2021 Graduate Institute

The 2021 Institute met virtually on January 11–14. Below, meet our 2021 Graduate Institute Co-Directors and Fellows!

color headshot of Ashley Cheyemi Rae McNeil
Co-director , Obermann Center for Advanced Studies , HPG Postdoctoral Fellow
As the 2019–2021 Postdoctoral Fellow for the Andrew W. Mellon–Funded Humanities for the Public Good initiative, McNeil serves as HPG's lead project manager, collaborating closely with faculty, staff, and graduate student members of the HPG Advisory Committee and with the Obermann Center to design institutes and workshops, conduct research and interviews with stakeholders, and assess and document program activities. She also provides project management support for the HPG program and participates in meetings with other Obermann Fellows-in-Residence to share work-in-progress.
color headshot of Laura Perry
Co-director , Obermann Center for Advanced Studies , HPG Postdoctoral Fellow
Laura Perry is the 2020-2022 Postdoctoral Fellow for the Andrew W. Mellon-Funded Humanities for the Public Good initiative. Before joining HPG, she was Managing Editor of Edge Effects magazine and received her PhD in English from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Her work engages with environmental and racial justice, digital publishing, and the public humanities. She has collaborated on several grant-funded projects, including the research group Environmental Justice in Multispecies Worlds as well as a year-long public humanities partnership with a local nonprofit. Her current...
Adelheid Bethanny Sudibyo
Participant , University of Iowa , Spanish & Portuguese
Adelheid Bethanny Sudibyo is a third-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Iowa. She speaks Indonesian, English, Spanish, Portuguese and Chinese. She holds a MA in Spanish from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and a BA in Spanish from Wenzao University of Languages, Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Her main research area is Hispanofilipina and Peninsular literature and culture. Bethanny’s interests include the intersections of class, race, and gender, nation formations, and material culture. 
Alejandro Perez
Participant , University of Iowa , College of Education
Alejandro Pérez is a doctoral student at the College of Education. A former dual language elementary school teacher, Alejandro also has an MA in Applied Linguistics (Universidad de Jaén) and an MA in Hispanic Linguistics (University of Iowa). Through his research and scholarship, Alejandro aims to voice much-needed reforms and to create inclusive spaces in education. His research interests focus on equity and inclusivity in bilingual education. His most current work focuses on the language assessment needs of dual language teachers.
Ang Malenda
Participant , University of Iowa , Communication Studies
Ang Malenda is a PhD student on the rhetoric, culture and engagement track in communication studies. Her research is interested in the creation and maintenance of identity, specifically gender and sexuality, and its intersections with trauma. As such, her research focuses on sexual trauma and rhetoric(s) surrounding social change and rape culture. Ang volunteers with Planned Parenthood, and is actively engaged with KnowYour9, Survivors Agenda, and COGS Student Union. Ang received her Bachelors degree in English and Masters in Communication from Villanova University.
Ebenezer Olamiposi Adeyemi
Participant , University of Iowa , Anthropology
Ebenezer Olamiposi Adeyemi is a second-year PhD student in the medical anthropology/global health track at the department of anthropology. Ebenezer holds a BA degree in Anthropology and an MA degree in Peace and Conflict studies, both from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. For his doctoral research, Ebenezer is interested in exploring global and local factors that engender marginality in Nigeria and how poor and marginalized communities in Nigeria negotiate access to health care amid increasing global inequality and resource deprivation.
Emilie Sommers
Participant , University of Iowa , Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Emilie Sommers is a second-year master's student in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program at the University of Iowa. Originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico, she moved to Iowa City seven years ago to study printmaking and engaged social innovation at Iowa. As a counseling student, Emilie wants to integrate feedback from community organizations and participants to collaboratively design a psychotherapy group at the Rape Victim Advocacy Program (RVAP).
Hansini Munasinghe
Participant , University of Iowa , Sociology
Hansini Munasinghe is a PhD candidate in Sociology, and her research focuses on immigrants and their families, including how immigrants facing visa restrictions make decisions about work, family, and migration, and how cross-nativity romantic relationships shape political participation. She has also worked on publicly engaged research on campus climate through Iowa’s Public Policy Center. She received her MA in Sociology from Iowa, her BS in Sociology from Iowa State University, and before that she worked as a freelance journalist in her home country, Sri Lanka. 
