As the landscape of higher education evolves, more universities are putting a greater focus on diversity and inclusion. The LSA Collegiate Fellows program is an innovation focused on transforming departmental and institutional culture to enhance the overall intellectual and educational experience for students, staff, and faculty.

The University of Michigan’s College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA) has announced its third LSA Collegiate Fellow cohort for 2019-2020. The program was launched in 2016 as part of the college’s five-year Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategic Plan. The program aims to recruit and retain 50 exceptional early career scholars whose research, teaching, and/or service contributes to diversity, equity, and inclusion in higher education. Administered by LSA’s National Center for Institutional Diversity (NCID), the program is now in its third year. 

In addition to the new cohort of fellows, the program is also thrilled to welcome three fellows from the program’s first cohort as new tenure-track faculty members. 

“Faculty recruitment is one of the ways we can foster an inclusive culture on our college campuses. It is imperative for the future success and longevity of higher education to select top scholars who have, and continue to demonstrate, a strong commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion,” said Fiona Lee, associate dean of diversity, equity, inclusion and professional development at LSA. “The Collegiate Fellows Program is a model to do just that and we’re excited to welcome our third cohort of fellows to LSA and proud to have colleagues from the first cohort join our faculty.”

Selected from more than 800 applications, the 2019 LSA Collegiate Fellows cohort is comprised of nine top liberal arts scholars from across the country with expertise in the social sciences, the natural sciences, and the humanities. In the fall, the scholars will start a two-year fellowship appointment during which they will conduct independent research, gain classroom and pedagogical experience, and prepare for possible tenure-track appointments in LSA.

Supported through a partnership with LSA's NCID, academic departments select fellows based on the caliber of the scholarship within their disciplines and the strength of their experience in DEI research/scholarship, teaching/mentoring, and/or service/engagement.  

“The Collegiate Fellows program is an institutional transformation strategy that demonstrates how diversity and excellence go hand in hand,” said Tabbye Chavous, director of the NCID and professor of education and psychology at U-M.“LSA is leading the charge in selecting the top scholars across various fields whose research, teaching practices, and experiences can impact the overall academic experience on our campus. We’re excited to welcome our new colleagues and tenure-track faculty.”

The 2019 LSA Collegiate Fellows are:

Camille Avestruz (Department of Physics): Dr. Avestruz's research interests span astrophysics, cosmology, and computation. Dr. Avestruz uses simulations to interpret and make predictions for observations of large-scale cosmic structure. In particular, Dr. Avestruz uses computational methods to extract signatures that probe the mass distribution of massive galaxies and galaxy clusters. Dr. Avestruz is passionate about making STEM accessible to those who have been historically excluded from the sciences and the academy. She has taught software and computation workshops to a variety of audiences promoting the advancement of underrepresented minorities in STEM, and has also engaged in public outreach, believing that intellectual exchange is not and should not be isolated within the walls and members of higher education. 

Emmalon Davis (Department of Philosophy): Emmalon Davis specializes in ethics, social and political philosophy, and epistemology, especially where these areas intersect with philosophy of race and feminist philosophy. In particular, she looks at how race and gender prejudice exert a distorting influence over these processes. With a special focus on the underrepresentation of women and people of color in academic philosophy, her research aims to identify and ameliorate the epistemic challenges facing diverse practitioners in philosophy and in academic settings more generally. Having served as a mentor for undergraduate students from diverse backgrounds, Dr. Davis is committed to removing the barriers faced by underrepresented students in the university setting and to proactively creating social and pedagogical environments in which all learners can flourish.

Adrian Deese (Department of Afroamerican and African Studies): Adrian Deese's current project examines the historic social and intellectual antecedents of the Church of Nigeria. In the nineteenth century, first- and second-generation African Christians worked to build a national church in the city of Abeokuta. A complex body of Yoruba-language publications developed from this process, which the current study examines through translation. Dr. Deese is committed to education and dialogue in religious, cultural, and social diversity. As a Fulbright Scholar to Nigeria, he mentored potential international students interested in pursuing higher education in the United States.

