The annual honor recognizes Jeff Harden as the top scholar in the field of state politics and policy who has earned a Ph.D. within the previous 10 years. He said it’s a meaningful time to be studying state legislatures because they have enormous power in what people's lives look like as citizens of this country.
Michelle Karnes, a Notre Dame associate professor of English, has been chosen as a Mellon Fellow by The Huntington, a collections-based research and educational institution in California. During the yearlong fellowship that begins in July, Karnes will work on journal articles and a chapter for her next book project, tentatively titled “Interanimalia: The Species of the Medieval World,” which focuses on the value of species diversity in the natural world.
Karl Berg ’22, who earned an M.A. in Early Christian Studies from Notre Dame’s Department of Classics, is co-organizing the Inaugural Graduate Conference on Early Christian Studies, to be held May 23–25 in Jenkins Nanovic Halls and on Zoom. The conference, which will be the first of its kind in the United States, is free and open to the public. Berg will present a paper, “Augustine of Hippo and Late Roman Slavery.” Next up for the Littleton, Colorado, native: pursuing a D.Phil. in ancient history at the University of Oxford.
When the COVID-19 pandemic suddenly halted international travel, Mary Shiraef’s fieldwork plan to investigate the outcomes of communist-era border policies in Albania was postponed indefinitely. So she pivoted.The Notre Dame political science doctoral candidate decided to map pandemic-induced border closures around the world. Two years later, the project has been reported on in more than 40 news outlets, the data was peer-reviewed and published in the Nature Portfolio’s Scientific Data, Scientific Reports published the open-source results, and the National Library of Medicine posted the study. The international research collaboration is still active and continues to provide valuable skills-development opportunities for Notre Dame undergraduates.
Josiah Broughton started off as a computer science major at Notre Dame, but the courses didn’t align with his interests or strengths. So he stepped back, re-evaluated, and chose to take a more creative route — majoring in film, television, and theatre. The classes, he said, are fascinating and fun and offer a more comprehensive perspective on the concepts involved in video game design, from story and structure to character and graphics. Now, his dream of being a game designer is a lot closer to reality now thanks to coursework on 3D digital production for animation and video games, creating film as social action, elements of computing, and scriptwriting.
Cara Ocobock, assistant professor of anthropology, received the Human Biology Association’s 2022 Michael A. Little Early Career Award for her significant contribution to the field of human biology and the promise of more. She is the second Notre Dame anthropologist to earn the award in the last two years, after associate professor Lee Gettler won it in 2020.
Notre Dame Creative Writing Program director and poet Joyelle McSweeney has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in recognition of her creative ability in the arts and potential in future endeavors. McSweeney, who is also a playwright, novelist, translator, critic, and English professor, is in extremely good company — Margaret Atwood, James Baldwin, Ken Burns, Rachel Carson, and Zora Neale Hurston are previous fellows — and 19 Arts & Letters faculty have won Guggenheims in the last 22 years. “I’m still taking it in, to be honest,” she said. “It’s a spectacular show of confidence from the universe.”
Essaka Joshua, associate professor of English, has been elected a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, an international educational organization that promotes understanding of the human past. She earned the accolade because of her expertise in myth and folklore, but her understanding of and appreciation for the human past has transformed and significantly deepened since her introduction to disability studies, which she’s researched for the past 20 years. The evolving discipline of disability studies centers the experiences of people with physical, psychological and/or psychiatric differences who, like other oppressed groups, are marginalized because of exclusionary social structures and prejudices.
On the pages of her novels, Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi creates female characters who insist on being themselves. That’s something the award-winning writer and Notre Dame faculty member knows quite a bit about. Growing up in Iran — a country where laws restricted her mobility because of her gender — she loved marching by herself through a deep eucalyptus forest to go to the beach on the Caspian Sea. “I have a very adventurous spirit,” said Van der Vliet Oloomi, an associate professor of English and the MFA in Creative Writing Program. “I write female characters who are equally themselves. They insist on being who they are in the world.”
In the early days of the pandemic, when students of all ages were learning at home, Notre Dame senior Renee Yaseen noticed how much her 10-year-old brother, Daniel, missed his friends. Since they couldn’t get together to play, they played online games — for hours. So she started brainstorming ways to help him be more physically active while safely and meaningfully interacting with his friends online. The result: FriendOver, a startup that is harnessing computer vision technology (artificial intelligence that enables computers to process images and videos in the way people do) and machine learning to promote goodness in gaming.
