Alexander Mentzel

Alexander Mentzel

  • Scholar-elect
  • United States
  • 2022 PhD German
  • Magdalene College

I was born in Germany and spent my first years in Cologne. At age ten, I moved, with my family, to the mountainous Pacific Northwest. From my childhood through my early 20s, I worked as a professional actor. I eventually matriculated at The University of Oregon’s Clark Honors College, graduating with a BA in German Literature and a minor in Theatre Arts. In college, I co-founded Averto, a real-time, crowd-sourced data mapping app, which seeks to help people navigate their environment safely. These seemingly disparate experiences kindled a fascination with the performance principles and architectures of online environments, especially how virtual and augmented reality disturb the seeming solidity of civic institutions and commercial online “worlds.” Emergent technologies have the potential for good, but there is great risk that negative consequences, such as discriminatory systems of surveillance, will be amplified in cross-reality environments. As I work on my PhD in German, I will create critical room for a turn to a phenomenological understanding of virtual and augmented spaces. I’m proud to be joining the Gates Cambridge community, comprised of scholars that embrace their role to provide alternative imaginaries of the future.

Previous Education

University of Cambridge ELAC 2022
University of Oregon Ger. Lit & Culture and Theatre 2020
Goethe Universität Frankfurt Guest Student in Dramaturgy 2018