The Presidential Fellowship is funded by the President of the University and awarded by The Graduate School. This highly competitive award is the most prestigious fellowship awarded by Northwestern.
All recipients become members of the Northwestern Society of Fellows (which includes former members and distinguished faculty members). Presidential Fellows still completing their degrees are listed below. See past Fellows listed by induction year.
Andrea Y. Adomako
African American StudiesAndrea Y. Adomako is a PhD candidate in the Department of African American Studies.
An interdisciplinary Black Studies scholar, Andrea’s work spans the fields of Black girlhood studies, gender & sexuality studies, literary criticism, and Black political thought. Her current research examines what we can all collectively learn from Black girls’ friendships through critical engagement with their lives and those writing about them. Transnational in scope, Andrea’s work analyzes figures/objects from the United States and Ghana to account for the gendered differences of girlhood and the feminist commitments literary movements were grappling with during the 1960s and 1970s. In revisiting literature between 1969 and 1976—which represents the height of the Black Arts Movement and Pan-African literary formations— Andrea examines texts by Maya Angelou, Efua Sutherland, Toni Morrison, James Baldwin and Ama Ata Aidoo who are connected through their interpersonal diasporic friendships with one another and their authorial insistence on communicating ideas about violence and intimacy through symbols of Black girlhood. Her research reveals that politics of friendship revolve around innovative ways of being with each other, which does not rely on punishment but rather fosters a creative interrogation of the world around us.
Andrea contextualizes the labor of friendship in the diasporic Black literary tradition to understand how Black girls have become powerful racialized, gendered, and sexualized symbols that render them as the most significant movement builders, while also being highly invisible and in crisis. Working with youth organizations such as the Chicago Freedom School and the Akoma Institute, Andrea is committed to relationship building as a political commitment and intellectual practice.
She holds a BA in Africana studies and human rights from Barnard College, as well as an MA in American studies from Purdue University.
Henry K. Dambanemuya
Technology and Social BehaviorHenry K. Dambanemuya is a PhD candidate in the joint Computer Science and Communication Program in Technology and Social Behavior under advisement by Dr. Emőke-Ágnes Horvát.
Henry works in the Laboratory on Innovation, Networks, and Knowledge (LINK) to understand and predict group behavior in networks and socio-technical systems. Trained in computer science, communication, and international peace studies, he brings a unique combination of exceptional analytical and computational skills to conduct interdisciplinary research with real-world implications in social good efforts, without limitations in technical capabilities. His doctoral work, at the intersection of machine learning and complex networks analysis, examines how people’s social networks and their opinion diversity impact their judgments in collaborative settings. The goal of his research is to devise innovative ways to support reliable collective decision-making in complex settings by identifying novel and robust collective intelligence signals and by systematically investigating the primary conditions necessary to generate crowd wisdom. As a problem-solving approach, he applies collective intelligence research to solve high-stakes problems, for instance, to generate more informed and inclusive decisions in group settings, improve access to capital for groups underserved by traditional financial institutions, and to help design better strategies for implementing peace agreements after civil wars.
Prior to Northwestern, Henry obtained his MA from the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame and a BA in computer science and conflict studies from DePauw University.
Laura Jeanne Ferdinand
Interdisciplinary PhD in Theatre and Drama
Laura Ferdinand is a PhD candidate in the Interdisciplinary PhD in Theatre and Drama (IPTD).
An interdisciplinary theatre scholar, Laura’s work sits at the critical intersections of gender, race, historiography, and performance. Her current research examines early-20th-century revisionist histories of the US South, situating performances of racialized Southern femininity at the heart of the region’s most pivotal and prolific period of cultural production. Beyond a historiographical intervention that restores the forgotten role of women in the writing and rewriting of Southern history, her dissertation uses performance analysis to examine how those women turned historical memory into culture through discrete performative practices. By charting patterns across social practice, artistic representation, civic events, and political rhetoric and legislation, her research demonstrates the racial ramifications of Southern revisionist history and provides an analytical framework for recognizing and reckoning with contemporary Southern cultural practices that originated in the segregated South. At Northwestern, Laura works with organizations across campus, serving as a writing fellow at The Graduate Writing Place and a freelance editor at Northwestern University Press. She holds a bachelor's and master's of arts in theatre from Miami University and a master's of arts in theatre and drama from Northwestern.
Human Development and Social PolicySheridan Fuller is a PhD candidate in the Human Development and Social Policy program.
