Hartford, Connecticut, April 4, 2017 – Two Trinity College alumnae have been awarded prestigious U.S. Student Fulbright research grants. Taniqua Huguley ’15, M’17 will travel to Trinidad and Tobago for her project, “A Wider Lens: Understanding Girls and the Juvenile Justice System in Trinidad and Tobago,” at The University of the West Indies. Lauren Davidson ’16 will research “Bioremediation of Environmental Bisphenol A Contamination Using Innovative Model Enzymes” in a chemistry laboratory at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, Germany.
Taniqua Huguley ’15, M’17
Huguley is about to complete her two-year position as one of Trinity’s first Trinsition Fellows, who help first-year students transition to college life. Huguley, who earned her bachelor’s degree with a major in sociology and a minor in legal studies, will graduate in May with a master’s degree in public policy.
“In Trinidad and Tobago, my research will particularly look at the juvenile justice system for girls,” Huguley said. “Girls can be arrested for what we consider to be non-offensive crimes like ‘acting beyond control’ or skipping school.” She plans to explore what is causing girls to enter the juvenile justice system and how the experience influences their lives, and to analyze the effects of the rehabilitative resources that are implemented. The Fulbright project is the natural progression of Huguley’s work at Trinity. As an undergrad, her final sociology project explored the labeling of Black and Latino girls in schools; her research for her master’s degree focuses on the school disciplinary system in Hartford.
Through her work, Huguley hopes to help raise awareness in Trinidad and Tobago about policy issues within the juvenile justice system and about the inequity faced by girls there and around the world. To get involved in the local community, Huguley will work with the Juvenile Court Project and become a mentor at a local program for girls. “Then I hope to bring my own cultural knowledge back to the States and work with juveniles in various nonprofit organizations and on policy issues in the juvenile justice system here,” she said.
Huguley’s long-term goals include establishing community centers in her hometown of Long Island City, Queens, to give young students access to the same kinds of life-changing opportunities that she experienced. “I grew up in Queensbridge Houses, the biggest housing project in North America, and I had no idea what Trinity was,” she said. “I enrolled in a program called Legal Outreach, which is a college-bound program with a focus on law.” A visit with that group to Trinity in her junior year of high school made her work even harder on preparing for college. “I became a Posse Scholar, and I think it was meant to be,” Huguley said of coming to Trinity.
Among her many activities as an undergrad, Huguley was president of the Trinity College Black Women’s Organization, helped establish a Hartford Girl Scout troop, created two youth mentoring programs, completed an internship at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, worked as an event coordinator for the networking team Small Business Night Out (SBNO), and joined the citywide chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., the first sorority for collegiate black women. “I think Trinity has provided me with skills and resources to be able to go out into the world,” Huguley said. “As a Trinsition Fellow, I’ve worked to help transition first-year students to a new setting, learn new things, and step outside of their box, and now I’m taking my own advice.”
Joseph DiChristina, Trinity’s dean of campus life and vice president for student affairs, said, “As part of a Fulbright, students interact with the community in their host country. Taniqua will excel as a scholar and as a person who can promote a greater understanding across differences.”
Huguley’s 10-month grant begins in October. When she returns to the United States, she may get even more involved in policy work. “I am particularly interested in education policy and juvenile justice policy reform,” Huguley said. “Right now I’m on the Juvenile Review Board for Hartford and I can imagine doing something of that sort.”
Lauren Davidson ’16
Davidson, of Yorba Linda, California, completed majors in chemistry and German studies and a minor in environmental science while at Trinity. “I chose to major in those two subjects because I love them both,” Davidson said. “The Fulbright is the culmination of all of my passions.” With a German family background on her mother’s side, Davidson studied the German language in high school and took advanced German courses at Trinity. She wrote a thesis under the supervision of Professor of Language and Culture Studies Johannes Evelein
and spent her junior year studying in Germany at the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen through the Baden-Württemberg Germany Exchange Program
Davidson came to Trinity as a part of the Interdisciplinary Science Program with a desire to study environmental science. “I’m very outdoorsy; I grew up in Southern California going to national parks, and that’s still what I like to do all the time,” she said. Her interest in chemistry developed when she took her first courses in the subject. From there, she chose to start her research work with Professor of Chemistry Timothy Curran. “Being in the research lab really showed me how amazing chemistry is. It just clicked,” she said. While in Tübingen, Davidson worked as a research assistant at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems.
For her Fulbright research project, which begins in September and lasts for 10 months, Davidson will work with Lena Daumann, a professor at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich. “Her research interests are all my own personal favorite topics in chemistry,” Davidson said of Daumann. “She took the synthetic chemistry that I love and applied it to an environmental issue.” The project will synthetically create a model of the enzyme laccase, which is produced naturally by white-rot fungi and which scientists have discovered can partially break down bisphenol A (BPA), an industrial chemical used to make certain plastics. “BPA is an endocrine disruptor, which means that it can act in place of your hormones and mess with the healthy functioning of your whole body. If you could make a model of laccase in large quantities and use it to treat water, it could make water much safer for people to drink,” Davidson said.
In addition to her time in the lab, Davidson will also work with the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society in Munich, which she said helps translate scientific research to the community at large. “This will tell people not only what we’re doing, but why it matters,” Davidson said.
To Davidson, Trinity’s small class sizes and accessible professors meant lots of time to develop her interests and skills. “I’m really grateful and really blessed to have been here at Trinity and to have had the support of both the Chemistry and Language and Culture Studies Departments. Trinity has amazing faculty, and they’re all very approachable,” she said. “Trinity also has great facilities for chemistry, and students really learn how to use them.”
Trinity Director of Fellowships Anne Lundberg said of Davidson, “Her outstanding preparation in chemistry and German studies made her an exceptional candidate for this award.”
Scovill Professor of Chemistry Ralph O. Moyer, Jr., added, “I can’t think of a more deserving person. She is an extraordinary young woman.”
Since graduating from Trinity, Davidson has spent much of the past year working as a German translator for a biomedical engineering company in California. Following her Fulbright project, she plans to attend graduate school and work toward earning a Ph.D.
Written by Andrew J. Concatelli