Graduate Student Fellows

Cultural Studies, Sabanci University

Bürge Abiral is a PhD candidate in Anthropology at Johns Hopkins University. She received her BA from Williams College and her MA in Cultural Studies from Sabancı University, Turkey. Her research interests include human- environment relations, climate change, agriculture, political violence, and gender and sexuality. Her translation of Toward an Anthropology of Women (ed.

Graduate Student, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University

Fatemeh Adlparvar is a recent graduate of the Narrative Medicine program. She will begin her graduate studies at the Mailman School of Public Health where she hopes to study the intersections of narrative medicine, social work, and public health. She received her B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley with a major in Environmental Science with an Education minor. She went on to complete her MSW at Columbia School of Social Work, with a minor in Law and a concentration in health, mental health, & disability.

Zahra Ali is a PhD student in sociology at EHESS and IFPO. Specialized in Islamic studies and gender studies, particularly through the thematics Gender and Islam, Gender and the Middle East. Her research focuses on the emergence of a Muslim Feminist dynamic occuring in the West and the Muslim world. She works on the women movement in the Arab World, especially in Iraq where she started her research in 2010.

Performance Studies, NYU

Rüstem Ertuğ Altınay is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Performance Studies at New York University. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and Sociology, and his M.A. degree in Philosophy from Bogazici University. Ertuğ’s primary fields of research are the politics of gender and sexuality in Turkey, with a focus on artistic and everyday performance, visual practices, fashion, and queer historiography.

PhD Student, Sociology and Social Policy, Corvinus University of Budapest
PhD Student, History

George Aumoithe focuses on 20th century American history and the history of public health, science, and medicine. He received his B.A. from Bowdoin College with a double major in history and Africana studies and a minor in gay and lesbian studies. His studies were supported by the Mellon-Mays Undergraduate Fellowship and Point Foundation , the national LGBTQ scholarship.

Columbia Law School

Odelia Bay is a master’s student at Columbia Law School where she hopes to specialize in disability rights in North America, with a focus on comparative constitutional and civil rights jurisprudence. Odelia received her J.D. from the University of Ottawa in Canada and was admitted to the Ontario bar in 2012.  She worked with one of Canada’s leading labor and civil rights law firms and has also participated in disability-related work with the Canadian Human Rights Commission and a community legal clinic in Ottawa.

Department of English, Princeton University

Joshua Bennett is a second-year doctoral candidate in the Department of English at Princeton University. His academic interests include but are not limited to: black studies, disability studies, affect, animal studies, and 19th century Afro-Protestantism(s).  In addition to his graduate work at Princeton, Joshua is a also a full-time performance artist, and has recited his original work at events such as The Sundance Film Festival, the NAACP Image Awards, the ESPN documentary "One Night in Vegas," and President Obama's Evening of Poetry and Music at The White House.

Graduate Student, Sociomedical Sciences, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University
Christopher is a second year Master of Public Health student at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in the Department of Sociomedical Sciences. His certificate is in History, Ethics and Law. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from McGill University in Montreal, Canada. His research interest is in using ethics to assess how policies in the fields of public health and medicine work to balance efficacy, efficiency, and effectiveness.
Cultural Studies, NYU

Henry Castillo is a doctoral student in the Department of Performance Studies at New York University. He holds a B.A. in Applied Linguistics (Honors) fromt he University of California--Los Angeles and an M.A. in Performance Studies form New York University. His research interests include race and ethnicitiy; women, gender, and sexuality; memory and "Intangible Cultural Heritage" in the Americas; Blackness in Latin America; and Afro-Colombian "heritage" practices and performance.

Graduate Student, Clinical Psychology, Teachers College, Columbia University

Stephanie Chen, B.A., is currently working at the Center for OCD and Related Disorders on studies relating to Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) at New York State Psychiatric Institute (NYSPI). Stephanie graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in Psychology in 2012. Prior to joining the Anxiety Disorders Clinic at NYSPI, she coordinated a joint-project study on medication adherence at Mount Sinai Hospital and Columbia University. Stephanie’s research interest is finding the most effective treatments for anxiety disorders. After completing her M.A.

Katherine Cohn

Katherine Cohn is a Master's student in Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University in the MODA Program. 

