Fellowship Programs

Chipstone-CDMC Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship

The Center for Design and Material Culture partners each summer with the Chipstone Foundation to support research opportunities for undergraduates. The fellowships are for students studying in each of our three pillars: The Study of Textiles, Design Thinking, and Material Culture. Selected students receive financial support of up to $2,000 to conduct independent research with a CDMC-affiliated mentor and have the opportunity to present their work in a CDMC research symposium in August.  All UW—Madison undergraduate students who study in one of the CDMC’s three pillars are eligible to apply. The application window for the 2021 funding cycle is closed.

Read about the research conducted by our 2021 summer undergraduate fellows below.

Meet our Summer 2021 Undergraduate Fellows

Woman stands outdoors leaning on a building with a small smile and her arms crossed. She wears a bright red jacket.

Eden Foster

Degree Pursuing: BA in Political Science, Philosophy, and International Studies (certificates in French, Global Health, and African Studies)
Department: Political, Philosophy, and International Studies Departments, College of Letters and Science
Advisor: Lesley Sager, Faculty Associate in the Design Studies Department

“This research project highlights how design thinking has been used to create the Annual Rite of Passage (ARP) event to combat Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). It also seeks to utilize design thinking skills to further the event’s impact by means of creating holistic health education “playbooks” for participants. With the partnership of Aniceta Kiriga and the Tharaka Women’s Welfare Program, we analyze how design thinking can be used to improve health and social outcomes while maintaining a culture-sensitive lens.”


Headshot portrait of Sarah Olk who smiles in front of a beige wall with a blue shirt, long brown hair, and glasses.

Sarah Olk

Degree Pursuing: BA History and Art History
Department: History and Art History Departments, College of Letters & Science
Advisor: Jill Casid, Professor in the Art History Department

“My research and fellowship with the Center of Design and Material Culture explores the material culture and graphic design of the music industry from the 1980s to the 1990s with the recordworks of the British synthpop duo Pet Shop Boys as my primary focus. I concentrate on Pet Shop Boys’ 1993 album Very alongside examples of their albums and singles leading up to and following its release. The major themes of interest I explore are how Pet Shop Boys both align with, counter, and innovate the design contexts and phases of the music industry in the 80s-90s; the significance of Very’s design and existence as a dual visual and auditory object; the progression of queer subtext into text in their work; and how the duo blurred the line between art and pop music in a commercial setting.”


headshot photo of Abby Sharp smiling and standing in front of a garden. They wear a black shirt and silver nose ring and have short hair.

Abby Sharp

Degree Pursuing: BA in Textile Design (certificates in Material Culture and Gender and Women’s Studies)
Department: Design Studies Department, School of Human Ecology
Advisor: Sarah Anne Carter, Associate Professor in the Design Studies Department

“My research involves holistically examining quilts from the collection to gain a better perspective on textile archive practices. My work involves studying both the physical structure as well as the online database listings for several quilts, alongside reading quilt literature. Many of the collection’s quilts lack robust documentation, research, and exhibition; my research allows me to better understand the root of this problem and its possible solutions. I also found that looking closely at textiles without a predetermined goal is an effective research practice, and one that inherently works to solve the problems of archival under-documentation.”


Headshot photo of Sienna Simmons standing outdoors in front of pine trees. She wears a pink dress and smiles at the camera over her shoulder with her blonde/brown hair worn down.

Sienna Simmons

Degree Pursuing: BS Interior Architecture (certificate in Design Strategy)
Department: Design Studies Department, School of Human Ecology
Advisors: Jung-hye Shin, Associate Professor in the Design Studies Department; Marina Moskowitz, Professor in the Design Studies Department

“My fellowship with the Center for Design and Material Culture focuses on further developing a new Bachelor of Design program that will potentially be offered in the School of Human Ecology. To do this, I conducted market research through the development of surveys and analysis of similar programs offered at other universities. My focus is developing a program structure that meets the needs of students, faculty, and future employers. More importantly, the new program would strongly emphasize the importance of design as a cross-functional skill that is becoming increasingly utilized across society.”


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Summer 2020 Undergraduate Fellows

Circular Chinese textile
Doily. China. 1910-1929. HLATC# E.A.CH.0721. Gift from the Estate of Professor Helen Louise Allen. Photograph by Dakota Mace for the CDMC.

Zhaojie Zhong

Degree Pursuing: BA Art History and English
Department: Department of Art History, Department of English, College of Letters & Science
Advisor: Yuhang Li, Associate Professor in the Department of Art History

“The research for my fellowship focuses on the development and study of less explored items within the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection. Building off of research conducted by graduate students, I concentrate on Premodern Chinese embroidered materials, including quotidian, theatrical, and ceremonial textiles used to adorn furniture and architectural spaces, and popular apparel and accessories. By the completion of the CDMC Textile Fellowship, not only will these items obtain a richer background and be fleshed out in terms of their motifs and techniques, but they will also be made even more accessible to all.”


headshot photograph of a smiling man with a pink T-shirt standing outdoors.
Image courtesy of Noah Mapes

Noah Mapes

Degree Pursuing: BA Art History, Certificate in Material Culture
Department: Department of Art History, College of Letters & Science
Advisor: Ann Smart Martin, Professor in the Department of Art History

“A Colonial Merchant: The Ledger of William Ramsay asks the question: “what can a 250-year-old merchant’s ledger tell us about consumers, their purchases, and their communities?” During my fellowship with the Center for Design and Material Culture, I will join Dr. Ann Smart Martin and her team of student researchers to continue the work completed by Dr. Martin for the exhibition American Enterprise, which opened in 2015 at the Smithsonian Museum of History. This research will explore the social, commercial, and economic influence of the Ramsay-Dixon store on colonial Alexandria, Virginia during the mid-18th century. Ramsay’s ledger, housed at the Smithsonian archives, reflects a global consumer market made tangible in the Ramsay-Dixon store. As this project enters a new phase, I will provide important research and instructions for producing customer profiles; thus, leading a human-centered approach to the study of this ledger and the objects described.”


headshot photograph of a smiling woman with an orange jacket standing outdoors.
Photograph courtesy of Nadia Tahir.

Nadia Tahir

Degree Pursuing: BS Interior Architecture
Department: Design Studies Department, School of Human Ecology
Advisor: Michelle Kwasny, Director of Masters of Science in Design + Innovation

“My fellowship with the Center for Design and Material Culture will focus on designing an online training module for UW-Madison students to learn the basics of design thinking in a convenient, condensed, and friendly way. This will begin by reviewing the previously published online training used in other programs across the country. While other training is a good starting point for learning design thinking, some of it is highly focused on getting innovation and engineering activities started on campus, a problem UW-Madison does not face (our campus is plentiful in innovation and engineering resources). The module resulting from my project will seek to combine the best of the available design thinking resources and experiences to create a training program that is better tailored to the specific needs of our campus student community.”