Past Summer Research Grant Recipients


2020 Recipients

Oluseyi Odunyemi Agbelusi

Bio and Research Proposal

Oluseyi Odunyemi Agbelusi is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in anthropology with a concentration in archaeology. His region of interest is West Africa where he recently initiated a dissertation project focusing on the early colonial period (circa 1808 to 1896) archaeology of Sierra Leone. This project reveals how enslaved Africans of varying cultural and ethnic backgrounds hailing from West and Central Africa were liberated in Freetown and resettled in Regent village through the study of written and archaeological data. His fieldwork includes both a settlement-wide survey and the horizontal excavations of two house loci known to contain stratified domestic deposits dating to the early colonial period. This project explores the issues of change and continuity in household spatial practices, material use patterns, and economic strategies.


Thomas Bouril

Bio and Research Proposal

Thomas Bouril is currently a PhD candidate in the History Department at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and specializes in modern African history, empire, and the history of childhood. He previously earned a BA from Northern Illinois University and a MA from Marquette University. His dissertation examines how childhood was a critical cultural space fought over by the British and various African communities during the colonial period in Kenya. It analyzes how British colonial officials, missionary and nongovernmental organizations, and African communities in Kenya clashed regarding who constituted children, what was acceptable behavior by children, and the perceived responsibility of adults toward children. It shows how conceptions of childhood became globalized through these discourses and how colonial Kenya became a “living laboratory” for various actors to reconsider and project beliefs regarding children and childhood.


Susan S. Ekoh

Bio and Research Proposal

Susan is a PhD Candidate in the Environmental and Natural Resources Policy (ENRP) program at SUNY ESF. She is passionate about environmental issues in developing countries, especially in Africa. Her dissertation is exploring climate change-induced migration in an urban coastal setting, with a focus on Lagos, Nigeria. The goal of this research is to produce findings that contribute to the development of appropriate policies that aid individuals and communities as they adapt to a changing climate. Climate change poses increasing threats to communities globally. Coastal communities in developing countries are especially vulnerable to coastal flooding and sea level rise related to climate change due to often failing infrastructure, weak disaster response and poor adaptive capacity. Migration has been identified as a strategy adopted by individuals and communities to climate change related threats. The proposed study draws from a range of theories, frameworks and concepts, such as urban political ecology, social vulnerability, the concept of intersectionalities, Wilson et al (2019)’s multidimensional approach to risk perceptions and the multicausality approach. Whilst aiming to answer the research question – How does the perception of flood risk influence intentions about future migration among residents of coastal areas in Lagos, Nigeria? The proposed study employs a mixed methods approach, through the administration of structured questionnaires and interviews; with individuals and households as the primary unit of analysis. Results of this study will be useful to governments, policy makers and other relevant stakeholders, interested in the design and implementation of climate change adaptation policies for coastal communities at heightened vulnerability to extreme weather events. This study also contributes to the wider scholarship on climate change adaptation including benefits to society through better understanding of climate-change induced migration.


Nicole Möller González

Bio and Research Proposal

Nicole was born in Costa Rica and finished her Bachelor and Master degrees at the Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany. First in Biology then in Integrated Resource Management. Nicole is currently a PhD student in the geography department and is interested in how workers’ and environmental struggles are intersecting due to the climate crisis, especially with a focus on labor agency in trade unions. South Africa’s vivid labor history is one of the reasons why Nicole chose the country as one of her case studies. A tension exists between the essence of trade unions--as fighters and representatives of the immediate needs and interests of workers at the workplace--and the need to widen their field of agency in order to protect their members’ livelihoods in the long run, as for example in the fight for climate justice. Environmental concerns have often been perceived as job threatening by labor and this has contributed to the tendency within unions to prefer the immediate protection of jobs over environmental regulations. However, risks of losing jobs either as a direct consequence of the climate crisis or through mitigation and adaptation policies have prompted unions to incorporate this issue into their agenda. Nicole's preliminary research in South Africa will look at the development of underlying strategies being implemented within carbon-dependent unions to make climate change a class issue /interest and how to overcome existing tensions and obstacles that are not allowing this to happen. Waged workers in the world possess a particularly and potentially powerful place to disturb capitalist relations of production and as they pertain to the vulnerable class in society, the effects of the climate crisis on them will be uniquely catastrophic. For this reason it is important to understand how agency is being built for the future struggles to come.