2024-2025 Franke Fellows

Franke Undergraduate Fellows

Sarah Feng

INFERNO:  Clay Sculptures Modeling the Neural Architecture of the Prefrontal Cortex

Sarah is a junior studying Neuroscience and Humanities at Yale. She is very intrigued by understanding the mechanisms that underlie different, inexplicable phenomena of the brain, especially when those irrational phenomena are what seem to make us so human. One of these phenomena is the loss of executive control in stressful situations. This is what causes eruptions of behavior that are the most beautiful and sometimes the most tragic, and it is what many writers are so fascinated by. What causes us to lose control of ourselves? She will explore this question from a neuroscientific perspective by investigating the cellular mechanisms in the prefrontal cortex that may underlie this kind of behavior. Specifically, she will investigate noradrenergic β1-ARs and L-type calcium channels in the stress-induced impairment of the prefrontal cortex in macaque models in the Arnsten Lab, which specializes in the neurobiology of the prefrontal cortex. She will then use the knowledge she gains from this research, as well as images she takes using microscopy, to create a visual art project that can share this knowledge with others. She will create clay sculptures of the different neural architectures that underlie the brain’s adaptability (and sometimes hyper-sensitivity) to stress. She will visit museums to understand stress from a historical and artistic point of view to add humanistic influences to the sculptural work.

Hannah Han

Corpus Medicinum: A Story Collection on the Female Body, Loss, and Illness

Inspired by her studies of feminist literature and biology, Hannah Han will write a collection of contemporary short stories focused on the interconnections between the female body, illness, and desire. She will mine the archives of the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library and the Yale Medical Historical Library and analyze the material works of Sylvia Plath and Emily Dickinson, which will inform her stories. Her collection will also be inspired by a variety of contemporary essays, novels, and story collections, including Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties and Audre Lorde’s The Cancer Journals. As a double major in Humanities and MCDB, Hannah aims to bridge the chasm between medicine and literature through storytelling and science communication.

Angelin Mathew

Addressing Existential Needs in Palliative Care:  Perspectives from Kerala, Bhutan, and US

Angelin is a junior from Florida studying Molecular Biology, History of Philosophy, and Global Health. Her research project supported by the Franke Fellowship aims to provide global perspectives from patients, families, religious practitioners, and physicians on the existential needs in palliative care. In particular, she is investigating the language used to communicate end of life, miracle seeking, and coordination of patient last wishes.

Angelin also does research in artificial tissue engineering, wound healing, and disparities in oncological care in the US. In honor of Sophia Hurtado, Angelin launched a startup, Forever Kin, to provide care packages for girls with cancer and their caregivers. In her free time, she enjoys performing Indian classical dance, reading theology, and volunteering in New Haven.

Du Nghiem

(Un)folding Architecture: Origami in Form-Finding and Space-making

This research program seeks to investigate the application of origami principles in architecture, specifically focusing on the ideology of folds and its implications for creative experimentation, visualization, and construction. The mathematical concepts underpinning various folding techniques, their translation into 2-D and 3-D spatial representations, and the systematic rules encapsulated in origami diagrams offer valuable resources for computation, design, fabrication, and manufacturing. The project encompasses an iterative process between literature review, precedent research, sketching, and 3D modeling, manually and digitally, to simulate space-making and form-finding in different scales and contexts.

Sianna Xiao

Exploring the Role of Art and Technology Experiences in Culinary Hospitality

Sianna is interested in exploring how the intersection of her major’s two disciplines—computer science and visual arts—applies to the hospitality industry. Her research focuses on the fusion of art and technology in enhancing consumer experiences, specifically within the culinary space. By investigating global trends in how art and technology converge in gastronomy through firsthand experiences, interviews with restaurateurs, and analysis of the methodologies of these innovative establishments, her project seeks to understand and document the impact of these practices on modern dining and gather insights for developing original, technology-driven hospitality art concepts, as well as making these elements accessible to a wider audience. This exploration aligns with the growing ‘experience economy,’ highlighting the potential for computing to revolutionize how we create and enjoy art beyond traditional forms.