2016 Provost’s Postdoctoral Fellows
Tasha L. Drake
Faculty Mentor: Wenbin Lin. Department: Chemistry
Tasha L. Drake received her Ph.D. in Chemistry from Northwestern University in 2016. She holds a B.A. with honors in Chemistry from Amherst College. Her dissertation titled “Investigation of highly dispersed molybdenum oxide catalysts synthesized by vapor deposition for alkene epoxidation” focuses on determining structure-function relationships for heterogeneous catalysts at the atomic level. Three preparation methods were used to generate materials of similar composition. The structural differences among the three types of materials were characterized using conventional spectroscopic techniques and novel chemical probes. It was shown that the chemical probes were more sensitive to changes at the atomic level compared to the surface spectroscopic techniques. Both characterization methods were complementary and provided a complete picture of the active catalytic material. With this information, it is possible to pinpoint how specific surface structures contribute to the overall performance of the catalyst. This work was funded by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program and the Institute for Catalysis in Energy Processes at Northwestern University.
As a Provost’s Postdoctoral Scholar in the Department of Chemistry, Tasha will be embarking on a new challenge under Professor Wenbin Lin. The project incorporates nanotechnology in the treatment of cancer. A drug delivery that responds to external stimuli system will be synthesized and tested for its efficacy.
Jose Israel Rodriguez
Faculty Mentor: Lek Heng Lim. Department: Statistics
Jose Israel Rodriguez is a mathematician and statistician. His interests are in applied algebraic geometry and algebraic methods for statistics. Before arriving at the University of Chicago, he served as a postdoctoral scholar with Jonathan Hauenstein at the Simon’s Institute and University of Notre Dame. He graduated from UC – Berkeley with a PhD in mathematicis, authoring a thesis titled “Numerical algebraic geometry for maximum likelihood estimation”.
Eve L. Ewing
Faculty Mentor: Charles M. Payne. School of Social Service Administration
Eve L. Ewing is a qualitative sociologist whose work explores racism and inequality, particularly in the context of urban school districts. She completed her doctoral studies at Harvard University, where she defended her dissertation “Shuttered Schools in the Black Metropolis: Race, History, and Discourse on Chicago’s South Side” in the Graduate School of Education. While at Harvard, she was a a Presidential Scholar, the co-chair of the Harvard Educational Review, and designed and led a course entitled Racism and Inequality in the Educational Experiences of African-American Youth. A Chicago native, she holds an AB from the University of Chicago, an MAT from Dominican University, and an M.Ed from Harvard University.
This year, she is developing her dissertation into a book. The manuscript explores the historical and contemporary role of race and racism in the 2013 closure of 50 Chicago Public Schools by constructing a portrait of the South Side community of Bronzeville, an important site of African-American culture and history from the Great Migration to the present. Ewing uses historical sociology, critical discourse analysis, and narrative case study to explore the history of racialized sociopolitical change in Bronzeville, the relationship of public school policy to the rise and fall of public housing, and the experiences of community members impacted by school closure. She also presents a theory of “institutional mourning,” a framework for understanding the emotional aftermath of the loss of public institutions. The study models a framework for critically examining the popular conceptualization and social consequences of racism itself in order to enable more productive conversations about the role race plays in educational policy decisions.
Danielle Marion Roper
Faculty Mentor: Agnes Lugo-Ortiz. Department: Romance Languages and Literatures and Fellow in the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture
Danielle Marion Roper graduated with a Ph.D from the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at New York University in 2015 where she defended her dissertation “Inca Drag Queens and Hemispheric Blackface: Contemporary Blackface and Drag performance from the Andes to Jamaica.” Upon completing doctoral studies, she taught as a Core Curriculum Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow at New York University. A native of Kingston, Jamaica, her research on Caribbean Queer and Feminist Studies and Visual Culture Studies has appeared in e-misférica, as well as in anthologies with University of the West Indies Press and with Palgrave Macmillan Press. She completed her M.A in Performance Studies at NYU in 2009 and is also a former Thomas J. Watson fellow.
