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Digital Humanities Summer Institute Provides Resume-Building Experience for Rachel Li C’23

Drew University student researches indigo, builds project website

August 2022 – Rachel Li C’23 has spent the last two summers conducting research in Drew University’s Digital Summer Humanities Institute (DHSI), which pairs students with faculty mentors to conduct primary research using digital humanities techniques.

This summer, Li did research on indigo, an historically significant blue dye, alongside Veronica Madrigal C’23 and Peggy Kuntz, professor of art history. For Li and Kuntz, it mirrored their DHSI project from last summer exploring cochineal, a red pigment.

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Li is an anthropology major and archaeology and museum studies and cultural management double minor.

This year’s group researched the global trade routes, harvesting practices, modern uses, and monetary and symbolic value of indigo. Beyond the research, Li and Madrigal helped build a robust website for the project, learning how best to present their project digitally and visually.

Li came out of her DHSI experience with a combination of hard and soft skills she thinks will translate to the real world.

“This experience is something that will help bolster my resume,” said Li.

“Spending two summers on this project has given me great hands-on research experience. It also allowed me to improve my interpersonal and public communications skills. I learned how to work collaboratively within a group and how to present our team’s progress in an orderly and precise manner at weekly group presentations. I believe these skills and experiences will make me a better candidate when applying to jobs and grad schools.”

While not necessarily a resume-builder, the group also got their hands dirty by learning to make shibori, a form of Japanese fabric dyeing using indigo.

“We wanted to support our research with hands-on experiments, and this allowed us to learn more about the artistic uses of indigo and pick up another artistic skill!”

Li’s last two summer’s worth of DHSI projects are on display in Brothers College.

The Digital Humanities Summer Institute is funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

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