Mellon Fellows 2017

2018-19 Mellon fellows


Deanna Ledezma

Deanna Ledezma is a Ph.D. candidate in the Art History Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her research interests include Latinx visual and material culture and the history and theory of photography. Her dissertation "The Fecundity of Family Photography" examines nineteenth- and twentieth-century photographic practitioners (including unidentified snapshot photographers, John Collier, Jr., and Louis Carlos Bernal) who photographed arrangements of family pictures in domestic spaces. The dissertation title alludes to the biological reproduction of the family, the creative and intellectual productivity of the practitioners, and the propagating of photographs-within-photographs. Deanna Ledezma has received the Abraham Lincoln Fellowship from UIC, the Diversifying Higher Education Faculty in Illinois Fellowship, and, most recently, a Santa Fe Art Institute Truth & Reconciliation Thematic Residency.

Rocío García

Rocío Garcia
Rocío García is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Sociology at UCLA. Her research and teaching interests include Latinx feminist theories; reproductive justice; the intersections of race, class, gender, sexuality, and immigration; the politics of knowledge production; and anti-colonial activisms. Her dissertation, "Latinx Feminist Thought: Visions of Reproductive Justice, Anti-Colonization, and Utopias," examines the origins and distinguishing features of a pan-ethnoracial Latinx feminist framework, and the implications of this framework for intersectional movement for global justice. Specifically, her dissertation explores the common and divergent ideas and experiences of indigenous, Afro-Latinx, Central American, trans and gender-nonconforming, and Mexican-origin Latinx feminists not only to reimagine what we think we know about Latinx, but also how we come to know it.

Angelica Becerra

Angelica Becerra is a PhD candidate in Chicana/o Studies at UCLA raised in Carson, CA. Her dissertation "Envisioning a “Chicana Radical Aesthetic: Digital Artivism in the Twenty-First-Century” draws on contemporary Chicanx and Latinx art production in the U.S. This project is a Chicana feminist analysis of the work and visual tactics of contemporary Chicanx digital activist-artists (artivists) in California from 2000-2015. Given the growing body of artivist work produced today and its distribution via digital means, her research theorizes the Chicana Radical Aesthetic as praxis and theoretical lens to look at how these new digital artivists are changing contemporary social justice efforts.

Carmela Muzio Dormani

Carmela Muzio Dormani is a Ph.D. candidate in the Sociology department at CUNY Graduate Center. She is interested in the politics of culture, cities, migration and globalization. Her dissertation “The Life and Death of Mambo: Culture and Consumption in New York’s Salsa Scene” explores the tensions between cultural affirmation and commoditization in the salsa dance community. Her project interrogates the changing ways in which people produce and consume culture in cities. Carmela has performed professionally with Huracán Dance Company.

Alex La Rotta


Alex La Rotta is a first generation Colombian-American and a Ph.D. student in History at the University of Houston. His research interests are modern U.S. history (with a particular interest in race, music, and culture) Latino/a/x history, African-American history, oral history, and public history. His dissertation, 'Young, Gifted, and Brown: The History of San Antonio’s West Side Sound,' examines the early influences, inception, pinnacle, and evolution of the diverse musical genres of the West Side Sound from the mid-1940s to the turn of the twenty-first century with attention to its cultural impact and legacy. It focuses on the untold history of San Antonio’s numerous Mexican-American doo-wop, R&B, soul, and early rock-and-roll combos of the mid-twentieth century and the distinct urban dynamics that facilitated the genre’s growth.

Felix Rodriguez

Felix Rodriguez is a fourth-year Doctoral student of Art Education, with a minor in Latin American Studies, at the Pennsylvania State University. He currently focuses his academic and creative work on issues of art education in Latin America. Felix’s dissertation, Mapping Contested Identities in Dominican Art Education: A Critical History, is an archival history inspired by the work of Paolo Freire and Chela Sandoval, where he examines the development of art education in the Dominican Republic in relation to ideological constructs, social, political, and economic contexts, and foreign influences. Felix analyzes how art education was shaped by Hostos’ modern education, Trujillo’s national school project, and USA and international organizations.


