Graduate Student Fellows
The Center’s graduate student fellowship program seeks to generate and support research that is responsive to and engaged with Native communities and organizations and NAIS research. Graduate students will receive mentoring in Indigenous methodologies; present their work at the CNAIR research symposium; and join a community of scholars dedicated to work that is interdisciplinary and oriented both to critical inquiry and to its repercussions for communities inside and outside the university. We welcome Northwestern graduate students in all disciplines, including the social sciences, humanities, science and engineering, business, law, and medicine.
- Ashley Ngozi Agbasoga is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Anthropology with a graduate certificate in African-American Studies at Northwestern University. She received her B.A. in Anthropology at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York in 2015. Her dissertation, titled We Dance With Existence: Black-Indigenous Placemaking in the Land Known as México and Beyond, illuminates how Black, Indigenous, and Black-Indigenous women engage in placemaking practices that reveal and unsettle notions of race, place, and (nation-) statehood in México. Agbasoga’s dissertation research merges ethnographic and archival research conducted from 2016-2020 in Guerrero, Oaxaca, Veracruz and Mexico City with theories and methodologies from Anthropology, History, Black Studies, and Native/Indigenous Studies.
- Bobbie Benavidez is a doctoral student in the biological sciences subfield of Anthropology. Her research broadly focuses on population genetics and the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) framework. She is interested in understanding how political-economic systems and environmental stressors impact biological processes that are inherited by the next generation and widening the disparities gap. Currently, she collaborates with Yucatec Maya community members in Mexico where there is an increased burden of non-communicable diseases. Her work focuses on centering Indigenous knowledge and health-based systems to account for social determinants of health in ways that are culturally relevant. Her methodological approach employs a bio-cultural perspective to help clarify the complex relationships between health, culture and environment in an effort to identify genetic susceptibility to disease and Indigenous cultural practices that mitigate these risks with a long-term goal of informing future policy interventions that best serve the community.
- Cordelia Rizzo is an activist-scholar and maker from Monterrey, Mexico. Cordelia graduated with an M.A. in Philosophy (cum laude) from the KU Leuven. Her current research project examines textile-making as a performance to protest state violence. This project delves into indigenous knowledges, among other praxes and theories, to identify beliefs and truths that lie in textile-making. Mayan textiles, Amuzgo textiles, and Oaxacan textiles are techniques Cordelia uses to listen and pinpoint the feminist and anti-colonial components of the protest. She focuses mainly on embroidery, since another site of research is the transnational Embroidering for Peace initiative, which began in 2011 to protest organized violence (the war on drugs) in Mexico.
- Risa Puleo is an independent curator and PhD candidate in Northwestern University’s department of Art History. Her exhibition Walls Turned Sideways: Artists Confront the American Justice System was curated for The Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston and will travel open Tufts University Art Gallery in January 2020. Monarchs: Brown and Native Contemporary Artists in the Path of the Butterfly,curated for Bemis Center for Contemporary Art during her year as curator-in residence, traveled through the summer of 2019 to MoCA North Miami, Blue Star Art Space and Southwest School of Art and Craft in San Antonio, The Nerman Art Museum in Kansas City. Other exhibitions have been hosted by the Leslie Lohman Museum in New York City, Franklin Street Works in Stamford, CT, ArtPace, San Antonio, Charlotte Street Foundation in Kansas City, and more. Puleo has Master’s degrees from the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College and Hunter College. She has written for Art in America, Art Papers, Art 21, Asia Art Pacific, com, Modern Painters and other art publications and lectured at The University Of Texas, Austin; The Rhode Island School of Design; Cranbrook Academy of Art; School of Visual Arts, New York, and the School of the Art Institute, Chicago.
- Angel A. Escamilla García is a PhD candidate in Sociology. His research interests include international migration, race, indigenous migration, ethics, methods, and migrant youth. His current research uses ethnographic and interview methods to explore how varying regional contexts across Mexico influence the migration of Central American youth on their way to the United States.
