciplinary background — having worked for a sustainability non-profit, a design consultancy, and IT organization. Together with Lauren Campbell, she will be partnering with Low-Tech Magazine to investigate sustainable alternatives to technological advancements and how these may be implemented into public policy. Based out of Amsterdam and Barcelona, Low-Tech Magazine questions the current role of technology and studies its social and environmental implications, drawing on historical practices to propose solutions. She will work with Lauren to document and synthesize their research into an accessible resource: the outcomes of the collaboration will include a content organizational system, a new physical and digital publication platform, and an expanded audience for the magazine.
Mudita Pasari | Help Earth
MA 2017 | Art Education
Mudita Pasari is a Spatial and Narrative Designer, who works with creating accessible and long term impact design strategies. Over the past few years, her work has been exploring the possibilities of using powerful narratives to generate awareness about social and environmental concerns. She will be spending the summer in her childhood town in north-eastern India, creating strategies for documenting urban biodiversity with school children. The pressing concern of urban biodiversity and the ecological balance due to human activities disturbs her. She believes that getting students excited about researching and documenting biodiversity could help address this concern in the long term. She wants to create a scalable system and will be developing activity based learning programs for the students. She will also be developing a documentation system so that all the urban biodiversity information gathered can be used for more balanced urban development projects in the future.
Anthony “Ute” Petit II | Akoaki, O.N.E Mile Project
BFA 2018 | Textiles & Industrial Design

Utē has been seeking ways to address municipal issues through performative, temporal and spatial interventions. Being from the Detroit area, he is interested in the ways racial and class constructed divisions continue to shape urban America. This summer, he will join a diverse community of urban activists, residents, and planners, on the O.N.E. Mile Project in Detroit’s North End, working to sustain the cultural vibrancy and ensure equitable redevelopment in the neighborhood. He intends to learn experimental strategies of community engagement, and modes of interfacing with city government. By the end of the summer, the group intends to have a phased master plan submitted to the city of Detroit, produced with input from residents and project partners. Utē is a proud member and leader of RISD’s Black Artists and Designers (BAAD), and the Brown/RISD club: Space in Prisons for Arts and Creative Expression (SPACE). He also co-organized the “Not Your Token” protest and teach-in alongside Olivia Stephens (IL ’17) and Chantal Feitosa-Desouza (FAV ’18) demanding issues of systemic racism and institutional access be addressed here at RISD. He also loves airplanes.

Lee Pivnik | BioSphere 2
BFA 2018 | Sculpture
Lee Pivnik is a visual artist from Miami, Florida. He is currently obtaining a BFA in Sculpture at RISD with a concentration in Nature–Culture–Sustainability Studies. He rejects bleak forecasts with a humorous, colorful and queer aesthetic that manifests itself through inventive and organic forms. Working predominantly in sculpture, photography, and video he is focused on deconstructing our perception of nature as “exotic, pristine and other.” He will be working this summer in Oracle, Arizona at Biosphere 2.  Biosphere 2 is an iconic living laboratory built to model the planet’s interconnected ecology with 5 simulated biomes. Complete with a rainforest, an ocean, mangrove wetlands, savannah grasslands and a desert, the facility becomes metaphor for the planet itself, and the experimental work done here can be scaled up and implemented to solve global issues. Lee will serving as the Artist In Residence for Biosphere 2, and will also be constructing an artist engagement program for the institute so that Biosphere can implement a program that brings in new artists annually to advance the institute’s mission of science-communication. While his interest began with reflecting on the same ideas of containment, utopia, and artifice that built the foundation of Biosphere 2, Lee is mainly invested in this project now because (more than ever) we need improved environmental science education, and art must play a vital role in that development.
The 2016 Maharam STEAM Fellows
Natalia Blanco | Fundación Amistad
BFA 2016 | Sculpture
Born and raised in Miami, Florida, Natalia is concluding the final year of her BFA in Sculpture. She will be collaborating with her long time friend and colleague, Nicholas Fernandez, to aid Fundación Amistad and the World Monuments Fund in their efforts to better communicate and develop sustainable and financially feasible approaches to the preservation and revitalization of two endangered historical sites, El Vedado and the National Art School. Her photo documentation and research will serve to advocate for communities within Havana that lack adequate funding and resources to preserve these sites. She will gain experience collaborating with urban planners, conservators, economists, activists, entrepreneurs, and locals working to shape Cuba’s future while preserving its history and voice. Together, Natalia and Nicholas will also be working on a publication that archives the ingenuity and  resourcefulness of the Cuban people through bricolage objects and their unusual beauty. Natalia believes that artists play a vital role in the observation, dissemination, and creation of culture and their perspectives remain integral to missions like that of Fundación Amistad and the World Monuments Fund.
