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Graduate Students Report on Research Supported by CLACS

Published: Monday, 16 Nov 2015
Author: Joy M Whitten
Department: Latin American Studies Center

CLACS uses its endowment fund to provide scholarship awards to undergraduate students for MSU study abroad programs and to support predissertation research for graduate students. The knowledge, experience, and contacts gained through predissertation research make it possible for PhD students to craft competitive grant proposals that can secure external funds for dissertation research. In 2016 CLACS provided predissertation research funding to four graduate students.

Mark Gibson, a doctoral student in Criminal Justice, spent time this summer in Nicaragua doing research on motivated trust and voluntary compliance in fisheries. Mark conducted research into the policing of two small-scale fisheries for the Caribbean spiny lobster and green turtle off Nicaragua's Atlantic Coast. This work will contribute to the improvement of fisheries management in Nicaragua and, more broadly, the comparative analysis of fisheries compliance programs globally.

Andrew Bentley, a PhD Candidate in Hispanic Cultural Studies, conducted preliminary dissertation fieldwork in Guatemala City.  His research interests center on Post-Conflict Central American cultural production. Specifically, his summer research examined the legacy of urban violence related to the Guatemalan Civil War in non-canonical texts such as the Historic Archives of the National Police, newspapers in the National Library, street performances, graffiti, a parade for sexual diversity and gender identity, and political manifestations.

Susan Kooiman, a doctoral student in Anthropology, worked as a staff member on the Central Belize Archaeological Survey (CBAS), directed by Dr. Gabriel Wrobel, an associate professor of Anthropology at MSU. The project aims to deepen understanding of the architecture and history of the Maya site of Tipan Chen Uitz, an ancient urban center in Belize. This year, excavations sought to determine what lay beneath the main plaza floor, as well as to expose the steps of Structure A-1, a segment of the palatial complex. While Susan learned a lot about the architecture of the building, the most exciting part of her season was the discovery of two monuments with glyphic texts. These texts will help us understand the history of the site and its role in the ancient Maya world.

Sara Torres, a master's student in Community Sustainability, traveled to San Joaquin, Cundinamarca, Colombia to collect data for her thesis. Sara is exploring how payment for ecosystem services affects the values, beliefs, and norms of the communities where these payments are implemented.