Currently, she is preparing her book manuscript by expanding the scope of her dissertation. Her book develops the concept of “hemispheric blackface” to examine the role of parodic performance in upholding or countering discourses of racial democracy, mestizaje and non-racialism in Latin America and the Caribbean. Challenging traditional geographic paradigms, it uses Peru, Colombia, and Jamaica as case studies in order to investigate the function of blackface and drag performance in different locales and to argue that these representations of blackness are not unique; they are part of a regional network embedded in global economies of representation. She attends to the specificity of racial formation in the region by investigating blackface and gender-bending in a cartoon, an Andean fiesta, an ambulatory transvestite museum, and an Afro-Latina art exhibit. Studied together, they reveal how a shared regional history of colonialism, slavery, and imperialism continues to inform contemporary representations of black, queer, and indigenous subjects in the region. Through the creation of a regional parodic archive, the book decenters U.S blackface minstrelsy and northern theories of parody, and elucidates the ways parodic forms are taken up to uphold and/or counter nationalist discourses of racial democracy in the region.
Fidel J. Tavárez
Faculty Mentor: Paul Chaney. Department: History
Originally from the Dominican Republic, Fidel J. Tavárez resettled in New York City at the age of sixteen. He subsequently completed an A.A. in social sciences and humanities at LaGuardia Community College and a B.A. in history at The City College of New York. Since 2016, Fidel also holds a Ph.D. in history from Princeton University. His area of study is the intellectual, cultural, and administrative history of the Spanish Empire, with a particular focus on the eighteenth-century Bourbon Reforms. More broadly, Fidel is interested in understanding how and why commerce became a matter of state in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. This question has propelled him to study the origins of political economy, colonialism, imperial rivalry, globalization, and international law.
As a Provost’s Postdoctoral Scholar in the Department of History, Fidel will transform his dissertation into a book manuscript, tentatively titled The Imperial Machine: The Invention of the Spanish Commercial Empire, c. 1740-1808. This project investigates the rise of a new imperial program among officials who served in the main governing institutions of the Spanish Monarchy. Fervent students of Enlightenment political economy, these ministers envisioned the Spanish Monarchy as a kind of machine, with the king as its engineer, and imperial ministers as scientific advisors. In this new imperial machine, American territories acquired a new function: to consume the commodities produced by the metropole. Drawing on over half a dozen archives, Fidel’s project uncovers how a key set of Spanish ministers attempted to transform the composite monarchy inherited from the Habsburgs into a commercial empire. While scholars have suggested that these ministers were attempting to centralize the empire, The Imperial Machine argues that they were attempting to create one, converting the previously autonomous American kingdoms into dependent colonies. Fidel’s work, thus, fundamentally reconsiders existing accounts of how the biggest empire in the eighteenth century governed its American territories.
Fidel has published portions of his work in an article titled “Viscardo’s Global Political Economy and the First Cry for Spanish American Independence, 1767-1798,” which appeared recently in the Journal of Latin American Studies. He has also completed an article titled “La invención de un imperio comercial hispano, 1740-1765,” which appeared in the Argentine journal Magallánica, revista de historia moderna. In addition to transforming his dissertation into a book, Fidel’s future publication plans include a second book project tentatively entitled Empirical Statecraft: The Origins of an Information Empire in the Eighteenth-Century Spanish Atlantic.
Anna Elena Torres
Faculty Mentor: Na'ama Rokem. Department: Comparative Literature
Anna Elena Torres received her Ph.D. in Jewish Studies and Gender and Women’s Studies from UC Berkeley. Torres graduated from Swarthmore College with high honors and holds an MTS from Harvard Divinity School, where she was a Presidential Scholar. Born in the Bronx, Torres has also worked as a muralist and community arts organizer in Philadelphia, Boston, and the Bay Area.
As a Provost’s Postdoctoral Scholar in Comparative Literature, Torres will adapt her dissertation into a book, titled “With an Undone Shirt (Mit a tseshpilyet hemd): Anarchist Modernism and Yiddish Literature.” Drawing from archives in New York, Jerusalem, Amsterdam, Toronto, and elsewhere, Torres’s research documents the transnational Yiddish anarchist press and its cultivation of avant-garde literature between 1890 and 1952. She examines the historical relation between diasporism, Modernism, and anarchism in such texts as the Sacco-Vanzetti poetry of Moyshe-Leyb Halpern and Yankev Glatshteyn and Peretz Markish’s epic Soviet Futurist poema Der fertsikyeriker man (The Man of Forty Years). The book’s theoretical framework draws from diaspora studies and translation theory, particularly attending to the role of migration and deportation in Jewish anarchist thought.
As a Fellow at the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Torres translated the Polish poet Dvoyre Fogel’s book Mannequins (1934). Although most famous for her influential relationship with the writer and artist Bruno Schulz, Fogel was herself a significant literary theorist and contributor to the East European avant-garde. Torres’s writing on Fogel examines her feminist poetics and experimental representations of domestic labor and interior space.