2016 Chancellor's Fellows

In 2013, Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little announced the creation of the Chancellor’s Doctoral Fellowships, which are awarded each year to graduate students. The fellowships assist KU in obtaining its mission as a flagship university that provides advanced education to students in a range of fields. The fellowship provides a stipend of $25,000 per year, and covers tuition and fees, for up to five years of support. Students are also involved in professional development workshops and networking opportunities.

For information on the 2016 Chancellor's Fellows, please read the bios below.

Naheed Abdulrahim | Special Education

Research Interests

Naheed’s program of research focuses on English language learners with learning disabilities who struggle with literacy and how the application of technological innovation can enhance and further develop these skills.


Inna Stepaniuk | Special Education 

Research Interests

Inna Stepaniuk came from Ukraine to pursue her doctoral degree in special education with the focus on disability, education, system change and policy. At the University of Kansas Inna researches strategies which would help her to implement a system of inclusive education in her home country of Ukraine and bring students with disabilities from special closed institutions to public general schools.


Tanya Walkenbach  |  Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering 

Research Interests

In graduate school, Walkenbach will pursue research in the geotechnics field as well as the mechanical properties of materials and how those properties can be best exploited to create low-cost site solutions.


Ankit Verma | Chemical & Petroleum Engineering

Research Interests

Ankit's research focuses on coming up with alternative energy sources to reduce the energy dependence on fossil fuels. Currently almost 80 % of the energy requirements are met with combustion of fossil fuels which in turn releases carbon dioxide gas into the atmosphere. To reduce this dependence, he will be working on development of rechargeable organic flow batteries, which can inexpensively store large amounts of electrical energy. Also with the growing fraction of electric generation from intermittent renewable sources such as wind and solar; he believes that the non poisonous, non hazardous and abundant nature of organic constituents in organic batteries provides a big advantage over other common batteries.


Austin McGuire  | Clinical Child Psychology

Research Interests

McGuire is interested in understanding the effects of trauma exposure in children and adolescents. This includes trying to understand how biological, social, and psychological factors separately and in conjunction influence youth's developmental pathology, with emphasis on the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Additionally, he is interested in improving how trauma exposure is measured.



Alisa Russell  | English

Research Interests

Russell’s research explores how genres of writing intersect with individual standpoints, and she focuses on how genre might be used as a tool for social action. She is especially interested in how these ideas shape writing pedagogy and writing program design, as well as how they inform daily interactions with public genres.


Alyssa Cole ​ | History

Research Interests

Cole's research explores the roles and contributions of African American women in the Armed Forces of the United States from 1945-1973.  In addition to documenting their experiences and career trajectories, she explores the ways in which these women used military service as a potential pathway to citizenship. Following the integration of the Armed Forces in 1948, African Americans have served in increasing numbers in all military services. She hopse for my research to fill a much-needed gap in current scholarship on African American women’s commitments and sacrifices to the United States Military.


Yuyu Zeng ​| Linguistics

Research Interests

Zeng’s major research interest is speech perception. The lack of invariance has been a problem for speech perception and word recognition studies, as there is no reliable relation between a sound of a language and its physical manifestation. Despite the huge variation, speakers perceive and recognize sound effortlessly in most cases. Using lexical tone as her current test tool, she hopes to better model the process of speakers utilizing variations to achieve successful interpretation of spoken language. 



SeungJoo Lee​ | Spanish

Research Interests

Lee’s research focuses on social contexts of detective plots in diverse literary genres in Latin America and the effectiveness and limits of this production. By reviewing the major literary narratives of the past two centuries, she aims to reevaluate political aspects of socially marginalized first-person narrators in contemporary Latin American Literature. As a translator she is deeply interested in transatlantic and transpacific discourses related to modernity, post-colonialism, diaspora, national and ethnic identity, and border issues.



Alysha Griffin  | Theater

Research Interests

Alysha trains at the Actor’s Training Studio in Overland Park, Kansas and works with KU’s Project on the History of Black Writing (ProjectHBW) — an archive dedicated to the recovery and study of black novels. Her areas of interest include African American theatre and performance, acting, stage adaptations, and performance theory.


Matt Ferrandino | Music

Research Interests

Ferrandino’s research focuses on the theory and analysis of popular music with an emphasis on narrative and text-music relations in tracks. His previous analyses examine works by a variety of disparate artists including Frank Zappa, David Bowie, and Paul Simon. At KU, he is expanding the breadth of his research by developing methods for analyzing unconventional, or experimental, popular music and exploring how music video and multimedia productions impact the interpretation of a given track.


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