Digital Scholarship Incubator


The University Libraries' Digital Scholarship Incubator (DSI) promotes student-led digital research and scholarship. Fellows receive a stipend to support them in their research for the summer; one-on-one and group consultations with a range of UNL faculty and staff in the University Libraries and elsewhere; co-working space, hardware, and software; and other professional development opportunities, in addition to the cohort experience. For more information about the DSI, contact Elizabeth Lorang.

2018 Call for Proposals

Are you a graduate student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln studying in the humanities, arts, social sciences, or related areas? Are you working on a project that involves digital technologies in some way? Consider applying for the University Libraries' Digital Scholarship Incubator! The Digital Scholarship Incubator (DSI) is a competitive summer fellowship program that promotes student-led digital research, scholarship, and creation.

The 2018 DSI will run from May 21 to August 10 as an intensive summer fellowship designed to accelerate graduate students' research, scholarship, and creative production. We anticipate awarding up to four DSI Fellowships for 2018. During the fellowship period, students commit to developing a critical contribution to the arts, or to humanities, social science, or related scholarship that depends on digital methodologies for research, creation, and/or dissemination. Students might use the DSI to kickstart a new project or to advance an ongoing endeavor. While developing their own work, DSI Fellows also support the other Incubator Fellows through conversation, critical engagement, and knowledge exchange in a collaborative environment. Fellows must be willing to actively and substantively engage with others working in different disciplinary areas and with a range of methodologies.

DSI Fellows will receive a stipend of $3,800 to support focus on their project during the summer fellowship. In addition, Fellows will be eligible to apply for support to participate in professional development opportunities. Fellows will have access to hardware and software in the Incubator space, which is located in Love Library. Fellows learn alongside each other and from faculty and staff in the University Libraries, developers and other experts from the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities, and others from the UNL community and beyond. DSI Fellows are required to spend 15 hours per week in the Incubator space during the twelve-week fellowship period. Fellows will coordinate schedules with one another and with the Incubator director in order to make the most of the co-working environment.

Applicants must be currently enrolled graduate students (master's or doctoral) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. To apply, submit an application package with the following components to DSI director Elizabeth Lorang (

  1. A letter of application, including (a) a description of the project you plan to undertake as a DSI Fellow, with projected outcomes from the fellowship period and the significance of this work; (b) a description of how this project fits within your larger program of study and supports your professional goals, whatever they may be; (c) a statement of your research/creative needs, as you currently understand them, whether technical, informational or content-based, or other; (d) a statement that indicates why the Incubator environment is a good fit for developing this work; (e) a plan for communicating about your work to appropriate audiences (academic, public, etc.); and (f) a statement about your availability during the fellowship period (May 21 to August 10, 2017), including anticipated time away from UNL over the fellowship period. This letter of application should be no more than two pages.
  2. A two-page cv.
  3. A letter of recommendation and support from a faculty member at UNL that speaks to the intellectual strengths of your project; your ability to participate in, share, and learn in a group-based environment; and your potential for success as an Incubator fellow.

Applications are due via email to by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, March 5. DSI Fellows will be selected by a committee comprised of faculty and staff at UNL. Decisions will be announced as soon as possible after that date.

2017 Fellows & Projects

Four students earned DSI Fellowships for Summer 2017: Erin Bertram, Grace Brown, Linda Garcia Merchant, and Alexis Swendener.

It’s Not a Lonely World : Gender, Genre, and Literary/Digital Exploration

Erin M. Bertram (Ph.D. candidate, Creative Writing Program, English)

Bertram will investigate "gray areas" surrounding both gender and genre. They will research and create a digital extension to their creative dissertation, a hybrid genre memoir that explores how their mother’s experience with breast cancer and their own non-binary gender identity call into question, in their own unique and sometimes overlapping ways, what it means to be, or not to be, a woman. Bertram's goal is to amplify readers' experience of their writing, via digital means, beyond the delineation that front and back book covers allow, ultimately nuancing understandings of illness, queerness, identity, privilege/marginalization, empathy, and gender.

High Penalties: Mapping Drug-Free Zones in Omaha

Grace Brown (M.A. student, History)

In 1984, President Ronald Reagan established Drug Free Zones nationally as a way to double or triple the sentences for drug dealers who were selling to minors. In urban areas, these zones tend to overlap, and cover large expanses of the city. For her project, Brown will map these drug free zones in Omaha, and examine the spatial politics of living within a drug free zone. What happens when your home is a drug free zone? What happens when your entire neighborhood is a drug free zone? She will also include arrest data from Omaha during this time that will allow her to analyze who was targeted for these increased penalties, and why. In an extremely segregated city like Omaha, these spatial politics are even more important to understand. Brown's research falls into a larger trend in history and the humanities of interrogating issues of mass incarceration, issues within the criminal justice system, and racialized selective enforcement of supposedly "colorblind" laws.

