Conducting Language Research at Wellesley

By Emily Mamula '15


You may remember Ilana
Walder-Biesanz, a  senior at Olin who we
featured last month in our blog
for being the first Olin Gates Cambridge Scholar.  Ilana is a general
Engineering major with a Concentration in Systems, and has a devoted  love for theater, opera, and foreign

Continuing my series of stories on students doing really cool research, I sat down to talk with Ilana about
the project she's been working on during the remainder of her time at Olin.

What makes her project so
special? Not only is Ilana doing work far removed from Olin's engineering curriculum,
but she's doing it with Wellesley professor Mary Kate McGowan and two Wellesley
students. While teaching a philosophy class,  Professor McGowan pitched a few collaborative
research projects and mentioned that she'd be looking for some new students who
were interested in helping out.  Ilana
was interested!  

The project itself involves
studying the philosophy of language, specifically the silencing, an important
topic in feminist philosophy of language,. The group is exploring an example
that raises a challenge for the current accepted account of such silencing.
They've submitted a paper for journal publication and are waiting to hear back.
In addition to the publication, they will also present their findings at the
Ruhlman conference at Wellesley.

As a result of this and other
experiences in her time here, Ilana feels she has reaped the benefits of the
BOW (Babson-Olin-Wellesley) Tri-College Partnership. Without the opportunity to
take classes at Wellesley, she would have been unable to take part in this
research or to take the wide variety of philosophy-related classes that she
has. This is especially important to Ilana because she plans on taking her
experience on to grad school in the humanities.

And because that path isn't ambitiously
unique enough, her plans extend well past that first Masters. After that, she
plans on pursuing yet another Masters degree, attending law school, or maybe
working at Microsoft for a couple years.  She may even pursue a Masters in philosophy to
help with law school.

Ultimately, she hopes to
someday be able to combine her dual technical and humanities interests,
possibly into a technology policy role. 
Go Ilana!

Posted in: A Different Path, Graduate School, Research