Ashley Thrall, a recently minted Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering, has won a travel fellowship from the architecture firm of SOM that will enable her to draw on a wide range of inspirations in order to rethink the design of deployable structures used in disaster relief.

This summer Thrall will visit a disaster site in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, attend a national powwow in Danville, Indiana, to evaluate the potential use of tipi design, and interview Chuck Hoberman, a New York City-based expert in the design of kinematic structures (but best known as the inventor of the collapsible toy ball known as a Hoberman sphere). She also will spend two months in Europe visiting research centers and design firms. You can find a copy of Thrall’s winning fellowship essay here.