Mellon Mays Fellows begin doctoral research

by Alec Rossi | 11/3/17 2:00am

Seven Dartmouth Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellows began Ph.D. programs this fall, studying a variety of topics, including African American literature, policing and incarceration and undocumented immigration.

Focused on increasing diversity in academia, specifically within the professorate, the program began at Dartmouth in 1989 and provides faculty mentorship, research stipends, summer research support and repayment of undergraduate loans up to $10,000.

The program is coordinated by comparative literature professor Michelle Warren, who is responsible for logistics, specifically overseeing the mentorship process, budget and grant proposals.

To be eligible to apply for the program, applicants must be sophomores, although juniors can receive special permission, planning to enter Ph.D. programs and then have careers in academia.

“We are looking not just for amazing future researchers but amazing future researchers who are going to commit themselves to inclusive pedagogy [and] to institutional actions that transform structures of higher education in the long run,” Warren said.

Nana Adjeiwaa-Manu ’16, who is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, said that she was motivated to apply to the program because of her experience in her first-year seminar.

“When I was an undergrad I got really interested in research through a class I took in my first-year seminar,” Adjeiwaa-Manu said. “It was one of the first times I completed a research paper on a topic that was of interest to me.”

Feyaad Allie ’16, who is studying political science at Stanford University, said that his experience with research as a freshman also motivated him to apply during his sophomore year.

“I had done some research with faculty during my freshman year and I knew it was something I’d be interested in doing more seriously … and it seemed like the program that would be really a good way to get more involved in research as an undergraduate,” Allie said.

Once selected, fellows have weekly meetings that take place during sophomore summer. During the school year, fellows and their mentors meet frequently. Between meetings, students are expected to engage with faculty, write grant and fellowship proposals, prepare for research and utilize off-terms to conduct research or academic projects.

While fellows have to study within the humanities and social sciences, their specific research interests are diverse. Adjeiwaa-Manu is currently studying the link between socioeconomic background and health.

“I am [currently] working with a professor to analyze data on Ghanaian immigrants in Philadelphia,” Adjeiwaa-Manu said. “There are some health indicators there that will at least be a foundation for some of the work I would like to do during the course of my time here.”

Allie is studying political science. Within the field, he is interested in political violence, terrorism and counter terrorism, and Middle East politics.

While Allie said that he hopes to become a professor after finishing his Ph.D. program, Adjeiwaa-Manu said that she hopes to find a career in the research sector.

“I intend to be in the research sector … specifically in health policy or economic policy,” Adjeiwaa-Manu said. “I have a big interest in the connection between health and socioeconomic status and I’d love to continue that trail of research.”

Of the other fellows starting programs this fall, Leandra Barrett ’15 is a doctoral candidate in American studies at New York University; Oscar Cornejo ’17 is a doctoral candidate in sociology at Northwestern University; Danielle Jones ’17 is a doctoral candidate in English at the University of Chicago; Estéfani Marín ’17 is doctoral candidate in sociology at the University of California, Irvine; and Jessica Womack ’14 is doctoral candidate in art and archaeology at Princeton University.