Xiaodi Alice Tang ’18 and David Lind ’18 have been selected as this year’s recipients of the Martin A. Dale ’53 Fellowships. The fellowship provides a $35,000 grant for a year after graduation to explore a creative project of interest.
Tang plans to run workshops in the U.S. and China, integrating STEM and the arts and documenting her work through photographs, writing, artwork, and more. She became interested in the intersection between STEM and the humanities from a young age, enjoying both playing the piano and poring through science books.
“A question that we see a lot in elementary school is ‘what is your favorite subject?’ and I felt that I never really had an answer to that question,” Tang said.
A computer science major with a certificate in quantitative and computational biology, Tang is also a member of several performing arts groups, including the Chapel Choir, Glee Club, Princeton Pianists Ensemble, and the Edwards Collective, a select group of humanities students in Mathey College.
“Through being a member of the Edwards Collective, I’ve experienced first-hand how some of the most exciting conversations and creative projects occur when we erase the boundaries,” Tang wrote in a statement. “Through Princeton’s QCB certificate program, I’ve seen the boundaries of science blur while the value of interdisciplinary thought and application in scientific inquiry becomes ever more in focus.”
Tang was inspired to apply for the fellowship because of her work with the Council on Science and Technology.
“I wanted to continue that work, and I thought it was a good way to explore how the integration of STEM and the arts can manifest in pedagogy,” Tang said.
The STEM and arts lessons will be brought to regions across the U.S. and China, with activities such as paper pianos, DIY touchpads, and pinhole cameras. Tang emphasized that the lessons should not only be educational, but also culturally relevant. Some regions she plans to visit are rural and may have little to no exposure to STEM.
“In what ways can I design something that connects to their daily lived experience as well?” Tang asked. After she leaves each site, she hopes to leave kits and materials behind for students to continue exploring.
“By including everyday, culture-specific phenomena and materials in these modules, I aim to reduce barriers to continued exploration after the workshops end,” Tang wrote in a statement.
After the fellowship, Tang wants to bring together the writing, artwork, and photographs from her experience in an interactive book. In addition, she wants to make her lesson plans open-source for any students or educators who may be interested. Further in the future, she plans to attend graduate school and go into the field of education.
“This fellowship will allow me to explore how to best serve those I will be teaching,” Tang said.
She is especially curious about the way content is taught in classrooms today and wants to investigate ways in which lessons can be better integrated.
“Education can be more efficient, learning these different topics at the same time in a way that they make sense in relation to each other,” Tang said. “It helps you remember and appreciate how things work as a whole.”
In the end, Tang hopes that her workshops will enable students to explore new fields and venture into areas they never considered. She also hopes to learn how science and the arts can complement one another as individual entities, rather than one acting in the service of the other.
“You could create a program to write music in the style of a composer. But at the same time, what music could be generated from a computer that sounds different, that is a novel sound? Computation can be used less as a tool, and more as an artwork,” she said.
Lind, a member of Wilson College, plans to spend his fellowship year in Nashville writing and recording a folk music album titled “Surviving Death: Songs from Hospice,” inspired by his volunteer experiences at hospices.
“I saw the Dale as an amazing opportunity to get funding for a year to do something that’s really at the intersection of these two interests I had for a long time,” said Lind, referring to palliative (end-of-life) care and music.
“In high school, I had a few family members and friends who had hospice care when they were dying, and it was pretty influential in their lives,” said Lind.
In his sophomore year at the University, Lind started volunteering at Ascend Hospice through the Pace Center for Civic Engagement’s Student Volunteers Council, where he was a project leader for over a year.
The summer after his sophomore year, Lind worked in Nashville with the Siloam Family Health Center through Princeton Internships in Civic Service. This previous summer, he held an internship at CanSupport, a nonprofit hospice in New Delhi through the International Internship Program.
“Thinking about our decisions in terms of that end-of-life perspective, it’s been very helpful,” said Lind. His approach to palliative care was also affected by some ideas he came across while studying abroad at Oxford for his junior semester.
“If someone’s experiencing delusions, there’s one hypothesis that they’re actually trying to make sense of their world in a very almost rational way, there’s an internal logic to it,” said Lind. He said that it changed his approach to think of people as having different perspectives, more than simply being ill.
The perspectives he has gained directly from volunteering at hospices are also incredibly motivating for Lind. He found that his experiences matched a takeaway he found in Atul Gawande’s “Being Mortal,” that “as people age, their perspective gets much more ‘in the now,’ and the people around them become much more important,” said Lind.
Lind’s musical motivations also run deep. He has played the guitar since he was 13 years old. Now, through the Pace Center’s Princeton Music Outreach, Lind arranges performances at hospices by groups like Princeton Pianists Ensemble. Lind also sometimes plays the guitar in performances at Small World Cafe and other locations.
Playing the guitar has been a consistent interest in Lind’s life, serving as a stress reliever as well as a passion. “It’s life-giving in some sense,” said Lind.
During the past two summers, Lind has had the opportunity to record some of songs he has written in Joshua D. Niles’s studio in Nashville. Niles “aspires to help each artist reach for their identity, while retaining a competitive edge in today’s over saturated market.”
Lind’s experience with one of his songs in particular, “Garden,” inspired the project he will be completing under the Dale Fellowship. Upon receiving an email that the patient who inspired the song had died on the same day he was recording “Garden”’s vocal track, Lind decided to pursue a more long-term music project centering around his hospice volunteer experiences.
In his songwriting, Lind draws inspiration about his musical style and story-telling process from Passenger, Americana, Jason Isbell, and Kendrick Lamar.
Lind is a senior majoring in philosophy, with a certificate in cognitive science. He plans to begin the process of applying to graduate school or medical school after completing his year-long Dale Fellowship project.
The Martin A. Dale ‘53 Summer Awards grant a $5,000 stipend to a small number of sophomores. They support pursuit of creative special interest projects that provide opportunities for personal growth and independence. The twelve sophomores granted the award this year are Seb Benzecry, Veronica Carrasco, Douglas Corzine, Jonathan Haynes, Ozichi Okorom, Benjamin Rosenblatt, Eleanora Schaer, Michael Smilek, Bennett Weissenbach, Owen Wheeler, Charity Young, and Kevin Hou.