Sheridan's research addresses the American social safety net's potential to promote families' well-being while acknowledging its pitfalls. He studies children's and families' interactions with the social safety net, focusing on the effect of income support programs on children's long-term outcomes. His research is motivated by two related questions. First, how do we better design the American social safety net to support children's health and well-being? Second, how do welfare policies that prevent families from accessing critical resources impact children's developmental trajectory? His research addresses these questions by combining his professional policy experience working on income support programs with multidisciplinary training grounded in econometric methods and drawing on insights from political science and human development. His work addresses these interrelated questions through four studies that provide a historical and contemporary analysis of the public cash welfare system. As policymakers attempt to redesign the social safety net as part of the policy response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sheridan's research highlights how policymakers can structure the social safety net to protect children and families from economic hardship and design elements that may negate these efforts.
Before joining the Northwestern community, Sheridan worked on income support programs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as a policy analyst and Presidential Management Fellow and earned his Master of Public Policy and BA from the University of Virginia.
Earth and Planetary Sciences
Laura Larocca is a PhD candidate in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences.
Laura’s research focuses on understanding the recent and long-term history of Greenland’s mountain glaciers. Over the last two decades, air temperature in the Arctic has risen by more than double the global average, and consequently, most of Greenland’s ~20,000 glaciers peripheral to the Greenland Ice Sheet have retreated. Despite their importance to 21st century sea-level rise and to freshwater resources, little is known about their history, pre the satellite era. More knowledge of past glacier change will allow for improved estimates of their sensitivity to temperature change, including sustained warming like that predicted for the future. To address this knowledge gap, Laura uses two complementary approaches. Her first project documents glacier length change over the last ~120 years using a combination of early 20th century aerial photographs from Danish mapping expeditions of Greenland, declassified Cold War-era spy satellite imagery, and imagery from modern satellites. Combined, these datasets allow her to distinguish how unusual 21st-century retreat rates are in the context of the past ~120 years, and to assess when southern Greenland’s glaciers will likely disappear in the future.
Laura's second project evaluates glacier fluctuations over the Holocene (the geologic epoch spanning the past ~10,000 years) using lake sediment records. In 2018, she led an expedition to collect sediment cores from three lakes in South Greenland, which currently have glaciers in their watersheds. Her analyses revealed that glaciers in southern Greenland melted away later in the Holocene than those in northern Greenland, supporting the hypothesis that the timing of maximum Holocene warmth varied spatially across Greenland. Laura holds an MS in earth and atmospheric science from City College of the City University of New York and a BFA from New York University. She is committed to creative communication of climate science to the broader public and participation in K-12 outreach. View her research website.
Interdisciplinary Biological Sciences Program
Sarah Lloyd is a PhD candidate in the Interdisciplinary Biological Sciences Program in the Department of Molecular Biosciences under advisement by Dr. Xiaomin Bao.
Sarah is investigating the genetic mechanisms essential for regulating human tissue regeneration. Human epithelial tissues regenerate on a regular basis in response to daily wear and tear. This requires a delicate balance between stem cell self-renewal and terminal differentiation. Disruption of this balance underlies the progression of diseases including cancers, yet the mechanisms in control remain incompletely understood. Sarah’s thesis work aims to address this knowledge gap by leveraging human skin as a model system. She is elucidating how a variety of protein complexes cooperate to tightly control transcription which dictates precisely when certain genes are expressed. With this work she has begun shedding light on the fundamental mechanisms controlling tissue regeneration and ultimately aims to generate insight into the principles underlying skin cancer progression. Before her time at Northwestern, Sarah explored the remarkable cardiovascular properties of hibernating ground squirrels while completing her bachelor’s degree in biology at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse.
Alicia V. Nuñez
Spanish and PortugueseAlicia V. Nuñez is a PhD candidate in the Spanish and Portuguese Department.
Alicia’s dissertation examines the intersections of childhood with lived migratory experiences in literature, visual, and music culture. Her work demonstrates how difficult it is to categorize a child that tends to survive under institutional radars, in the shadows. Alicia’s concept of “Shadow Kids” argues that unaccompanied migrant children defy concepts of childhood by hiding and moving through multiple spatial, temporal, national, and sexual identities. Furthermore, her work explores how immigration policy and detention procedures in the United States have historically depicted Central America as a “problem child.” Alicia draws from varied materials such as novels, poetry, newspapers, legal documents, music, and art installations to voice the multisensory experiences of migrant children. More broadly, her interdisciplinary project is also in dialogue with larger, more global issues such as climate change, chronic world health problems, and mass displacement.
