Mellon-Morgridge Fellows

With generous support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and John P. and Tashia Morgridge, our program offers up to four graduate fellowships in the humanities each year. As Mellon-Morgridge Fellows (MMFs), graduate students contribute to the research agenda of our professors and help develop our program-level co-curriculum, while engaging in their doctoral research.

Current Fellows:

Pinar Tasdemir is a PhD student in the English Department at UW-Madison and supports the Truth and Crime Constellation. She received her BA and MA in English Literature at Bogazici University in Istanbul, Turkey, where she also obtained a certificate in Film Studies. Her research primarily centers on American crime fiction and true crime narratives focusing on formalism, ideology, political economy, and Marxist literary theory. Pinar’s essay on the political importance of universities and the stakes of academic freedom in Turkey is a part of the forthcoming World Humanities Report.

Past Fellows:

Becca Owen

Becca Owen (they/them) is a PhD student in Art History who works at the intersections of visual culture, queer theory, and disability studies. They recently completed their MA in Gender and Women’s Studies. Becca is an arts and culture worker who has curated exhibitions for galleries and museums in Wisconsin and their home state of Oregon. In addition to their work for the Constellations program, Becca was a Graduate Student for Leadership at the Gender and Sexuality Campus Center and a Researcher and Writer for the Division of the Arts.  Becca enjoys cuddling with their dog Sunny, swimming, taking care of their garden, and camping.

Doron Darnov is a PhD candidate in Literary Studies and supported the Planetary Humanities Constellation from 2020-2023. His primary research interests include environmental humanities, geoengineering, terraforming, digital media, and visual culture.

Iseult Gillespie was a Mellon-Morgridge Fellow with the Planetary Humanities Constellation from 2018-2020. She received her PhD in English in 2022. She is an editorial producer for education and entertainment bodies including Endeavor Streaming, TED, and PBS, where she creates educational content for public audiences.

Liam KrugerLiam Kruger was a Mellon-Morgridge Fellow assisting with the Animal Studies Constellation 2020-2021. He received his PhD in English in 2023. He is an Assistant Professor at the University of Notre Dame, specializing in global Anglophone literatures, and is co-organizer of Virtual Publics in the Memosphere, a public humanities project at Dartmouth College.

Robert Christl was a PhD student in the History Department. As an MMF, he supported the Fascism Constellation, and assisted Dr. Chamedes with her latest book project on the global political repercussions of Augusto Pinochet’s coup and military dictatorship in Chile (1973-1990). Specifically, he helped with European and Chilean archival research, Spanish-language interviews, and translations. Robert’s research focused on the history of anarchism, political economy, labor movements, and the Spanish Revolution and Civil War.

Since graduating in 2022, Robert has worked as the program director of the worker center at Worker Justice Wisconsin. Along with his team of labor organizers, he assists employees, many of whom are Spanish-speaking immigrants, who do not have a labor union and are experiencing issues at work. His team educates employees on their rights and how to organize. They also help them file complaints with state agencies, establish worker-owned cooperatives, and organize their coworkers to improve working conditions.

Allyson Gross is a PhD candidate in the Rhetoric, Politics, and Culture track of the Communication Arts department and supported the Health & Inequality Constellation with Dr. Jenell Johnson in 2022-2023. Her primary research interests include material rhetoric, speech across time, and the rhetorical construction of future audiences in/amid times of crisis or contingency. Allyson’s most recent project on the Westinghouse World’s Fair time capsules and the Crypt of Civilization was recently published in the Journal for the History of Rhetoric.

Collin Bernard is a PhD candidate in History. In 2022-2023, he served as a Mellon-Morgridge Fellow, supporting the Fascism: Then and Now Constellation. He assisted Professor Giuliana Chamedes’ research project on European Socialists in the 1970s and their attempts to shape the international order. His own work focuses on French and Italian cities, housing movements, and left-wing political parties in the 1970s.

Caroline Hensley is a PhD student in the English Department. As an MMF, she supported Dr. Jenell Johnson’s Health & Inequality Constellation. She researched and compiled bibliographic material for two chapters of Dr. Johnson’s current book project, On Behalf of Life, about indigenous conceptions of life and metaphors of invasion and colonization utilized by planetary protection agencies in preparing for increased outer-space travel. She also helped organize multiple events for Constellations, including a public talk and graphic medicine workshop with MK Czerwiec.

Caroline’s research focuses primarily on contemporary global literature in the context of disability studies, postcolonial theory, and the health humanities. She currently serves as the Career Advisor for the English major at UW-Madison as well as a lecturer in the Health and the Humanities certificate program.

Laura Perry was a Mellon-Morgridge Fellow from the 2017-2019. She received her PhD in English from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 2019 and  worked with the Animal Studies Constellation. She was the 2020-22 Postdoctoral Fellow for the Andrew W. Mellon-Funded Humanities for the Public Good initiative at the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies at the University of Iowa.  Laura is now the Assistant Director for Research and Public Engagement in the Center for Humanities at Washington University.

Erin GangstedErin Gangstad is a PhD candidate in the rhetoric, politics, and culture track of the Communication Arts department. In 2021-2022 she supported the Health & Inequality constellation and running social media for the Constellations Program. Erin served as a research assistant for Dr. Jenell Johnson. Specifically, she was working on a co-authored piece with Dr. Johnson that articulates a theory of olfactory rhetoric and conducted archival research for Dr. Johnson’s project on scientific claims of certainty in American print media.

Erin’s research takes a historiographic approach to the rhetoric of health and medicine. Her dissertation traced historical discourses about America’s curative landscapes and analyzes changing notions of space, place, and health throughout 19th and 20th century America.

“The humanities are much more intertwined with my education than I had previously thought.”