Contact Us
Vanessa Christman, Assistant Dean of the College
for Access and Community Development
MMUF Administrative Coordinator
The Pensby Center
(610) 526-6594
Bethany Schneider, Associate Professor of English
MMUF Faculty Coordinator
(610) 526-5051
Jennifer Walters, Dean of the Undergraduate College
MMUF Advisor
(610) 526-5375

Mary Zaborskis
University of Pennsylvania Doctoral Student
MMUF Graduate Coordinator

MMUF Current Fellows

Class of 2018 Cohort 27:

OliviaOlivia Porte

My name is Olivia Porte. I am a junior at Bryn Mawr college, originally from Boston, MA. I have a declared major in history of art with a museum studies minor. My work within Mellon and outside of my research speaks to a larger concern for the preservation of blackness in art and visual culture. My research studies various case studies of artist like Kara Walker and Titus Kaphar who reconstruct symbols of American tradition to reinsert the white washed history that excludes the African American narrative essential to American history as we know it today. Additionally, I am observing the ways museums work with or against these artist to sustain the white supremacist discourse of the art world through the contemporary. Arts = Resistance.

DiamondDiamond Ray is a Linguistics major from Philadelphia, PA. Her main interest of research is sociolinguistics. This summer she will be attending a Linguistics Field School funded by the National Science Foundation, where she will travel to Oaxaca, Mexico to conduct linguistic fieldwork. Diamond is particularly interested in the African Diaspora and its connection with sociolinguistic racialization in Latin America. She will spend her fall semester abroad in Quito, Ecuador learning Area Studies and Spanish.

ClaudiaClaudia Ruiz is a Posse scholar and Sociology major and Mathematics minor from Houston, TX. She is interested in studying the role of numeracy in Latino Culture, exploring how mathematics is taught and translated within the classrooms. In her research she will focus on how college access programs lack teaching financial literacy to students who are understanding the college process and making decisions on which college to attend. With the Mellon Mays Fellowship, Claudia is excited to be able to conduct her research under the guidance of Professor Montes in the Sociology Department.

LydiaLydia Sanchez is a Political Science major from East Greenwich, RI. Her goal is to pursue a PhD in Middle Eastern Studies. She is interested in studying the process of Arabization in Morocco, exploring the shift in government and linguistic structure post-French colonialism. In addition, she is interested in how the Morocco’s various ethnic groups fit in to the construct of the Arab identity which began with the Arabization initiative. Her interest in the Middle East was inspired by a gap year with the National Security Language Initiative for Youth, a State Department funded critical language program, in Muscat, Oman. She will begin her studies in Morocco summer 2016 and continue on in the fall semester, studying abroad with the State Department Boren Scholarship.

EmmaEmma Wu is a Posse Scholar and geology major from Houston, Texas. She is in interested in vertebrate paleontology and researching the evolutionary origins of morphological variations. More specifically, she wishes to contribute to the taxonomical classifications of giant sloths from the Pleistocene and study the geochemical properties of their enamel. This summer she will be conducting preliminary research for her project at the University of Chicago.

Class of 2017 Cohort 26:

PaolaPaola Bernal is a Posse Scholar and Sociology Major from Houston, Texas. She is interested in studying The Role of Telenovelas in Latino Culture, exploring how the development, structure, and functioning of Latino communities is depicted in media. Drawing on her studies of sociology, education and Spanish, she hopes to demonstrate how telenovelas serve as a medium to understanding and analyzing social differences in Latino culture.

SofiSofi Chavez is an English major from Seattle, WA. Her areas of interest are Chicana/ Mexican American identity, queer theory, and religion. In her research, she will focus on representations of queer Chicana spirituality in literature, predominately written and produced by queer Chicana authors. Her project was inspired by her upbringing in the Catholic Church, her own identity, and Gloria Anzaldúa's Borderlands/ La frontera. With the Mellon Mays Fellowship, Sofi is excited to be able to conduct her research under the guidance of Professor Harford Vargas in the English Department.

CrystalCrystal Des-Ogugua is a Sociology major (with a concentration in African-American studies) who currently lives in Lewisburg, PA. "I am interested in studying the development and manifestation of Black student identities as it relates to contextual social inequality and the legacy of American Slavery."




Kiran Pizarro Mansukhani is a Philosophy major from Great Neck, NY. He is interested in studying the separation between individualism and collectivism in metaphysical conceptions of memory, and whether they can be combined to provide an account of personal identity that is inclusive of individual experience and collective attitudes. He also hopes to incorporate South Asian theology (Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism, and Buddhism) in this project. His mentor is Dr. Adrienne Prettyman, and he will be studying abroad in Fall 2015.  


GissellGissell Montoya is an International Studies major and Health Studies minor from Houston, TX. She is interested in learning more about the role of culture in disease and disease prevention. She plans to focus on how Latino communities respond to and interpret varying forms of health communication in community health campaigns. She is also interested in exploring the underlying social determinants that result from existing health disparities in Latino communities. She hopes that her research will help foster a more culturally competent approach to health promotion that will be better able to serve the health of these unique Latino communities. Gissell will conduct her research under the guidance of Professor Christopher Roebuck in the Anthropology Department at Haverford.

Class of 2016 Cohort 25:

Lucy Carreno-RocaLucy Carreno-Roca is a Gates Millennium Scholar and an English Major from Alvarado, Texas. She is interested in researching how the representation of restorativejustice, altered power relations, and subaltern identities emerge through truth-telling in post-conflict narratives from Guatemala and South Africa. She is also interestedin exploring transnational, multilingual, migrant narratives. Lucy will conduct her research under the guidance of Professor Linda Susan Beard and Professor Jennifer Harford Vargas of the English Department and will be studying abroad in Copenhagen in the fall of 2014.


Maria Morrero

Maria Morrero is a cultural anthropology major from Philadelphia. Her Mellon Mays research will investigate the role of inclusivity and interconnectedness on Scottish ideologies of human happiness. She is interested in deploying an anthropological lens throughout her research, but will also incorporate a philosophical apparatus to inform her work. This summer Maria will act as research assistant and teacher’s assistant to Professor Monica Hahn at the Community College of Philadelphia.


Rochelle Waite

Rochelle Waite is an Anthropology major from Cambridge, MA. She is interested in studying how people living with low food access navigate the constraints of their situation on an individual and community level. She would also like to look at the effectiveness of larger scale methods used to improve food access and food security especially in urban areas. Additionally, she is interested in looking at how food access intersects with race, gender and health.



Rachel Weissler

Rachel Weissler was born and grew up in Topanga, California, moving to the east coast to attend Moorestown Friends High School in Moorestown, New Jersey. She is a Linguistics major with focused interests in philosophical and sociological linguistics. She is interested in revitalization efforts of endangered languages, particularly Zapotec languages, which she has studied since 2012 with Tri-Co Professor Brook D. Lillehaugen.  This summer, Rachel will be studying abroad at the University of Cape Town in Cape Town, South Africa pursuing her passions for language, acceptance and diversity. She hopes to learn about the many languages of South Africa and the people who speak them through this immersion experience.