Futures Initiative Graduate and Postdoctoral Fellows [obsolete]

Note: This page is obsolete. For current information, please see

Current Fellows

Sujung-KimSujung Kim, Ph.D.

Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, The Futures Initiative and The Humanities Alliance, 2018-2020

Dr. Sujung Kim is an interdisciplinary scholar whose research addresses the critical pedagogy of higher education and community colleges for the public good and educating students as critical public intellectuals. Her research and teaching interests are located at the intersection of class, race, citizenship, power, and subjectivity, and how these intersecting conditions affect vulnerable college students’ sense of institutional and social belonging. She also focuses on access to postsecondary education, retention, and outcomes and how these factors impact students’ further educational, career, and life trajectories. Her current book project examines the interrelations among neoliberal community college policies and politics, the globalization of community colleges, and the restructuring of racial and class relationships among diverse student populations. In addition, her work considers the complex mechanisms through which lower middle- and working-class Korean international students are created as (potential) transnational, adrift, cheap laborers. Dr. Kim earned her Ph.D. from the Department of Educational Policy Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Photo of Raven GomezRaven Gomez

HASTAC Scholars Coordinator, Fall 2018

Raven Gomez is a master’s student in Digital Humanities at the CUNY Graduate Center. She received her bachelor’s from Smith College in Africana Studies: Urban Education, and an A.A in Liberal Arts Social Science & Humanities from LaGuardia Community College. She is currently the HASTAC Scholars Coordinator with The Futures Initiative. Raven has worked with community college across the nation, and is passionate to serve the needs of students of 1st generation college students from nontraditional backgrounds. As a scholar rooted in the humanities, her work demonstrates a strong interdisciplinary background, integrating innovative pedagogies of education including the usage of technology and game-based projects in the classroom. Raven has previously managed the Smith College Video Game Research Lab through which she mentored students in creating their own video game projects, and collaboratively created games which reflected the needs of students of color in higher education settings. Through the use of digital platforms, she believes students can become empowered to forge their own identities in higher education settings.

Kashema Hutchinson

Graduate Fellow, Fall 2017 – present

Kashema Hutchinson is a doctoral student in the Urban Education program at the Graduate Center (CUNY). She has a B.A. in Communications: Advertising/Public Relations and an M.A. in Sociology. She is currently the Co-Director of the Undergraduate Leadership Program and Doctoral Fellow at the CUNY Graduate Center at The Futures Initiative. She has facilitated discussion groups with incarcerated male and female groups at the Rikers Island Facility in New York. Her research interests include restorative justice, the school-to-prison pipeline, the socialization of Black girls and women, zero-tolerance policies, mattering and marginalization, mindfulness and hip-hop pedagogy. She creates and uses infographics to facilitate discussions around the role of women and history; philosophy; behavioral economics and; class and crime.

Gustavo (Gus) Jiménez

Graduate Fellow, Fall 2018 – present

Gustavo Jiménez is a current Ph.D. Candidate in Latin American, Iberian and Latino Cultures at The Graduate Center, CUNY. His doctoral work is on the significance of Latin America in the formation of modern Basque literature identity in the context of contemporary debates in World Literature. He is interested in postcolonial discourses, both from a theoretical perspective, and as a way to create decolonized learning environments for undergraduate students. He has taught courses and workshops in Spanish and Cinema at CUNY campuses, Fordham University, and The Instituto Cervantes.

As an undergraduate, he studied Advertising & Public Relations and throughout has remained interested in the field including holding various positions as Communications Manager, Editor and contributing author. In 2015, he received the Basque Literary Prize Finalist award for his short novel “Moradero.”

He holds an BA from the University of the Basque Country, a Masters in Spanish from Western Michigan University, and will complete his PhD work at the Graduate Center in 2018/19.

