Welcome to our virtual Newcomb Scholars Symposium. The work you see here represents the culmination of a four-year journey of learning and leadership. The academic scope of projects speak volumes for these students’ investment in research and interdisciplinarity. Even in the midst of an international pandemic, the Class of 2020 followed through on their commitment to the program and each other by completing their work on their individual projects. On this page, you will see each Scholar’s research presented via video from her home. Though the cohort has dispersed around the world, they remain connected to Tulane University and Newcomb Institute.
I am incredibly proud of these students and their resilience. As you can see from their biographies, they are bound for great things. I invite you to watch their presentations, ranging from comparative politics to international labor relations to environment studies and neuroscience. I know you will be as impressed as I am. Wishing you all health and peace,
Dr. Aidan Smith
Director, Newcomb Scholars Program
Alejandra González Vargas is from Mexico City, though she lived many years in Monterrey, Mexico, and is currently a senior pursuing a B.A. in Anthropology and a B.S.M. in Management at Tulane University. Thanks to the Newcomb Scholars Program’s encouragement, much incredible faculty support from across Tulane, and the resources of many generous university grantors, Ale pursued studies and research in St. Martin, Paris, and Jerusalem over the course of her college career. Throughout, she narrowed her interests to post-colonial cultural identity, immigrant integration politics, and intercultural communication and xenophobia, which culminate in her Newcomb Scholars Senior Project. These studies also led Ale to serve as a Youth Delegate for the Permanent Mission of Mexico to the United Nations in October 2019, where she represented her country’s interests to the Second and Third Committees of the UN General Assembly. She presently serves as a Finance & Operations Associate at Libraries Without Borders, a D.C.-based nonprofit focused on education and digital equity, where she also interned in the summer of 2019. Ale hopes to pursue a professional career that promotes intercultural communication, international cooperation, and the value of cultural heritage.
Blaze D’Amico is a New Orleans native and a graduate of St. Scholastica Academy. She will graduate from Tulane with a double major in Philosophy and French and a minor in Art History. Through funds from CELT and NCI, she has conducted research in Berlin and Paris on the influence of technology in contemporary art. She studied abroad in Paris at the Sorbonne, and in 2019 was one of the first two Tulane students to be certified in Professional French through the French Chamber of Commerce. Throughout college, she has worked and taught at the Alliance Française and Ecole Bilingue, and she interned with the French Consulate of New Orleans. Next year, she will continue her studies in law school. Her passions include idling, seeing live local music, and arguing about the feasibility of the Universal Basic Income.
Autumn Nieves grew up in New City, New York. She will be graduating Tulane with double majors in Environmental Biology and International Relations. While they seem to be very different, Autumn is passionate about both and their mutual connection to the future of sustainability. She has interned with Citizens’ Climate Lobby, an organization committed to mitigating carbon emissions but later realized she had a greater love for local politics after working for a New York Assembly member. She hopes to use these experiences to inform corporate social responsibility in her next chapter after graduation. Some of Autumn’s favorite experiences at Tulane have been exploring New Orleans cuisine, studying abroad in Paris, and volunteering at urban gardens.
Charlotte Pearson grew up in New Orleans, U.S., Shanghai, China and Bangalore, India. She is graduating from Tulane with a Neuroscience major and Chinese minor, and hopes to combine the two through international medical work. At Tulane, Charlotte has been involved as a Community Engagement Advocate through the Center for Public Service, an undergraduate researcher of music and the mind in Dr. Colombo’s lab and President of Rotaract Service Club. She also serves as a research assistant in Dr. Yue’s lab in the LSUHSC Physiology department, where she investigates hypertension and chronic nicotine use. Her fascination for music and neuroscience led her to the work of her thesis on musical complexity preferences and executive function.
Emma Rosenthal grew up in Portland, Oregon, with two brothers and a series of loving dogs. In her free time, she enjoys learning new songs on the ukulele, listening to crime podcasts, and spending time outdoors. She became interested in women’s roles in conflict after participating in the Mandel-Palagye Program for Middle East Peace in Jerusalem and Amman. In June, Emma is joining the Peace Corps as a Health Extension Volunteer in Benin.
Ella Zimbalist grew up in Northampton, MA. She is graduating from Tulane University with a major in Political Science and Social Policy and Practice and a minor in Latin American Studies. During her time at Tulane she has been involved as a Community Engagement Advocate through the Center of Public Service, and conducted research on descriptive representation of women in the Chilean government with visiting professor Tiffany Barnes. While studying abroad in Chile she became interested in researching the connection between current social mobilizations and the lasting influence of the military dictatorship. She will be working as a field organizer for Organizing Together 2020 during the 2020 presidential election, and hopes to work in public policy.