Callie Clayton | GenSpace
BFA 2017 | Textiles
As an artist and designer, Callie thrives on listening, observing and seeking understanding. She strongly believes in interdisciplinary collaboration as a pathway for sustainable innovation and educational opportunities. Based on her belief in the integral relationship between art and design and science, this summer Callie will collaborate with Genspace, a community biolab in Brooklyn, New York, to investigate the importance of public access to biotechnology education and consequent changes in biotechnology regulatory policy. Through research and involvement in Genspace’s biotech classes and community, she will explore how public access to science education empowers individuals to pursue scientific innovation, how governance structures deal with fast-paced technologies and information access interactions between the government, media and citizens. Callie hopes to initiate more conversations about the societal and ethical implications and human-centered design opportunities biotechnology offers. Currently, Callie is on the planning committee for the annual A Better World by Design conference and is a project leader for the Brown and RISD BioSTEAM organization. She is an avid environmentalist with a love for carrots and spontaneity.
Chris Cohoon | Cadence International/US Marine Corps Installations Pacific Command
MA 2016 | Art Education 
While developing a project for a social enterprise in Nepal, Chris discovered the power of Fine Art and Design skills as problem solving and community building tools. Chrisʼ time at RISD allowed him to research Design Thinking for creative community development. As a RISD Maharam Fellow, Chris will be building an Empathic Design-centered leadership program for US Marines and high school students stationed in Okinawa, Japan. Participants will learn creative processes emphasizing empathy, collaboration, conflict resolution, and problem solving through researching, designing, and manufacturing stand up paddle boards. The curriculum developed during this program will be available as a leadership tool and adapted for use by organizations working with underserved communities around the world.
Lucille Crelli | Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island
BFA 2017 | Apparel Design
As a proud feminist artist, Lucille is studying Apparel Design with a concentration in Gender, Sexuality, and Race to explore how art and design can be used to address social justice issues. She is taking advantage of her time at RISD to influence campus change alongside her peers as president of the RISD Global Initiative and co-founder of RISD SHARE (Sexual Health and Relationship Educators). The skills she has learned through her campus activism led to the Maharam Fellowship with Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island, a Providence-based organization that works with refugees and immigrants to aid the transition into a new home. Through the use of art “empowerment” sessions, this project will allow DIIRI to address the emotional needs of their clients and introduce arts programming as part of their wide array of services. Lucille will also take advantage of these sessions to conduct research on the role social entrepreneurship and community partnerships can play in successful resettlement, and will use this research to complement DIIRI’s services and inform her Apparel Thesis Collection.


Evan Daniel | Dynamic Robotics Lab, Oregon State University
MFA 2017 | Digital Media
Originally a painter, Evan Daniel has incorporated robotics and programming as an integral part of his artistic practice over the past several years.  A driving force for this research has been complex tensions inherent in robotics such as interaction, authorship, and knowledge.  It was with this in mind that Evan contacted the Dynamic Robotics Laboratory (DRL) at Oregon State University.  The DRL is a site of cutting edge robotics development — a place where dilemmas arising from new technologies can be analyzed before they become part of our daily lives.  Evan’s work will address the ethical, social, and political dilemmas arising from the research at this site.  His approach will address both public policy (think of the complex issues brought about by self-driving vehicles) as well as the nature of the laboratory’s research.
Josephine Devanbu | The California Institute for Water Resources
BFA 2016 | Painting + Science And Society (RISD/Brown)
Josephine will work with California farmers impacted by drought to create maps, drawings and writings that explore their experience of groundwater use. Between trips to farms scattered across the state, Josephine will return to the Oakland headquarters of the California Institute for Water Resources where she will assemble multimedia features about each farmer. The Institute will publish these visual stories of identity and adaptation on their news blog The Confluence. She hopes that adding images from farmers’ perspectives to existing maps and models will contribute to a greater understanding of the social dimension of groundwater use. Josephine grew up in the Central Valley, surrounded by some of the nation’s most productive farmland. She looks forward to reporting on how farmers conceive of the underground aquifers that kept her aboveground childhood green.