Christina Katopodis

Graduate Fellow, Fall 2017 – present

Christina Katopodis is a doctoral candidate in English and a New Media Lab fellow at the CUNY Graduate Center, and an adjunct at Hunter College. She currently studies the influences of sound and sonic vibration on American Transcendentalism and Pragmatism, attending to deep listening in the nonhuman environment of 19th Century America. She was a recipient of the Ralph Waldo Emerson Society research grant in 2016, and received a Provost’s Digital Innovation Start-Up Grant (2016-2017) to record sounds at Walden Pond and build a website that maps Walden’s soundscape. She is also a web developer and editor for the Margaret Fuller Society, and a research assistant for Professor Cathy N. Davidson. Read about her pedagogy here.

Jessica MurrayPhoto of Jessica Murray

Graduate Fellow, Fall 2016 – present

Jessica Murray is a doctoral student in developmental psychology at The Graduate Center, CUNY and a Futures Initiative Fellow. Her interests include mobilities, transportation, technology, disability studies, accessibility, and disability rights. She earned a BFA in Design from the University of Texas at Austin in 2003 and worked as a graphic designer in a variety of media before coming to The Graduate Center in 2012 for an MA on the Psychology of Work and Family Track. As a Digital Fellow with the Center for the Humanities from 2014-2016 and Futures Initiative Fellow from 2016-present, she has designed and developed multiple WordPress projects on OpenCUNY and other hosting platforms, and facilitated group resources such as the Graduate Center’s developmental psychology program website, and the CUNY Disability Scholars website ( She currently maintains the Futures Initiative website and provides technical support, designs materials for event promotion, and leads WordPress workshops for faculty and graduate fellows.

Adashima Oyo

Photo of Adashima Oyo

Graduate Fellow and HASTAC Scholars Director, Fall 2018 – present

Adashima Oyo is a doctoral student in the Social Welfare program at the Graduate Center, CUNY. She earned both an M.P.H. and a B.A. in English with Honors (which included a double minor in Health Sciences and African American Studies) from Brooklyn College, CUNY. For greater than 10 years, Oyo has provided evaluation and strategic planning for several nonprofits in the health service sector. She has two research interests, and both intersect with the minority-majority demographic shift that is occurring in America. First, the problem of health disparities and its disproportionate burden on Black and Latino minority communities. Second, the lack of racial diversity among college and university faculty and its implications on Black and Latino students who move (or don’t move) through the pipeline from undergraduate to doctoral studies. Specifically, she is interested in examining how this contributes to the cyclical shortage of available Black and Latino faculty and their underrepresentation in the production of scholarship. Adashima has published findings from her research in peer-reviewed journals and presented at several national conferences. She is part of the adjunct faculty at New York University (NYU) and Brooklyn College, CUNY where she teaches courses about healthcare and developing research papers to undergraduate students.

Siqi TuPhoto of Siqi Tu

Graduate Fellow, Fall 2018 – present

Siqi Tu is a PhD candidate in Sociology at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. She earned a BA degree in Sociology from Fudan University (China) and a MA degree in Sociology from Columbia University. Her work focuses on the areas of urban sociology, immigration, education, elites, and contemporary Chinese societies. Tu was born and raised in Shanghai, China and moved to New York City in 2012. She developed her interest in immigration and urban neighborhoods as a keen observer of diverse communities in different metropolitan areas. Her dissertation, “Destination Diploma: How Chinese Upper-Middle Class Families ‘Outsource’ Secondary Education to the United States”, investigates why and how Chinese upper-middle-class families make decisions to send their children to the United States to attend private high schools, some as young as 14 years of age, and it analyzes the actual lived experiences of the students of this “parachute-generation”. She has taught sociology at Brooklyn College from 2014 and is currently a Writing Fellow at Kingsborough Community College. Personal website:


Kitana Ananda, Ph.D.Photo of Kitana Ananda

Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, The Futures Initiative and The Humanities Alliance, 2016-2018

Kitana Ananda was the inaugural Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow for the CUNY Humanities Alliance. Her scholarship and teaching examines the culture and politics of war, migration, and diaspora in North America and South Asia, with a focus on Tamil refugees and immigrants from Sri Lanka. She believes strongly in the mission of the public university, and has a deep interest in digital communications for scholarship, collaborative learning, and public engagement. Kitana has served as a Contributing Editor for the open-access website of the journal, Cultural Anthropology, and as a Communications Associate intern with the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative. She earned a Ph.D. in socio-cultural anthropology from Columbia University, and an honors B.A. in history and anthropology with a minor in cinema studies from the University of Toronto.