Chicana Diasporic: The Chicana Caucus of the NWPC. A Nomadic Journey of the Activist Exiled

Linda Garcia Merchant (Ph.D. student, English)

Garcia Merchant will develop a research hub, Chicana Diasporic: The Chicana Caucus of the NWPC. A Nomadic Journey of the Activist Exiled. The Chicana Caucus was a group of Chicana/Latina feminists, organized and active from 1973-1979 as a special interest caucus of a national political organization of second wave white feminists, the National Women’s Political Caucus (NWPC)—the political action arm of the second wave women’s movement of the 1960s and 70s. Presented in a museum collection format, Chicana Diasporic will include documents, photographs, film clips, and an introductory narrative that defines the Caucus’ history, structure and purpose, and their national impact on second wave feminism. Materials provided for Chicana Diasporic are the result of an eight-year recovery project, the Chicana Por Mi Raza Digital Memory Collective and will be the first scholarly product created from the digital repository.

Engaging in Public Sociology and Digital Scholarship: Sharing Research on Farm Families and Health

Alexis Swendener (Ph.D. candidate, Sociology)

Swendener will create and develop Engaging in Public Sociology and Digital Scholarship: Sharing Research on Farm Families and Health. The aim of this project is to distribute social scientific knowledge by creating a public website to share the results of a larger research project. The website will share findings from research utilizing both survey and interview data to examine how men and women on farms and ranches negotiate work and family roles with implications for health and relationship happiness. Exploring these areas among farm families helps clarify work- and family-related pathways to health and expand theoretical understandings and scholarship in these domains. In addition, several potential broader impacts serve as motivation for this project. This project focuses on broadening science communication to wider audiences and on highlighting research on understudied rural and farm populations, which is particularly relevant to Nebraskans and as a member of a public, land-grant institution. By sharing research on farm families and health, this project could help policy makers identify both sources of risk and resiliency in health among rural families.

2016 Fellows & Projects

Three students earned DSI Fellowships for Summer 2016: Kami Ahrens, Jonathan Cheng, Christy Hyman, and Gabrielle Kirilloff. Read more about their projects below and on their blog.

Making the Frontier Home: Stories from the Steamboat Bertrand

Kami Ahrens (M.A. student, Anthropology)

Making the Frontier Home: Stories from the Steamboat Bertrand seeks to understand gender roles and identity during the mid-nineteenth century on the frontier through the analysis and digitization of artifacts from the Steamboat Bertrand. In 1865, the Bertrand sank in the Missouri River en route to Fort Benton, where it remained until it was excavated in 1968. This project will utilize the collection’s textiles, ceramics, bottles, foodstuffs, and other domestic-related goods in order to better understand the culture of the frontier. The project will accumulate digital 3D models, created using photogrammetric techniques, and images, which will be organized into an interactive, online exhibit for researchers and the general public. Making the Frontier Home will produce both models and information that will form the foundation for a digital exhibit and will expand access to a unique collection. Ahrens' faculty adviser for the project is Professor Effie Athanassopoulos, from the UNL Department of Anthropology.

"Passive Voice (consider revising)": The Broad Literary History of Pithy Style

Jonathan Cheng (Ph.D. student, English)

Passive voice is not a categorical error per se, but sentences containing a past participle plus an auxiliary verb tend to connote gauche stylistic form. Literary historians can sketch how individual authors or specific literary periods experimented with passive voice. They would, however, benefit from a broader social linguistic history to make sense of when and why this form inherits social value. This project aims to provide a computational analysis of passive voice and render its literary provenances. Running the statistical programming language R and the Stanford Dependency Parser (Natural Language Processing package) on a corpus of 3517 nineteenth century American and British novels, this project investigates this anxiety with assertive style. Cheng’s faculty adviser for the project is Professor Pete Capuano, from the UNL Department of English.

The Oak of Jerusalem: Flight, Refuge, and Reconnaissance in the Great Dismal Swamp

Christy Hyman (Ph.D. student, History)

The Oak of Jerusalem: Flight, Refuge, and Reconnaissance in the Great Dismal Swamp highlights and analyzes the Great Dismal Swamp landscape with a view to uncovering enslaved canal laborers' intellectual networks, which developed as a result of the arduous labor they were forced to perform in antebellum northeastern North Carolina. Focusing on enslaved runaways' proximity to waterways and the natural environment within the Great Dismal Swamp, this inquiry will collect and analyze the landscape’s spatial dimensions. Data gathered from nineteenth-century North Carolina newspapers such as the Cape Fear Mercury, Carolina Observer, and Edenton Gazette will provide information on points of refuge and reconnaissance. Taking these physical properties of space together with the historical descriptions of enslaved runaway ads and cross-referencing this information with textual descriptions in the enslaved narratives written by Moses Grandy, Thomas H. Jones, Harriet Jacobs, and London Ferebee will expose a more complete reality of what was at stake for an enslaved person to run away. Hyman's work will contribute to the North Carolina Freedom Roads Underground Railroad trail development plan, and she presents on early stages of her work in June 2016 at New Bern, NC. Her faculty advisor for the project is Professor Kenneth Winkle from the UNL Deptartment of History.

