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Graduate Student Associates


Summer Reading 2023: GSA Recommendations

Summer is on the horizon and that means it’s a great time to catch up on a book (or two or three!). We spoke with some of the Mittal Institute’s Graduate Student Associates to see what’s on their reading list and to hear more about their favorite reads.

GSA Spotlight: Nusrat Jahan Mim on Designing in Urban Bangladesh

Nusrat Jahan Mim, a Mittal Institute Graduate Student Associate, is a Doctor of Design candidate at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. Her research focuses on post-colonial, post-secular urban designs and human-computer interaction. By examining existing systems, she explores how different spatial and technical designs challenge or propagate social exclusions in the Global South. She is a Harvard Mellon Urban Initiative Fellow for the academic year 2022-23. Prior to Harvard, she won the prestigious AIA Henry Adams Medal from Syracuse School of Architecture for achieving the highest academic rank in M.Arch. The Mittal Institute also profiled her work on makeshift cattle markets in Dhaka in a September 2021 newsletter. We spoke with Nusrat to get an update on her work and new GSA role.

Understanding the World Through Art: Explore Vaishnavi Patil’s Research

Vaishnavi Patil, one of the Mittal Institute’s new Graduate Student Associates, is a doctoral candidate in Harvard’s History of Art and Architecture department working on South and Southeast Asia. Vaishnavi received her B.A. in Ancient Indian History and Culture from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai, and an MA in History of Art and Archaeology from SOAS, London. She was a Yenching scholar at Peking University, China, receiving an MA in China Studies. In addition to her studies, Vaishnavi has participated in numerous internships, including curatorial training at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Harvard Art Museums. Vaishnavi is interested in studying female deities, especially mother goddesses, and how production, patronage, and development of religions play a role in the evolution of the mother goddess in South Asia. She is also interested in the text-to-image relationships in South Asian art, particularly the literal and the symbolic in the illustration of a text. Other areas of interest include popular practices, marginalized deities, depiction of evil, and gender issues. Her current research aims to analyze the origins and development of the cult of the mother goddess in South and Southeast Asia, particularly her representations and the popular practices centered on her.

Tina Liu has Witnessed the Growing Threat of Fires Firsthand. Now She’s Studying Their Impacts.

Tianjia (Tina) Liu joined the Mittal Institute as a Graduate Student Associate in the 2021-2022 academic year and is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University. Tina’s research focuses on using satellite data and atmospheric modeling to quantify the impacts of fires on air quality and public health in India, Indonesia, and globally. She has recently published 2 papers with another in review on the topic of crop residue burning and the impact on air quality degradation. Prior to joining the Mittal Institute, Tina received her B.A. in Environmental Science from Columbia University, and her research has primarily been focused on fires and air quality since her undergraduate days.

Tradition and Transformation: A Conversation on South Asian Politics with Pratap Bhanu Mehta and Hansong Li

Hansong Li (Mittal Institute, Harvard University), spoke with Pratap Bhanu Mehta (Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi; Laurance S. Rockefeller Distinguished Professor at the Center for Human Values, Princeton University) about the South Asian political sphere ahead of the 2022 Global Political Thought Conference on April 8. Both interlocutors are founding members of the Association for Global Political Thought, an international, interdisciplinary, and intercollegiate project founded in 2021, supported by humanists and social scientists from global institutions. What follows is an exerpt from their conversation – to read the full text, visit the article in Comparative Political Theory.

The Economics of Decision-Making: A Spotlight on the Work of Graduate Student Associate Ronak Jain

Ronak Jain, a Mittal Institute Graduate Student Associate, is a 4th year Ph.D. student in Economics at Harvard University. Her research interests lie in the intersection of economic development and behavioral economics. Her work seeks to understand how beliefs and preferences shape economic and psychological outcomes of individuals and communities, with a regional focus on South Asia. She is a former Harvard Kennedy Scholar. She also serves as a Resident Advisor for Graduate Students in the GSAS Residence Halls at Harvard.