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RA Spotlights: Claire, Ashwin, Ricky and Cherie

Feb 26 2018

We are excited to continue to introduce our wonderful team of research assistants. From experienced RAs who have been with us for multiple quarters to new RAs who are finishing their first quarter at CESTA, meet four more members of the team!

Claire Francis

Portrait of Research Assistant Claire Francis

Claire is a junior majoring in English literature and minoring in linguistics. At CESTA, Claire is a part of the Literary Lab under the leadership of Professor Mark Algee-Hewitt, using digital technology to analyze and quantify genre changes, vocabulary trends, and character interactions in literary texts.

In the past, Claire has also worked on projects that chronicle the representation of race and ethnicity in American literature and analyses of the educational histories of American politicians. Her work at CESTA has allowed her to merge her interests in literature with more formal analyses of historical and social change, particularly in the United States.

In her spare time, Claire can be found spending too much time at The Stanford Daily, where she’s both a writer and desk editor, organizing tournaments for the Stanford Quidditch team, or consuming several cups of coffee at once. Catch her pensively staring into space while pretending to write poetry outside of the library or kickboxing off campus!

Ashwin Ramaswami

Portrait of Research Assistant Ashwin Ramaswami

Ashwin is freshman and is planning to major in Computer Science.

He is currently spending his first quarter working at CESTA in the Poetic Media Lab, working on Layered Translations, a project which lets people explore different versions and languages of a text, to be used by students and translators alike.

Outside of CESTA, you can find Ashwin doing full-stack website and mobile app development. He also likes to do yoga and meditate and is interested in philosophy.


Ricky Toh Wen Xian

Portrait of Research Assistant Ricky Toh Wen Xian

Ricky is a freshman from Bandung, Indonesia. He is a prospective Civil Engineering major and Urban Studies minor. At CESTA, he is working with Professor Zephyr Frank and Dr. Erik Steiner on the “Global Urbanization and Its Discontents: Poverty, Property, and the City” project. This project is a comparative study of global cities on property and housing trends, such as rent, foreclosures, and evictions, over a historical timeline, and is a part of the Spatial History Project.

Ricky’s responsibilities include collecting data from a range of different cities, specializing in the Asia/Pacific region. He joined the CESTA project because he is interested in the development of informal housing in developing countries.  He also admires the global scope of the project and is excited to develop data collection and spatial data skills as well as gain experience in research.

Aside from CESTA, Ricky can be often seen reading novels, biking to Stern Dining for burrito bowls, or sampling teas from other people’s collections.

Cherie Xu

Portrait of Research Assistant Cherie Xu

Cherie is a sophomore from New York and majoring in Symbolic Systems, with a concentration in Artificial Intelligence. At CESTA, she is currently working on the Modernist Archive Publication Project which aims to create a digital archive of 20th century publication history centering around Leonard and Virginia Woolf’s Hogarth Press. Her job focuses on data visualization and modeling to better understand the sales, distribution, and readership of notable modernist works.

She is drawn to CESTA and digital humanities research as she wishes to bridge the “techie vs. fuzzy” divide and apply analytical and quantitative skills to subject areas that she is passionate about. She hopes to develop technical insights and gain hands-on experience in digital humanities and data science.

Cherie enjoys pastry making, dance, and drawing. You can probably find her in the kitchen test-driving esoteric dessert recipes during her free time. Feel free to have a conversation with her about Vladimir Nabokov, T.S. Eliot, and/ or neuroscience.

From the writer’s desk

I’m Axelle Talma, a sophomore majoring in International Relations with minors in Psychology and German Studies. I’m working here as a Communications Assistant, which involves assisting in the day-to-day intercommunications between the RAs, staff and faculty, organizing weekly meetings, contributing to CESTA’s social media presence, and posting on this blog ! I’m beyond thrilled to be working with CESTA and very eager to keep on discovering the world of digital humanities.