Nicholas Fernandez | Fundación Amistad
BFA 2016 | Sculpture
Nicholas Fernandez is a first generation Cuban American completing his BFA in Sculpture. He will be collaborating with colleague and companion, Natalia Blanco, to contribute to the preservation and documentation of Cuban culture during this time of significant political and social change. Through this fellowship, he will be a part of Fundación Amistad and the World Monuments Fund’s mission to raise international awareness of two endangered historical sites, El Vedado and the National Art School. The long-term goal is to develop technical and financial aid for their preservation. Along with his partner, he will be responsible for gathering research and case studies relevant to each urban project, photo and video documentation of the sites, as well as event planning and programming for the Watch Day in Havana. He hopes to understand how a non-governmental organization develops hands-on strategies for tackling issues pertinent to international relations. Together, Natalia and Nicholas will also be working on a publication that documents local bricolage objects and reflects the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the Cuban people.
Qi Guo | St. John’s Vocational Training Centre
BFA 2017 | Architecture
As a senior architecture student at RISD, Qi is well aware of the great potential and responsibility of the profession he chooses. He believes an architect should also be an active social participator in order to maximize his/her value and contribution to the society. Inspired by the previous winter travelling experience in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka with Professor Lili Hermann, Qi, this summer, will go back to the district and cooperate with students and teachers from St John’s Vocational Training Centre (SJVTC). Together, they will explore the possibilities of the future housing in local community. Their exploration will include the experiments with unconventional building materials and techniques as well as the discussion and imagination of the ideal future living space. Qi holds the strong belief of the significant role of design education plays in retrieving the underprivileged regions in the world. Through the interaction with students, he wants to sparkle the student’s creativity and bring the design thinking he developed at RISD to SJVTC.
Bo-Won Keum | Books to Prisoners
MFA 2017 | Graphic Design
Bo-Won Keum is a storyteller currently pursuing her MFA in Graphic Design. This summer, she will partner with Books to Prisoners in Seattle, WA, a non-profit that receives and responds to letters from prison inmates across the US who ask for books. There, she will help develop a global archiving strategy for keeping records, restriction lists, and reading materials in order, traveling to various other prison book donation programs in the US in the process. She will also design a resource guide designed to be distributed inside the prison system, along with a personal document that holds interviews that she will conduct with volunteers and designers that considers the politics of what it means to give a book to someone.


Yuko Okabe | Boston Children’s Hospital
BFA 2017 | Illustration
Born and bred in Nutley, New Jersey, Yuko Okabe has always possessed a great connection to narrative and how she can create emotive work that reaches out to people. This Summer, she will collaborate with Boston Children’s Hospital and its Psychiatry Department’s start-up, Neuro’motion, to research and interact with staff to help create mobile therapy games for children struggling with mental health illnesses and disabilities. She has proposed this project as a response to both the growing attention needed for better mental healthcare as well as her personal connections and history. As an illustrator, she wants to learn how these analyzations can help create suitable storytelling and relatable characters that will stimulate patient motivation and development of coping skills. By interacting with health scholars and children at in-patient and out-patient facilities, this project will help her better understand the sensitivities surrounding mental health. Yuko has always loved working with children: she has volunteered as a TA and instructor for local Providence schools and organizations. On a final note, she likes hedgehogs, curry, and collecting postcards.
The 2015 Maharam STEAM Fellows
Kate Aitchison | United States Geologic Survey / Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center
MFA 2016 | Printmaking 
Growing up on the Colorado Plateau and working as a river guide, artist, and environmental educator for the past seven years, Kate Aitchison has used her variety of experiences to make connections between her art and her environment.  For Aitchison, it is a desire to further the conservation dialogue and engage communities in protecting the environment that inspires her to explore how environmental science can inspire her work. This summer, Aitchison will work with the United States Geologic Survey in Flagstaff, AZ to develop imagery describing the ecological systems along the Colorado River corridor for scientific and creative work. She will also work in conjunction with USGS and partner organization Grand Canyon Youth, to reintroduce art into developed science programs for youth river trips on the San Juan and Colorado Rivers.
Lyza Baum | Class Act
BFA 2016 | Textiles
As an emerging artist, Lyza believes that textile design can empower communities, create solutions for environmental concerns, and drive economic development. This summer, Lyza is partnering with fellow Textile Design major Emilie Jehng, to investigate whether or not natural dye processes can be both environmentally sustainable and economically viable. They will be traveling to Bohol, Philippines to collaborate with Class Act and Tubigon Multipurpose Weaving Cooperative to identify indigenous dye plants and incorporate natural dye processes into the weaver’s textiles. She hopes that this initiative will inspire communities to reevaluate and commune with their natural land resources in a respectful and resourceful way. In 2014 Lyza joined DESINE-Lab and helped compile research for a sustainable textile initiative for war widows from the civil war stricken region of Sri Lanka. She is also co-founder of Floating Garden, a public textile installation fostering community engagement and highlight the importance of green space in Central Falls, a city recovering from bankruptcy. Lyza was born and raised in Rhode Island. She has a deep love and respect for nature, cozy sweaters, and fortune cookies.