At Northwestern, Alicia works with the Northwestern Prison Education Program to help coordinate programming at Cook County Jail and various youth detention centers with the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice. Alicia has also taught at Northwestern, Cook County Jail, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Spanish and PortugueseCatalina Rodríguez is a PhD candidate in the Spanish and Portuguese Department.
Catalina’s dissertation studies the role of pseudonyms in the creation and regulation of gendered social practices and concepts throughout nineteenth-century Latin America. Her project demonstrates that studying the use and reception of gendered pseudonyms allows for a better understanding of the dynamics at play in creating idealized conceptions of femininity and “female writing”. Her research draws on fashion chronicles, short stories, miscellaneous articles, woodcuts, novels, diaries, and translations published in 19th-century Latin American periodicals to questions canonical conceptions of authorship and gender representation. More broadly, her project uses feminist and literary theory to decenter questions of “how women write” and instead focus attention on how authorial practices become gendered. Catalina's work has been published in the Latin American Literary Review, the Revista de la Universidad de Antioquia and the Revista Taller de Letras. She is originally from Bogotá, Colombia and received her bachelor’s degree in literature from Universidad de los Andes.
Charlotte Rosen is a PhD candidate in the Department of History.
Charlotte’s dissertation uses Pennsylvania as a case study to examine the untold history of state prison overcrowding and the politics that this crisis of carceral incapacity produced. Far from an orderly roll-out of the postwar US carceral regime, the actual implementation of racialized mass imprisonment was far more contested than is commonly understood, in large part because United States’ decentralized political structure means that the majority of imprisoned people are arrested, prosecuted, and incarcerated by local and state authorities. As Pennsylvania’s major metropolitan regions ramped up policing and as the state passed tough-on-crime mandatory sentencings laws in the 1970s and 1980s, state and county correctional systems became immediately overcrowded, subjecting disproportionately Black prisoners to horrendous and constitutionally suspect conditions and creating decades of administrative chaos, fiscal strain, and judicial intervention. State prison overcrowding also sparked a little-acknowledged period of Black-led prisoner resistance, ranging from lawsuits over overcrowding to escapes to full-scale rebellions: clear evidence of the carceral state’s contingent and unsettled status during this period.
In braiding the histories of state policymakers’ struggle to build sufficient carceral capacity with the history of prisoner resistance, Charlotte’s dissertation demonstrates that the US prison nation did not develop automatically or smoothly once the bipartisan “common sense” of tough-on-crime and carceral solutions became hegemonic. Rather, she shows that the rush to punish and imprison with impunity created a crisis of state incapacity that initially placed meaningful limits on the political project of law and order. This history shows that the rise of the carceral state is not a history of inevitability, but of defeat; where the contemporary crisis of racialized mass imprisonment was only made possible through the contested closure of an opening created by the crisis of state prison overcrowding that initially gave prisoners, their allies, and the judiciary the ability to challenge and constrain the growth of the US carceral regime.
Charlotte is a prison abolitionist and is involved in a number of projects and organizations to support imprisoned people and expand public knowledge of the history of policing, prisons, and prisoner resistance in the US. She volunteers with the Northwestern Prison Education Program and is a team member of Study and Struggle, an ongoing project to organize against incarceration and criminalization in Mississippi through four months of political education and community building, convening study groups both inside and outside prisons.
PhysicsSuna Zekioglu is a PhD candidate in the Department of Physics
Suna's research focuses on investigating connections between our most fundamental physical theories. The marriage of gravity — as understood via the principles of general relativity — with quantum mechanics is fraught with confusing predictions and a daunting degree of computational complexity. This research hopes to overcome these barriers by using the recently discovered link between gravity and the so-called "strong force" that binds protons and neutrons together. By narrowing in on the physical properties and symmetries of the strong force, Suna has discovered patterns living within theoretical extensions of both the strong force and models of quantum gravity. These patterns indicate that the underlying mathematical structure connecting these disparate forces — only manifest through carefully focused calculation — takes on a more general form than previously understood. Suna's work then uses these patterns to thoroughly investigate the types of novel gravitational phenomena we may one day hope to observe. In addition to guiding our construction of gravitational models to describe the quantum evolution of space and time, these findings also give rise to efficient, systematic new methods for predicting quantities of interest for particle collider experiments.