Meet the IDEAL Fellows
We are pleased to introduce our 2023 early-career scholars joining us at Stanford in September 2023.
Safyer McKenzie-Sampson is a Ph.D. recipient in epidemiology and translational science from the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine. Her research explores how exposure to structural and interpersonal racism during pregnancy and the postpartum period influences the risk of adverse perinatal outcomes in Black communities, with the goal of translating findings into interventions to increase birth justice.
Safyer’s dissertation investigated neighborhood-level structural racism as a risk factor for preterm birth and small-for-gestational-age birth among American- and African-born Black women currently residing in California.
She joins the School of Medicine’s Department of Pediatrics.
Jennifer Alpert is a film scholar interested in how cinema and media address and represent marginalized groups, with a focus on human rights in Latin America and its U.S. diaspora. Her research interests include the cinemas of Latin America (primarily post-dictatorship Argentina), race and gender in Hollywood, genre (melodrama, crime, science fiction, musicals), popular animation, colonialism and decolonial visual representation and theory, and migration in film. She received her Ph.D. in Film & Media from the University of California, Berkeley in 2021, and since then has held a faculty appointment at Harvard University in the Committee on Degrees in History & Literature, where she has taught courses in the Latin American and Ethnic Studies tracks and advised undergraduate and graduate theses. She has worked in the Hollywood industry at Pixar Animation Studios and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, aiming to increase Latin American and Latinx representation in popular media. She is an advisor for the UCLA Film and T.V. Archive’s global cinema project Science Fiction Against the Margins. She is also the managing editor of the Journal of Cinema and Media Studies Teaching Media Dossier (JCMS). Jennifer is a Mellon Mays mentor and a PUENTE community college mentor, both nationwide programs to support the success of minoritized groups in higher education. She is a proud Latin American immigrant constantly trying to reduce her carbon footprint. You can find her glued to her television when she is not researching, teaching, or mentoring students
Ariel Chan received her Ph.D. in East Asian Linguistics from the University of California, Los Angeles. Her scholarship intersects the disciplines of bilingualism, heritage and second language acquisition, psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, and interactional linguistics.
In her dissertation project, she examined how Cantonese-English bilinguals' cultural identity and sociocultural context impact their language processing and cognitive control from a synergistic psycholinguistic and sociolinguistic approach. Her research is centered on studying bilingualism in its own right, examining bilinguals’ language and cognitive development as a proper cultural form rather than an exception from the White monolingual English norms.
Her dissertation research has been supported by a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies and a Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Award from the National Science Foundation. She has also received multiple competitive intramural awards at UCLA, including a Dissertation Year Fellowship, a Hiroshi Wagatsuma Fellowship, a Sasakawa Graduate Fellowship, a Dissertation Fieldwork Fellowship for International Studies, and a Teaching Assistant Award for Excellence in Teaching. Chan is an immigrant from Hong Kong and a first-generation high school and college graduate. She is a Cantonese-English bilingual speaker who constantly navigates between her bicultural identities in the Cantonese diaspora.
Sarah is an information science Ph.D. graduate from Cornell University, where she studied municipal algorithmic systems, race/ism, and inequality. Her dissertation focused on the administration of pretrial risk assessments in Virginia. She uses a mixed-methods approach to understand how human discretion in the pretrial process—particularly by pretrial officers—affects risk scores, pretrial detention decisions, and life outcomes for accused people. Her interest in municipal algorithmic systems arose while working at the New York City Department of Education to re-engage out-of-school youth and volunteer for the Dignity in Schools Campaign, a national coalition working to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline. Her research is funded by the Microsoft Research Ada Lovelace Fellowship, the MacArthur Foundation, and UCLA’s Center for Critical Internet Inquiry. She also has a master’s in public policy from the University of California, Berkeley, and a B.A. from Amherst College.
Maria Del Socorro Velázquez
María Del Socorro Velázquez is an IDEAL Provostial Fellow at the Stanford Graduate School of Education. Her research interrogates the systems, structures, and processes that shape inequities in schools and communities. Relatedly, she investigates how educators, families, and community members contest and disrupt inequities in schools and neighborhoods. As a community-engaged scholar, María is actively working on expanding the ways in which her scholarship and service align. She aims to bridge relevant and rigorous research with ongoing efforts to shape critical policies and practices toward transformative futures for minoritized and low-income youth and families.
María’s current research examines the connections between housing, educational policy, and place. She is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Educational Policy Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She also holds an M.A. in Educational Policy from UW-Madison and a B.A. in Ethnic Studies from the University of California, Berkeley.
In September 2022, a second cohort of early-career scholars joined the Stanford campus community for three years.
Scholar, curator, and writer Jamal Batts, Ph.D., joined the Department of Art and Art History. He received his Ph.D. from the Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.
His work reflects on the relationship between Black queer contemporary visual art and the intricacies of sexual risk.
Batts was a 2021-22 University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellow, a Curator-in-Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, a 2020 Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Scholar-in-Residence, a 2020 Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellow and a ONE National Lesbian & Gay Archives LGBTQ Research Fellow. His writing appears in publications such as the catalog for The New Museum’s “Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon,” Open Space, ASAP/J and New Life Quarterly. He is a member of the curatorial collective The Black Aesthetic.
Hector Callejas (mestizo/Latino) received his Ph.D. from the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He joined the Department of Anthropology. He researches and teaches Latin American and Latinx studies, Native American and Indigenous studies, sociocultural anthropology, human geography, and decolonial methodologies. He received his MA and BA from UC Berkeley.
His research has been funded by a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies; a Graduate Student Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation; and a Chancellor’s Fellowship from the University of California, Berkeley. He has received competitive research awards from various units at Cal: the Native American Studies program, the Center for Race and Gender, the Myer’s Center for Research of Native American Issues, and the Ethnic Studies department.
