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2017-2019 Cohort

Dr. Lisa Cassell


Now Assistant Professor of Philosophy at UMBC

Dr. Lisa Cassell received her PhD in philosophy from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in May 2017, having done both her undergraduate and masters degrees in Canada.  She wrote her dissertation on the normative structure of Bayesian epistemology.  She is currently working on two new projects, both of which expand upon some of the themes from her dissertation.  In one, she considers the relation between synchronic and diachronic rationality on the Bayesian framework.  In the other, she provides a novel way of understanding the structure of diachronic coherence on the Bayesian framework.   Her longterm project is to provide an account of the normativity of logic.


Dr. René Esparza

American Studies 

Now Assistant Professor of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at University of Washington

Dr. René Esparza earned his PhD and MA in American Studies at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. His primary research interests consist of examining the racial and sexual politics of neoliberal urban social formations. His primary research interests consist of interrogating the racial and sexual politics of neoliberal urban social formations. Currently, René is working on a book manuscript, From Vice to Nice: Race, Sex, and the Gentrification of AIDS, which tracks the agency of AIDS housing activists and gay rights litigators in shaping urban politics in the 1980s vis-à-vis the racialization of public health discourses and practices. Using multiple methods, including archival research, ethnographic fieldwork, and discourse analysis, René argues that public health constructions of normative gender, sexuality, and domestic space became powerfully intertwined with the private housing market so that both seemingly disparate institutions promoted the economically prosperous potential of post-industrial inner-cities as centers of commerce and tourism. René’s second major project surveys the transnational nature of Latinx AIDS activism, comparing how the politics of racialization and the substantive inequalities of U.S. citizenship and immigration law shaped the particular histories of Chicana/o/x activists in Los Angeles and Puerto Rican activists in New York City. René’s teaching interests include comparative race and ethnic studies, queer of color critique, women of color feminism, LGBT history, and urban politics, histories, and discourses.


Dr. Erika Fountain


Now Assistant Professor of Psychology at UMBC

Dr. Erika Fountain earned her Ph.D. in Psychology with a concentration in Human Development and Public Policy from Georgetown University.  Dr. Fountain uses both quantitative and qualitative methods and takes an interdisciplinary approach to examine how adolescents and their families navigate the justice system. Specifically, she incorporates developmental and community psychology, law, and public policy to answer questions about legal decision making, court process, and attorney-client-family relationships. Additionally, Dr. Fountain’s work explores how developmental science is used in developing evidence-based juvenile justice policy. As a postdoctoral fellow, she will publish manuscripts from her dissertation where she explored the juvenile plea bargain decision making process through interviews with justice-involved youth, their parents, and juvenile defense attorneys. She will also begin several mixed-methods projects to further explore the experiences of adolescents in the juvenile and criminal justice systems.


Dr. Chris Hawn

Geography and Environmental Systems 

Now Assistant Professor of Geography and Environmental Sciences at UMBC

Dr. Chris Hawn’s areas of focus include conservation ecology, citizen science, environmental justice, trophic ecology, landscape ecology. Their recent research activities include detecting pharmaceuticals and personal care products in urban riparian spiders and their effects on density, prey availability, and behavior; air quality monitoring using spider webs; environmental justice concerns of houseless populations, and the effects of corridors on food web subsidies in green lynx spiders


Dr. Adanna Kai Jones 


Now Assistant Professor of Dance at Bowdoin College 

Dr. Adanna Kai Jones received her Ph.D. in Critical Dance Studies at the University of California, Riverside, and her BFA in Dance from Mason Gross School of the Arts—Rutgers University. She has performed in professional dance companies based in NYC, including the Julia Ritter Performance Group and Souloworks with Andrea E. Woods. And in general, her research remains focused on Caribbean dance and identity politics within the Diaspora, paying particular focus to the rolling hip dance known as winin’. With regards to her own creative pursuits, she has choreographed dance-theater pieces that were not only based on her research but were also used as tools for generating more research questions. In July 2015, she choreographed “Wine & Tales” in Port of Spain, Trinidad, which was presented by New Waves! 2015 and the Dancing While Black Performance Lab. And in May 2016, she performed “Rum & Coke” in New York City at Field Studies 2016. Both performances were rooted in her ethnographic fieldwork on the wine and Caribbean Carnivals within the US. Starting this Fall (2018), she will be an Assistant Professor of Dance in the Department of Theater and Dance at Bowdoin College. Her latest research project uses multi-sited, transnational ethnography to track the ways in which Caribbean choreographers play an integral role in the support and preservation of contemporary Caribbean identity politics within the US.

Dr. Camee Maddox-Wingfield

Sociology, Anthropology and Health Administration and Policy

Now Assistant Professor of Sociology, Anthropology, and Health Administration and Policy at UMBC

Camee Maddox-Wingfield, Ph.D. earned her Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology at the University of Florida.  Her ethnographic research interests center on cultural activism and identity formation in Caribbean and African diaspora dance communities, with a primary focus on the French Caribbean.  As a dance ethnographer, she is particularly interested in the various ways that dance expression intersects with spirituality, emotional health, and wellness in communities suffering from colonial and/or racial oppression. She is also interested in how dance becomes an expression of protest, resistance and solidarity.

As a postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Maddox-Wingfield will work on a book project that examines the interrelationship among dance, spiritual orientation, and well-being in Martinique’s bèlè tradition.  This project is being developed along with a curated virtual exhibition that will serve as a multimedia companion to the book, promoting wider public engagement with digital scholarship on performative cultural traditions.  She will also continue making progress on aspects of her research that engage bèlè performance from Black feminist perspectives to analyze the impact of the bèlè tradition on individual women’s lives.


Dr. Noor Zaidi


Now Assistant Professor of History at UMBC

Dr. Noorzehra Zaidi is a scholar of Middle Eastern History with a specialization in Iraq, Syria, and Pakistan. Her current research focuses on the construction of sacred space in Shia Islam. After completing her dissertation on the development of sacredness in Syria and Pakistan, she has shifted her studies to Iraq. After the collapse of the Saddam regime, Iraq worked to create a new identity, positioning itself at the center of the Shia world. Dr. Zaidi’s research covers this transformation, working to understand the effects of these changes on faith and culture. At present, she is working on a series of oral histories from Iraqi political prisoners for her upcoming book.