CLASS Scholars

The Digital Humanities Initiative (DHi) provides new opportunities for students in the humanities to become fully engaged citizens in this ongoing digital revolution.  Hamilton’s DHi is taking the lead in promoting new cross-institutional collaborations with faculty and students.

CLASS is an undergraduate fellowship and research program in the digital humanities based on three-broad areas of scholarly inquiry and their intersection with new and emerging digital technologies: 1) Culture, 2) Liberal Arts, and 3) Society. CLASS provides a unique partnership between departments and programs across the liberal arts and humanities at Hamilton and the Career Center.

For more information about the CLASS program, please visit our CLASS page.

DHi 2016-2017 CLASS Scholars

Rachel Alatalo

DHi CLASS Scholar, Hamilton College

Rachel Alatalo is a Creative Writing and Hispanic Studies double major from Wilmington, MA. She is a Student Technician with Hamilton’s AV Services, a Writing Tutor at the Writing Center, Head Prose Editor of Red Weather, and Editor-Out-Chief of the Duel Observer. As a CLASS Scholar, she will be working with Creative Writing Professor Tina Hall to create the Extinction Museum, a virtual museum based on a novel recently completed by Professor Hall. Additionally, she will work with ArcGIS and Storymaps programs to create a space to host location-based creative writing composed by Hamilton students. Through these projects, she will explore the challenges and opportunities afforded a museum based in a fictional, virtual world rather than a physical one, the methods by which we curate our personalities and experiences for others, and the factors that determine which items and events earn the distinction of becoming artifacts or part of our cultural heritage.

Petra Elfström

DHi CLASS Scholar, Hamilton College

Petra Elfström is a Creative Writing and Archaeology double major at Hamilton College. She sings in an a cappella group on campus, and often draws and travels with her family in her free time. Combining her love of art and writing with her passion for archaeology, Petra is now working alongside Professor Nathan Goodale and Alissa Nauman to create a short educational film with the aim to present the archaeological practice of the Slocan Narrows Archaeological Project to the general public in an accessible manner. Though the Slocan Narrows site is open to the public and presents its findings every year at a “public day,” the Project was still lacking an informational film that showed the complete archaeological process of the site, including lab analyses and senior theses and not just the field work. They are now working with the DHi to fill this gap in a creative and educational manner. Petra will work on script-writing, creating story-boards, and organizing the different assets already available to include in the film. In addition, Petra will be helping with filming and editing the documentary. She looks forward to increasing her knowledge of filmography as well as her familiarity with the Slocan Narrows site and the culture that it represents.

DHi 2015-2016 CLASS Scholars

Hoang Do - Class of 2017

DHi Class Scholar, Hamilton College

Hoang Do ’17 is a Cinema and New Media Studies major at Hamilton College. Hoang is working with Professor Kyoko Omori on the Crossroads in Context short film as a videographer, video editor, and creative consultant. The film documents refugees’ involvement in ESL classes in Utica NY, thereby narrating an aspect of their assimilation into American society. Hoang also helped design the Comparative Japanese Film Archive’s interface during the Institute for Liberal Arts Digital Scholarship (ILiADS) conference, which took place in summer 2015 at Hamilton College. Learning from his experience with Crossroads in Context, Hoang intends to create his own documentary film about the Karen Burmese refugees in Utica. He aims to approach the project on a personal level through recording the daily life of a single Karen refugee, believing that the microcosm of a person’s journey can be telling of macro trends.

Hoang's student reflections essay can be found at:

Mackenzie Doherty

DHi CLASS Scholar, Hamilton College

Mackenzie is a member of the Class of 2018 from Worcester, MA. She is majoring in Creative Writing and minoring in Government and Women's Studies. She plays softball, club soccer, and club basketball. Mackenzie is working on the Beloved Witness project, a digital archive of the personal writings, readings, and manuscripts of Kashmiri-American poet Agha Shahid Ali. In her involvement with the DHi, she hopes to explore how technology may not only further our understanding of textuality, but actually have the power to forge relationships between creative scholarship and the public.

