In January, LaKisha Simmons (PhD 2009) joined the university as an assistant professor of women’s studies and history. We touched base with her as she settled into her new position.

How does it feel to be back at Michigan? I am so happy to be back in Ann Arbor—it truly feels like returning home. As I walk down the halls at U-M and down the streets of downtown, I am flooded with wonderful memories of studying, reading, and hanging out with good friends. Most important, I've already visited my favorite brunch spot (Café Zola).

What are you working on? My work centers on the lives of African American women and children. My first book is called Crescent City Girls: The Lives of Young Black Women in Segregated New Orleans. I am now beginning research on a new book manuscript called "Segregated Motherhood," which will look at histories of love and loss in black women's lives.

What are you reading these days? I decided to read Natalie Baszile's novel, Queen Sugar, after watching Ana DuVernay's beautifully shot TV show of the same name. Both the novel and the TV show take place just outside New Orleans, among the vast networks of sugar plantations. It is beautiful and haunting country. The TV show is full of intense drama and makes me scream, cry, and have heart palpitations. I decided to read the book so I would be less stressed while watching the show. Unfortunately, although the setting and many of the characters are similar, the two follow different plots.

This is the first in a series of History faculty profiles.