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A Season of Transitions for the Center

Jul 20 2018

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Clockwise from left: Iris Hui, Surabhi Balachander, Stephanie Burbank, and Thu Nguyen; Bruce E. Cain, center;  Surabhi Balachander and Thu Nguyen

Clockwise from left: Iris Hui, Surabhi Balachander, Stephanie Burbank, and Thu Nguyen; Bruce E. Cain, center; Surabhi Balachander and Thu Nguyen

Summer is almost always a time of transition at Stanford. With commencement behind us, we’d like to take stock of some significant comings and goings in the Bill Lane Center for the American West community.

Staff Updates

Stephanie Burbank, Events and Education Manager

Stephanie joined the Center this spring from the Political Science department, where she had served as the Undergraduate Program Administrator. Stephanie hit the ground running at the Center: two weeks after joining our team, she flew up to Yakima for the Eccles Family Rural West Conference, followed in April with the 21-mile Stanford to the Sea hike, and a flurry of events in May, including our ArtsWest symposium, “Art and Culture on the US-Mexico Border.”

Stephanie manages the Center’s events and undergraduate courses and programs, including the Spring quarter American West course, summer interns, and Sophomore College field course. Right now she's in the thick of catching dozens of student reports from internships in the field, which you can read on our Out West blog.

Iris Hui Marks Five Years

We're pleased to congratulate Iris Hui, our Senior Researcher, on five great years with the Center. Iris is the computational engine of the Center’s statistical social science work, coordinating surveys like our California Primary Poll from May 2018, as well as leading research exploring public acceptance of wind turbines in their communities or recycled tap water. In addition to her own research, Iris has guided several cohorts of student researchers, with the scraping of many thousands of pages of public agency websites to advance our understanding of collaboration in the West. Scrape on, Iris!

Natalie Pellolio Working on Dissertation Manuscript

Natalie Pellolio, our 2017-18 Thomas D. Dee III Graduate Fellow, will be staying with the Center for a few months working on the manuscript of her dissertation for publication. The work, Return to Sender: Photography, Art, and the Mail, 1845-1945, “examines the historical relationship between photography and the postal service in the United States, tracing the aesthetic influence of the mail on photographic practice as both forms developed across the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.”

Fond Farewells

Surabhi Balachander

Surabhi Balachander

Surabhi’s exceptional writing skills and gift for observation have been a great asset to the Center, whether for materials articulating our mission and programs, quick-turnaround recaps of our public events, or her research on the representation of women artists in museums around the American West. So it is no surprise that our Program Coordinator and 2017 Stanford graduate will be returning to scholarship: Surabhi will enter the University of Michigan this fall to begin work towards a PhD in English Language & Literature. Her areas of focus will be ethnic studies and environmental humanities: specifically, the intersection of agriculture, rurality, and race in 20th/21st-century American literature. We hope to invite Surabhi back as a contributor to our Rural West Conference.

Patricia Gonzales

On June 14, our office-mate Patricia successfully defended her PhD thesis, “Coordinating Regional Water Management to Enable Innovation and Prompt Collective Action.” Patricia will be leaving Stanford for Boulder, Colorado this summer to start the next phase of her career. Together with Water in the West and the ReNUWIt research lab, we offer our best wishes and congratulations to Patricia.

Thu Nguyen

The Center’s Program and Finance Coordinator since June 2017, Thu has been the administrative glue holding the Center and its programs together. This fall, Thu will begin pursuing her MD at Oakland University’s William Beaumont School of Medicine in Rochester Hills, Michigan. We are sad to see her go, but can’t think of a better place for Thu to apply her grit, attention to detail, poise under pressure, and personal charm. For her part, Thu says that “the knowledge and skill I gained working at the Center will be invaluable for my future in medicine.”

Surabhi notes that she and Thu will only be a one-hour drive apart from each other – with the midway point being the city of Novi, Michigan. Here’s some vegetarian restaurant recommendations to get them started for the next Bill Lane Center in the Midwest reunion.

Shiran Victoria Shen

The newly minted Political Science PhD will be taking up a position at the University of Virginia as an assistant professor of environmental politics. Victoria will continue to collaborate with the Center on public policy research exploring pollution and climate change in the American West and China. Her dissertation has received two best paper awards for article-length versions of selected chapters, from the American Political Science Association (2017 Paul A. Sabatier Award) and the Southern Political Science Association (2018 Malcolm Jewell Award), respectively.

Mary Sprague

Mary Sprague joined the Center in 2016 as a senior researcher, working on several projects that explored links between grant design and incentives and disadvantaged communities in California. Mary had previously worked at Stanford Public Policy, where she was a frequent collaborator with us on applied policy analysis in the West. She began a sabbatical this past June to spend more time with family and start work on her first children’s book.  


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