Meet Students Conducting Humanities Research

by Sara Kowalski, Class of 2017, Humanities Fellow

Meet the students who have received Humanities Research and Innovation Grants!

There are almost forty humanities students who are currently delving into their own fascinating research projects thanks to the Research and Innovation Grants they received upon their acceptance here at Rochester. To give you a glimpse into their exciting experiences, here are three snapshots of three amazing students!

David Weintraub
Class of 2021 | Intended Music and English Double Major

David has loved reading immersive fantasy novels ever since he read Book I of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time when he was ten years old. “I remember reading it,” David recalls, “and being captivated by the agelessness of it.” After that, David was hooked on the genre.

So it’s only natural that, for his HRIG project, David plans to untangle ‘the evolution the fantasy.’ He hopes to trace the multiple threads of its origins, including ancient myths, such as those of Norse and Greek, ancient oral stories, such as Beowulf, as well as traditional folktales, fairy tales, and bedtime stories. David’s HRIG adviser is Joanna Scott, a professor in the English department.

Despite his avid interest in literature, David is even more fascinated by music. “Music is the biggest part of my life right now,” David explained. He plays the euphonium, which he began relatively recently after playing the alto sax for years. Discovering the euphonium’s sound was a life changing moment for David. He has dreams of playing in Drum Corps International by 2021.

Alyssa Nelson
Class of 2021 | Intended History Major


Alyssa is fascinated by postwar-through-modern Europe. In particular, she is interested in the modern history of revolutions, especially those which took place around 1968. For her HRIG project, she is considering travelling to Europe to study this topic. “There’s history everywhere,” says Alyssa when explaining her of love traveling in Europe. Some of the research questions she is currently juggling are: Why do people revolt? What is needed for a revolution? What makes a revolution ‘successful’? Alyssa’s HRIG adviser is Thomas Devaney, a professor in the history department.

In addition to her anticipated history major, Alyssa is pursuing a minor legal studies and clusters in web development and theater. When she is not immersed in her studies, Alyssa is an active member of the College Feminists, ROC Players Musical Theater, and the Yoga Club.

Louis Herman
Class of 2020 | Intended History and Gender Studies Major


Louis is interested in early modern globalism, particularly the history and intersection of Latin America and the Asian Pacific. This is inevitably tied to the context of European wars and imperialism, but Louis is much more interested in the lives of people. For his HRIG project, Louis is studying the pirate attacks on Vera Cruz in 1683. He is currently transcribing Spanish documents from this period with Professor Pablo in the history department. Using his HRIG grant, he intends to travel to Seville the summer after his junior year to explore the Archives of the Indies, where he expects to find a lot of relevant material to his research project.

When he is not immersing himself in old Spanish texts, Louis is an active member of the Model UN here at Rochester and a founding member of the successful improv troupe False Adverting. Louis integrated his historical interest into his performance at the most recent Model UN convention, during which he received an award for his impressive ability to function as a pirate captain on the “Pirates of the 1770s” Committee.

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