Current Scholars Bios
Scholars for 2017-2019
Brian Hsu, Department of Linguistics
Kathryn Desplanque, Art Department
Erika Serrato, Department of Romance Studies
Katrina Ellis, Department of Health Behavior
RODRIGO ADEM – Rodrigo Adem received his doctorate from the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago in 2015. His dissertation, which he completed with the assistance of a Charlotte Newcombe Dissertation Fellowship, undertook a historical study of the scholarly lineages synthesized in the intellectual formation of the influential yet misunderstood medieval Muslim scholar of Syria known as Ibn Taymīya. His research interests encompass classical Muslim social and intellectual history, confessional identity, and urban history of the Muslim world.
RAMINE ALEXANDER – Ramine Alexander graduated from Virginia Tech with a PhD in Human, Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise (HNFE) with a concentration in Behavioral and Community Science and Master of Public Health with a concentration in Health Education. Her primary research interest include Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR), especially as it relates to community capacity and health dipartites. Her dissertation incorporated applying each dimension of the CBPR Logic Model, to engage a health desperate community in each aspect of the research process. By engaging the community, her dissertation aimed to build upon nutrition, physical activity, and community capacity outcomes within a medically underserved population. She was able to fund her last year at Virginia Tech by writing and receiving a National Institutes of Health Diversity Supplement. As a Carolina Postdoctoral Program for Faculty Diversity fellow, she would like to continue her research on the determinants of health disparities using a community-based approach to engage low-income and historically marginalized populations.
ASHLEY ANDERSON – Ashley Anderson is a Carolina Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. Her research and teaching interests are in comparative politics, with a focus on the political economy of authoritarian regimes, Middle Eastern political development, and contentious politics. Prior to accepting her position at UNC, she received her Ph.D from Harvard University where she served as graduate affiliate of both Harvard’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs (WCFIA) and the Institute for Quantitative and Qualitative Social Science (IQSS).
Her dissertation project, Going Political?: Labor, Institutions and Democratic Unrest in North Africa, investigates variation in political mobilization among labor unions in North Africa, using the cases of Tunisia and Morocco to answer the question, “Why, in authoritarian settings, do some unions choose to engage in anti-regime protest while others do not?”. To answer this question her research draws upon 18 months of field-work as well as an original dataset, MENALC, which catalogues worker protest from 1980-2011 in thirteen Middle Eastern countries. Her work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Department of Homeland Security, the Project on Middle Eastern Political Science (POMEPS), and the Weatherhead Center and IQSS.
Prior to graduate school, Ashley attended Stanford University, where she received her B.A. (with Honors) in International Relations and was inducted as a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
ROBBIE BURGER – Robbie Burger received a Ph.D. in Biology from the University of New Mexico, an M.S. in Biology from the University of Louisiana at Monroe, and a B.A. in Economics and International Studies from Francis Marion University in South Carolina. Trained as an interdisciplinary ecologist, he is generally interested in the macroecology and sociobiology of mammals, including modern humans. As a masters student he collaborated with scientists at Universidad Catolica de Chile to study social behavior in wild populations of Octodon degus—a caviomorph rodent—at field sites in central Chile. As a Ph.D. student he became interested in macroecology and the use of metabolic theory to reveal pattern and process in complex biological and social systems using currencies of energy and information. This approach is currently being used to understand how the life-histories and ecologies of modern humans compare to thousands of other mammals and the biological adaptations and technological innovations that make us unique. His research has been published in diverse journals including PLoS Biology, BioScience, Trends in Ecology and Evolution, Animal Behaviour, Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, and the Journal of Mammalogy. His work has been supported by a NIH Fellowship in the Program in Interdisciplinary Biological and Biomedical Sciences, a Shadle Fellowship from the American Society of Mammalogists, the Tinker Foundation and the Latin American and Iberian Institute at UNM, The Sigma Xi Scientific Society, the Santa Fe Institute, and the National Science Foundation. For more information and publications see his webpage: https://sites.google.com/site/josephrobertburger/
ANDREW CURLEY – Andrew Curley received his Ph.D. in Development Sociology at Cornell University. His research was on coal and development in the Navajo Nation. He previously worked as the deputy director at the Diné Policy Institute in the Navajo Nation where he contributed to reports on government reform, development, and Navajo social movements. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow trainee in the Department of Geography at UNC-Chapel Hill.
LAMAR A. GRAHAM – Lamar A. Graham is a linguist with primary research interests in language variation and change in Spanish and the comparative historical development of the Romance languages. Originally from Newport News, Virginia, Dr. Graham earned his Bachelor of Arts (2005) in Spanish and his Master of Arts in Education (2006) in Curriculum and Instruction from Virginia Tech, his Master of Arts (2009) in Spanish: Latin-American Studies from American University, and, most recently, his Doctor of Philosophy in Romance Languages (concentration in Hispanic Linguistics) from the University of Georgia in 2015. His dissertation, entitled The history of the future: morphophonology, syntax, and grammaticalization, focused on the diachrony of the future and conditional tenses in Spanish as they developed from periphrastic structures in Vulgar (Spoken) Latin. His current projects include several refereed articles investigating hesitation discourse marker usage in Latin America, variation in demonstrative use in deictic contexts, and competence in the acquisition of referential clitics by non-native Spanish speakers, as well as a chapter in a volume describing changes in cliticization and interpolation parameters from Old to Modern Spanish. In his spare time, Dr. Graham enjoys spending time with his wife and children, singing and playing music, and reading.