Alexa Merriam - Class of 2018

DHi Class Scholar, Hamilton College

Alexa Merriam is a Creative Writing major and Music minor at Hamilton College. She designed an original dHi project that fuses her passions for experimental storytelling, spirituality, and nature. Her semester in the Hamilton Adirondack Program has further enhanced her project. In collaboration with Director of the Adirondack Program, Professor Janelle Schwartz, and DHi, she is exploring literature that gives insight into so-called “paranormal” phenomena and engaging with the Adirondack community to gather personal accounts and determine what makes the Adirondacks so conducive for spiritual experiences and practices, -- ranging from meditation to astral projection. Alexa is creating an interactive fiction platform inspired by what she has learned and by her own and others' spiritual journeys. Digital media can best represent the sensory elements of accounts that transcend words. By representing a story in the realest way possible, Alexa aims to emphasize the value that obscure subjects like energy healing, astrology, and parapsychology should have in academia. 

Alexa's reflections blog can be found at:

Jackie Rodriguez - Class of 2020

DHi CLASS Scholar, Hamilton College

Jackie Rodriguez is a sophomore from Orlando, FL majoring in Government and minoring in Anthropology at Hamilton College. She is currently working with Professor John Bartle of the Russian Studies department on The Refugee Project— a project that has been ongoing for multiple years now. The focus of the project is on collecting oral histories of the various refugees settling in Utica, NY and archiving these stories digitally through the means of transcriptions and video. On top of the oral history component of The Refugee Project, Jackie and Professor Bartle are in the midst of sifting through microfilm of Utica’s past Observer Dispatch articles to find any articles related to refugees or the Refugee Center. The project shall result in a digital archive where oral histories and articles can be easily accessed by any scholar pursuing research on Refugees. Passionate about religion, community, and culture, Jackie has found her interests deeply imbedded within the project. She hopes to further her skills in creating and examining metadata as she continues on with her research. 

Jackie's student reflections essay can be found at:

Talia Vaughan - Class of 2018

DHi CLASS Scholar, Hamilton College

Talia Vaughan is a member of the class of 2018 from Madison, New Hampshire. She is a Religious Studies major with other interests in Anthropology and History. She started her work with the Digital Humanities Initiative in her sophomore year, working first on the NOLA project, transcribing oral histories for use in the collection. She is currently working with Dr. Nieves on the Soweto Project, completing projects such as a timeline of the Mandela family home, mapping of mine hostels surrounding Johannesburg, South Africa, and beginning work on digitizing and preserving artifacts from Soweto. Through her work with the DHi, Talia is hoping to improve her technology skills in order to explore the possibility of documenting and preserving the voices and concerns of minority groups and individuals.

DHi 2014-2015 CLASS Scholars

Jack Lyons - Class of 2016

Jack Lyons - Class of 2016

DHi CLASS Scholar, Hamilton College

Jack Lyons is a rising junior, and is majoring in Asian Studies with a Japanese focus. Since childhood, he has had a profound interest in Japanese culture, especially Samurai.Following this interest, Jack is working with Professor Kyoko Omori on the Japanese silent film, Orochi (1925) & Benshi artists project. For the project, Jack will construct a narrative script in English for the Japanese silent movie, Orochi, and will analyze certain aspects of the movie like its cinematography and the Japanese culture presented in the movie. In addition, Jack will also help create a documentary on the Clinton area that will be used in a workshop this Fall. During the workshop, Hamilton students will be able to create and recite their own Benshi script for the documentary. Jack aims to not only further his knowledge of the Japanese language and culture through this project, but also to learn more about film and how it is created. Hamilton News

Gabriella Pico - Class of 2016

DHi CLASS Scholar, Hamilton College

Gabriella Pico is a rising junior and Public Policy Major at Hamilton College. As an American of Cuban descent, the issues of Cuban and Cuban-American women have interested her for many years. In collaboration with Professor Vivyan Adair, the Emerson Grant program, and the DHi, she will be exploring literature and photography by Cuban-American women in an effort to understand how these two cultures influence these women at the micro and meso levels. Gabriella will be using the skills she has learned in exploring and analyzing the intersections of culture, class, and race in these women’s writings. Her research will culminate in a written analysis which she will contribute to an ongoing digital platform in collaboration with Lafayette College’s DHi. This platform aims to make information more accessible to those scholars who, due to structural economic inequalities, find themselves outside of the academy, and unable to engage with scholarly material.