Ingrid D. Rowland, a professor in Department of History and School of Architecture, is one of three winners of the inaugural Grace Dudley Prize for Arts Writing. The award was among the Silvers-Dudley Prizes — named after the late Robert B. Silvers and his partner, the late Lady Grace Dudley — given to nine writers, including The New Yorker’s theatre critic, The New York Times’ critic at large, and journalists from Mexico, Germany, and Sudan. Rowland, who is based at Notre Dame's Rome Global Gateway, was commended for “extraordinary career-long achievement writing at the highest possible level on, in particular, Italian Renaissance art and culture, with such power, penetration, grace, and style.”
For 75 minutes every fall Tuesday afternoon, junior Grace Ryan steps, slides, marches, smiles, and laughs. The business analytics major who’s pursuing a career in aerospace was hesitant to sign up for an Irish dance course given her already busy schedule, but she eventually agreed to try it out. Now she’s hooked — and that combination of having fun while becoming proficient in Irish traditions is exactly why the Department of Irish Language and Literature began offering 1-credit old-style Irish dancing [course] and tin whistle courses this year.
Three faculty members in the College of Arts & Letters — philosopher Sara Bernstein, theatre scholar Tarryn Chun, and historian Katie Jarvis — have won National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships, extending Notre Dame's record success with the federal agency committed to supporting original research and scholarship. The University also received a significant grant for a digital scholarship project that will develop a new platform that makes digital archives easier to analyze, present, and reuse. Since 2000, Arts & Letters faculty have received more NEH fellowships than any other private university in the country.
The image of Black inmates working in fields where enslaved African Americans once toiled has been seared into Notre Dame senior Aysha Gibson’s mind since she went on a high school field trip to the Louisiana State Penitentiary. Gibson, a history and neuroscience and behavior major, is now writing her senior thesis about the prison to provide a deeper understanding of America’s penal system. The independent research project, advised by associate professor Rebecca McKenna, considers race, morality, state law, labor, and geography — and is the culmination of an undergraduate career full of academic and service experiences that helped her consider how to support communities experiencing hardship.
The University of Notre Dame has been awarded nearly $1 million from Lilly Endowment Inc. to equip students in the Master of Divinity Program (M.Div.) and Master of Arts in Theology program to better serve in and learn from a diverse, ever-changing world. The grant will support cultural immersion programs and Spanish proficiency courses for 13 to 18 lay and seminarian students, as well as opportunities to meet with and learn from peers at other colleges.
The College of Arts and Letters’ Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts is dismantling financial barriers to help a wider range of students take part in faculty-mentored summer research.Starting this May, ISLA’s Research Access Mentoring Program (RAMP) grant will provide awardees from the College of Arts and Letters with a stipend of $3,500, room and board, and a research allowance of up to $1,500 to take part in 10-week, on-campus projects of interest. Recipients also will receive tuition for a 3-credit summer course.
On her first day teaching at Notre Dame in the late 1990s, then-doctoral student Kathleen Sprows Cummings asked her undergraduates in Ethnicity and American Identity to share why they were taking the course. “Nothing else was open,” was the first reply. It wasn’t the only one.
Times change. Cummings, now the Rev. John A. O'Brien Collegiate Professor of American Studies and History and director of the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism, is the winner of the 2021 Sheedy Excellence in Teaching Award, the highest teaching honor in the College of Arts & Letters. “She has shaped me into a better student, Catholic, woman, and member of society,” one senior wrote in her letter recommending Cummings for the award. “I strive to become the type of woman and professional that she is.”
Lauren Groff’s bestselling historical novel Matrix captures a medieval world that Notre Dame Program of Liberal Studies assistant professor Katie Bugyis has always imagined. “It’s an extraordinary gift,” said Bugyis, a historian of Christian theology and liturgical practice who reconstructs the lived experiences of religious women in the Middle Ages. “She saw what has been in my mind and that I always hoped other people might see.” Bugyis’s research on routines and rituals of medieval nuns might not seem like an obvious storyline for a National Book Award finalist, but it immediately garnered Groff’s attention.