Select a field to read a short excerpt from the student's proposal.

 

The Philosophy of Astronomy

"While other sciences like biology start out with a clear hypothesis that can be tested with experiments, astronomers fit models to observational data. Theories in astrophysics generate different predictions of some observable variable, and the model that fits best gets support. However, this process does not prove that there are no better alternatives to explain the observed phenomenon."

Artistic and Cultural Movements of Enlightenment Europe

"New movements in art are almost always elaborations on thinking from philosophy and literature, which are in turn reflections of the historical atmosphere of the period. Therefore, to understand the art of the past, one must have a feeling for the zeitgeist of the time..."

Food and the Environment

"...I will investigate how a society’s diet affects global ecosystems and how the environment affects what people eat. I will explore the history of agriculture from its roots ten millennia ago to the corporate agriculture of today and analyze the consequences of this evolution."

Consciousness

"For centuries, philosophers and scientists have recognized a disconnect between the mind and the brain. We are clearly conscious, but identifying the physical cause of that consciousness is difficult..."

Drug Development and the Inner Workings of the Drug Industry

"...I will analyze the future of drug synthesis using computer-assisted drug design (CADD) to produce drugs on a more cost- and time-effective scale. In computer-assisted drug design, researchers use software to analyze potential drug targets."

Technology and Memory

"I propose to examine how various technologies have affected our ability to memorize information and how these influences have changed the social value of memory."

Neurolinguistic Significance of Endangered Languages

"...I propose to examine how studying languages on the brink of extinction can broaden our understanding of the brain’s capacity for language. I intend to focus on indigenous languages of Latin America, partly because South America is a hotbed of linguistic and grammatical diversity, and partly because UT’s linguistics department specializes in Latin American languages."

The Future of Energy

"I plan to study the economic and environmental viability of non-fossil fuel energy sources such as hydroelectric, nuclear, solar, and wind. To discover what is needed to make these sources of energy attractive as potential replacements for fossil fuels, we have to consider both technological and environmental costs. In addition, the consequences of shifting a status quo that hinges upon fossil fuels must be taken into account."

Ethics in Big Pharma

"Can we make drugs less expensive? If the profit margin is reduced, will drug quality decrease? Is this industry exploiting the human need to survive and the entire healthcare field’s dependence on safe and effective medicine? Is there a way to ensure the pharmaceutical industry can be incentivized to develop new drugs without compromising safety, prices, and patients’ trust and satisfaction?"

The Molecular and Geographical Map of Disease

"The interdisciplinary field I have devised . . . focuses on the connection between the molecular structure of disease-causing agents and how these structural features affect their geographical and environmental distribution. This field takes aspects of molecular biology and mingles them with advanced epidemiology and geography, linking what happens at the microscopic level with what results at the macroscopic level."

Communication and Conflict

"...I intend to examine how different people in interpersonal relationships communicate with each other as they cope with combat. By 'interpersonal' I refer not only to face-to-face, verbal and nonverbal interactions but also to conversations through emails, texts, and phone."

Abortion in the United States

"Abortion has existed in every civilization since ancient times. In the United States, abortion has been practiced since the earliest settlers, but it has only been legal since 1973. Even though abortion is a widely practiced medical procedure and illegal in only six countries, it is commonly seen as unethical and taboo..."

Explorations in Cognitive Speech Science

"From a neuroscience perspective, language is complicated. It is well-established that speech production is coordinated by a region in the left frontal lobe called Broca’s area. This was discovered by Paul Broca, who while performing autopsies on patients with deficiencies in their abilities to speak, found a common area in the brain in which damage was present."

Pharmacotherapy, Complementary Medicine, and Anxiety Disorders

"...I propose to examine whether complementary treatments can be combined with pharmacotherapy to create a more effective approach to treating anxiety disorders. Complementary medicine is the use of herbal and botanical supplements, nutritional therapy, and mind/body exercises such as yoga and meditation while pharmacotherapy is the use of physician-prescribed or over-the-counter drugs."

International Politics and Finance

"The world’s political and financial structures exist in a constant feedback loop. Decisions made by banks and businesses affect policies made by governments, which affect further decisions made by banks and businesses. Different players have different motivations . . . but politics and finance are unavoidably intertwined as fundamental elements of our global order."

Music Therapy and the Brain

"The idea of using music to heal the unwell is present throughout history. In fact, the recognition of music’s inherent therapeutic properties dates back even to the writings of Plato and Aristotle, who thought that music’s inherent mathematical structure was connected both to the cosmos and humanity itself. “Man’s music,” wrote Plato in Timaeus, 'is seen as a means of restoring the soul, as well as confused and discordant bodily afflictions.'"

