Jefferson Fellows Symposium To Showcase Current Graduate Students, and Recruit Next Generation

The Jefferson Scholars Foundation at the University of Virginia will host the 11th annual Jefferson Fellows Symposium on Friday, from 1 to 3 p.m., at the Jefferson Fellows Center at 112 Clarke Court.

The symposium will feature presentations from seven graduate students from the departments of Classics, History, Mathematics, Religious Studies and Spanish in the College of Arts & Sciences and from the School of Law and the Darden School of Business. All seven presenters are holders of highly selective Jefferson Fellowships.

Among the topics to be presented are the development of new pharmaceuticals, abolitionists’ invocation of Thomas Jefferson in the run-up to the Civil War, and public students’ protections from unconstitutional searches and seizures. (A complete list of topics appears below.)

Free and open to the public, the event is part of the foundation’s annual Jefferson Fellowship Selection Weekend, an effort established in 2001 to help the University’s graduate schools recruit students who show outstanding achievement and the highest promise as scholars, teachers, public servants and business leaders. 

“The symposium is an opportunity and a challenge for those presenting,” said Bill Wilson, director of the Graduate Fellows Program and an emeritus professor at the University. “It is an opportunity for fellows to organize and present their research prior to comprehensive examinations or a dissertation topic for defense; and it is a challenge because the audience will be made up of peers, faculty in and out of their fields, as well as interested people in the community.

“This is the unique challenge of a Jefferson Fellow: to be an excellent young scholar in one’s discipline as well as a public voice in the arts or sciences or the intellectual traditions of the professions.” 

While at U.Va., Jefferson Fellows are charged with enhancing the quality of the undergraduate and graduate learning experience. The Jefferson Fellows Symposium is an outcome of this goal and additionally serves as a recruiting tool for new students. Among the audience members will be more than 70 Ph.D., M.B.A. and J.D. nominees from nine different countries, including India, Japan, Pakistan and Chile, all of whom are competing for the Jefferson Scholars Foundation’s merit graduate fellowships. 

For information about the 11th Annual Jefferson Fellows Symposium and for the full schedule of selection weekend events, call 434-243-9029.

The presenters and their topics:

1-1:45 p.m.

• Jesse Rosenthal, Darden School of Business: “A Risky Business”

Developers of pharmaceuticals often fail to bring a promising medicine to market – but just how often is “often”? The implications of this question affect investors and manufacturers, as well as anyone looking for access to new medicines. This presentation will examine the concept of “likelihood of approval” for drugs along this journey, show the data gathered by the researchers and review how drug development companies could increase their chances of successfully guiding drugs through this process.

• Lindsay Roberts, School of Law: “The Fourth Amendment and the Exclusionary Rule in Public Schools”

The Fourth Amendment protects citizens, including students, from unreasonable searches and seizures by government officials. The exclusionary rule, a judicially created rule, prohibits using evidence in trial that was seized in an unconstitutional search. However, there are numerous exceptions to the exclusionary rule, and an open question of law is whether the exclusionary rule applies to evidence seized in unconstitutional searches by public school officials. This presentation will examine current case law and public policy concerns regarding the exclusionary rule’s applicability to the public school setting.

• Jocelyn Rohrbach, Department of Classics: “Illegitimacy and Society in Euripides’ Hippolytos”

In Euripides’ tragedy “Hippolytus” (428 BC), the protagonist is destroyed by Aphrodite because he has refused to pay cult to the goddess. Euripides also creates a level of social causation, however, which supplements the divine: in the human world Hippolytus is destroyed because in attempting to navigate the journey between boy and man he, as illegitimate child, nothos, has run afoul of a whole system of social boundaries regarding marriage and social status. In this paper I will show how the social situation of Hippolytos as a nothos is expressed in the play and how it contributes to Hippolytos’ rejection of marriage, placing the young man in a position not only displeasing to the goddess, but untenable in terms of his audience’s social expectations.

• Daniel Franz, Department of Mathematics: “Exploring Symmetries: Groups and their Applications”

In the language of mathematicians, a “group” is a collection of permutations or symmetries of space or physical objects. Groups were developed in the early 19th century in an effort to better understand solutions of polynomial equations. Today, they have applications to physics, chemistry, cryptography and other fields. This presentation will introduce the basic ideas of group theory and report on some of its great benefits to mathematics and natural science.

2-2:45 p.m.

• Frank Cirillo, Department of History: “Struggling Over the Sage: The Jefferson Image in the Abolitionist Mind”

A presentation focused on how American abolitionists in the years leading up to the Civil War invoked the name and legacy of Thomas Jefferson to aid their quest for emancipation and racial equality. Abolitionists could not argue that emancipation was patriotic without confronting the author of the Declaration of Independence, but in doing so they ran up against Jefferson's harsh racial views and sordid private life. Some activists turned to criticism of the founder, but their pragmatic desire for public approval led many abolitionists to ignore or rationalize away the third president's slavery-related faults, especially as antislavery opinions gained traction in the North in the lead-up to the Civil War. The presentation thus sheds light on the flexibility and savvy of a group usually perceived as morally intransigent.

• Ashleigh Elser, Department of Religious Studies: “Reparative Historiography, Reparative Hermeneutics: A Post-CriticalApproach to a Maculate Scriptural Text”

During the 19th century, Biblical scholars began to apply historicist methodologies to their study of scriptural texts, accounting for textual discrepancies by dividing the Torah into distinct original sources that were later edited into the text's final form. Alongside this account of the text’s composition, historical criticism imported new categories for faithful reading, often guided by a hermeneutics of suspicion against the witness of tradition. This discussion will explore the implications of this shift alongside an alternative approach that finds hermeneutic resources in the tradition itself to both address and repair these textual discrepancies. 

 • Lauren Reynolds, Department of Spanish: “Fortunata and the Feline: Reading Galdos’ ‘Fortunata y Jacinta’ through the Cat”

Worshipped or demonized, loved or feared, friend or foe, the cat has held a prominent role in human lives and culture since ancient times. Literature is no exception, and cats sneakily abound in the pages of Benito Pérez Galdós' realist novel, “Fortunata y Jacinta.” In this work, the diverse images of the cat illuminate social mobility in late 19th-century Madrid. Examining their representation leads to a better understanding of the social intricacies of the era and of our own. By studying these gatos Galdósinos, this presentation will let the cat out of the bag and explore the character of Fortunata through the feline.

Media Contact

Joyce Carman

Jefferson Scholars Foundation