June 6, 2012
An Interview with Sharia Mayfield
Sharia Mayfield is a junior majoring in English and Creative Writing. Originally from the city of Portland, in Oregon, she has long been interested in and concerned by the erosion of Fourth-Amendment protections for American citizens. Her interest and deep concern stem from the FBI’s wrongful arrest of her father in 2004. Under provisions of the Patriot Act, he was detained for two weeks after being erroneously linked to the Madrid train bombings. This chilling experience and the subsequent legal actions have defined and driven much of her work here at Stanford. She has been heavily involved with the Muslim Student Awareness Network, the Students for Palestinian Equal Rights, and the Islamic Society of Stanford University. Last month, she participated in an ACLU-sponsored debate about civil liberties and the War on Terror. She talks to us about her family’s experiences, her views on civil liberties, and her thoughts about Islamophobia in our country.
May 30, 2012
An Interview with Brendan Cohen
Brendan Cohen is a second-year student at the law school. Originally from the town of Hanover, in New Hampshire, he did his undergraduate work at Yale, where he majored in both Astronomy and the History of Science. Upon graduating, he moved to Pottstown, Pennsylvania, and began teaching high-school physics at The Hill School. A year later, he returned to New Hampshire to teach Astronomy, Conceptual Physics, and the History of Science at St. Paul’s School in Concord. Since arriving at Stanford Law in 2010, he has been able to nurture and pursue his long-held interest in International Space Law. He spent last summer working in Vienna at the U.N.’s Office for Outer Space Affairs. Then, last quarter, he completed an externship at NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field. He talks to us about his work with these organizations, the history of Space Law, and the future of the international governance of outer space.
April 18, 2012
An Interview with Jenna Nicholas
Jenna Nicholas is a senior majoring in International Relations. Originally from the neighborhood of Chelsea, in London, she has long been interested in China, the emerging Chinese economy, and the potential there for civic-minded entrepreneurship and philanthropy. A pursuit of these interests has defined much of her work at Stanford. She has served as an editorial intern for the Stanford Social Innovation Review, as a researcher with the Stanford Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society, and as an organizer for the Business Association of Stanford Entrepreneurial Students. Last year, while attending Oxford University, she led the social entrepreneurship division of the Oxford Hub – Oxford’s on-campus volunteer center. Having now returned to Stanford, she continues to be one of the most active members of the undergraduate student body. She is currently a member of the Board at the Haas Center, an Academic Theme Associate in Crothers’s Global Citizen Dorm, and a student researcher with the Department of Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law. Her Senior Honors thesis, which draws upon countless interviews she conducted in Beijing, will explore the intersection of philanthropy, charity, and entrepreneurship in China. She is also Co-Founder of Phoenix Global Impact - an organization seeking to promote and encourage investments in Chinese social ventures. She talks to us about the prospects of philanthrocapitalism in China and also about some of the philosophical ideas that motivate her.
March 10, 2012
An Interview with Anna McConnell
Anna McConnell is a sophomore majoring in Human Biology. Originally from the town of Boothbay in Maine, she has long been an advocate for global public health and socioeconomic equality. After graduating high school, she spent a year doing volunteer work in both Uganda and India. Here on campus, she writes for the Stanford Journal of Public Health and is recognized as one of the leading organizers of the Occupy Stanford movement. Like on many other campuses, Occupy Stanford emerged last fall as a group hoping to mirror and amplify the sentiments of Occupy protests happening around the world. For the past few months, she has also been involved with the nascent Occupy Education movement. Its goal is to bring attention to the problems within California’s public education system, specifically: rising tuition costs, skyrocketing student debt, and increasing privatization. Last week, Occupy Education California held a ninety-nine-mile march from Oakland to Davis and then on to the state capitol building in Sacramento. She talks to us about her work with these organizations, her experiences with the marchers, and her views about activism and civil disobedience.
March 3, 2012
An Interview with Arun Prasad
Arun Prasad is a senior majoring in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Originally from the nearby town of Los Gatos, he has devoted much of his time outside of class to learning and studying the Sanskrit language. Not only has he mastered its phonology, morphology, and grammar, but he has also read and analyzed a remarkable amount of Sanskrit’s vast corpus of literature and poetry. Since the first quarter of his junior year, he has been independently working on several computational projects to help facilitate the study of Sanskrit. Using his knowledge of web design, natural language processing, and machine learning, he has built two exceptionally comprehensive websites. His first website – a step-by-step grammar guide – has already been used by thousands. Of the 23,000,000 results returned by a Google search for the phrase “Learn Sanskrit,” the grammar guide has been ranked at number one for the past year. His second website is an annotated reading library. Its goal is to make some of most daunting works of Sanskrit poetry and drama accessible to the most inexperienced of students. The annotations are not done by hand. Instead, they are generated automatically by a part-of-speech tagger and grammatical parser that he has been programming for the past several months. He talks to us about his various computational projects, his ideas about web-based approaches to classical pedagogy, and the importance of the Sanskrit language.