Graduate Student, Music, Columbia University

César Colón-Montijo is a journalist and doctoral candidate in ethnomusicology at Columbia University. He obtained a Master's in anthropology and audiovisual communication from the University of Barcelona, Spain in 2005, and previously completed a B. A. in communications at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus in 2003. César is the editor of the Cocinando Suave: Ensayos de Salsa en Puerto Rico (2015), a landmark collection of scholarly, historical, and journalistic essays, poems, and photo-essays about the histories of salsa.

PhD Student

Andrea Crow is a PhD student at Columbia in the department of English and Comparative literature. Her research focuses on seventeenth-century literature and food politics as well as on academic labor and the future of the university. Her work has been published in Early Modern Women and Shakespeare Quarterly, and she has been the recipient of a grant-in-aid from the Folger Shakespeare Library to pursue her research. Andrea received a B.A. in English with a minor in Latin from Gonzaga University and an M.A.

Doctoral candidate, Department of English and Comparative Literature

Nijah Cunningham is a doctoral candidate in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University and the editorial assistant for Small Axe. He is currently working on a dissertation that focuses on the interplay between literature, performance, and the question of a black aesthetic that emerges out of the 1960s moment and across three African diasporic nodes in Senegal, Jamaica, and the United States.

PhD Student, History

Anna Danziger Halperin studies twentieth century American and British social policy and its effects on women and children, with a particular interest in child care. She graduated from Barnard College in 2006 with a degree in History and Human Rights. Before returning to Columbia in 2010, Anna conducted research and coauthored several reports on U.S. child care policies and other related issues affecting low-wage working families during her employment with the Urban Institute and the Institute for Women's Policy Research.

PhD Student, History

Lindsey Dayton is a second-year PhD student in the field of U.S. History, focusing on African American, gender, and labor history in the 20th century. She received a BA in liberal arts and an MA in women’s history from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY. Her MA thesis, “From Heavy Iron Blues to I Pay my Union Dues,” explored black women laundry workers’ successful efforts to organize a union in New York City during the Great Depression.

Doctoral Candidate, English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University

Carina del Valle Schorske is a poet, translator, and second-year PhD student in Comparative Literature. She is broadly interested in the history of psychoanalysis and other forms of psychic inquiry among artists and intellectuals of color in the Americas (Harlem, Mexico City, the Caribbean). She is currently at work on a project about Pamela Colman Smith, a turn-of-the-century Jamaican folklorist and the illustrator of the world's most widely used tarot deck.

Graduate Student, Bioethics, Columbia University

Matthew Dias is a researcher at the New York State Psychiatric Institute and graduate student in Columbia’s bioethics program. Matt’s scholarship focuses on clinical research ethics and advances in medicine that intersect law and public policy. He is actively involved in various healthcare innovation and precision medicine initiatives in New York City and beyond. To this end, Matt looks forward to sharing his distinct perspectives and insights with the Precision Medicine Project and its affiliates. 

Graduate Student, Genetics and Development, Columbia University

Sarah Dugger is a PhD student in the Department of Genetics & Development, who is working in the laboratory of Dr. David Goldstein in the Institute for Genomic Medicine.  Sarah is originally from Akron, Ohio and obtained her undergraduate degree in Biology and a Masters degree in Genetic Counseling from Case Western Reserve University. She was a practicing full time prenatal genetic counselor for four years at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, Ohio—an experience that sparked her interest in precision medicine research.

Birbeck Law, UK

Basak Ertur is a PhD candidate and sessional lecturer at the School of Law, Birkbeck College. Her current research focuses on political trials, performativity, spectrality and sovereignty. She is the editor of Manual for Conspiracy (Sharjah Art Foundation, 2011) and co-editor of Waiting for Barbarians: A Tribute to Edward Said (Verso, 2008).

Doctoral Candidate, Department of Art History and Archaeology

Yasmine Espert is an Art History doctoral candidate at Columbia University. Her research interests include the cinematic medium, the Caribbean, and diaspora. She is the Graduate Fellow for the Digital Black Atlantic Project, a working group supported by the Center for the Study of Social Difference at Columbia University. Yasmine is also an alumna of the Fulbright U.S. Student program.

