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

Class of 2009 Fellows Cohort 18:


Rachel Awkward Rachel Awkward '09, is a Sociology major and her mentor is David Karen. Rachel is interested in exploring what attracts children to join gangs. She is studying data that determine how family instability and the influence peer groups both are both related to a child's likelihood to join a gang. This past summer, she interned at Students for a Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), a non-profit organization located in Washington, D.C. that works to mobilize students to participate in and to challenge drug policies, particularly those that are harmful to youth. She also volunteered at ROOT, Reaching Out to Other Together, a non-profit organization with the mission of ending gun violence among youth. She is currently studying in Africa.

Jackie Castellanos Jackie Castellanos '09, is majoring in Growth and Structure of Cities. Her mentor is Juan Arbona. Her MMUF project entails a comprehensive investigation of gentrification across three different cities including Quito, Ecuador and Brooklyn, New York. I would like to study the relationships between the different groups that comprise these regions and the way the government and urban policy makers promote and combat the gentrification of these devastated urban areas. She spent this past summer in San Francisco's Mission District, in California studying the process of gentrification in the Mission by investigating the dichotomy of the interactions among a large Hispanic population, young artists opening galleries, and the prevalent crime of drug use and prostitution.


Sarah Khasawinah Sarah Khasawinah '09, is majoring in English and Mathematics and her mentor is Leslie Cheng. Sarah is focusing on Math for her Mellon Project. She is studying Harmonic Analysis, a branch within Real Analysis with applications in medicine, chemistry, optics, and telecommunications. By applying the modern principle of reduction, a process of decomposing intricate mathematical objects into simple building blocks in order to gain a greater understanding of the original object itself, Sarah hopes to find more general bounds for a special class of functions called the Littlewood-Paley functions. She spent this past summer in Hong Kong doing research in math--she developed original numerical methods to solve hypersingular integrals. Sarah loves math and hopes to spend her life as a researcher and educator.


Kira Montagno Kira Montagno '09, is a sociology major and her mentors are Nathan Wright and Mary Osirim. For her Mellon research she is interested in studying the identity of biracial adolescents. She will be looking at the relationship of family, peer groups and physical appearance to see how they shape the identity of biracial adolescents. Kira will also be looking at family influence; how much are the respondent’s parents claiming or expressing of a certain background. How do these cultural influences shape the respondent’s ideas about who they are and who they should be? One aspect of identity shaping she wants to explore is physical appearance. A specific characteristic of physical appearance is skin color. How does the shade of the respondent’s skin shape the way they can identify themselves as black, white or biracial. She hopes to explore her topic through in-depth interviews of biracial adolescents throughout the year.

Joanna Pinto-Coelho Joanna Pinto-Coelho '09, is a Washington, DC area native and a second- generation Brazilian American. She is Sociology major; a Political Science minor; and a Latin American, Latino, and Iberian Peoples and Cultures concentrator. Her mentor is the fabulous Mary Osirim in the Sociology department. Her Mellon Mays Undergraduate research project is about immigration policy and attitudes towards unauthorized immigrants in Montgomery County, Maryland and Prince William County, Virginia. She is interested in how social, socioeconomic, and other demographic factors work differently in each county--the former more liberal, the latter more conservative--to contribute to policy formation and, in turn, whether or not these policies are effective in their intended ways. The generosity of the MMUF program allowed her to spend the summer between her junior and senior years exclusively doing research for her project, which included numerous interviews and lots of background reading. She plans to apply to PhD programs for Sociology and Social Policy in the fall of 2008.

Erica Seaborne '09, is majoring in English and her mentor is Kate Thomas. She is interested in exploring how literary canons are formed, particularly how women and minorities have been excluded. She spent the 2007 compiling a bibliography on topics such as the political role of literature in our society and whose culture gets taught in our schools.


Johara Sealy '09