Thomas DeAngelisPhoto of Thomas DeAngelis

Graduate Fellow, Fall 2016

Thomas DeAngelis is a first-year doctoral student in the Earth and Environmental Sciences program at the CUNY Graduate Center. Thomas recently earned a B.A. in Sociology from CUNY Brooklyn College where he was both a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow and a CUNY Pipeline Fellow. He is interested in the displacement of black people by urban renewal in New York City and Salvador, Brazil and how people organized against urban renewal. Drawing on Stuart Hall’s method of conjunctural analysis, Thomas hopes to develop a broader understanding of the political, economic, geographic, and ideological forces that allowed for urban renewal to displace black people from housing in both Salvador and New York City. More broadly, Thomas holds interests in black geographies, black radical thought, and Afro-Pessimism.

Allison GuessAllisonTall

Graduate Fellow, 2015-2018

Allison Guess is a Futures Initiative Graduate Fellow and PhD student in the program of Earth and Environmental Sciences (Geography) at the Graduate Center at CUNY. Previously, Allison earned a double major in Political Science and Hispanic Languages and Literatures. She has studied Latin American Cultures, Languages and Political Economies in Brazil, Cuba and Mexico. Allison is multilingual and thinks of language as a geopolitical tool for liberation. Additionally, she currently serves as a GC doctoral student representatives on the board of IRADAC. Allison’s research is a contextual historiography of the deliberate Black land communities/constructions and Black people’s relationships to those lands (and places), specifically as they relate to (voluntary reverse) migrations of Black millennials moving southward and eastward, in the midst of the ongoingness of settler colonialism, capitalist development and anti-Black racism. Concerned with collective liberation, Allison is developing a theory of (Black geographic) abundance. Some of her scholarly work has been published in American Quarterly, Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society and Departures in Critical Qualitative Research. In addition to her work within the academy, Allison remains in service to the various communities that she is apart of. She is a member of the Black/Land Project, a non-academic community research and interview project that seeks to amplify Black people’s relationships to land and place, she is the New York City network leader for Outdoor Afro, a national Black-led organization dedicated to reconnecting and celebrating Black people within nature and the great outdoors. Allison is also involved with many other national and locally based initiatives. Allison calls herself a truth-telling messenger and geotheorist, a term she coined in 2014. Follow Allison on Twitter at @AllisonGuess1.

Michael DorschMichaelTall

Graduate Fellow, Fall 2014 – Spring 2016
External Program Evaluator, 2016-2018

Michael Dorsch is a doctoral student specializing in geography in the Earth and Environmental Sciences program at The Graduate Center, CUNY. He has conducted research for the CUNY Institute for Sustainable Cities and the Science and Resilience Institute at Jamaica Bay in addition to his work as a Futures Initiative Fellow. His research interests include using tools from geographic information systems and techniques from analytic cartography to visualize social and environmental inequities related to negative environmental exposures from energy production and industrial/post-industrial sites. His dissertation project titled “Toward Climate Change Mitigation, Energy Justice, and Resilience: Electricity Infrastructure Transitions and Transformations” explores pollution and environmental justice issues associated with electricity production in the United States and explores how cities and regions are transitioning electricity production infrastructures to low-carbon alternatives. Michael’s full CV is available at

Michelle Morales

Graduate Fellow, 2016-2018

Michelle Morales is a doctoral candidate in computational linguistics and a former Magnet Fellow at the CUNY Graduate Center. She is also a speech processing researcher at the Queens College Speech lab, where she focuses on computing and mental health. Michelle’s research investigates how to use language as an objective marker in the diagnosis and monitoring of mental disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD. As part of her dissertation, she is currently building a computational system that uses speech to automatically identify the presence of mental health disorders. Given the severe shortage of clinicians and the ever increasing number of individuals in need, Michelle’s research aims to improve the current state of mental healthcare by providing a scalable technological solution.

