Author Date


Degree Name



Physics and Astronomy


Physical and Mathematical Sciences

Defense Date


Publication Date


First Faculty Advisor

Robert Davis

First Faculty Reader

Natalie Romeri-Lewis

Honors Coordinator

Steve Turley


Truth Commissions, Historical Memory, NIR Spectroscopy, Monte Carlo, Glucose, Human-Centered Design


While the fields of physics and international development may seem disparate, the insights gained from studying each one of them can improve understanding of the other. Here, I demonstrate that concept as applied to computational optics and historical memory. Thus, the purpose of this project is threefold: (1) to computationally model light transport through tissue, and use that model to inform choices about a physical system; (2) to determine the types of historical memory recommended in the final reports of truth commissions; and (3) to give evidence for the usefulness of human-centered design in both areas. To model light transport, I used a Monte Carlo simulation of light at 1602 nm in tissue. I found that properly focusing the beam of light in a tissue-spectrometer system resulted in a fractional increase of 8.044×10^-1 in the arterial signal-to-shot-noise ratio, with a fractional error of 1.807×10^-2. To investigate truth commissions, I classified coded data from 15 of the national-level final reports studied by the Global Truth Commission Index according to types of historical memory, divided into 58 distinct variables. I found that the most commonly cited form of historical memory, building a monument, was recommended in the final reports of 10 of the commissions studied; 7 commissions recommended public sensitization/awareness programs; and 7 mentioned creating a holiday or a day of remembrance.