Sharina Maillo Pozo (Felix), SUNY, Department of Languages, Literatures & Culture
Jennifer Jones (Rocio), University of Illinois at Chicago, Department of Sociology
Rachel Gonzalez (Deanna), University of Austin Texas, Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies
Petra R Rivera-Rideau (Alex), Wellesley College, MA, American Studies
Sydney Jane Hutchinson (Carmela), Syracuse University, Music History & Cultures
Kency Cornejo (Angelica), University of New Mexico, Department of Art & Art History

2017-18 Mellon Fellows


Esther Díaz Martin


Esther Díaz Martín is a Ph.D. candidate in the Iberian and Latin American Literatures and Cultures Program through the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Texas at Austin. She is also completing a Graduate Portfolio in Mexican American and Latina/o Studies. Her dissertation entitled “Latina Feminisms and Contemporary Popular Sound Culture: Language, Voice, and the Politics of Production," centers on the cultural and political work of contemporary Latina radio and podcast broadcasters or locutoras and examines the intentional performances of radiophonic femininity countering patriarchy within diverse Latina/o communities across the Southwest.

Nadiah Rivera Fellah


Nadiah Rivera Fellah is a PhD candidate in Art History at the CUNY Graduate Center. Her research focuses on modern and contemporary Latin American and Latino/a art, and the intersection of art and politics. Her dissertation, "Stills of Passage: Photography and Migration in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands, 1978-1992," examines documentary photography of the U.S.-Mexico border. The project investigates how photographs can serve as counter-narratives to xenophobic media portrayals, captured moments of the Chicano/a movement as it unfolded in border cities, and interrogate the complex circumstances of identity formation in the borderlands. In 2015 and 2016 Nadiah was awarded Mellon Curatorial Fellowships at the Graduate Center’s James Gallery and the Newark Museum.  

Pablo García Gámez


Pablo García Gámez is a doctoral student at the Program in Hispanic and Luso Brazilian Literatures and Languages at The Graduate Center, CUNY. He has taught Spanish at City College and Brooklyn College; also, he has taught his Dramaturgia de acuyá playwright workshop at the National Art Gallery, Caracas, Venezuela. His dissertation, "Al margen: Teatro y comunidades hispanas en Nueva York, 1997-2011," analyzes the dynamics in the relationship between these two entities. It explores how communities’ collective memory reflects itself in a theatrical repertoire. It also explores how subordinated identities determined by race, gender, and sexual preference can be portrayed in these theatrical spaces.

Erin Michaels


Erin Michaels is a Ph.D. candidate in the Sociology Department at the CUNY Graduate Center. Her research areas are Latina/o sociology and sociology of education with a focus on immigration and youth. Her dissertation explores how recent U.S. education reforms are shaping young people’s political subjectivities, particularly Latina/o students. She uses ethnographic methods to examine how the changing context of suburban schools engenders racialized citizenship and how young people learn their roles as political subjects through socialization and discipline, shaping what types of citizens they are entitled to be or excluded from being.

Roberto Rincon


Roberto Rincon is a Ph.D. candidate in the Political Science Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His dissertation “Re-imagining the Mexican Nation: A Transborder Study of Black Racial Identification in Mexico’s Costa Chica Region,” offers a transnational history of Afro-Mexicanidad, where social incentives for self-ascription come from institutions, social resources, discourses, and research agendas crafted on both sides of the US/Mexico border. He examines the transnational factors that shape black racial identification within and across borders through multi-sited ethnographic research in the Costa Chica region of Southern Mexico and Afro-Mexican communities in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. In 2015, he was awarded the competitive Abraham Lincoln Fellowship Award by UIC’s Graduate College. 

Kendy Rivera


Kendy Rivera is a PhD candidate in Chicana and Chicano Studies at the UCLA Cesar E. Chavez Dept. of Chicana/o Studies. As a U.S.-México transnational student, 1st-generation Mexican immigrant, college-transfer, first-generation graduate educated, queer mujer, and, part of the first doctoral cohort in Chicana/o Studies, Kendy's scholarship focuses on unexplored experiences at the borderlands of the nation-state, race, class, ethnicity, language, gender, and sexuality. Kendy’s dissertation project explores Tijuana-San Diego transborder flexible citizenship through ethnographic research, phenomenological narratives, and cognitive maps of borderlands experiences.

