Andrew W. Mellon Fellowships

Mellon Fellowships support the development of emerging areas in the humanities.

In January 2015, the Mellon Foundation awarded a grant of $2,050,000 to HRI to support the development of emerging areas in the humanities. The funds will be used to support fellowships for Illinois faculty and graduate students, and undergraduate interns. The grant also provides support to bring post-doctoral fellows to the university, creating robust research groups in three areas: Bio-Humanities, Environmental Humanities, and Legal Humanities. These complex areas of inquiry require applications of historical, literary, and visual thinking to advance knowledge across cultures and time. These fellowships will permit both artists and humanists to engage in research that more firmly links them to studies of the biological/medical world, in-depth intellectual involvement with ecological and environmental issues, and the intersection of the humanities with the law.  

The initiative launched in the fall of 2016. The first cohort of fellows and interns was appointed through competitive processes in the lead up to the 2016–17 academic year. Working together, these inter-generational and multi-disciplinary groups of scholars and students work to form new intellectual partnerships that bridge traditionally understood areas of expertise. The grant provides opportunities for the research groups to engage with the exceptional resources of our campus to advance research and pedagogical practices in the three defined areas, and to contribute through their collaborative endeavors to the formation and broader understanding of these trans-disciplinary fields in the humanities and arts. These groups will also serve as models for cross-generational collaborations, and will create new curricular opportunities for undergraduates on the Illinois campus to engage in these areas of the humanities inquiry through the creation of undergraduate certificate programs.

The 2021–22 academic year marks the final cycle of the Legal Humanities research group and the Mellon Emerging Areas fellowships at HRI.

Current Fellows

See current Emerging Areas in the Humanities Fellows

Past Fellows

Legal Humanities

Director and Mellon Faculty Fellow, 2019–21

A. Naomi Paik, Asian American Studies

Pre-Doctoral Fellows, 2020–21

Brenda Garcia, PhD candidate, Anthropology: “NecroSecurity: Youth, Death and Life in the State of Right”

Silvia Escanilla Huerta, PhD candidate, History: “A Fragmented Sovereignty. Indigenous People, War and Political Change in the Process of Independence in the Viceroyalty of Peru (1783–1828)”

Undergraduate Interns, 2020–21

Buthaina Hattab, major in Political Science

Maria T. Martinez, major in English

Adem Osmani, major in Political Science

Environmental Humanities

Faculty Fellow

Bob Morrissey (History)


Victoria Halewicz (Psychology, minor in Communication) 

Hyun Park (Psychology and English) 

Henry Yeary (English)

Undergraduate Interns


Sneha Adusumilli (Molecular and Cellular Biology) 

Miranda Dawson (Bioengineering) 

Sana Khadri (English and Integrative Biology)


Robert Rouphail (History)
“Disastrous Kinships: Nature, Gender, and Resilience in Moder Mauritius, 1892–1980” 

Michael Uhall (Political Science)
“Companion Ecologies”

Pre-Doctoral Fellows


Lydia Crafts (History)
“Empire’s Laboratory: Race, Ethics, and Medical Experimentation in Guatemala during the Cold War” 

Rebecah Pulsifer (English)
“Signifying Nothing: Intelligence and Intellectual Disability in British Modernism”

Post-Doctoral Fellows

Rosine Kelz (PhD, Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford, 2014)
“Beyond the human?’: Concepts of Humanity, Responsibility, and Agency in Political Theory and Biotechnology” 

Daniel Liu (PhD, History of Science, Medicine, and Technology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2016)
“Vision and Calculation of Living Matter”


Faculty Fellow

Samantha Frost (Political Science / Gender and Women's Studies)

Undergraduate Interns


Juan Martin Luna Nunez (Urban Studies and Planning) 

Clara Pokorny (Urban Studies and Planning) 

April Wendling (Geography and Earth Society & Environmental Sustainability, minor in Integrative Biology)

Pre-Doctoral Fellows


Samantha Good (Spanish and Portuguese)
“Negotiated Ecologies: Indigeneity and Ecocriticism in 19th-Century Bolivia and Chile” 

Alexandra Paterson (English)
“Geological Bodies: The Earth and Narratives of the Self in Romantic-Period Britain, 1784–1820”

Post-Doctoral Fellows

Leah Aronowsky (PhD, History of Science, Harvard University, 2018)
“Configuring the Planetary Environment as a Scientific Object” 

Pollyana Rhee (PhD, Architecture, Columbia University, 2018)
“Designing Natural Advantages: Environmental Visions, Civic Ideals, and Architecture for Community, 1920–1970”Legal Humanities

Public Humanities

Pre-Doctoral Fellow, 2020–21

Kelli McQueen, Music

“The Traveling Troubador.” Faculty Mentor: Eleonora Stoppino (French and Italian)