Callejas is from the predominantly Mexican Latinx community in Sacramento, California. His parents immigrated from El Salvador and Guatemala during the civil wars in the early 1980s.
Karr Family Provostial Fellow
Working at the intersection of African American literary studies and the environmental humanities, Walter Gordon studies the links among race, literature, energy, and ecology, particularly about questions of labor and theories of modernity. He joined the Department of English. Gordon is the Karr Family Provostial Fellow.
Most recently, Gordon served as the 2021-22 Postdoctoral Fellow in the Public Energy Humanities at the University of Alberta, in collaboration with the Petrocultures Research Group and Transitions in Energy, Culture and Society. Raised in Berkeley, California, he received his MA and PhD from the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University and attended Oberlin College as an undergraduate.
Gordon is currently working on two main projects: a digital, interactive adaptation of Shirley Graham Du Bois’ 1941 tragedy Dust to Earth and a monograph titled Prime Movers: Energy and Modernity in African American Literature, which tracks the interlinked cultural legacies of King Coal and Jim Crow and highlights other entanglements of race and energy across the 20th century.
Adam Simpson received his Ph.D. from the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at Stanford, advised by Professor William Mitch. He continues as a fellow in that department.
Simpson will advance his research at the nexus of public health, sociology, and environmental engineering to develop an environmental justice framework for studying foods in low-socioeconomic neighborhoods.
His work predicts the initial transformation products of food-based biomolecules and biopolymers, as toxic chemicals caused by chemical disinfection processes on foods. His work has been supported by multiple fellowships, including a Stanford Graduate Fellowship, a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, and a DARE (Diversifying Academia, Recruiting Excellence) fellowship.
He earned his MS in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Stanford University and his BS in Chemical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.
Yuhe Faye Wang
Yuhe Faye Wang received her Ph.D. in American Studies at Yale University. She holds an M.Phil in American Studies from Yale University and a BA in Gender and Women’s Studies with a focus on Economics from Pomona College. She joined the Department of History.
Her work centers on the intersections of Asian American history, legal history, the history of the North American West, and studies of racial capitalism in the 19th century. Her current project investigates how the civil rights of corporations in the United States were built upon the civil rights of Chinese immigrants, and how a series of Supreme Court decisions entangled constitutional protections against racial discrimination with corporate law in the decades immediately after the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868.
The inaugural cohort of five early-career scholars joined Stanford in September 2021.
Catherine Duarte is based in the Department of Epidemiology & Population Health in the School of Medicine. She received her Ph.D. in epidemiology from the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health and her master of science in the social and behavioral sciences from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Duarte was selected to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Health Policy Research Scholars program as a doctoral student.
Duarte’s work examines how education and legal system policy and practices are associated with racial/ethnic health inequities throughout the life course to support systems-level interventions.
Kelly Nguyen is based in the Department of Classics in the School of Humanities and Sciences. She is a refugee from Vietnam and a first-generation high school and college graduate. Nguyen received her Ph.D. in ancient history from Brown University and her B.A in classics and archaeology with honors and highest distinction from Stanford University. She received a 2021 University of California President's Postdoctoral Fellowship award.
Her interdisciplinary research and teaching engage classical studies in a comparative manner to explore imperialism, forced displacement, and race and ethnicity. Her dissertation was the first major study to examine the history of Greco-Roman classical reception within Vietnamese contexts.
Nguyen co-founded the Asian and Asian American Classical Caucus, a professional organization dedicated to increasing diversity within the field of classics, and has served as the inaugural coordinator of its international mentorship program. She also has served as the chair of the board of directors for the Center for Southeast Asians, a non-profit serving the refugee and immigrant populations of Rhode Island, and has consulted on diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.
Jordan Starck is based in the Department of Psychology in the School of Humanities and Sciences. He received his Ph.D. in social psychology and social policy from Princeton University. Starck graduated from Davidson College with a B.S in psychology and his professional educator's license, after which he spent four years as a high school teacher and youth program coordinator.
His research to date has focused on the reasons organizations embrace diversity, examining the psychological factors shaping people’s preferred approaches and the downstream consequences of different approaches. He also examines racial bias and its role in perpetuating racial disadvantage, particularly in the context of education and the justice system.
Eujin Park is an IDEAL Provostial Fellow at the Stanford Graduate School of Education. Dr. Park draws upon Critical Race Theory, Asian American Studies, and community-engaged research to examine how Asian American youth and families negotiate with race in and through educational institutions.
Her work investigates the processes through which Asian Americans actively shape and challenge their racialization via education. In examining education as a racializing institution, Dr. Park considers the constellation of formal and informal learning spaces that include homes, schools, and communities. She recently conducted an ethnographic investigation of community-based educational spaces in the Chicago-area Asian American community, highlighting the role of community spaces in youths’ educational experiences and understandings of racializing discourses.
In addition to publishing and presenting her work in multiple academic venues, Dr. Park draws upon her research in her work with youth in community-based organizations. She earned her Ph.D. in Educational Policy Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a concentration in Social Sciences and a Minor in Qualitative Methods. She also holds an M.A. from UW-Madison and a B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley.
Michaela Simmons is based in the Department of Sociology in the School of Humanities and Sciences. She received her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley. She attended the University of California, San Diego, for her undergraduate studies, where she earned a BA in sociology and fine arts.
Broadly, she studies the intersections of racial inequality, poverty, and the welfare state. Her dissertation examined the racial politics of foster care development in the early 20th century and centered the experiences of foster youth within the larger sociological frameworks of race, family, and childhood. As a doctoral student, she worked as a graduate writing assistant helping students gain confidence and strength of voice in their written work.