Omar Ramadan-Santiago


Omar Ramadan-Santiago is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Anthropology Department at the City University of New York, Graduate Center. He received his BA in Anthropology/Sociology and Religion from Swarthmore College and MA in Latin American and Caribbean Studies from New York University. He was awarded a Wenner-Gren Dissertation Fieldwork Grant in 2014 to conduct ethnographic research in Puerto Rico. His research interests include race, religion, performance, and identity formation/construction. His dissertation is titled "Becoming the “Third Race”: Racial Imagination and African Identity Among Puerto Rican Rastafari." It examines the ways in which the Rastafari community in Puerto Rico explores and embodies blackness as a personal and political identity.


Adam Goodman (Fellah), University of Illinois-Chicago, History
Jennifer Jones (Rincon), University of Notre Dame, Sociology
Veronica Terriquez (Michaels), University of California - Santa Cruz, Sociology
D. Inés Casillas (Diaz), University of California - Santa Barbara, Chicana and Chicano Studies
Carlos Manuel Rivera (Gámez), CUNY, Spanish
Isar Godreau (Ramadan-Santiago), University of Puerto Rico - Cayey, Anthropology

2016-17 Mellon Fellows


Jose Castellanos

Jose Manuel Castellanos is a PhD student in the Department of English at UIC. He received his Master’s degree at Illinois State University where he served as President of The Association of Latin American Students (ALAS). Jose has also served as a youth gang mentor under the Lincoln’s Challenge Project. His dissertation work involves ethnographic research conducted among Chicago’s working class Latino community, focusing on how the rhetoric of Latinidad is mobilized to navigate everyday experiences of loss that occur in Hispanic enclaves. 

Nichole M. Garcia

Nichole M. Garcia completed her PhD in Social Science and Comparative Education with a specialization in Race and Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles in 2016. Her research analyzes racial inequities in higher education. She employs mixed methods to examine inaccurate portrayals of educational outcomes for communities of color and conducts comparative studies of Chicana/o and Puerto Rican college-educated families to advance narratives of intergenerational achievement. Nichole was awarded a post-doctoral fellowship at the Center of Race and Equity at the University of Pennsylvania. 

Amanda E. Gray

Amanda E. Gray is a researcher, writer, and documentarian. She received her BA in Legal Studies and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an MA in American Studies from The University of Texas at Austin. Her dissertation examines the experiences of Mexican and Mexican American women caregivers and home healthcare workers in San Antonio through an analysis of federal and state healthcare policy, labor laws, and community cultural practices. In addition to her academic projects, she has produced/directed/edited several short documentary films focused on art, education community activism, and environmental justice. 

Vanessa Guridy

Vanessa Guridy is a Ph.D. candidate in the Political Science Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has worked as a researcher in various studies, including the Consular Advocacy and Latino Immigrant Worker Rights Project, and was Director of Field Research for the 2011 Chicago Area Study. Her dissertation analyses Latino political participation, exploring the nuanced diversity within the Latino category and how these differences are impacted by local context. Specifically, her work aims to rupture the script of a monolithic Latino politics, highlighting the ways social and cultural capital interact with local context to influence political behavior.

Luiz Guzmán Valerio

Luis Guzmán Valerio graduated magna cum laude from the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus, with a B.A. in Modern Languages (French and German). He went on to pursue a Certificate in Hispanic Studies and an M.A. in Translation, also from U.P.R., Río Piedras. He earned the M.Phil. degree in Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Languages and Literatures from The Graduate Center, CUNY, and is currently a doctoraL candidate in the  same program where he is specializing in Hispanic Linguistics. His doctoral dissertation studies the linguistic landscape at the intersection of societal multilingualism, language policy, and bilingual education.

Laura Kaplan

Laura Kaplan is a doctoral candidate in the Urban Education Program at the CUNY Graduate Center.  She has taught ESL at Hostos Community College and Bronx Community College.  Most recently, she has been an Adjunct Professor in the MA TESOL Program in the Department of Curriculum and Teaching at Hunter College.  She holds a Masters in TESOL from Hunter College and Masters in Latin American Studies from NYU.  Her research centers on the struggles for social justice and bilingual education by the Puerto Rican community in the South Bronx in the 1960s.  


