Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

2020 Undergraduate Research Awards Announced

November 20, 2019

Pictures of the award recipients

The Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies is proud to announce that it has awarded four research grants to undergraduate students through the CLACS Undergraduate Research Awards for Latin American and Caribbean Studies.

The fund can be used to support Brown University undergraduate students who engage in research or attend conferences in the United States or a country in Latin America or the Caribbean. All undergraduates are welcome to apply. 

The four applicants selected for support in this semester's competition are Brianna Kendall '20 (International Relations), Ella Satish '20 (LACA), Dylan Majsiak '20 (LACA), and Diego Rodríguez Langevin '22 (Visual Arts).

Brianna will embark on an immersive investigation of education policy in the Honduran Río Plátano biosphere. Titled “Miskita Pioneers: The Costs of Rising Education Rates for Indigenous Women in Brus Laguna”, Brianna’s research findings will be captured in a self-filmed documentary. The film will home in on recent developments in the educational framework of stateless populations of the Miskita people. The first Honduran-coast Miskita to attend a renowned university, Brianna seeks to provide an objective portrayal of the structural and gendered inequalities facing indigenous education. Her investigation will place viewers face-to-face with intimate storytelling as Miskita student pioneers describe the mounting drug trade, morbid gang violence, geographic isolation, social divergence, and state abandonment which shape their paths to professionalism today. This documentary will be developed in tandem to a Departmental Independent Study (DISP) in International Relations. 

Ella's project is titled, "El Programa Nacional de Atención Materno-Infantil: The Cuban Maternal Health System as a Model for Care of Black Mothers in the United States." It analyzes the structure and design of the Cuban Maternal and Childcare Program as a model for improving care outcomes and reducing disparities in healthcare for Black mothers in the U.S. It continues upon a growing body of scholarship that evaluates the Cuban health care system as a model to improve aspects of our current system such as the research done by U.S. social workers in Cuba during the creation of the Affordable Care Act. It analyzes elements of the socialist program for implementation in a U.S., capitalist context. Specifically, three key aspects: a focus on primary care and preventative medicine, collaboration between different sectors of the medical community, and holistic support for patients. For example, recent studies have shown that consistent care provided to Black mothers by doulas and midwives acting as patient advocates helps to decrease complications related to pregnancy and thus maternal mortality. This is an approach to mirroring the Cuban support system for mothers using methods applicable to the country.

For his project, "Otro Sitio en Puerto Rico: La arquitectura {renovativa{ como medio de acción comunitaria en San Sebastián del Pepino." Diego is working in developing SITIO, a collaborative artist/residency space and experimental research center in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico. As part of SITIO, Diego has been organizing and conducting educational/work experiences that can also have a community impact using critical thinking and creative research methodologies. He will now be conducting a project with a group of architecture students from the University of Puerto Rico where they will use renovative practices to work in their home town of San Sebastian del Pepino, Puerto Rico. Diego also helped create a course in microarchitecture for property restoration in Greece. After participating in this course, some of the students that are now working with Diego were motivated to follow a similar model back home after identifying a familiar reality on the island of Kea, Greece. In both places, community life is in decline due to an exodus of people and infrastructure decay. Our goal with the project is to analyze the issue at hand to offer possible architectural solutions while at the same time engaging already in the community through collaboration as part of the solution. 

For his project, titled "Los caracoles of Honduras", Dylan will be returning to Roatán, Honduras, where his mother's family comes from, with the aim of exploring the cultural identity of Honduran islanders through in-person interviews. Given the unique history of the Bay Islands (las Islas de la Bahía), the majority of islanders speak Caribbean English in addition to Spanish. Dylan is interested in investigating how language influences life in Roatán, the ways mainlanders and islanders interact, and more generally how islanders fit within the larger scheme of Honduran national identity.

Following their travel, award recipients will present on their supported research at a CLACS Back from the Field panel. 

The CLACS Undergraduate Research Awards deadlines are April 3rd for Spring Semester and Nov. 1st for the Fall Semester. Undergraduate students who meet the above criteria are welcome to apply for up to $500 of support.