2020 University Graduate Fellows

Graduate Studies anticipates distributing approximately $1,000,000 in university graduate fellowship (UGF) funding to doctoral programs. The intent is to support departmental efforts that are aligned with the strategies and action items identified in strategic goal 2 of Bold Aspirations, the University’s strategic plan. That goal is to “Prepare doctoral students as innovators and leaders who are ready to meet the demands of the academy and our global society.”

James Adaryukov | Brain, Behavior, and Quantatative Science

Research Interests

James Adaryukov is interested in understanding individual and group processes in decision making, specifically through data science and analytics. Specific questions he’s interested in include how interactions within social dynamics and networks affect individual decisions and belief formation, how individuals weigh evidence from experience based on the nature of those experiences, and how evidence accumulation and group decision making can be observed over time. He aims to address these questions through statistical modeling, including applications of the Diffusion Drift Theory, the Surprisingly Popular choice algorithm, and Agent-Based Modeling. 

Alicia Brown | Molecular Bioscience

Research Interests

Alicia Brown is a Native American woman from the Navajo Nation, a Northern Arizona tribe.  She earned a B.S. in Environmental Science from Haskell Indian Nations University.  She is honored and excited to continue her educational journey at the University of Kansas with a pursuit of a PhD in Molecular Bioscience. She is interested in understanding the chemistry and biology of the bacterial pathogen Burkholderia pseudomallei that will ultimately lead to innovative therapies to treat disease.


Patience Bosompemaa | Geology

Research Interests

Patience is a first year PhD student in Geology. She received her B.S and MPhil from University of Ghana in Geology in 2011 and 2015 respectively. She worked with the Ghana Geological Survey Authority for 2 years as a Geologist and Global Community for a year as a Hydrogeologist. She holds an M.S in hydrogeology from Illinois State University and her thesis focused on ‘’Nitrate transport in the unsaturated zone’’. Patience’s research interests are in water quality and sustainable water supply.

Jessina Emmert | Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Research Interests

Emmert’s research interests are in critical race theory and the African diaspora. She aims to examine how Black hybrid identities are commodified and reproduced by non-black people. Emmert is specifically interested in the appropriation and exploitation of Black women’s bodies and how they are being commodified in modern day contexts.


Derek Hilligoss | Communications Studies

Research Interests

Derek's research looks at the ways critical theory can be used in the field of Communication. Focusing on critical discussions about colonialism and anti-blackness in public memory, Derek's work explores the ways these structures influence rhetorical choices. This interest seeks to sit with the ways these structures also play a role in how scholars in Communication studies situates themselves within these discussions.

Whitney Yi Knapp | Architecture

Research Interests

Knapp holds an M.F.A in Creative Writing from Boston University. His research focuses on the American Immigrant literary subgenre, with emphasis on the Korean American experience, the thematic complexities posed within multi-ethic narratives, and the stylization of dialects. Currently, Knapp is a Ph.D. student in English: Creative Writing and Literature at KU. 


Agnes Phoebe Muyanga | Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Research Interests

Agnes Phoebe Muyanga is a PhD student in Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies. Her research explores the nuances in Uganda’s feminist social movements, grassroots feminist organizing & caring practices within feminist organizations. It seeks to address the role of Uganda’s cultural and religious practices on the social, political and economic positionalities of women and in doing so, contribute to policy discourse on gender-based violence, human trafficking, educational inequality, LGBTQ+ persecution at state and local level.

TJ Laws-Nicola | Music

Research Interests

TJ Laws-Nicola is a disabled popular music scholar with a focus on music in animation. Their most recent work was an organalogical corpus study on the use of pipe organ in Japanese animation. TJ has presented research on other topics such as 19th century British popular song, musical parody, and ludomusicology. Later this year, their work will be published in an edited collection on video game music and nostalgia. TJ’s current research focuses on studying the music accompanying animated women antagonists as represented in serialized multimedia from the United States.

Korbin Painter | Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Research Interests

Painter’s research interests are found in the historical study of identity-based social movements and LGBTQ politics and cultures in the postwar United States. Specifically, he is interested in the radical and revolutionary Gay and Trans Liberation movements of the 1960s and 1970s. With a particular focus on material and print cultures, he seeks to explore the ways in which emotions, as social categories and political experiences, shaped the contours of these  movements. He actively works to center the categories and experiences of race, class, gender, and geography in the fields of queer history and theory.

Luis Sanchez | Spanish and Portuguese

Research Interests

Luis Sanchez is an international student from Panama. He will start his Ph.D. program in the department of Spanish and Portuguese at KU this coming Fall 2020. He received his undergraduate degree in English Language from the University of Panama and his M.A. in English Language and Literature from Emporia State University. A year after graduating from ESU, he moved to Lawrence to obtain his M.A. in Spanish Language and Literature at the University of Kansas. In both his M.A. degrees, he focused on colonial studies and its echo throughout history and literature. His work during his Ph.D. will focus on the cultural connections from the Spanish colonial period with the collective conceptualization of the Caribbean. Questions that summarize his reserch insterests include: How can we understand power dynamics to be the pivot of cultural production during the colonial period and today? What implications can be drawn when we see similarities between genres such as the writing of relaciones and the testimonial literature of the late 20th century? And more.

Annie Santarelli | Communication Studies

Research Interests

Annie Santarelli is thrilled to be returning to The University of Kansas as a PhD student and first year research fellow. Santarelli graduated from KU in 2018, with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication studies, leading her to pursue a Master of Arts in Communication at Wake Forest University. KU is where she uncovered her passion for communication and developed empirical research skills, which is evident in her current work. Her research interests intersect between interpersonal communication and media effects, specifically exploring how different types of social media impact interpersonal relationships. She looks forward to rejoining the Jayhawk family and aspires to contribute meaningful scholarship to the university. Rock Chalk!

Pilar Thangwaritorn | Clinical Health Psycology 

Research Interests

Thangwaritorn is a first year PhD student in clinical health psychology. Her research includes mechanisms for cognitive aging in relation to interventions that delay the onset of neurodegenerative diseases, specifically Alzheimer's Disease and related dementias. Thangwaritorn is interested in behavioral interventions such as brain games, diet, sleep, physical activity, and social engagement. Within these studies, she is also interested in risk factors and outcome predicating biomarkers, as well as racial/ethnic and cultural neuropsychology.

Yang Tzu-hsuan | Linguistics

Research Interests

Yang’s research interests lie in phonetics and experimental phonology, specifically how speakers’ underlying representation affects their perception and production. She would like to combine her professional experience in language teaching with linguistic knowledge and explore areas of research including crosslinguistic perception and production, second language acquisition, and loanword phonetics and phonology.

Jiahong Wang | Curriculum and Instruction

Research Interests

Jiahong (Annie) Wang is pursuing a doctorate degree in Curriculum and Instruction in the Department of Education. She has been a high school ESL teacher since 2010. Her research interests include ESL resource development, curriculum design, education technology, and ESL teacher training and support. She is devoted to serving English language learners and teachers. 


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