- Bennett Jones is a Ph.D. candidate in U.S. history of science, specializing in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Her dissertation, “The Indians Say: Settler Colonialism and the Scientific Study of Animals in America, 1722 to 1860,” explores the use of storytelling in early American natural history as well as the relationships between Euro-American Naturalists and Native American guides and informants. Bennett is also a fellow in the Science in Human Culture interdisciplinary cluster and a graduate fellow with the Northwestern University Center for Native American and Indigenous Studies. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fiber and Material Studies from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago as well as a Master of Arts in Museum Studies from the University of Florida and was a participant in the four-week Summer Institute of Museum Anthropology at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. While at the University of Florida, she completed a master’s thesis titled “Monarch of the Plains: Federalism and Ecology in 19th Century American Museum Habitat Groups.”
- Nikki McDaid-Morgan (Shoshone-Bannock) is a doctoral student in Learning Sciences at Northwestern University. Her research interests are broadly focused on informal and formal learning environments at the intersection of land-based education and Indigenous resurgence. More specifically, she wants to understand the ways that youth in land-based learning environments ascribe agentic capacities and personhood to more-than-human animals and plants and whether or not the propensity to do so might be correlated with the ways youth engage in decision-making around social and environmental concerns. Nikki earned her M.A. in Teaching from Pacific University and her B.S. in Sociology from Northeastern University. She also has experience as a middle school and high school English and Musical Theatre teacher and has two children of her own.
- Daniela Maria Raillard is a Ph.D. student in the archaeology subfield of the Anthropology department. She received her B.A. (Hons) in Archaeology and Latin American Studies from the University of Toronto. Her dissertation explores the relationships between people and landscapes in the Andes through community-based archaeological research. She is interested in combining GIS and spatial analysis tools with experiential approaches to study the role of place-making and indigenous Andean ways of knowing the land. Currently, she is focused on how people in the past and present relate to pre-Hispanic above-ground tomb sites in the Chachapoya region of Northeastern Perú. Her work is strongly centered around the empowerment of local communities through heritage management and sustainable tourism. This commitment to community-based work stems from her own maternal connection to the Andes and her experience growing up in Northern Canada with First Nations and Inuit communities. She hopes to continue working with local and descendent communities in Perú and in her mother’s Colombian hometown to decolonize the archaeological record and produce a self-determined heritage.
- Alissa Baker-Oglesbee's (Psychology) dissertation seeks to understand how Cherokee language affects environmental cognition using a community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach. This study is timely in uniting two areas of focused research and development in novel ways: language revitalization and traditional ecological knowledge.
- Brad Dubos's (English) dissertation investigates how Native American, African American and women poets represented the lived experience of religion from the Revolutionary period to the end of the nineteenth century by examining poetic depictions of religious space. Mapping a network of sacred places, sites of supernatural encounter, and everyday spaces of reverence within the American literary imagination, his project explores how religious spaces functioned for—and came to matter to—Indigenous peoples, Black Americans, and women during this period.
- Walther Maradiegue's (Spanish & Portuguese) dissertation project is titled “Geographies of Indigeneity in the Andes.” It Inspects how late 19th-century and early 20th-century cultural production -from Indigenous and non-Indigenous sources- have shaped perceptions and understandings of the natural, racial and cultural landscapes of the northern Peruvian Andes. His project asks questions about racialization, representation and territorialities, and draws on a mix of archival, literary, visual and historical texts.
- Enzo E. Vasquez Toral (Performance Studies) is a theater director, scholar, and performer from Peru whose doctoral work focuses on queer and trans engagement in cross-dressing ritual practices in patron-saint fiestas, folklore, religiosity, and visual and performance art in the Andes. To do so, he explores the ways contemporary queer and trans performers and artists engage concepts and elements related to Catholicism, indigenous thought, mestizo identity, devotion, and colonized views on gender and sexuality in relation to their own identities.
- Allison Conner's (Leadership for Creative Enterprises) project focuses on the invisibility and marginalization of Native Americans in popular music history, seeking to understand the complexities of this erasure. She brings to this project experience working at the National Museum of the American Indian and as a professional musician.
- Nis Wilbur (Master of Public Policy and Administration) plans to work with the CNAIR team to investigate effects of tribal enrollment policies on children. She is excited to strengthen her research skills and looks forward to collaborating with both the CNAIR team and tribes. Ms. Wilbur is a citizen of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation.