Keynote Speaker Awards

2022 Senior Keynote Speaker Awards

April 21st, 2022
12:15 - 1:15 PM ET
Add to Google Calendar | Zoom ID: 983 3440 8883

The 2022 Keynote Speaker Award is presented to three graduating seniors with outstanding projects in their disciplines. Keynote speakers are selected based on the following criteria: 1.) Project includes a compelling thesis, idea, or message; 2.) Demonstrates scholarly and imaginative engagement in the subject; 3.) Topic is of interest to a wider audience; 4.) Represents a significant contribution to or impact on a disciplinary field, community, or global arena.

Photo of Eliot Stanton '22 | Keynote Speaker Award

Eliot Stanton '22

Major: Data Science
Faculty Mentor: Lena Zuckerwise

Binaries in Binary: Harmful Consequences and Radical Possibilities of Technology for Trans Liberation

In this paper, I examine the impacts of technology on transgender lives, identities, and movements. Through an analysis of discourses, I consider the ways activists and movements, aiming to better the lives of trans people, have been absorbed into systems of capitalism and neoliberalism. This has watered down their goals, emphasizing legal equality, inclusion, and recognition, rather than more radical aims. Consequently, technological systems “include” trans identities through updated gender categorization schemes in data, and they recognize trans people by viewing transness as an individual phenomenon, not a shared identity. These qualities of technology reinforce a white and medicalized trans narrative that reinstates the gender binary instead of upending it. Ultimately, technological and gender systems produce harmful consequences, from surveillance and misgendering to exclusion and forced outing, resulting in vast inequality among trans populations. Nevertheless, creative uses of technology have shown that it can be liberatory for trans people, challenging the gender binary and enabling movement-building. Turning to an imaginative future for technological systems, I argue that they must be community-centered, designed according to liberatory values, and detached from capitalist funding and the state’s agenda of control in order to lead to radical structural change.

photo of Sara Mitchell ‘22 | Keynote Speaker Award

Sara Mitchell '22

Major: Economics, Sociology
Faculty Mentor: Masato Aoki

Access, Success, and Social Mobility: Rethinking Low-Income Student Access to Different Tiers of the Higher Education Market Following the Great Recession

Though not a panacea, higher education has always been a key to social mobility for low-income students. The Great Recession limited social mobility, weakening the financial stability of low-income families and reducing state and federal funding to colleges and universities across the country. Low-income students are concentrated in less selective schools that are accessible from a financial standpoint, but fail to provide the brand value and networks that improve social mobility. Elite universities maximize social mobility for low-income students, and yet low admission rates and the lack of resources for low-income students make these institutions very inaccessible. Often left out of this analysis are the middle-tier institutions that possess the accessibility and capacity to help many low-income students ensure their success. This project aims to rethink the role of institutions across different tiers of the higher education market in order to increase access to higher education, and therefore social mobility, for low-income students in the years following the Great Recession. Middle-tier colleges are missing a golden opportunity to raise their profile as a gateway to social mobility for low-income students. By analyzing trends in higher education following the Great Recession, this research will show how middle-tier colleges can take advantage of their position in the higher education market and explain how the standard binary approach to higher education fails low-income students.

photo of Sumeya Ali ‘22 | Keynote Speaker Award

Sumeya Ali '22

Major: Sociology
Faculty Mentor: Jyoti Puri

Nexus of Blackqueerness & Anti-Muslim Racism

This paper focuses on how Black, Muslim, and immigrant women and femmes can be seen as queer regardless of their sexual and gender identities. Employing an intersectional approach to understanding the construction of queer identity, this paper considers gender, sexuality, and socioeconomic status alongside the multi-dimensionality of Black femininity. The radical tradition of Black feminism offers the understanding that several systems of oppression can compound to create a particularly unique lived experience. By applying this framework of Black feminism to the lives and social experiences of Black, Muslim immigrant women I will demonstrate that this particular combination of social identities results in a particular experience of othering that is a process of queering. I will explore how the experiences of Black immigrant women/girls can be understood as parallel to that of queer identity.

I consider how current definitions of queerness allow us to contextualize the lives of Black, Muslim immigrant women/girls. I analyze how colonial ideologies shape the ways xenophobia, othering, and misogynoir challenge the quality of life for Black girls/women Specifically, I focus on how immigration status shapes the lived experiences of Black Muslim girls and women. Immigrant Black girls/women will face more challenges in the nation they have immigrated to. Furthermore, in this paper, I highlight barriers surrounding finding work, housing, and adequate resources. Lastly, I emphasize that while Black girls and women face structural racism, I expect there to be differences among their experiences since Black girlhood/womanhood is not a monolith.

2021 Keynote Speakers

  • Celine Breton '21 | Major: Biochemistry and Physics | Forever Chemicals: Understanding their Developmental and Reproductive Toxicity
  • Cara Mackenzie '21 | Major: English Literature | The Trauma of Irish Womanhood: An Examination of the Masculine Nation State in Literature and History
  • Julia Hart '21 | Major: Biochemistry and Physics | Engineering a Bi-functional Heterostructure for Enhanced and Selective CO2 Adsorption/Reduction Under Visible Light Irradiation
  • Sander Hackey '21 | Major: Economics | Tracks to Gentrification: An Analysis of Modes of Public Transit and Socioeconomic Change in the City of Boston