Imagined and Experienced Places: a Geographical Mapping of the Locations in Willa Cather’s Writing

Gabi Kirilloff (Ph.D. student, English)

The American novelist Willa Cather is an author whose works reflect a deep attachment to and interest in place. This project explores the relationships between Cather’s travels and her references to place in her correspondence and fiction by visually representing the differences between Cather’s actual travels and her reference to geographic places. By using text analysis tools and digital mapping software this project aims to create a series of interactive maps that allow students and scholars to visualize the places that Cather experienced and wrote about. This project seeks to create digital maps of the places Cather mentions in her twelve novels, the places she mentions in her letters, and the places she personally experienced first hand.

2015 Fellows & Projects

Three students earned DSI Fellowships for Summer 2015: Mikal Eckstrom, Joseba Moreno, and Eric Saxon.

Marginalized Tribes: Shared Experiences of Jews and Native Americans in the Dakotas, 1850-1935

Mikal Eckstrom (Ph.D. candidate, History)

Like many histories of the American West, federal records are riddled with bias about non-Native interactions with American Indians. Marginalized Tribes: Shared Experiences of Jews and Native Americans in the Dakotas, 1850-1935, intends to overcome these prejudices through computational analysis. By using the statistical package R+ and MALLET (Machine Learning for LanguagE ToolkiT) with both American Indian oral testimonies and journals of Jewish families, the project aims to discern gendered pressures unique to the Jewish and American Indian experiences during allotment in North and South Dakota. Eckstrom's faculty adviser for the project is Professor Margaret Jacobs, from the UNL Department of History.

La nueva literatura en los manifiestos literarios [The New Literature in Literary Manifestos]

Joseba Moreno (Ph.D. student, Modern Literature & Languages)

La nueva literatura en los manifiestos literarios focuses on artistic manifestos of the Spanish literary avant-garde and offers an archive of these manifestos from the early twentieth century, as well as critical analysis of the manifesto as a genre. La nueva literatura includes digital images, transcriptions of the manifestos, and essays on the texts as well as the artistic movements they introduce. The project's goal is to serve as a pedagogical hub centered on Spanish literature from the first three decades of the twentieth century. It is a counterpart to Moreno's doctoral dissertation, which focuses on the study of literary manifestos from the avant-garde movements of this era. Moreno's adviser for the project is Professor Amanda Gailey, from the UNL Department of English.

The Art of Jeff Randall

Eric Saxon (Candidate, Graduate Certificate Program in Digital Humanities)

The Art of Jeff Randall presents a digitized retrospective of Lincoln, NE outsider artist Jeffery Randall (1967-2012), gathering together works previously exhibited in museums and galleries, publicly unseen work, and personal ephemera produced in the artist's daily life. Adding new media techniques such as 3-D imaging to traditional and current art historical methodologies, the project uses the digital archive format to provide greater access to and analysis of the artist's work, and engages the scholarly conversations about outsider art specifically, and art history in general. Saxon's adviser for The Art of Jeff Randall is Professor Richard Graham, from the UNL University Libraries.

2014 Fellows & Projects

Four students participated in the 2014 Digital Scholarship Incubator program. The inaugural fellows helped shape the developing model of the Incubator, and their projects were important in making the case for future support. 2014 students were:

Musique Spirituelle

Rebecca Ankenbrand (M.A. student, Modern Literatures & Languages)

Musique Spirituelle is a bilingual (French/English) edition of French-Canadian nun Marie-Andrée Duplessis de Sainte-Hélène's 18th-century manuscript entitled "Musique Spirituelle."

The Geison Course of the Northeast Temple at Antiochia ad Cragum

Geraldine Dobos (M.A. student, Art History)

The Geison Course of the Northeast Temple at Antiochia ad Cragum, a 3D reconstruction, is a continuation of Dobos' research on the geison course of the temple, which is in southern Turkey. Her project explores the use of color coding in 3D visualizations as a means to symbolically represent the level of uncertainty for each block. A website with Dobos' work is forthcoming. Dobos has completed a story map tour of Antiocha ad Cragum.

Fanny Fern in the  New York Ledger

Kevin McMullen (Ph.D. student, English)

Fanny Fern in the New York Ledger explores one of the most successful periods in the career of Fanny Fern, who in the mid-nineteenth century became the highest-paid newspaper columnist in the United States, writing for the widest-circulated publication of its day. The project makes available full-text, TEI-encoded transcriptions of Fern's "Fresh Fern Leaves" columns, as well as high-resolution digital images of the complete Ledger issues.

Constructing Furniture City

Brian Sarnacki (Ph.D. candidate, History)

Constructing Furniture City examines how Grand Rapids, Michigan achieved industrial success as "Furniture City" during the Gilded Age and Progressive Era. Using traditional historical methods, statistics, and mapping, the project highlights Grand Rapids to reveal the alternate path many smaller cities chose to navigate this tumultuous period of American history.