Two Pitt Graduate Students Win Mellon-ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships

Issue Date: 
May 11, 2009

Two University of Pittsburgh School of Arts and Sciences graduate students—Niklas Frykman, Department of History, and Justin Sytsma, Department of History and Philosophy of Science—received Mellon-ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies for the 2009-10 academic year.

ACLS will award 65 fellowships this year to assist graduate students in the humanities and related social sciences in the last year of their PhD dissertation writing. This program aims to encourage timely completion of the PhD. Applicants must be prepared to complete their dissertations within the period of their fellowship tenure or shortly thereafter.

The fellowship tenure may be carried out in residence at the fellow’s home institution, abroad, or at another appropriate site for the research. The total award of as much as $33,000 includes a stipend plus additional funds for university fees and research support.

Frykman’s fields of study are Atlantic history, early United States history, and slavery and abolition; he has research interests in those topics as well as in the age of revolution and maritime/naval history.

Frykman’s dissertation, titled “The Wooden World Turned Upside Down: Naval Mutinies in the Age of Atlantic Revolution,” is a study of the mutinies that tore through the warships of the British, Danish, Dutch, French, Swedish, and U.S. navies during the French Revolutionary Wars.

Frykman has authored  a review of Slave Ship Sailors and Their Captive Cargoes, 1730-1807” (Cambridge University Press, 2006) by Emma Christopher, in Labor: Studies of Working Class History in the Americas 4, no. 2. He also authored “Impressment,” in the Encyclopedia of War and American Society (Thousand Oaks: Sage, 2005), edited by Peter Karsten, a Pitt professor of history.

Frykman has made numerous conference presentations, including “Class Composition and Struggle on European Warships, 1789-1802,” at Pitt’s European Colloquium, 2008; “An Empire of Thieves: Sussex Smugglers and Caribbean Pirates in the Early Eighteenth Century,” at Bristol Radical History Week (UK), 2007; “HMS Hermione and the Mutinous Atlantic in the Late 1790s,” Pitt Department of History Graduate Speaker Series, 2007; and “Mutinies in the Batavian Navy,” Irish Conference of Historians: Empires and Their Contested Pasts, Queen’s University Belfast (Northern Ireland), 2007.

Among his awards are Pitt Arts and Sciences 2008-09 Lillian B. Lawler Predoctoral Fellowship, 2007-08 Sweden-America Foundation Research Fellowship in Stockholm, and a 2006-07 Andrew Mellon Predoctoral Fellowship.

Frykman  received the BA with First Class Honours in American social studies in 2001 and the MA in history in 2003 from the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom.

Sytsma’s areas of specialization are philosophy of mind, philosophy of psychology, experimental philosophy, and general philosophy of science; his areas of competence are philosophy of cognitive science, early modern philosophy, and Ludwig Wittgenstein.

In his dissertation, titled “Phenomenal Consciousness as Scientific Phenomenon? A Critical Investigation of the New Science of Consciousness,” Sytsma argues that phenomenal consciousness has resisted scientific explanation because there is no such phenomenon: What is in fact phenomenologically obvious has not resisted scientific explanation, exposing phenomenal consciousness as an unneeded and unwarranted theoretical construct.

Frykman has written many articles, including “Phenomenological Obviousness and the New Science of Consciousness,” to be published in Philosophy of Science in December 2009; “How to Study Folk Intuitions About Phenomenal Consciousness,” with Edouard Machery, Pitt history and philosophy of science professor, in Philosophical Psychology (2009); and “Language Police Running Amok,” in Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology (2007).

Sytsma delivered a keynote presentation on advanced multimedia techniques at the FlashForward conference in 2001 in New York City and, in 2000, received an International Web Page Creative Excellence and two Creative Achievement awards for work on three separate Web sites. Among his awards are the Graduate Student Paper Prize in 2009, presented at the American Philosophical Association Pacific Division 83rd annual meeting in Vancouver, B.C., and the William James Prize in 2008, to the best contributed paper by a graduate student at the Society for Philosophy and Psychology 34th annual conference.

He earned a BS in neuroscience in 1999 and a BS in computer science with honors in 2003, both at the University of Minnesota. In addition, he earned an MA in history and philosophy of science in 2006 and an MA in philosophy in 2008, both at Pitt.