UCI President’s Postdoctoral Fellows

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President's Postdoctoral Fellow - Dr. ArguetaDr. Donovan A. Argueta

University of California, Riverside
PhD in Bioengineering 2019

Dr. Donovan A. Argueta is originally from Palmdale, CA and is a first-generation Mexican-Guatemalan American. He was the first in his family to attend a 4-year university and completed their undergraduate studies with a BS in Bioengineering in 2014 at the California Lutheran University. Donovan then began their predoctoral studies at the University of California, Riverside, where he studied the role of the endocannabinoid system in feeding across disease states with an emphasis on diet-induced obesity. Now as a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Irvine, Donovan investigates potential roles for the endocannabinoid system in pain found in Sickle Cell Disease. His goal is to lead a research laboratory to train a new generation of scientists that represent the diversity of the world and bring innovative approaches to critical issues in biomedical sciences.

PPFP Fellowship Research Topic: Role for Endocannabinoids in Sickle Cell Disease Pain

Mentor: Dr. Kalpna Gupta

Department, School: Department of Medicine - Hematology/ Oncology, School of Medicine


President's Postdoctoral Fellow Dr. BattsDr. Jamal Batts

University of California, Berkeley
PhD in African American and African Diaspora Studies 2021

Jamal Batts, PhD is a scholar, writer, curator. His dissertation project, Immoral Panics: Black Queer Aesthetics and the Construction of Risk, reflects on the relation between black queer contemporary visual and literary art and risk-taking from the early HIV/AIDS crisis to the present. His writing appears in ASAP/J, the catalogue for The New Museum’s exhibit Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a WeaponOpen SpaceNew Life Quarterly, and SFMOMA’s website in conjunction with their Modern Cinema series. He is a 2020 Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellow, ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives LGBTQ Research Fellow, and a 2020 Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Scholar-in-Residence. He is a member of the curatorial collective The Black Aesthetic who have organized four seasons of black experimental film screenings in the Bay Area and produced three edited collections of critical essays, poetry, and visual art.

Mentor: Dr. Bridget R. Cooks

Department, School: Department of African American Studies, School of Humanities


President's Postdoctoral Fellow Dr. HauterDr. Ashwak S. Hauter

University of California, Berkeley
PhD in Medical Anthropology 2010

Dr. Ashwak Sam Hauter is a University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellow at UC Irvine and will be joining the UC Santa Cruz Department of Anthropology as an assistant professor in the fall of 2022. She has conducted ethnographic fieldwork in hospitals and clinics among physicians and patients in Sana’a, Yemen; Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; and Amman, Jordan. Her dissertation research on the experience of health and medicine amongst Muslim physicians, scholars, and patients, including its training and education, draws on both ethnographic and historical work of Arabic Philosophy and Islamic Medicine in the region. A Yemeni-American first-generation scholar whose first book will examine medical debates over reform, Islam and expertise, and ‘afiya (wellbeing) in Southern Arabia. The second line of research she is pursuing examines connections between war and mental health in Yemen, as well the ways in which artists, filmmakers, and clinical psychologists within the country are responding to the immense challenges facing their fellow citizens

PPFP Fellowship Research Topic: Prescription: The Work of Culture, Medicine, and the Law in and after the War in Yemen

Mentor: Dr. Sherine Hamdy

Department, School: Department of Anthropology, School of Social Sciences


President's Postdoctoral Fellow Dr. HernandezDr. E.M. Hernandez

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
PhD in Philosophy 2021

E. M. (or Em) Hernandez received their PhD in philosophy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, completing a dissertation under the direction of Susan Wolf. Their work can be found at the intersection of normative ethics, moral psychology, philosophy of race, and trans philosophy. While many philosophers think of ethics as the study of how we ought to exercise our will, or what rules we should follow in our practical deliberation, Em’s work concerns those many central parts of ethics that are left out of this conception -- in particular, the ethics of perception and of feeling. How ought we perceive each other? What is the moral dimension to our feelings? Perceptions and feelings are not voluntary, nor are they the conclusions of practical deliberation, and yet they reflect our character, and are morally evaluable in many of the same ways that we are. This research attempts to understand the moral evaluation of perception and feeling, among other things, and their relationship to our moral character. Em is particularly interested in how our socialization in a racist, sexist, and transphobic society shapes our perceptions of others and how growing up internalizing such ideology can alter our moral character and all the downstream effects that has on how we relate to each other interpersonally.