Ralph Cintrón (Castellanos),University of Illinois-Chicago
Cary Cordova (Gray), University of Texas-Austin
Arlene Dávila (Guridy), New York University 
Johanna Fernández (Kaplan), Baruch College
Edwin Lamboy (Guzman Valerio), The City College of New York
Daniel Solórzano (Garcia), UCLA



Tatiana Reinoza

Tatiana Reinoza is an art historian and independent curator with a specialization in U.S. Latino art. She received her Ph.D. in art history from the University of Texas at Austin in 2016. Her research examines the relationship between printmaking and identity formation, specifically how workshop production contributed to the shared notion of being Latina/o in the United States. Her second area of research explores art and trauma in relation to the Central American diaspora, informed by her own diasporic experience as a Salvadoran immigrant of the 1.5-generation. In the fall of 2016, she joins the Society of Fellows for a three-year postdoctoral fellowship at Dartmouth College.  

Marilu Medrano

Marilu Medrano is a PhD Candidate in the Department of English at UCLA.  She is currently working as a Research and Insights Analyst for Troika before she begins her position as a Research and Instructional Tech Consultant at UCLA in the Fall. She is making the finishing touches on her dissertation titled "Performance and Mestizaje in 20th/21st Century Literature of the Americas," and she will be filling Spring 2017. Other interests include developing video games with narratives geared towards reimagining the Americas and its untold (lesser known) stories. 

Yvette Martínez-Vu

Yvette Martínez-Vu received her PhD in Theater and Performance Studies from UCLA. Her dissertation, titled, " "Transindigenous Materialities: Gender, Indigeneity, and Objects in Mexicana and Chicana Performance," examined how Mexican, Chicana, and indigenous women used theatrical objects as a medium for resistance and empowerment within post-1990s performances in Mexico and the U.S. Yvette is also the co-founder of two activist collectives, the multi-institutional Chicana Motherwork collective and UCLA Mothers of Color in Academia de UCLA group. Yvette accepted a position as Assistant Director for UC Santa Barbara’s McNair Scholars Program.

Ryan Hamilton

Ryan Hamilton received his PhD in Cultural Anthropology from the CUNY Graduate Center in 2016. His dissertation focused on the processes, effects, and community reactions to state driven economic development and land dispossession in Samaná, Dominican Republic. He has worked as the Director of Public Programs for the Institute for Socio-Ecological Research and a board member and organizer with the Mayaguez Childrens Library. He was awarded a Cogut Center for the Humanities Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Africana Studies at Brown University.  He is also working as the Principal Investigator in two funded conservation projects: one funded through NOA on sea grass conservation in Puerto Rico and the other through ISER Caribe on sustainable fisheries in the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic.  

Ana Báez

Ana Báez is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Hispanic and Italian Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her dissertation engages narratives of ruins in contemporary Caribbean literary texts so as to read varying forms of engagement with the question of identity/difference for thinking the present. Her hypothesis is that recent literary texts invite new forms of reconfiguring subjects and spaces. Against the backdrop of failed utopian ideals, Ana argues that the twenty-first century literary texts she reads move beyond the impasse of identititarian foundationalism and thus rethink the terms of the political, and subsequently communitarian politics.

Ariel Arnau

Ariel Arnau is PhD candidate in the History department at the CUNY – Graduate Center. His research interests include the law, citizenship, the American civil rights movement, and the political culture of Latino communities in urban America. Arnau was born and raised in the Bronx and spent ten years in higher education administration and the non-profit sector in Philadelphia before deciding to return to academia. He has been teaching at Temple University as an adjunct since 2008. 


Cary Cordova (Reinoza), University of Texas-Austin  
Ismael García (Mann-Hamilton), College of Staten Island 
Juana Goergen (Báez), Depaul University
Marissa López (Medrano), UCLA
Chon Noriega (Martínez-Vu), UCLA
Victor Vázquez (Arnau), Miami Dade College