Lauren Scutt - Class of 2016

DHi CLASS Scholar, Hamilton College

Lauren Scutt is a member of the class of 2017, and is double majoring in Religious Studies and Psychology. Alongside Professor Abhishek Amar, Lauren has been working on the “Sacred Centers in India” project. Specifically, Lauren has spent time organizing and updating the metadata for Sacred Centers’ archive. Independently, Lauren is researching the psychological benefits of funerary rituals (particularly, Gaya-based, sraddha) in confronting the death of loved ones and ones’ self. DHi has provided Lauren with an opportunity to further develop her research skills and better present her findings in the digital age.  Her second CLASS summer was as an intern at the British Museum working with Professor Michael Willis on the Beyond Boundaries: Religion, Region, Language and the State project. Lauren has presented aspects of her research with Professor Amar at Bucknell's Digital Scholarship Conference 2014 and at the Undergraduate Network for Research in the Humanities at Davidson College 2015. Scutt describes her experiences in this reflection paper.

Lauren's student reflection essay can be found at:

Lainie Smith - Class of 2016

DHi Student Intern, Hamilton College

Lainie Smith is a sophomore at Hamilton College. She is originally from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. She is concentrating in Creative Writing and minoring in Religious Studies. As an intern with the Digital Humanities Initiative, she is working with Professor Abhishek Amar on his “Sacred Centers” project. By working with DHi, Lainie hopes to hone her skills in communications and research and apply her knowledge of innovative digital technology to represent creative ideas.Hamilton News

DHi 2013-2014 CLASS Scholars

Kerri Grimaldi - Class of 2015

DHi CLASS Scholar, Hamilton College

Kerri Grimaldi is an English major at Hamilton College. As a DHi CLASS scholar, she is working with Professor Patricia O'Neill on The Beloved Witness project--a collaborative digital archive featuring the works of Kashmiri American poet, Agha Shahid Ali. Kerri is utilizing the archive to study the influence of Emily Dickinson's poetry on Shahid's. Kerri's work developed from her interest in the discourse formed between the works of the two poets, evident through Shahid's references to Dickinson. With the skills obtained during her year in DHi's CLASS program, she is exploring text analysis tools and creating a digital presentation of her research to visually present the intertextual relationship between Shahid’s poetry and Dickinson’s.  See Kerri's website and interpretative video.  Kerri's Summer 2014 off-campus internship was in the Electronic Textual Cultures Lab (ETCL) directed by Ray Siemens at the Universtiy of Victoria. Hamilton News - DH 2014 Conference Poster Presentation by Grimaldi and Simons

DHi 2012-2013 CLASS Scholars

Max Lopez - Class of 2014

DHi CLASS Scholar, Hamilton College

Max Lopez is a rising sophomore and archaeology major at Hamilton College. Having been interested in archaeology since a very young age, Max now works with Professor Nathan Goodale on a site in the Slocan Valley of British Columbia. The site consists of a series of pit houses or winter homes for the Native Americans that inhabited it. Max, who has been working with and learning 3D digital modeling software over the summer, will visit the site and using GPS/GIS technology will map the pit houses. After that he hopes to create an accurate to life 3D reconstruction of the site that can be walked through and interacted with. Not only will this reconstruction aid in research as a cost effective alternative to a physical reconstruction of the site but it will also be a new way to get the public involved in the research. Archaeology is a field defined by advancing technology and Max looks to use his knowledge of 3D modeling to continue pushing the field forward in new ways and staying ahead of the curve.After his time as a DHi Student Fellow, Max was accepted into graduate school at both the University of Cambridge and Oxford University.

Ujjwal Pradhan

DHi CLASS Scholar, Hamilton College

Ujjwal Pradhan is working on The Beloved Witness, a digital humanities project that aims to create a collaborative digital archive for the works of a Kashmiri American poet, Agha Shahid Ali. Shahid ia a famous Kashmiri-American poet who popularized ghazal form of poetry and represented the Kashmiri struggle in his poems. Ujjwal is working with Professor Patricia O’Neill in getting a deeper understanding of Shahid’s works as the archive is being built. Ujjwal worked as a journalist for a national newspaper during his gap year in Nepal, and has keenly followed South Asian geo-politics. With the Witness project, he is attempting to use his knowledge to comprehend the Kashmiri struggle through Shahid’s poems. Besides creating an interactive archive interface for readers to learn about Shahid’s life and works, he is also very interested in using the new technology in analyzing literary texts like Shahid’s.

