This piece was originally published in the University Record (4/26/17).
The University of Michigan has announced the first members of the LSA Collegiate Postdoctoral Fellowship Program, designed to identify and prepare outstanding scholars with demonstrated commitments to diversity, equity and inclusion for possible tenure-track appointments in LSA.
The seven fellows will participate in a two-year program, administered by LSA and the National Center for Institutional Diversity, that was created as part of LSA's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategic Plan in October 2016.
Recruiting and retaining faculty whose research and scholarship, teaching and service contribute to diversity, equity and inclusion — on campus and in society at large — is a growing priority for higher education institutions, including U-M.
"We have made a commitment to ensure a scholarly environment that will meet the needs of our diverse community," said LSA Dean Andrew D. Martin. "Through LCPFP, we hope to recruit outstanding individuals that will view LSA as an academic home and who will positively impact the very culture and structure of our university, college and individual units."
This unique fellowship program will recruit 50 scholars over the next five years. In this inaugural year, the LCPFP has selected seven fellows from a pool of 762 applicants through a multistep review and evaluation process at the department and college levels.
Fellows were selected based on their scholarly strength and accomplishment in their disciplines, along with evidence of their sustained, demonstrated commitments to DE&I in the context of their scholarship, teaching and mentoring, or service and community engagement.
"The quality of the scholarship we produce and the quality of the educational experience we provide to all of our students are dependent upon having faculty from diverse backgrounds and perspectives and faculty with the skills and capacities to effectively create inclusive and equitable learning environments," said NCID Director Tabbye Chavous.
"This inaugural cohort exemplifies these qualities and we welcome them into the U-M and NCID community. The LCPFP is a promising strategy that stands to be a model for institutional transformation across the U-M and nationally.
"The new 2017 fellows, with their affiliated departments at U-M, are:
Lia Corrales, Department of Astronomy, received her Ph.D. in astronomy from Columbia University, studying interstellar dust and gas with X-rays. Afterwards, she was a postdoctoral fellow within the Chandra X-ray Center group at MIT and an Einstein Fellow at University of Wisconsin-Madison.
She has been part of the developing movement of efforts promoting diversity and inclusion in academia and STEM fields through conferences, mentoring and her leadership and activism. She curated an open letter, signed by physicists across the nation, to the U.S. Supreme Court regarding affirmative action and the benefits of diversity in higher education.
Jennifer Jones, Department of History, received her Ph.D. in history from Princeton University. She is a historian of African-American history in the 20th century and the history of sexuality in the United States, and previously taught at the University of Alabama-Tuscaloosa.
She is writing her book manuscript titled "Queering An American Dilemma: Sexuality and Gender in African American Political Organizing, 1945-1993." This work demonstrates how the exclusion or marginalization of same-sex intimacies and gender nonconformity in American life and law substantively shaped black liberal political strategies and black-white race relations.
Nancy A. Khalil, Department of American Culture, is a Ph.D. candidate in social anthropology at Harvard University where she also is an instructor of Muslim ministry. Her current research focuses on the politics of American Islam with an emphasis on the profession of the imam in America.
Other scholarly projects include research on migrant and second-generation political and civic engagement, Muslim students on U.S. college campuses, as well as a large project specific to the Muslim community in Boston. Prior to her doctoral studies, she worked as Muslim chaplain at Wellesley College and adviser to their Multi-faith Living and Learning Community.
Margo Mahan, Department of Sociology, is a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. Mahan was an Army officer for eight years as well as a corporate management consultant. She has more than 10 years of experience in battered women's and military family advocacy, and is the founder of the Breaking Silences Project and the His Story Project.
Mahan is broadly interested in how tensions within male and masculine hierarchies get articulated through law, crime and punishment. Her dissertation examines the extent to which the racial domination of minority men motivated the criminalization of wife-beating in the U.S.
Beza Merid, Department of Communication Studies, received his Ph.D. from New York University. He currently serves as a lecturer in the Master of Science in Global Medicine program at the Keck School of Medicine, and is associate director of undergraduate admissions at the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California.
His research examines the cultural study of biomedicine, with particular interest in the production of biomedical knowledge, notions of responsible patienthood, and the persistence of racial health disparities. Beza is starting his new book examining why racial disparities in heart disease and stroke persist.
Savithry Namboodiripad, Department of Linguistics, is a Ph.D. candidate in linguistics at the University of California, San Diego. Her thesis work focuses on measuring variation in word order within and across languages. She worked at the University of Chicago on language emergence and development in the Goldin-Meadow Lab.
Her current teaching and research interests include language discrimination, bilingualism, heritage languages, and language contact and use in post-colonial societies.
Luis Zaman, Center for the Study of Complex Systems, received a dual Ph.D. in computer science and engineering, and ecology, evolutionary biology and behavior at Michigan State University. Zaman is currently a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Washington. He is a past Sloan Ph.D. Fellow and lifetime member of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science.
Zaman is broadly interested in understanding fundamental evolutionary processes by experimenting with new computational, theoretical and microbial methods.