Luciana de Souza Leão (Department of Sociology): Luciana de Souza Leão is currently working on a book project, Experimenting on the Poor: The Politics of Social Policy Evaluations in Brazil and Mexico, which examines how politics, measurement practices, and expertise shape anti-poverty programs in Latin America. Throughout Dr. de Souza Leão’s academic career, she has also sought opportunities to stimulate conversations about diversity among her colleagues. Dr. de Souza Leão’s workshop sessions about inclusive teaching and inclusive assessment sparked great ideas for simple and effective changes graduate instructors could make to include all types of learners and to build on student diversity to stimulate participation in the classroom.

Jennifer Hsieh (Department of Anthropology): Jennifer Hsieh is currently working on a book project, tentatively entitled From Festival to Decibel: Making Noise in Urban Taiwan, which is a historical and ethnographic study of the scientific, bureaucratic, and audiovisual practices underlying the production of environmental noise from early twentieth-century Taiwan to the present. Dr. Hsieh examines the efforts of residents, policy makers, and environmental inspectors to transform the fleeting qualities of sound into a regulatory object. Dr. Hsieh has worked in a number of capacities to facilitate equity and inclusion for students, such as tutoring bilingual youth, developing leadership skills among underrepresented students, and mentoring international students. 

Mostafa Hussein (Jean and Samuel Frankel Center for Judaic Studies): Mostafa Hussein is working on a book project tentatively titled, Islam and Jewish Culture in Palestine, 1881-1948. This book project provides a new perspective on the ways in which Arabo-Islamic civilization contributed to the development of Jewish thought in Palestine during the late nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries. Dr. Hussein's study presents both a new understanding of the subtle ways through which Arabo-Islamic civilization, with its various manifestations, influenced the development of Jewish thought in Palestine, as well as a lens through which one revisits and enriches the history of the encounter between Jews and Arabo-Islamic culture in the evolution of the nationalist movements in the Modern Middle East.

Ungsan Kim (Department of Asian Languages and Cultures): Ungsan Kim’s current book project examines the temporal politics of queer Asian cinema, focusing on the cinematic representation of alternative kinship, transient intimacies, temporal disorientation, and melancholia. Dr. Kim is specifically interested in how queer Asian cinema, as an aesthetic mode of production, conceptualizes queerness through audiovisual experiments and innovative styles. As a former college activist for sexual minorities in South Korea, Dr. Kim learned that creating an inclusive and welcoming environment not only empowers students from marginalized groups but eventually benefits every member of the university. As a queer, international scholar of color, he is also passionate about mentoring LGBTQ+, international, first-generation, and other underrepresented students.

Niloofar Sarlati (Department of Comparative Literature): Niloofar Sarlati’s work engages linguistic and economic modernities in Britain and at the peripheries of the British Empire during the nineteenth century. Reading at the intersection of travel writing, ethnography, political economy, and linguistic theory, her work revisits theories of commodity-exchange and gift-giving through the prism of social courtesy and verbal pleasantries. For Dr. Sarlati, diversity means learning the infinite lesson that no mode of personhood should ever be presumed, an understanding that is fundamental to Sarlati’s life, research, and teaching.

Daniel Valella (Department of English Language and Literature): Daniel Valella's current book project examines the complex rhetorical strategies that U.S. minority writers and their literary speakers have developed, from 1945 to the present, to forge identifications with diverse readers and to convince others to join them in eradicating racism, sexism, homophobia, and other social injustices. Dr. Valella's research and teaching regularly focus on the artistic innovations, intellectual histories, and social experiences of those who are marginalized along the lines of race, gender, sexuality, class, and ability. Dr. Valella has also served as a mentor and instructor in several programs designed to foster diversity, equity, and inclusion in the academy. 

For more information about the Collegiate Fellows, visit the LSA and NCID websites.