Joseph Fellows | Great Sand Dunes National Park
BFA 2016 | Sculpture 
Raised in Wisconsin, Joseph Fellows is concluding his Junior year of his Sculpture BFA. During the past two summers he has spent August driving through the continental U.S. taking photographs and experiencing the American Landscape. Twice he found himself in Southern Colorado in the San Luis Valley taking pictures in the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. Since then he has searched for a means to contribute to the monumental task of preserving the natural spaces that we have left. In the summer of 2015 Joseph will be returning to the Dunes to demonstrate the capabilities 3D scanning has to offer the National Parks, as well as other natural spaces, in order to help record and preserve the fragile resources within their boundaries. He will be working to create a scanned archive of both natural and cultural objects both digitally and physically through 3D printing. These archives will enable him to investigate how this technology can be a tool for both artists and naturalists to reconsider how the natural world can find it’s way into places like studios and classrooms.
Harini Gona | SaveLife Foundation
BFA 2016 | Furniture
Harini is interested in using design towards socio economic change. Through this fellowship, she will be promoting public transportation as a strong direction towards decreasing traffic accidents, as an increased level of safety in a society, further profits an economy. In her home country, India, she will be researching the current safety measures established in the transportation sector in India, to evaluate the cause of  an increasing number of transit based accidents. She will be working with SaveLife Foundation; a non-governmental organisation based in Delhi, that is a strong force working towards road safety both by training the police force and volunteers in post-accident response and helping draft laws to be presented in the parliament towards the same cause. This will help her develop a strong foundation and knowledge of the intricacies involved in influencing public policy in a country with diverse interests- and a strong participatory democracy, which she will use in the future to create an increased awareness of the importance of design in the transportation industry.
Emilie Jehng | Class Act
BFA 2016 | Textiles
This summer Emilie Jehng, in partnership with fellow Textiles major and friend, Lyza Baum, will be researching the economic and environmental feasibility of the natural dye process in Bohol, Philippines. Working with Class Act, Emilie and Lyza will explore dye plants indigenous to the island, and collaborate with the Tubigon Loomweavers Multi-Purpose Cooperative to develop avenues for naturally dyed fibers within the Co-Op’s woven fabrics.  She hopes that their project sparks initiative for the community to commune with available land resources, and further promotes the revitalization of local cottage industries in Bohol.  Emilie firmly believes in the ability of textiles to empower communities, create sustainable solutions spearheading environmental concerns, and to stimulate economic development. Originally from San Jose, California, Emilie Jehng is fond of indigo vats, seventy-degree weather, and popcorn.
Drew Ludwig | Telluride Arts District
MFA 2015 | Photography
Drew Ludwig is a regionalist, artist, activist, and mountain guide.  He has worked as a Creative Consultant for Patagonia, a Videography/Photography Assistant at National Geographic, and as a muralist specializing in large scale, ecologically-minded installations.  After completing his MFA in Photography at the Rhode Island School of Design, Drew will return to his hometown of Telluride, Colorado, to address a local housing crisis through the development of a quarterly newspaper, The Dumbsaint.  Utilizing art and design as methods of creative problem solving, the paper will provide Telluride with an alternative media voice, introducing political concerns through an absurdist visual sensibility while examining creative place-making and community ethos.  The Dumbsaint will engage Telluride locals in a generative public discourse with an aim to examine and improve the housing and cultural needs of the community.

Emily Winter | Envision Unlimited MFA 2015 | Textiles Emily will spend the summer in Chicago working with Envision Unlimited, a social services agency that serves adults with developmental disabilities. She will focus on the revitalization of a small, currently defunct, weaving mill owned by Envision. She will work with Envision’s clients to create a textile skill building curriculum which focuses on developing the skills needed to pursue individual creative projects and to earn income working for the weaving workshop. She will also scale up her weaving knowledge and learn how to run the industrial weaving equipment. The long-term goal is to develop a unique workshop model which fosters collaboration between artists, designers, and craftsmen regardless of markers of ability and disability. The Maharam STEAM Fellowship is supporting the first chapter of what will be an ongoing project centered on advocacy, community integration, and innovative incorporation of art and design into the social services.

The 2014 Maharam STEAM Fellows
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 Maharam STEAM Fellows
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 Maharam STEAM Fellows
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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