Menu
Log in


We will have more information about the Scholarship awardees after the Annual Meeting and Award Luncheon

M. Taylor Black, UC Davis, History

Taylor's dissertation, "Between Faith and Force: Black Army Chaplains in the Age of Empire, 1865-1914," focuses on Black intellectual projects and military service at a critical moment in the history of emancipation and race relations in the United States. In it he considers how religious traditions forged in slavery times in the United States continued to shape people's desires, politics, and imaginations after slavery ended in 1865. The work's interdisciplinary focus on religious culture is a fruitful intervention into the wave of scholarship aiming to uncover the politics of freed people from the local to the transnational level, especially as they intersect with issues of colonialism and imperialism in the nineteenth century.

In letters of recommendation, professors noted his "admirable combination of deep contextual knowledge, archival experience, and broad historical conceptions" and called him "a sophisticated and deeply engaged researcher."

Louisa Brandt, UC Davis, History

In "A Full Measure of Devotion: California's Exceptional Commitment to the Union during the Civil War," Louise argues that the Civil War caused Californians, who had focused more on their Gold Rush economy during the first dozen years of the state's existence, to take a stand on the national issue of slavery and their relationship to the nation. Consulting diaries, letters, newspaper articles, and records of community organizations, she examines what ordinary people thought about the war, while taking into consideration issues of race, gender, and nationalism. California's place in the United States often continues to seem separate from the rest of the country. The Civil War can be a lens to understand how Californians came to define themselves as integral to, but distinct from, the nation.

Her professors called her "a sophisticated and deeply engaged researcher" with an "admirable combination of deep contextual knowledge, archival experience, and broad historical conceptions." 

Sophie Cushman, UC Berkeley, Classical Archaeology

Sophie's dissertation, "Death and Taxes," has nothing to do with Ben Franklin. Her subtitle explains: "Mortuary Perspectives on Non-Palatial Communities in the Mycenaean Argolid." She's doing archaeological research into the second half of the Mycenaean period (ca. 1400-1170 BCE). In this work she re-examines evidence for chamber tomb use in the region of the Argolid from new perspectives. Unlike most such research, hers is bottom up, not top down.

Her professors note that Sophie is an "independent researcher" asking "extremely interesting questions from the archaeological record."


Brianne Felsher (they/them), UC Berkeley, Jurisprudence and Social Policy

Transphobes often present trans people as some kind of recent phenomenon. In "The Ties between Us: The Legal History of Queer and Trans Families in the United States, 1830-1920," Brianne argues that, contrary to popular belief, there is a legal history of queer families in the United States before World War I, that queer families were neither inconceivable nor presumptively illegal. Far from hiding their relationships, queer people often sought public recognition, creating legal records of their marriages, parental relationships, and other kinds of family formations. The dissertation explores the intersection between legal history and queer history and particularly emphasizes the queer legal history of family and kinship.

Professors called Brianne an "indefatigable researcher, a humane interpreter of social difference, and a gifted legal historian."

S. Freeman (they/them), UC Berkeley, Geography

Despite comprising over half of all displaced populations in the world today, internally displaced persons (IDPs) present a challenge for humanitarian actors. In "Quantifying Mobility: Data, Displacement, and Ethics in South Sudan," S. attends to the discursive and material practices through which "internal displacement" is categorized, measured, and quantified in South Sudan. By bringing technology, humanitarianism, and mobility into the same frame, S. aims to open new avenues to question the limits of both ethics and politics in a world simultaneously defined by technology and increasing movement of peoples.

In recommendation letters, S. was called "a terrific young geographer and Africanist" and "not only brilliant but organized."


 Alexia Hernandez, Stanford, Linguistics (Reed Scholarship)

What do you sound like on the phone? Who do you sound like on the phone? Alexia studies discrimination against people perceived to be non-white based on voice alone. How are these judgments made during a phone call, where visual cues are lacking? Perceived race or ethnicity come into play, as do stereotyped associations based on these perceptions. Alexia investigates the cognitive mechanisms involved in making these judgments and illuminates the pervasive nature of linguistic discrimination. Through her interdisciplinary research across sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, and ethnic studies, her research fills in gaps in linguistic theory.