Susanna Ferguson is a PhD Student in the History Department at Columbia University, where she focuses on the history of the modern Middle East, particularly on questions of women and gender. She is also a certificate candidate at Columbia's Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality (IRWAGS). Prior to beginning her doctoral work at Columbia, Susanna graduated magna cum laude from Yale University with a BA in History and received a Master's degree from NYU's Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies.

Nicole Gervasio is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. Her dissertation is on the ethics of representing mass political violence in contemporary postcolonial literature. Her work focuses on intersections between queer, postcolonial, and feminist theory in relation to themes of survival, embodiment, and trauma in literatures of the Global South. She also has a B.A. in English and Growth & Structure of Cities from Bryn Mawr College and has been the recipient of Mellon Mays, Beinecke, and Javits Fellowships.

PhD Student, History

Marianne González Le Saux is a second year student in the History doctoral program, and her research is centered on the cultural and social history of the law in Latin America. She is a lawyer from the University of Chile. She has been awarded the Fulbright Scholarship, and she is funded by CONICYT, Chile, and Columbia's Richard Hofstadter Fellowship. 

Alyssa Greene is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Germanic Languages and the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society at Columbia University. She studies twentieth-century German and Austrian literature, with a particular emphasis on the post-Second World War era. Her research interests include memory discourses in the postwar period; migration (especially in the German-Turkish context); feminist and postcolonial criticism; the figure of the child and depictions of childhood in Cold War and post-Cold War narratives of authoritarian states.

Graduate Student, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons

Emily Groopman is a third year MD/PhD student at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. She was born and raised in Brookline, MA, and graduated magna cum laude with Highest Honors in Human Evolutionary Biology from Harvard College. Her PhD research, in the lab of Dr. Ali Gharavi, applies genomic methods to discover variants predisposing individuals to different forms of chronic kidney disease, in order to deliver personalized diagnoses and treatment. Her interests include bioethics, medical humanism, and integrating cultural differences into the delivery of care. 

Graduate Student, Bioethics, Columbia University
Jenny Gumer is an attorney practicing in the litigation department of Gibson Dunn and Crutcher, Los Angeles. As a member of the firm's FDA, Healthcare and Life Sciences practices groups, she advises pharmaceutical and medical device companies on regulatory compliance as well as represents them in large scale litigations.  Jenny is also a student in Columbia University's Masters in Bioethics program which she will complete in Spring 2017.

Nick Juravich is a doctoral student in United States History, studying education, labor organizing, social policy, urban history, and social movements in the twentieth century. His dissertation, provisionally titled "An Education in Democracy: Paraprofessionals in Schools, Communities, and the Labor Movement, 1965-1980," examines the changing relationships between public schools, local communities, and public sector unions in this era. 

PhD Student, History

Suzanne Kahn is a Ph.D. candidate in the U.S. History program. She works at the intersection of legal history, women’s history, and American Political Development. Her dissertation, “Divorce and the Politics of the Social Welfare Regime, 1969-2001,” examines how rising divorce rates shaped the politics and policies around women’s access to economic resources. 

Robin J. Kemper is currently studying for her M.S. in Narrative Medicine at Columbia University.  Hoping professionally to write and teach on disability-related matters, Robin has twice taught a Narrative Medicine seminar to Columbia University postbaccalaureate premedical students and undergraduate premedical students.  She is also a Curriculum Committee Representative in the Narrative Medicine program.  Robin earned her J.D. at Yale Law School and her B.A. in English at Yale University.

Graduate Student, Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, Duke University

Sarah Kleinstein is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology at Duke University, currently studying under Dr. David Goldstein in the Institute for Genomic Medicine at Columbia University. Her primary research focus is determining the genetic underpinnings behind differential responses to infectious diseases, such as HIV-1, HSV-2, HCV, and HBV. Kleinstein also holds a BS in Biochemistry and an MS in Genetic Epidemiology (both from the University of Washington, Seattle).

Graduate Student, Clinical Psychology, Teachers College, Columbia University

Amar Mandavia is currently a first year doctoral student pursuing clinical psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University. He has previously worked at the NYC Department of Housing as a field interviewer for a longitudinal study examining impact of providing affordable housing upon physical and mental health outcomes among chronically homeless people. At the Emory School of Medicine, he worked as a field researcher examining genetic and trauma-related risk factors for PTSD in a cross-sectional study of low socioeconomic and urban minority population.