Heo Zhou
Participant , University of Iowa , Film & Video Production
Hao Zhou is an artist from Nanchuan, China, pursuing an MFA in Film & Video Production. Across mediums, Hao develops work with experimental tendencies, often centering LGBTQ+ characters and themes. His most notable experiences include making two feature films, writing for Douban.com, and completing programs such as Cannes’ Résidence, Xining FIRST, and Talents Tokyo. Hao’s work has been screened at numerous festivals, with awards or nominations at the Berlinale, Hong Kong, Black Movie, Nara, Queer Lisboa, China Independent, and others.
Hoshik Nam
Participant , University of Iowa , Political Science
Hoshik Nam is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Political Science studying international relations and comparative politics. His broad research interest is in understanding U.S. foreign policy decision-making processes affecting interstate conflicts and civil wars. As a veteran of the Republic of Korea Army, he served as an interpreter/translator at the ROK-US Combined Forces Command and participated in diverse combined military exercises between South Korea and the U.S.
Laura Carpenter
Participant , University of Iowa , American Studies
Laura Carpenter is a first-year PhD student in the Department of American Studies, studying U.S. labor culture, museum studies and heritage preservation. She received her BA in History and Political Science at Gustavus Adolphus College and her MA in History: Public History at the University of Northern Iowa. Currently, she is building an oral history project in partnership with the community of Britt, Iowa to capture stories of life on the rails from hobos of past and present. 
Lauren Irwin
Participant , University of Iowa , Higher Education & Student Affairs
Lauren Irwin is a Ph.D. student in the Higher Education & Student Affairs program. After receiving her bachelor’s from UCLA and master’s in Student Affairs Administration from Michigan State University, Lauren founded Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s campus-wide leadership program. Lauren’s scholarship explores how whiteness and other systems of domination undergird leadership education efforts in order to help student affairs professionals deconstruct and reconstruct leadership efforts in pursuit of more inclusive and socially just efforts. 
Libby Fry
Participant , University of Iowa , Community and Behavioral Health
Libby Fry is a first year Ph.D. student in the Community and Behavioral Health program in the College of Public Health. She received her master's in Social Work from the University of Northern Iowa and is licensed to practice in the state of Iowa. Her research interests include exploring how health and support services can be made more inclusive and affirming for those identifying as a sexual or gender minority. 
Luke Borland
Participant , University of Iowa , History
Luke Borland is a third-year doctoral student in the Department of History studying youths' experiences during the Great Depression. His work focuses on the impact of youth-focused federal relief programs and explores their position within the welfare state, public schooling, and civic education. Before entering graduate school, he volunteered with AmeriCorps. At Iowa, he has served on the Obermann Center’s Humanities for the Public Good advisory board (2019–2021) and actively partners with a historic site and museum that presents Great Depression-era history.  
Mitchell Hooyer
Participant , University of Iowa , Carver College of Medicine
Mitchell Hooyer is a fourth-year medical student from a cattle farm near Sioux Center, Iowa, currently applying to Emergency Medicine residency programs with a focus on population health and addiction medicine. He has a passion for injury prevention and harm reduction, spending most of his free time with the Iowa Harm Reduction Coalition, a non-profit working in overdose prevention & naloxone distribution. He hopes to see harm reduction grow both in the medical field and in the LGBTQ+ community.
Nicole Amato
Participant , University of Iowa , College of Education
Nicole Ann Amato is a PhD candidate in the Literacy, Language, and Culture program in the College of Education, where she teaches courses in children’s and adolescent literature to pre-service teachers. A former high school English Language Arts teacher, Nicole received her BA in Secondary English Education from Clemson University and her MA in Literacy Education from Furman University. Nicole’s research interests include young adult literature, comics and graphic novels, dialogic discussion, feminist criticism, and critical youth studies.
Sanjina Singh
Participant , University of Iowa , Nonfiction Writing Program
Sanjna N. Singh is an MFA candidate at the University of Iowa’s Nonfiction Writing Program. She has worked in New York for over fifteen years as a television director for shows such as Mob Wives, Storm Chasers, and The Killing Fields. Her essays have been published in The New York Times, The Guardian, and Bitch, among other publications. Her documentary Out of Status, which followed Muslim families detained or deported after 9/11 was nominated for Amnesty’s Human Rights Award. She is working on a memoir.