Her professors call her "undeterred by any challenge" as well as "highly motivated, creative, and intellectually curious."

Sarah Manney, Stanford Law, Law (Hendess Scholarship)

Recent publication in the Stanford Lawyer Magazine: "On the Frontlines of Deep-Sea Mining, An Interview with President Moetai Brotherson of French Polynesia" 

Globalization has increased demand for international governance but, as Sarah points out, has also weakened our ability to achieve it. International law treats states equally, even if they behave quite differently. The "race to the bottom" is at the heart of many global challenges, including transnational corruption and deep-sea mining. In working toward her law degree, Sarah is hoping that her research will convince policymakers to look critically at the legal profession when laws are used as a shield for misconduct.

Her professors call her "a natural collaborator and curious problem solver," ranking among "the best of the best."

Marilyn Steyert, UC San Francisco, Biomedical Science (Hardardt Scholarship)

After two centuries of intense focus and innovation on the first mechanical computers, the "computer" in each of our heads is still, by many measures, more powerful than the computer at our fingertips. Marilyn is studying human cortical development, specifically two kinds of radial gliatruncated radial glia and outer radial gliathat stem cells present during early development. In shedding light on the nuanced dynamics of human cortical development, the revelation of truncated radial glia's prolonged neurogenic activity challenges conventional wisdom and holds significant implications for both our understanding of brain complexity and potential clinical interventions.

Her professors noted her "deep interest in using new tools to ask difficult questions in science" and her "vision, drive, and collaborative spirit."

Yisheng Tang, UC Berkeley, Japanese Language

In her dissertation, "Reading Friendships: Literary Sociability in Janan, 1780-1920," Yisheng rereads Japanese literary history through the lens of literary friendship. She focuses on the small, the concrete, and the intimate in contrast to typical narratives emphasizing broad political and social change. She argues for an idea of literary history in which affective bonds constitute a crucial component of literary experience. Her insights here will contribute to existing theoretical and philosophical discussions about literature beyond Japanese East Asian Studies.

According to her professors, she is "the very model of a bold and brilliant new intellectual."

Alex Ullman, UC Berkeley, English

We're told that we could cross the wide political divide if we'd just talk to one another. But do conversations lead to understanding? Or do they lead to accommodation? In "This Feeling Tone: The Sound of Black and Jewish Collaboration since 1981," Alex explores Black-Jewish relations in the twentieth century. He offers fresh interpretations of six key twentieth-century American artists by listening closely to their recorded conversations as well as reading closely their collaborative poetic and dramatic works.

His professors write that he is both "a deeply collaborative scholar" and "an exemplary literary historian."


Yutong Zhan, UC Davis, History (Norall Scholarship)

In her dissertation, "Reading Friendships: Literary Sociability in Janan, 1780-1920," Yisheng rereads Japanese literary history through the lens of literary friendship. She focuses on the small, the concrete, and the intimate in contrast to typical narratives emphasizing broad political and social change. She argues for an idea of literary history in which affective bonds constitute a crucial component of literary experience. Her insights here will contribute to existing theoretical and philosophical discussions about literature beyond Japanese East Asian Studies.

According to her professors, she is "the very model of a bold and brilliant new intellectual."


Seth Zupanc (they / them), UC San Francisco, Medicine

Seth is working to develop innovative ways to identify and measure what matters most to patients facing life-limiting and life-threatening illnesses. Patients' goals and wishes, however, are often documented in the free-text of clinical notes rather than in the medical record. At the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Seth has been collaborating on a research stream that seeks to develop natural language processing software to make it easier to find the needle of patients' wishes in the haystack of the medical records.

Professors note that Seth is "passionate and knowledgeable across a broad range of issues" and is a "rare combination of prolific researcher and compassionate physician."


Quick links

Follow our activities

© Phi Beta Kappa Northern California Association

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software