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RA Spotlights: Rachael Ridao, Jose Recinto, Clara Romani, and Julianne Dones

Jul 24 2017
Every Monday, we will be introducing a few of our CESTA Summer Research Assistants and their projects. This week’s spotlights are on Rachael Ridao, Jose Recinto, Clara Romani, and Julianne Dones. 
Rachael Ridao

Rachael is a rising senior majoring in electrical engineering.  She is currently working on Kindred London, a project that will allow users to explore London between the Great Fire of 1666 and the London blitz of 1940 and 41.  Her job is to look at the churches and synagogues during this period.  She unearths basic information about each church, like the name, the date it was established, and the date it closed.  She references various books, surveys, and websites to create a comprehensive history for each church.  

While some congregations have simple pasts, others frequently move, separate, and change names.  This means Rachael often has three books on her desk at a time, trying to follow each group to create a chronological timeline.  All of the information she finds goes into a spreadsheet that will be the base of the final project.  CESTA is a wonderful way for Rachael to explore her interest in history while using the technical competency of her major to work efficiently.  When she is not geeking out about London’s religious sites, she can often be found watching Adventure Time with friends, reading comics, pretending to have cultured interests, or playing games on her phone.  She loves the games on her phone so much that she is ranked 150th on Hungry Cat Picross for the amount of time that she has put into the app.
Jose Recinto

My name is Jose Recinto and I am going to be a junior next year. As for my major, I’m still deciding between Symbolic Systems and Computer Science. Both have attributes and values that I cherish, it is just the matter of finding which major I want to use for the rest of my life. Symbolic Systems has elements of humanities that I forgot I had cherished. With the blend of tech and humanities, Symbolic Systems is a good fit. But I do love the tech aspect of Symbolic Systems, so perhaps Computer Science is my fit. I will hopefully find out soon.
My project is Deathscape China, a digital storytelling and spatial analysis platform to examine the phenomenon of grave relocation in modern China. It is a born-digital, peer-reviewed book that details the exhumation and reburial of more than 10 million corpses in the past decade. As a Research Assistant for Professor Mullaney, my job is to help incorporate data into a platform we are using. I am also responsible for encoding various essays into HTML and making artistic decisions such as how we want the data to be represented.

What I enjoy most about CESTA is the blend of humanities and tech that is embodied here. It has reminded how much I love humanities and how I still want to pursue this track of my life, whether through Symbolic Systems or a Digital Humanities Minor.
Like most other people my age, I enjoy video games. What is unique about me is that I am a varsity fencer for the Stanford fencing team. Other interests that spark me are history and philosophy. I want to understand the past and try to understand human nature as well. 
Clara Romani

Clara Romani is a rising sophomore who plans on double majoring in History and French, and minoring in Italian. Here at CESTA, she is working on two (soon to be three) different projects. With Law and Resistance in Late Medieval Europe, led by Rowan Dorwin, she is georeferencing and digitizing maps of Medieval European dioceses. With the Global Medieval Sourcebook, led by Kathryn Starkey, she is encoding the translations and transcriptions of various medieval manuscripts from a variety of languages. These digitized manuscripts will soon be available on a centralized website. While working in CESTA’s creative, engaging workspace, she is most excited to discover new DH tools and expand her understanding of what can be done with the humanities in the technological age. Beyond work and classes, she enjoys swimming and skiing, and has broken four phones but no bones.
Julianne Dones

Julianne Dones is a rising senior majoring in Electrical Engineering, hailing originally from West Chester, Pennsylvania. From admiring and creating art of all forms, to reading up on the latest global sustainability tech, to going on spontaneous outdoor adventures, or to getting carried away with her foodie-ism and caffeine addiction, one would think it would be hard for her to find any one thing to keep her diverse interests satiated. Yet, her research project at CESTA, Global Urbanization and its Discontents, has done just that. 
This project focuses on the historical trends in urbanizing systems, seeking to identify consequential socio-geographical outcomes of these changes. For example, Julianne has been researching historical infrastructure of cities globally, data she then pairs with demographic and economic data. She's looking to see how population growth, change in land use, and investment/divestment in infrastructural development of an area of a city are related to economic prosperity, decay or displacement in urban contexts. This process involves utilizing geospatially referenced data through ARCGIS, historical maps, and Census data. 

The project has been challenging yet fascinating for Julianne, since she aspires to work on problems relating to global urbanization and sustainability. Key to her conception of "sustainable" urban systems is not just "green" infrastructure and policies, but also sustainable social, economic, and cultural institutions. As a "techie" engineering major, she has been able to focus on the technical challenges of making sustainable cities a reality before, but she is not as well versed in the socio-cultural and historical components essential to the unique stories of each city. This project, in true CESTA and Digital Humanities style, has been able to combine the technical with the humanistic into a fascinating bundle of contextualized and humanized streets of urban landscapes. Julianne has learned tonnes so far about the potential and value this kind of research holds and only hopes to learn more as she continues on her historical (virtual) trek from international metropolis to metropolis!

From the writer’s desk
I’m Huanvy Phan, a rising sophomore majoring in Asian American Studies and Philosophy. I’m working as a Communications Assistant this summer, which involves helping with the day-to-day intercommunications between the RAs and managing this blog. I’m beyond thrilled to be working with CESTA and I’m eager to dive into the world of digital humanities.