Lora grew up in Ketchikan, Alaska, and came to Tulane in search of new experiences. She is majoring in English, Anthropology, and Italian, and was inspired to pursue her research topic after a semester abroad in Bologna, Italy. She has always been interested in the field of museum studies, and during her undergraduate career she has had the opportunity to intern with the New Orleans American Italian Cultural Center, Bologna Tapestry and Medieval Museum, New Orleans Femaissance, and Tulane’s very own Newcomb Art Museum. On campus, she keeps herself busy playing the trumpet in Tulane’s marching and concert bands, is an active member of Phi Sigma Pi, works as a Resident Advisor for Tulane Housing and as a Peer Advisor with the Office of Study Abroad. In the future she is interested in pursuing a career in museum education, but for now is excited to get started on the next chapter of her life teaching high school English in the San Antonio Independent School District.
Madeline Ninno is from Oviedo, Florida and is the daughter of Mark and Sharon Ninno. She is majoring in economics and international development, with a minor in public policy. Madeline has been fortunate to work on a number of research projects while at Tulane, including leading her own investigation of the impacts of international tourism and gentrification on public markets in San Telmo, Argentina, and collaborating with Dr. Bonnie Lucero on research for her upcoming book, Malthusian Practices: A History of Pregnancy, Abortion, and Infanticide in Cuba since Colonial Times. She is excited to present her Honors Thesis, as it is a culmination of her interests in immigration, household economics, and sustainable human development. After graduation, Madeline will travel to Brazil to continue her study of Portuguese. In the fall, she will attend Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs to begin work on a Masters of Public Administration in Development Practice.
Maya Crain is a Public Health and Sociology double major from South Pasadena, California. During her time at Tulane and in New Orleans, she has been drawn to the social determinants of health and what puts certain groups at risk over others. She is an intern at the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum where she works to educate the public on the history of pharmacology and disease in New Orleans. Maya has been a Community Service Fellow through Tulane’s Center for Public Service since her Freshman year through which she volunteered at The Bright School, a fully inclusive pre-school for children with communicative disabilities. It was through her involvement in this fellowship where she began to question the effects community service and volunteerism can have on a community from an institutional level. She has worked hard with the Community Service Fellowship to ensure meaningful, thoughtful service efforts that promote sustainable and productive relationships. This continuous work during her time at Tulane is what inspired her independent research towards developing a replicable implementation model for service-learning programs at universities and colleges across the country that takes into account the needs and perspectives of the community partners the university aims to serve.
Maya David was born in Haifa, Israel and grew up in Hollywood, Florida. She is graduating Tulane with a major in Neuroscience and a minor in English. At Tulane, Maya has served as the President of the School of Science and Engineering Student Government (SSESG), conducted research at Tulane University School of Medicine, worked at the Language Learning Center since her freshman year, volunteered with a disaster-relief organization (SBP), and been an active member of Phi Mu. Maya is also a pre-medical student who aspires to work as a physician in areas that have been affected by natural disasters. Her previous research experiences include studying breast cancer stem cells in women, and examining the prevalence of meningioma (a type of brain tumor) in women. After dedicating herself to two projects focused on women's health, Maya wanted to use this knowledge to research the effects of natural disasters on maternal and child health. The research she is presenting here will be published this upcoming September in the American Journal of Public Health for Hurricane Katrina's 15th anniversary!
Paris Zhang was born in Harbin, China and grew up in Sydney, Australia. She graduated Tulane in 2019 with a double major in Neuroscience and English on the pre-med track, and will be graduating in 2020 with a Masters in English Literature as part of Tulane’s 4+1 program. As an undergraduate, Paris was a Division 1 swimmer and holds multiple Tulane individual and relay team records. She served as team captain her Junior season, and in January 2018 she was awarded American Athletic Conference Female Swimmer honors, as well as AAC All-Academic Team for all four years. She is involved on campus through Special Olympics, as representative of the International Student Advisory Board for USG and as a writing coach for the Academic Learning and Tutoring Centre on campus. For the past two years she has worked as a research assistant at Dr. Haitao Zhang’s laboratory at the Louisiana Cancer Research Centre, studying the synergistic effects of hotspot mutations in androgen receptors in prostate cancer.
Robin Boch is a senior triple-majoring in Political Science, Communications, and French originally from Roanoke, Virginia. Her Honors Thesis combines these three majors and is inspired by a project she began during her semester abroad at Sciences Po Paris. During her time at Tulane, Robin has been involved on campus through Newcomb Senate, the Community Action Council of Tulane University Students, Sigma Delta Tau sorority, Green Wave Ambassadors, and being a Resident Advisor, in addition to the Newcomb Scholars program. She has also worked as an intern for the U.S. Department of State, The Brookings Institution, and the U.S. Agency for International Development. These experiences have shaped her career goals, as well as her interests in global political communications and journalism. Robin is passionate about learning languages, writing, and staying up-to-date on politics, and her hobbies include blogging, listening to podcasts, and photography.