Fellow, Pediatric Hematology and Oncology, Children's Hospital of New York and Columbia University Medical Center

Lianna Marks is a Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Fellow at the Children's Hospital of New York and Columbia University Medical Center. She is a graduate of Columbia College and the Indiana University School of Medicine and completed her pediatric residency at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Her interest in Global Health has lead her to clinical work in Kenya, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic. Her research investigates using natural killer cell immunotherapy in the treatment of cancer.

Liza McIntosh is a PhD student in the department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia. She is broadly interested in the culture and texts of the Early Modern period, with a focus on questions of gender, sexuality, and nature. She received her BA from Johns Hopkins University in English and Art History.

Graduate Student, Genetics and Development, Columbia University

K. Melodi McSweeney is a fourth year PhD candidate in Genetics whose research focuses on modelling the effect of mutations that cause neurological disorders. Melodi is originally from Belize City, Belize and moved to Chicago, IL in 2008 to finish her Bachelor’s Degree in Molecular Biology at Loyola University Chicago. Melodi went on to complete a Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Program at the University of Michigan in the Human Genetics department where she studied atypical progeria and DNA damage due to hydroxyurea, a treatment for sickle cell anemia.

Graduate Student, Religion, Columbia University

Laura McTighe is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Religion at Columbia University. She comes to her doctoral studies through nearly twenty years of grassroots activism to end state violence and advance community healing. Her research examines the co-constitution of race and religion, of gender and governance, in the American and Global South today by ethnographically centering women’s geographies and archives of struggle.

Sociology, The New School for Social Research

Ariel Merkel is a Sociology PhD candidate at the New School for Social Research, with a focus on disability studies.  She earned her MA at NSSR in May 2011, and holds a BA (cum laude) in Cultural Anthropology from Wells College, a small women’s college in the Finger Lakes region of New York State.  Upon graduation in 2005, she was awarded the Carter A. Woods Prize for her thesis, which analyzed the strategies of Kanaka Maoli (indigenous Hawaiian) activists involved in the Cultural Revitalization Movement.

Sociology, The New School for Social Research

John Michalczyk is a doctoral student in Sociology at the New School for Social Research, currently working on a project exploring disability in virtual worlds. His other interests include social interaction, ethnography, and identity formation. John combines his academic research in Sociology on disabilities, hidden and visible, with his interest in documentary filmmaking.

Musicology, CUNY Graduate Center

Sean Murray is a doctoral student in musicology at the CUNY Graduate Center. He has presented numerous conference papers on race and gender in American music, and published on the relationship between the nineteenth century piano industry and the African ivory and slave trades. His dissertation examines the intersection of race and disability in American music. Sean was the recipient of a graduate student fellowship at the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution.

Social Personality Psychology, CUNY

Akemi Nishida is a doctoral student in the social personality psychology PhD program and an adjunct lecturer in Psychology and Disability Studies at City University of New York. Using frameworks of social justice studies and critical disability studies, her work focuses on the politicization of disabled people and community building in relation to intersecting oppression and privilege. She is also a performer in a project ‘GIMP’ by Heidi Latsky Dance and a starting member of DISLABELEDtv, a media organization by disabled youth/young adults.

Visiting Lecturer and PhD Candidate, University of Applied Arts, Vienna

Isin Onol (1977, Turkey) has been producing exhibitions and other art related events as an independent curator based in Vienna since 2009. She worked as the director/curator at Proje4L/Elgiz Museum of Contemporary Art, Istanbul (2006-2009). In 2014, she worked as the guest curator at Schauraum Angewandte, at the MuseumsQuartier of Vienna, as well as teaching as a guest lecturer at the Digital Art program at the University of the Applied Arts, Vienna, Austria.

Graduate Student, Sociomedical Sciences, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University

Syed Raza is a master of public health candidate in the department of Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia University where he is also completing a certificate in the Social Determinants of Health. His work focuses on the political economy, sociocultural aspects, and research methodologies of public health. His research interests include historical sociology, geopolitics, science and technology studies, social epidemiology, world-ecology analysis, and critical animal studies.

