Learned Fellows

Five UCSB graduate students receive prestigious fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies

The rigorous application and review process for graduate-level fellowships can be daunting, but it comes with the territory when you’re a blossoming distinguished academic. And the payoff is worth it: proof of excellence in research, and an investment in your future.

Four UC Santa Barbara graduate students and one recent alumnus from the humanities and social sciences have received just such a professional vote of confidence, winning competitive fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS). This is a record number of awardees for the university.

“I’m thrilled to hear of UC Santa Barbara’s excellent performance in a number of this year’s ACLS fellowship competitions, including the prestigious Public Fellows program,” said Carol Genetti, dean of graduate education. “This is a testament to the high quality of our graduate programs across the humanities and social sciences, and the impressive accomplishments of our students.”

The students represent a wide range of graduate work being done at UCSB, with the majority receiving support to help them complete their dissertations. They are:

  • John Vincent Decemvirale, a doctoral candidate in the history of art and architecture. Decemvirale received a Luce/ACLS Dissertation Fellowship in American Art for his thesis, Knowing Your Place and Making Do: Radical Art Activism in Black and Latino Los Angeles, 1960 to the Present”
  • Karen B. Hanna, a doctoral candidate in feminist studies who was awarded a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship for her thesis, “Makibaka!: A Feminist Social History of the Transnational Filipina/o American Left, 1969-1992”
  • Megan Lukaniec, a doctoral candidate in linguistics who received a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship for her thesis, “A Grammar of Wendat”
  • Or Porath, a doctoral candidate in religious studies who was awarded The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Dissertation Fellowship in Buddhist Studies in support of his thesis, “Intimate Dharma: Buddhism, the Body, and Imperial Authority in Medieval Japan”
  • Sasha Metcalf, a doctor of musicology (M.A. ’11, Ph.D. ’15) who was appointed program analyst for education and community engagement at the Brooklyn Academy of Music as part of the Mellon/ACLS Public Fellows Program 

Fellowships that support doctoral research allow graduate students to complete their dissertations without having to engage in other paid academic work (such as teaching or research assistant jobs). For many of the awardees, it means a chance to focus solely on one of the most challenging papers they will ever write.

Hanna, whose work at UCSB traces the evolution of the Filipina/o American radical left, is grateful for the support. “To know that I can write my dissertation next year without looking for paid work is an immense privilege,” she said. “I am honored that the committee selected my project and that they believe my narrators’ stories are worth investing in.”

The Mellon/ACLS Public Fellows program in which Metcalf is participating places recent Ph.D. graduates in two-year staff positions at partnering government and nonprofit organizations. Fellows work with these organizations and receive professional mentoring in the process.

“I seek to apply my research training outside academia to demonstrate the value of the humanities while honing my skills in the nonprofit sector,” Metcalf commented. “At a time when national cultural agencies face drastic government budget cuts, the stakes are high for administrators and academics alike to advocate for the arts and make them more representative of the communities they serve.”

The ACLS, the leading private institution supporting scholars in the humanities and related social sciences at the doctoral and postdoctoral levels, will name about 325 ACLS fellows and assist additional scholars through grants programs. In total, more than $20 million will be awarded across all programs in 2017.

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