Sarah Elizabeth Jones is a native of Shreveport, Louisiana, and studies Political Economy and Africana Studies. Through her positions with the Community Engagement Advocates, Students Organizing Against Racism, and as a Resident Advisor, she has collaborated with students to make Tulane an equitable and inclusive campus and uplift the voices of marginalized students. Due to working on local campaigns and volunteering for organizations committed to racial justice and women's rights, she has found a home in New Orleans and will always cherish her time here. She credits the Newcomb Institute, Newcomb- Tulane College, and the Taylor Center for their assistance in making her research project possible. From time abroad at the University of Cape Town and mentorship in the Africana Studies program, she is committed studying the diaspora and exploring the intersections of labor and Blackness. She is grateful for her time with Newcomb Scholars, and believes that the best is yet to come.
Sophie Drew is a business management major from New York, NY with minors in Spanish and international development. During her time at Tulane, Sophie has been a radio DJ at WTUL and a chapter member of Delta Sigma Pi business fraternity. She spent her junior year abroad in Colombia and Ecuador, studying business at Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá and literature, history and politics at Universidad San Francisco in Quito. Sophie is currently working for two departments on campus: as an administrative worker for the Freeman School Study Abroad and Exchange Office and as a research assistant for Dr. Anna Mahoney at Newcomb Institute. Through her work at NI, she is learning more about gender issues in Louisiana state politics and is helping to plan Louisiana’s first NEW Leadership Institute. Sophie is excited to present her independent study at the symposium, which combines three of her academic interests: retail business, international development and Latin American History.
Tanya Isaac was brought up in Bangalore, India by Sarah and Ajit Isaac. She is graduating from Tulane University with a double major in Public Health and Psychology. During her time at Tulane, Tanya has been involved on campus through the Green Wave Ambassadors, Phi Sigma Pi, Global Health Collaborative, Housing and Resident Life, and the Tulane Rowing Association. She is on the Dean’s List and was the recipient of NCI Summer funding, Newcomb-Tulane College grant, and the CELT Award for Faculty Mentored Undergraduate Research. She is a research assistant at the Sherchan lab focusing on applied and environmental microbiology, where she found her passion in the environmental health sciences. Tanya wanted to use the knowledge she gained from the Sherchan lab to research polluted lakes in her hometown, Bangalore for her thesis. Tanya will graduate in May 2020 and plans to move to New York in the fall to pursue a Master of Public Health in Environmental Health Sciences at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.
Margaret is a Zambian-American scholar who grew up moving between the two countries. After applying to Tulane on a whim, she will graduate this May with a degree in English Literature. Inspired by her travels and experiences, Margaret has spent her academic career studying race, gender, and colonialism in literature and refining her own writing. During her time at Tulane, she worked with the Center for Public Service as a Community Engagement Advocate, facilitating diversity workshops all over campus. Through the Newcomb College Institute, she was able to share her love of literature with high school students acting as Dr. Molly Pulda’s assistant in hosting creative writing courses for women over the summer. After graduation Margaret is hoping to travel the world for a while, before settling into the mundane nature of an existence dictated by capitalist society.
Gifts from these generous donors has supported the work of our students in the 2020 Scholars cohort
Kylene and Brad Beers Newcomb Scholars Fund: Sydney Sheffield (SPHU '21)
Marjorie Cowen Newcomb Scholars Fund: Sarah Jones (LA '20)
Frances Chesworth Diboll N '20 Endowed Scholars Fund: Lora Starr (LA '20), Maddie Grills (LA '21), Abby Bean (LA '21), Christina McCarthy (LA '21), Catherine Grayson (LA '21)
Marian A. Glenn Endowed Newcomb Scholars Fund: Emma Brick-Hezeau (LA '21), Emma Rosenthal (SSE '20), Grace Slapak (LA '21)
Newcomb Alumnae Association Endowed Scholars Fund: Carly Shaffer (LA '22)
Patricia A. Hurley, PhD Newcomb Institute Endowed Excellence Fund: Riley Moran (LA, '21)
Margaret "Marky" Read Pontius Newcomb Scholars Endowed Fund: Renee Trepagnier (LA '21)
Harriott Bobo Endowed Scholars Fund: Annika Bruno (LA '22), Hadley Sayers (LA '22)
Cynthia Heaberlin Beaird: Sophie Drew (LA '20)
Loretta Loftus: Lakia Williams (SSE '21)
Catherine Newstadt Makk: Fabi Lacau (LA '21)
Carol Wise: Hannah Snyder (SPHU '22)
Sylvia Margolies: Charlotte Pearson (SSE '20)
Thank you for visiting the Newcomb Scholars 2020 Digital Senior Symposium
With thanks to the staff of the Newcomb Institute, our readers and advisors, our supportive friends and families, and those who have helped make the Newcomb Scholars Program a reality.
Scholardarity, Est. 2010
"Speak your mind, even if your voice shakes." -Maggie Kuhn