Performance Studies, NYU

Leticia Robles-Moreno is a PhD student at New York University’s Department of Performance Studies. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Humanities with emphasis in Linguistics and Literature from the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú. She also holds a Master’s degree in Latin American Literature from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and has taught Spanish, Latin American culture, and Writing classes in several college levels.

Graduate Student, Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, Teachers College, Columbia University
 Srishti Sardana is a graudate student at the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, Teachers College, Columbia University. She is also a Research Assistant at the New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University Medical Center. She has assisted on various projects with the aim to build skills needed to conduct high-impact mental health research in low-resource settings.
Department of English, Rutgers University

Katherine Schaap Williams is a doctoral candidate in the department of English at Rutgers University. She has held fellowships from the graduate school and the Center for Cultural Analysis at Rutgers University, where she is a fellow in the 2011-2012 “Public Knowledge: Institutions, Networks, Collectives” seminar. Her research interests include sixteenth and seventeenth-century English literature and culture, disability studies, and performance theory, and she is writing a dissertation tentatively titled Irregular Bodies: Disability on the Early Modern Stage.

Psychologist, Gender and Culture Studies, Universidad de Chile

Iván Smirnow received his Bachelors of Science in Psychology at the Universidad Diego Portales, and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Personal Coaching and Leadership from the University of Barcelona. He plans to apply to the Masters Program in Gender and Culture Studies in Latin America, Department of Philosophy and Humanities a the Universidad de Chile with a proposed thesis: “Cuerpos-hechos-por/para-el-trabajo: cuerpo, memoria y trabajo precario.”

Doctoral Candidate, Ethnomusicology, Columbia University
Didier Michel is a sound artist and PhD student in Ethnomusicology. His work focuses on the spiritual or phenomenological dimensions of “black” engagement with sound technology among Afrofuturist-identified music-makers and listeners in Haiti and the United States.
English and Comparative Literature

Kate Trebuss is a fourth-year doctoral student in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. Her dissertation, entitled "Critical Care: Medical Life Writing, Memory, and the Politics of Health," investigates how contemporary autobiographical stoies of illness and medical care facilitate the remembering and forgetting of certain histories and current conditions of violence, oppression, invisibility and inequality, as well as the connections between them.

Philosophy, CUNY Graduate Center

Alanna Valdez is a Master’s student in philosophy at the City University of New York, Graduate Center. She also holds a Master’s degree in Ethics, Peace, and Global Affairs from American University’s School of International Service, where she wrote her thesis on how the recently ratified UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities shifts disability rights to a human rights perspective. Her philosophical interests include: personhood, agency, and non-rational justifications for human rights.

Art History, Hunter College

Emmanuel von Schack is a deaf art history graduate student at Hunter College; his master's thesis focuses on German artists who were veterans of the First World War and the works of art they created during and after the War. By interweaving disability theories with Foucauldian feminist and queer theories, he explores the complex relationship between masculinity and disability as conveyed in Weimar culture and art. He works as an educator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Solomon R.

Graduate Student, Bioethics, Columbia University

Alexa Woodward is a newly accepted graduate student in the Bioethics program at Columbia University School of Professional Studies. She graduated with honors from California State University Chico with a B.S. in Cellular and Molecular Biology in 2015, having also competed an Honors Thesis focused on autonomy, futility, and end of life issues. After graduate school, she plans on attending medical school or pursuing a Ph.D. program. Outside of academia, Alexa is an ardent fitness enthusiast, artist, and vocalist.

Armanç Yıldız is currently working at Sabancı University's Gender and Women's Studies Forum and has recently finished his master's degree in International Performance Research. His master's thesis titled "Breathing through tolerance: Performing on the boundaries of (sexual) diversity on the streets of Amsterdam" has engaged with how the concept of tolerance depoliticized the LGBTI movement in the Netherlands and how it is being incorporated to produce inequalities towards non-white peoples, in spite of what the concept seem to offer in the first place.

Rafia Zaman is presently pursuing her doctoral thesis in Political Science at Jawaharlal Nehru University, India under the supervision of Prof. Gurpreet Mahajan. She is interested in the intersectionality of gender and identity politics represented by Muslim women. As part of her M.Phil, she wrote a dissertation on the topic “ ‘Islamic Feminism’: A Critical Appraisal”. Her current research focuses on Muslim women’s activism in India from the period following the Shah Bano controversy till the present.