PPFP Fellowship Research Topic: Racism and Interpersonal Ethics

Mentor: Dr. Aaron James

Department, School: Department of Philosophy, School of Humanities


President's Postdoctoral Fellow - Dr. LéonardDr. Nadia Léonard

Princeton University
PhD in Chemistry 2019

Nadia Léonard received her BS in chemistry at Brown University. Following her undergraduate studies, she taught math and science for grades K-4th at a charter school in the Greater Boston area. She then conducted her doctoral studies as an NSF Graduate Research Fellow at Princeton University. Her doctoral research focused on developing earth-abundant transition metal catalysts for site-selective functionalization of hydrocarbon feedstocks. During her studies at Princeton, Nadia served as a Diversity Fellow for the Graduate School, Office of Diversity and Inclusion where she worked with the LGBT Center, Women*s Center, and Carl A. Fields Center for Equality and Cultural Understanding to develop programming to support the graduate student community. Following completion of her PhD in 2019, she moved to southern California to begin a postdoctoral position at the University of California, Irvine. Her research as a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Chemistry focuses on understanding on a molecular level how electrostatic interactions, key to a variety of enzymatic processes, can be incorporated and harnessed at synthetic systems for reaction control.

PPFP Fellowship Research Topic: Unraveling Electric Field Effects in Catalysis: From Enzymes to Transition Metals

Mentor: Dr. Jenny Yang

Department, School: Department of Chemistry, School of Physical Sciences


President's Postdoctoral Fellow Dr. López-EspinoDr. Jessica López-Espino

New York University
PhD in Anthropology 2021

Jessica López-Espino, PhD in Anthropology is a recent graduate from New York University and a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow at UC Irvine. Jessica is a legal and linguistic anthropologist specializing in child welfare as socio-legal institution. Her first book project traces Latinx parents’ efforts in a California child welfare court to regain or maintain custody of their children despite common institutional narratives that position low-income, Spanish-dominant, and Latinx families as “risky parents.” This work is based on 18 months of ethnographic observations in a Northern California child welfare and the surrounding community, supported by the National Science Foundation and American Bar Foundation. Jessica’s research engages with current debates about the power and limits of the law in shaping social change, as well as debates about how language practices and racialized perceptions can intersect to reproduce inequality in social institutions.

PPFP Fellowship Research Topic: At the Margins of Parenthood: Latinxs in Child Welfare

Mentor: Dr. Susan Coutin

Department, School: Department of Criminology, Law and Society, School of Social Ecology


Marathe Headshot, UCI Office of Inclusive ExcellenceDr. Megh Marathe

University of Michigan
PhD in Information Studies 2021

Megh Marathe is President's Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Irvine. Their research is situated at the intersection of science and technology studies, disability studies, and social studies of medicine. Marathe studies expert work practices and marginalized people's experiences, particularly in healthcare. Their work generates critical theory and implications for inclusive sociotechnical systems. Marathe has received fellowships from Microsoft Research and the University of Michigan Institute for the Humanities for their work on the social implications of medical technology. For more information on Dr. Marathe's research, please visit their website.

PPFP Fellowship Research Topic: Social and Ethical Implications of Neural Implants

Mentor: Dr. Gillian Hayes

Department, School: Department of Informatics, Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences


Dr. Christine M. Slaughter

University of California, Los Angeles, PhD in Political Science

Mentor: Dr. Michael Tesler

Department, School: Department of Political Science, School of Social Sciences


Dr. Princess H. Williams

University of Michigan, PhD in Political Science

Mentor: Dr. Davin Phoenix

Department, School: Department of Political Science, School of Social Sciences