Carnegie Mellon University

Research Project Archive

From demonstrating how the Rwandan state is seeking to overcome its past to a collection of stories about young characters redefining how they relate to the world, previous HSP scholars from a variety of academic backgrounds have each pursued different topics for their research projects.

Emily Kennedy – Ethics, History, and Public Policy

In the past 10-15 years the internet has become a popular tool used by traffickers to easily advertise and sell their victims. Thousands of posts show up each month selling sex on the common classifieds website For her senior research project, Emily Kennedy extracted publicly available data from major US cities represented on Using software developed at Carnegie Mellon’s Auton Lab, she explored whether it was possible to detect patterns emerging from the data available in sex ads, such as patterns of travel that traffickers use. To help identify which posts were more likely to be cases of trafficking, Kennedy drew on individuals with expertise on the subject. After graduation, she took a position as research analyst for the Auton Lab in order to continue her research. If this research proves successful in tracking movement of similar posts as well as similar pimps or victims across the country over time, this predictive research could be a valuable tool for law enforcement to use to prosecute traffickers and rescue victims.

Zach Stahl – International Relations and Politics

By 1942, the Jews of the Warsaw ghetto in Poland were no longer under the false allusions that Jews were being deported to labor camps, they were no longer deceived into believing that their lives would be safe if they continued to work for the Nazis. Thus, the Warsaw ghetto held out against an onslaught of three thousand German troops for almost a month, in a valiant show of resistance in the face of tyranny. However, this account of resistance within a Jewish ghetto is contrary to another tale, that of the Vilna ghetto in Lithuania, a city previously known as the “Jerusalem of Lithuania.” It was here that Jews who wanted open revolt, or who wanted revolt of any kind, were met with skepticism and betrayal by the other inhabitants. Zach Stahl's researched asked important questions, such as, "Why was it that two ghettos, ghettos that were separated by less than 300 miles, were so different in their reaction to Nazi occupation," "Why were the Jews of Warsaw spurned on to fight and resolved to die honorably, while the Jews of Vilna were seemingly persuaded into thinking that they would be spared, even as their friends and family were being hunted and killed around them," "Was it the leadership of the Judenrat in the different ghettos" and "Were there harsher protocols implemented in the Warsaw ghetto that made resistance seem to be the only option or was it the socio-economic status of those encompassing the ghetto that altered how they perceived the situation at the time? Why the difference?"

Jule Pattison-Gordon – Creative Writing

"Growing Pains at the End of the World" is a collection of stories about young characters redefining how they relate to the world. Written by Jule Pattison-Gordon, one story, “Warrior II,” follows Cam, a middle school student bullied by his older stepbrother, and Mr. Harrison, the new teacher, as they attempt to combat the chaos and panic unfolding around them in a word faced with the knowledge that aliens may arrive to earth in seven years. “Bonds that Break” is a post-apocalyptic story in which a conjoined twin struggles with deep-seated fears of abandonment after his brother proposes surgical separation. The collection of stories explores themes of loneliness, individuality and community, masks, repression, mortality, external validation, impermanence and the desire to deify. 

Sara Faradji – Global Studies

Upon her visit to Kigali, Rwanda in the summer of 2012, Sara Faradji was surprised to find that the images of the Rwandan people that resonated with her most were not reminders of the genocide, but the dedicated efforts of children and young adults who had begun to appreciate Western cosmopolitanism in unique ways. This was evidenced in their acquisition of English from a young age, their motivation to pursue technological education and their love of American pop culture. Faradji noticed that the ethnic conflict that ravaged the nation not even twenty years ago was completely invisible or at least well hidden today. She found that the atrocities of the genocide and the militarized aftermath were still represented to an extent in the Rwandan culture, whether it was through museum displays, drama exercises, school textbooks or press releases. For her honors thesis, Faradji demonstrated how the Rwandan state is seeking to overcome its violent past by establishing a “post-ethnic” society that, with the help of Western powers, is becoming integrated into the globalized economy. The building of this “pseudo-technocracy,” while effectively shadowing the atrocities of the past, could also potentially place Rwanda in a controversial position because of its highly militarized local environment, continued alliance with Western countries and secret reliance on conflict minerals in neighboring Congo.

Harrison Apple - Global Studies and Art

The historiography of gay and lesbian subculture, particularly related to “bar culture,” poses a particular relationship between the generally organized crime run establishment and the exploited patron up until the millennial moment of subcultural revolution, taking particular media attention by the close of the 1960s. Through fieldwork and archival research, Harrison Apple's research complicated this narrative pertaining to Pittsburgh’s particular history involving the rise to prominence of a particular gay steward of a series of gay and lesbian social clubs, his relationship to the world of organized crime and casual corruption and his influence on contemporary GLBT life in Pittsburgh.

Apple was awarded the Dietrich Humanities Prize at Meeting of the Minds, an annual undergraduate research symposium at Carnegie Mellon University.

Olivia London  – Creative Writing

Performance in general, and dance more specifically, significantly affect people on a personal and cultural level. By putting one’s self on the edge, or transferring from audience member to participant, one becomes a performer either in a formal or informal capacity. This transition into being a performer happens both instantaneously, such as going from behind the stage to onstage, and over a long period of time. As both a writer and dancer, Olivia London explored this transition, or edge, through creative writing and examined how one writes about the act of performance. By seeking out performance experiences, she broadened her understanding of what it is to be a performer and how performing can influence writing or vise versa. Through creative non-fiction writing London examined how performance affects the course of her own life on and off the stage.

London received the Award for Artistic Excellence at Meeting of the Minds, an annual undergraduate research symposium at Carnegie Mellon University.

Julia Hanby  – Ethics, History, and Public Policy

Julia Hanby's interest in refugee issues began during her first year at Carnegie Mellon when she joined FORGE, a student organization that empowers and enriches the lives of refugees in the Pittsburgh community, while also spreading awareness about global refugee issues. She began volunteering for the Refugee Services department of Jewish Family and Children’s Services by helping two Bhutanese families develop the skills they needed to build better lives. Her work with refugees continued throughout her four years, leading her to develop a capstone project on the experience of Bhutanese refugees in which she drew on interviews with contacts from the internship and volunteer work she had done for Jewish Family and Children’s Services. After graduating from CMU, these experiences and her passion for improving the lives of refugees led Hanby to join Compass AmeriCorps, a program that provides wrap-around social services support and literacy instruction for refugees and immigrants in Pittsburgh.