Past Summer Research Grant Recipients


2020 Recipients

Xiwei Guo

Bio and Research Proposal

Xiwei Guo is a doctoral student in the Department of Geography. He received his B.A. degree in Geography from the University of Colorado, Boulder and his M.A. degree in Geography from the University of Texas, Austin. Xiwei’s research seeks to understand the forms and processes of river channels in alpine environments and the interactions between rivers and human activities. Focus on the Upper Yellow River in Qinghai-Tibet Plateau of western China, his current project explores morphological characteristics, lateral dynamics, and hydrologic connectivity of alpine channels and floodplains.


Jaisang Sun

Bio and Research Proposal

Jaisang Sun is a Ph.D. candidate in the Social Science Ph.D. Program at the Maxwell School. Sun’s interdisciplinary works look at the multifaceted dimensions of immigration and refugee laws & policies in the US. His dissertation explores the deportation of refugees in the US, its historical development, and its effects on the refugee communities. Contrary to the commitment to protect refugees the US admits, the nation’s deportation regime developed in such a way that it targets some refugees for removal. Sun’s dissertation traces the legal and legislative histories of how such deportation regime developed and seeks alternative ways to provide better protection to refugees. Various Asian American communities experience refugee deportation, wherein formal refugees, who came to the US as early as when they were infants, are deported back to a country where they have little to no ties. Refugees from Cambodia and Vietnam are removed disproportionally high numbers at an alarming rate. This research identifies the structural pipeline through which refugees are deported, and sheds light on the post-deportation experiences of refugee-deportees.


Jinpu Wang 

Bio and Research Proposal

Jinpu is a PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology. Prior to studying at Maxwell, Jinpu earned an M.A. in public policy from University of Maryland, and a B.A. in business administration from Shandong University, China. His ongoing dissertation project studies the links between recent waves of Chinese migration in Ghana and social transitions in contemporary China. With the support of the Moynihan East Asia summer research grant, his ethnographic research during summer 2020 focuses on the role of the Chinese state in shaping the formation and stratification of social and business networks in Chinese diasporic communities.


2017 Recipients

Terese GagnonTerese V. Gagnon

Bio and Research Proposal

Terese Gagnon is a second year PhD Student and Teaching Assistant in the Department of Anthropology. Her research is with Karen individuals from Burma in relation to plants and agriculture. Due to the 70 year long ongoing civil war between Karen armed resistance groups and the Myanmar military, hundreds of thousands of Karen people, many of them deriving their livelihood from shifting cultivation and foraging, have been displaced from their homelands. With the burning of lands due to civil war, the increased incursion of extractive industries, and the displacement of people, these human-environmental interconnections are challenged. Her ethnographic research, which traces the co-movement of Karen people and seeds/plants across the three landscapes of 1) a rural village near Hpa’an in Karen State, Burma 2) Mae Sot refugee camp in northern Thailand and 3) the third-country resettlement site of Syracuse, NY examines the ways that Karen peoples’ embodied, and sensory engagements with plants—such as cultivation, foraging and cooking—emerge or don’t emerge in each of these milieus. Utilizing methods of participant observation, she asks: when homelands are burned and the people displaced, what become the v ectors of Karen collective memory? In what ways are engagements with plants linked to memories, stories, and discourse in each of these locations? How do the distinct socio-material constraints and affordances of these spaces affect Karen plant-human relationships? How might the performance of “affective economy” and narratives of alienation and/or (re)enchantment arise differently, or be silent, in and across these places? 

Li Shao


Li Shao

Bio and Research Proposal

Li Shao is a PhD candidate in Political Science, Maxwell School. His research interests focus on public opinion and political behavior in non-democratic setting. His dissertation explores how media environment affects citizens' participation in policy-oriented collective actions in China.

Jiayi Zhang


Jiayi Zhang

Bio and Research Proposal

Jiayi Zhang was born and raised in Xuzhou, Jiangsu Province, China. He obtained his Bachelor of Education degree in Education from Yangzhou University in China. He received his MA degrees in Social Sciences from Waseda University in Japan, and in Political Science from Syracuse University. Jiayi studies international relations and comparative politics.