Kelle Dhein receives Ford Foundation Fellowship

Kelle Dhein, a first year PhD student in the Biology & Society program, was recently awarded the Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine award the fellowship to about sixty PhD students every year whom they judge to be promising scholars and teachers.

Though the fellowship is open to all research-based fields, Dhein applied as an interdisciplinary biologist. He studied philosophy, anthropology, and linguistics as an undergraduate at Arizona State University, and is currently investigating how biological systems transition into social systems. He is especially interested in biological mechanisms that utilize symbolically coded information.

Right now, Dhein is working on a semester long project with Dr. Sara Imari Walker and Dr. Hyunju Kim in which he is analyzing the informational architecture of the gene regulatory network involved in the early development of the nematode C. Elegans. In the big picture, Dhein hopes to do research that will elucidate the biological underpinnings of human culture.

Dhein currently co-instructs the Embryo Project Writing Seminar with Alexis Abboud and Dr. Jane Maienschein, where he helps graduate and undergraduate students write articles for publication in the Embryo Project Encyclopedia, an online collection of peer-reviewed, scholarly articles dealing with reproductive and developmental biology.  

Dhein enjoys readings, writing, traveling, and cooking. Though earning a PhD requires Kelle to read and write plenty of academic texts, he tries to make time for fictional texts as well. Before becoming a graduate student, Dhein worked as a line cook and read short story submissions for Apex Magazine, a Hugo Award nominated publication specializing in science fiction, horror, and dark speculative fiction. Outside of his academic work, he has published multiple short stories and poems.