43: Denise Regina Percequillo Hossom

Department

Philosophy

Program and Year of Study

PhD, 2nd year

Previous degrees and colleges

BA, UC Davis

Where did you grow up?

I moved around a fair bit growing up, so here are what I consider to be my main “hometowns”: Napa (California), Prosser (Washington), Sao Paulo (Brazil), and San Juan Bautista (California).

Where do you live now?

Davis, CA. Currently downtown, which I love because everything is in walking distance.  

What's your favorite spot in Davis?

It’s a tie between the Davis Farmers Market and the Davis Food Co-op. There are people who’ve never been to Davis who hear about our amazing co-op, and same goes for our farmers market. We are really lucky to have such great fresh local food available to us year-round. Don’t know what I’d do without my fresh veggies!

How do you relax?

I go horseback riding (mainly trail-riding out around the Bay Area), and try to keep up with my music practice; I play classical and bossa nova on guitar, and I’m working on my cavaquinho skills (sort of the Brazilian Ukulele) to play Chorinho (a Brazilian style of music). Basically, being outdoors with animals and playing music are my relaxation jam.

What was the last book you read for pleasure?

Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac, which is a pleasure to read but it also happens to be a book by an author that I conduct research on for my work in environmental ethics.

What TV show are you currently binge-watching?

I may occasionally watch two episodes in a row of the original 1970s Upstairs Downstairs show. But I don’t have a ton of patience for TV… I try to avoid screens when I can since I spend so much time in front of one already for work.

Research interests

My interests span over various areas of philosophy; philosophy of science, history and philosophy of biology, environmental ethics, and bioethics. My interests in these areas has a lot to do with my overarching interest of looking at the interactions of science with social values. This also leads my research interests into the territory of Science and Technology Studies (STS). STS is an “interdisciplinary field hat studies the relationships among science, technology, and society.” Davis has a fantastic Designated Emphasis for PhD students in STS, and I’ve enjoyed being a part of both philosophy and STS at UCD. 

Dissertation title or topic

I haven’t chosen my dissertation title/topic yet (I’m still finishing coursework), but I can tell you that it will most likely be focusing on environmental ethics and philosophy of ecology. 

Please share a surprising or noteworthy fact or finding from your research

When examining Aldo Leopold’s essay, “The Land Ethic” in A Sand County Almanac (1949), I argued for an interpretation of his view which would connect Leopold’s ethic with some of the tenets of the contemporary feminist ethical perspective of the Ethics of Care. I then was able to frame Leopold’s Land Ethic as an argument for an Ethic of Ecological Care. 

Which professor or class inspired you to pursue graduate studies?

Dr. Roberta L. Millstein in our very own UC Davis Department of Philosophy. She introduced me to my current research areas of philosophy of biology and environmental ethics as an undergraduate (which was what solidified my interests in pursuing grad school), and continues to inspire me in that research through my graduate studies. Her own research on Aldo Leopold was what motivated me to contribute to the surprisingly limited body of Leopold research and literature in environmental ethics. I can’t say enough about how important she has been for both my interests in grad school, and my decision to pursue my PhD here at Davis. 

Which scholarly text do you wish you had written? Why?

Donna Haraway’s The Companion Species Manifesto. I would have written it with a slightly different take – though a somewhat similar thesis – focusing on the “significant otherness” of horses and humans, instead of dogs and humans. 

Which other researchers at UC Davis are doing work that particularly interests you?

Tamar Schneider Zipory, a fellow PhD student in the Department of Philosophy, conducts research on the concept of holobionts (focusing on their interactions) from a philosophy of biology approach that incorporates feminist philosophy of science. We’ve had lots of interesting conversations about bacteria and the human microbiome that result in only more fascinating philosophical questions. She has been a constant source of inspiration as well as a tremendously engaging collaborator for my own work. 

Dr. Margaret Crofoot, from the evolutionary wing of Anthropology, is researching collective (group) behavior and decision making in primates. Her work raises interesting questions about how we understand or approach the interactions of groups and individuals through concepts such a leadership and followership, and how these relate to identifying behavioral traits (for both groups and individuals), and the respective impacts these have on fitness. Grateful for having been able to participate in one of her seminars on this topic.

What’s the best thing about being a grad student?

I get paid to read, write, learn, teach, explore ideas, and interact with a variety of research settings, individuals, and groups, across my own research institution, as well as being funded to travel and present my ideas at other institutions and professional settings (i.e. conferences, workshops, outside working/reading groups). Most of what it means to be a grad student is a serious privilege and honor. I really do love being a grad student, and take seriously the opportunity I have been given. 

What's the worst?

Constant vulnerability and trying to keep imposter syndrome at bay. As a grad student, you are always putting yourself and your ideas out there to be critiqued and this involves a lot of intellectual/psychological/emotional vulnerability. And there really isn’t going to be much respite from it at any point, so I think grad school is where you learn to get comfortable with a very particular amalgamation of vulnerabilities. It’s probably one of the hardest things you have to learn. 

If you weren't a grad student, what would you be doing?

What I was doing before grad school—training horses and giving riding lessons. I loved teaching humans and nonhumans to communicate and understand each other better (I love teaching in general). I think horses (and mules and donkeys – which I also trained) are some of the most philosophical creatures I’ve ever met. They have fascinating minds, social behaviors and structures, and I believe they actually offer insight into what it means to be human; our evolutionary histories are incredibly intertwined and there is so much to be said on this idea of our co-evolution.

Finally, please ask yourself a question

What is one of your most memorable moments of grad school so far?

I’ll never forget going to my first professional conference; I presented a talk in my first quarter as a graduate student at one of the biggest professional conferences for my area; The Philosophy of Science Association (PSA) 2016 conference. I thought a few unfamiliar names/people would attend my talk, but there were really important people from philosophy of biology there, and they even asked me questions in Q&A! It was such an awesome feeling. The whole conference felt like being on the academic red carpet; getting to see the faces of all these famous philosophers of science in one place, truly an amazing experience. 

 

—March 2018

 

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