DHi 2011-2012 CLASS Scholars

Sarah Bither

DHi CLASS Scholar, Hamilton College

Sarah Bither is an Asian Studies major and an Economics and English double minor at Hamilton College. She enjoys studying the complexities of Japanese language and culture and is a self-proclaimed bookworm. Alongside Professor Kyoko Omori, Sarah is currently conducting a comprehensive study of the power and influence of Japanese silent film on the Japanese culture and film industry. Ultimately, she hopes to travel to Japan and continue her research by working closely with rare primary sources. As technology continues to rapidly evolve, Sarah will aim to take advantage of these new technological opportunities and incorporate digital media into her studies. She is confident that the research, analytical, and presentation tools she has developed through DHi will be a tremendous asset to her in whatever career path she pursues, whether it be in humanities or finance.

Xinyang Li

DHi CLASS Scholar, Hamilton College

Xinyang Li is working on her project about Confucianism’s role in China. Confucianism has been a school of thought, which is considered as the orthodox thinking of Chinese culture. However, as China develops its economic power, Confucianism serves new roles. It has become a symbol of Chinese culture as Confucian Institutes are established vastly in the Western world. Furthermore, Confucianism has been commercialized in recent decades, serving to attract tourists. Li is exploring whether Confucianism is losing its essence while it is acting multiple roles or Confucianism coexists with its new roles.

Randall Telfer

DHi CLASS Scholar, Hamilton College

Randall Telfer is a rising senior at Hamilton College, majoring in both Chinese language and World Politics. He recently returned from a semester abroad at the Minzu University of China located in Beijing, where he studied advanced modern Chinese and Classical Chinese, and also conducted research on the environmental ethics of Confucian, Buddhist, and Daoist teachings. While in China, he also made his debut as an amateur Xiangsheng performer. Back in his hometown of Avon, CT, however, no one wants to see him on a stage of any kind. Telfer joins the Digital Humanities Initiative at Hamilton College with an interest in the Cult of Confucius as well as the relationship between Confucian teachings and the environment.

Brynna Tomassone

DHi CLASS Scholar, Hamilton College

Brynna Tomassone is a member of the class of 2012, just having returned from her junior year abroad as part of the Hamilton College Academic Year in Spain program. Ms. Tomassone is double majoring in Hispanic Studies and Africana Studies, with a particular interest in the socio-politic-linguistic influence of the African diaspora on women in the Caribbean. Ms. Tomassone will deliver a paper entitled 'The Use of Study Abroad in the Development of a Global Multicultural Perspective for Preservice Teachers in both Kenya and the United States' at the International Conference on Education at Kenyatta University, Nairobi, Kenya, East Africa in July, 2011. Additionally, she is completing a Culture Liberal Arts and Society Scholar (CLASS) fellowship, working on a Digital Humanities project documenting the Soweto uprising in 1976. In collaboration with Dr. Angel Nieves and his work on the Soweto '76 Digital Archive, Ms. Tomassone is hoping to raise awareness to social justice issues by linking global perspectives and the human experience. Ms. Tomassone plans to pursue her scholarly interests in graduate school abroad.

Melissa Yang

DHi CLASS Scholar, Hamilton College

Melissa Yang is a sophomore at Hamilton College. She is a DHi undergraduate scholar. She is currently working with Professor Kyoko Omori and Sarah Bither on the Comparative Japanese Film Archive, which was started by Professor Omori and Alex Benkhart. Her interest in films and filming techniques was cultivated during her time at Brooklyn Technical High School. At the same time, she picked up an array of skills in manipulative software, which she hopes to add to in the future. Melissa also has an interest in foreign languages. She hopes to study abroad in China and Japan during her junior year to further her language skills. She would like to work on future projects that would put her acquired language skills to use.