TAYLOR HARGROVE – Taylor W. Hargrove received her Ph.D. in Sociology from Vanderbilt University in 2016. As a medical sociologist, Dr. Hargrove’s work bridges sociological, epidemiological, demographic, and gerontological perspectives to examine the joint consequences of dimensions of stratification and psychosocial factors on health inequality throughout the life course. Her dissertation investigated the extent to which race/ethnicity, skin color, gender, and social class intersect to shape age trajectories of physical health across adolescence, early adulthood, and mid-life. As a postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Hargrove will extend this work by identifying specific mechanisms through which social statuses, experiences (e.g., stressors, discrimination, racial identity), and environments (e.g., neighborhood and community contexts) “get under the skin” to produce complex patterns of health inequality. She will also explore how these social factors independently and collectively combine with genetic processes to influence the more proximate causes of health and well-being between early and late life. Dr. Hargrove’s research has been supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Her recent peer-reviewed publications appear in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, and the Journal of Family and Community Health
KAREN HICKLIN – Karen Hicklin received her Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering from the Edward P. Fitts Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at North Carolina State University. Originally from Washington, DC, Karen received her B.S. degree in Mathematics from Spelman College in Atlanta, GA. Upon graduating from Spelman College, she returned to Washington, DC to work with the University of Southern California’s Office of Federal Relations and the United States Census Bureau while also completing her M.S. degree in Mathematics and Statistics from Georgetown University. Her research interests are mathematical modeling of stochastic systems with an emphasis on statistical and decision analysis as applied to health care and service environments. In particular, her research area focuses on decision making under uncertainty with a concentration in decision making in healthcare and humanitarian logistics. In her current research, she develops stochastic multiple-agent decision models to evaluate the most appropriate delivery mode for expectant mothers considering various short- and long-term health outcomes for the mother and child. This work explores the optimal policy of when to end a trial of labor in the event that a cesarean section is needed. Karen is active with the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and the Minority Issues Forum (MIF) within the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS).
KYLE T. MAYS – is an historian of modern U.S., Afro-Indigenous, and Indigenous studies, with a particular focus on how various actors construct indigeneity and other social meanings in modern U.S. cities. During his time as a postdoctoral fellow, he will be working to transform his dissertation into a book. A cultural and social history, the book will tentatively analyze how indigeneity functioned in the city’s modern development. An idea central to the project is that we cannot comprehend the development of modern U.S. cities without also understanding how indigeneity was central to their development. Dr. Mays earned his Ph.D. from the Department of History at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 2015. During his time as a graduate student, he received numerous awards, most notably the Newberry Consortium in American Indian Studies Graduate Student Fellowship. During the 2014-2015 academic year, the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities (IPRH) awarded him a dissertation completion fellowship. He also served as a founding editorial manager for the Native American and Indigenous Studies Journal published by the University of Minnesota Press. Believing that education can be used for social transformation, Dr. Mays, has contributed pieces to various educational and news outlets, including Indian Country Today Media Network, Decolonization, and Native Appropriations.
CHINA MEDEL – China Medel received her Ph.D. in Literature and Women’s Studies from Duke University in 2014. Dr. Medel’s research focuses on the role of art and media in imagining and generating new modes of political recognition in the Americas. Her dissertation “Border Images and Imaginaries: Spectral Aesthetics and Visual Medias of Americanity at the U.S.-Mexico Border” examined aesthetic means by which artists and filmmakers generated alternative forms visibility of the U.S.-Mexico border and migration that do not rely upon the racialized and militarized modes of visibility that work to criminalize immigrants. As postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Communication at UNC Carolina, Dr. Medel is at work on a book project, “Spectral Aesthetics: Media and Movement(s) at the U.S.-Mexico Border.” The book expands the scope of her dissertation to put art and filmmaking practices into dialog with the experiments and thinking emerging from on the ground activist projects in immigration justice in order to understand the crucial role of these different types of praxis in imagining and shaping new forms of political life. Dr. Medel is also at work on a second research project that maps a constellation of popular struggles over water in visual media, performance, and activism in the Americas. She has taught courses in film and media studies and border studies. Hailing from a rural community in Idaho, Dr. Medel is a first generation college student and proud Chicana. In addition to her scholarship and teaching, Dr. Medel is also a SONG (Southerners on New Ground) member working on local anti-criminalization campaigns.
HUGO MENDEZ – Hugo Méndez is a scholar of ancient Christianity interested in the interpretation and reception of various texts comprising the New Testament, including Luke, Acts, and the Johannine literature. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Georgia, where he studied early translations of the infancy hymns of Luke 1-2. From 2014–2016, he was a lecturer at Yale Divinity School, and fellow in Sacred Music, Worship, and the Related Arts within Yale University’s interdisciplinary Institute of Sacred Music. His published contributions to date include articles in the Journal of Biblical Literature, New Testament Studies, and Vigiliae Christianae. In his current fellowship, Méndez is revising a monograph on the reception and use of Acts 6-8 in late antique Jerusalem, exploring the process by which local homilies, lectionaries, and apocryphal traditions consolidated anti-Jewish readings of the Stephen cycle. His other current projects include a developing study of the eschatology of the Fourth Gospel, and essays on the formation of Luke.