Mike RifinoMikeTall

Graduate Fellow, 2015-2018

Mike Rifino is a doctoral student in Human Development at the Graduate Center, CUNY. Drawing on cultural-historical activity theory and recent advances in Vygotskian scholarship, specifically, Stetsenko’s notion of Transformative Activist Stance, his research interests focus on the transformative potential of critical theoretical teaching-learning in public secondary and post-secondary education in regard to student agency. Throughout his undergraduate journey, he has gained deep experience with peer mentoring, having worked as a research assistant for the Peer Activist Learning Community (PALC), as well as a mentor for a college readiness program for underrepresented students. He is currently researching ways that students and faculty in PALC collaboratively investigate and redefine student agency to create an activist learning community.

Danica SavonickDanicaTall

Graduate Fellow, Fall 2014 – Spring 2017

Danica Savonick is a doctoral candidate in English and a Futures Initiative Fellow at the CUNY Graduate Center and a teaching fellow at Queens College. Her dissertation, “The Dangers of Aesthetic Education: On Pedagogy, Praxis, and Social Justice,” analyzes the feminist pedagogies of Adrienne Rich, Audre Lorde, June Jordan, and Toni Cade Bambara, all of whom taught at the City University of New York during the period of open admissions and in the SEEK program, in order to explore what teaching art, language, and literature can do to produce a more just and equitable future. Her broader research interests include twentieth century and contemporary literary and cultural studies, pedagogy, literature and social justice, critical race and gender studies, critical university studies, digital humanities, and American studies. At Queens College, she has taught courses on writing, narrative, and global literature. You can read Danica’s blog and full CV at

Lisa TagliaferriLisaTall

Graduate Fellow, Fall 2014 – Spring 2016

Lisa Tagliaferri is a doctoral candidate in Comparative Literature at the CUNY Graduate Center. Her research focuses on late medieval and early renaissance Italian and English literature, and utilizes digital humanities techniques. She also has a background in the computer sciences, having earned an MSc from the University of London. Her thesis explored educational gaming and provided a research context for a Java-based prototype of a multi-platform educational game she developed based on a BBC Radio program. Lisa works on web development for the Futures Initiative and HASTAC, and has taught foreign languages and computer science to undergraduates. She has a penchant for traditional and antique photography processes, and blogs about education and technology at

Frances Tran, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow and Interim Associate Director, 2017-2018

Frances Tran received her PhD in English and a certificate in American Studies from the CUNY Graduate Center in spring 2016. Her dissertation, “Animate Impossibilities: on Asian Americanist Critique, Racialization, and the Humanities,” received the Alumni and Doctoral Faculty Prize for the Most Distinguished Dissertation of the Year Award from the English program. Frances is excited to return to CUNY as a Post-Doctoral Fellow and the Interim Associate Director of the Futures Initiative. Her research draws on Asian American and multiethnic science and speculative fictions for the insights they offer into new modes of sensing, un-learning, and becoming that articulate pedagogies and practices for critiquing persisting forms of institutionalized racism. Engaging the speculative as variously a literary genre, research method, and critical practice, her scholarship strives to create space for realizing “other” humanities attuned to the continuing materiality of racial difference and social inequality. Frances hopes to continue advancing her commitments to public education and antiracist pedagogy through her work with the Futures Initiative.

Kalle WesterlingLisaTall

Graduate Fellow, 2014-2018

Kalle Westerling is a Ph.D. Candidate in Theatre and Performance and a Futures Initiative Graduate Fellow at the Graduate Center, CUNY, and Director of HASTAC Scholars, a vibrant student network within The Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory (HASTAC). Currently, he is completing his dissertation on the history and aesthetics of male-identified bodies in 20th-century burlesque and 21st-century boylesque, “The Roots and Routes of Boylesque: Queering Male Striptease and Burlesque in New York City from 1930s Golden Age Burlesque to the New York Boylesque Festival in the 2010s.” Read his full CV at


The Futures Initiative
The Graduate Center, CUNY
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