The Rhetoric of Race and Criminal Justice

"...I will analyze the correlation between the media’s representation of different races within the criminal justice system and the polarization of public opinions. By the end of my studies I want to be able to figure out how news media is using information to shape their audience's understanding and opinions of racial and criminal justice."

Sociology of Visual Persuasion

"We are surrounded by visual rhetoric: logos, symbols, icons, or any other image with a message and an intent. It’s a universal language that conveys complex ideas without the limitations of rigid definitions— human use of images predates the use of the spoken language. Whether it’s seeing a fashion advertisement or trying to solve an abstract math problem in our heads, there’s no denying the ubiquity and potency of visualization."

Perspectives on Scientific Research

"...I wish to study why certain scientific research is more readily accepted than other research, and how the relationship between science and the general global public has evolved. This topic will mostly involve study in the field of philosophy but also history and psychology."

Contemporary Film and Criticism in Western Culture

"The world of cinema has undergone a technological revolution within the past couple decades. The development of digital cinematography has given more filmmakers opportunities to create for a wider audience. Independent filmmakers can create films on small budgets and distribute them on video-sharing websites, and they can receive industry attention if their product proves popular."

Envisioning the Anthropocene

"Humans have had such profound effects on the Earth, it is now necessary to define a new time period to reflect these changes. The Anthropocene is the proposed name for the epoch that would begin when human-earth interactions first appeared in the geologic record. In my interdisciplinary field of study, 'Envisioning the Anthropocene,' I plan to study how human actions affect the hydrosphere, biosphere, atmosphere, and geosphere."

Mental Health Treatment for African-Americans

"According to the Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health, African Americans are 20% more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the general population.' The African-American community needs meaningful, long-term solutions to challenges ranging from stigma associated with mental health to affordability. In my field, Mental health treatment for African-Americans, I will explore how community leaders and policy makers can identify low-cost, effective mental health treatment for this population."

Subliminal Rapport Building

"The unconscious mind steers our decisions, perceptions, and judgments in ways that escape our awareness. Of particular interest to me is what influence these unconscious mental processes have on the formation of social perception..."

Health and Healthcare in West Africa

"...I will explore our global responsibilities to West Africa and the financial burdens that West Africans face in their efforts to reach optimal health and healthcare. I will also examine the disparities between West Africa and the United States and the role traditional medicine may play in West Africa’s modern healthcare system."

Quantum Physics in Biological Phenomena

"In a trivial sense, all of life is based in quantum mechanics: All things, living or otherwise, are made of atoms and atoms are governed by quantum mechanics. But I am attempting to study a non-trivial manifestation of quantum mechanics in life."

Politics of Climate Change

"What are the responsibilities of human beings to the Earth? How do our perceptions of these responsibilities affect how we view climate change? And why are so many people resistant to the idea of climate change?"

Rhetoric of Sustainability

"I’m interested in how to more effectively communicate to others the importance of sustainability. Additionally, I’m interested in how to make more effective efforts to change unsustainable social practices that will result in less political pushback."

Health, Poverty, and Society

"My field of study will explore how national governments deliver healthcare to their poor. I particularly want to explore how healthcare is managed for individuals displaced from their native societies due to war or economic strife. The groups I am most interested in studying are the refugee populations in the Middle East, most of whom find themselves in alien societies, impoverished and in poor health, with little or no access to healthcare."

Therapeutic Potential of the Healthcare Setting

"In 1933, architect Alvar Aalto completed Finland’s newest hospital for tuberculosis patients, Paimio Sanatorium. Aalto was among the first to design patient rooms especially to promote healing and comfort--no-splash sinks so as not to disturb other patients in the room, lighting placed away from sight lines, soothing wall colors, ventilating windows, and large sun balconies..."

Assessing Altruism

"Since 1946, the United States government has spent trillions of dollars on foreign aid, not including the money that private organizations send to countries in need. However, according to the World Economic Forum, studies seeking to determine the relationship between foreign aid and growth in developing countries have been inconclusive. Why have conditions in these less developed countries not markedly improved?"

Health Data and Public Policy

“Despite the rapid growth of genomic and health data, patient records, while digitized, are usually confined to the database of the private practice or hospital in which a patient visits. This means patients and researchers cannot take advantage of the total body of healthcare information to inform difficult diagnoses and direct life-saving treatment….My main focus will be to assess the dissonance between the spike in health data accessibility and the lack of widespread patient benefit…”