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 Architectural details of the sandstone arcades in the Main Quadrangle of Stanford University. Credit Linda A. Cicero / Stanford University News Service

2023 HAL Fellows

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Sarah Brophy

Sarah Brophy is a 5th year PhD candidate in Philosophy with a PhD Minor in Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies. She works on the intersection of political philosophy and epistemology. Her dissertation examines epistemologies of sexual violence, using work in the fields of sociology, public health, law, and cultural studies to argue that there is persistent inadequacy in epistemic resources related to sexual violence that plays a crucial role in the preservation and perpetuation of a rape culture. Before studying philosophy, she worked as a general surgeon.

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Caitlin Brust

Caitlin Murphy Brust is a sixth-year PhD Candidate in Philosophy of Education and a graduate fellow in Education & Jewish Studies. She holds an MA in Philosophy. She studies educational justice both philosophically and empirically, exploring what constitutes (un)just epistemic environments in liberal U.S. higher education and how educators, students, and institutions themselves can combat various forms of epistemic injustice within these environments. Her interdisciplinary research draws from feminist and social epistemology, liberal and democratic education, and ethical and political theory; she also uses qualitative methods to explore how college students and educators identify as knowers and navigate relations of knowledge, identity, and power in the liberal arts classroom. Alongside her research, she values building intellectual communities that foster friendship and mentorship, particularly in the humanities. Originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, she studied philosophy and English literature at Franklin & Marshall College before coming to Stanford.

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Taranee Cao

Taranee Cao is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures with a minor in Linguistics. Interested in language teaching, learning, and pedagogy, she investigates how Japanese honorifics can be taught better in her dissertation. Her research adopts a sociolinguistic approach to analyze real-life data and bridges recent research studies with classroom implementations. Her previous projects cover topics such as Japanese youth language, second language acquisition, Japanese onomatopoeia, and pragmatics. Taranee holds a full Oral Proficiency Interview certificate in Japanese and is one of the Graduate Teaching Consultant Coordinators at the Center for Teaching and Learning. She is also of CESTA’s 2022-2023 class of Digital Humanities Graduate Fellows.

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Gerald Jia Ding

Gerald Jia Ding is a 5th-year Ph.D. candidate in Comparative Literature. His current dissertation works on what he calls the "lyrical mode" of literature and cinema in the twentieth century. At Stanford, he has taught courses in poetry and literary theory. His broader academic interests include German, English, and Chinese poetry and poetics of the twentieth century, film theory, and the intersection between poetry and other art forms. He has worked as a freelance instructor, writer, and content provider for various online platforms.   

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Elaine Lai

Elaine is a fifth year PhD candidate in Religious Studies, specializing in Buddhist Tantra, specifically the tradition known as the Great Perfection or Dzogchen. Her dissertation explores the relationship between Buddhist literature and time, specifically, how form and content interplay to cultivate more expansive and compassionate temporal realities that may challenge the capitalist, modernist notions of time which have become a norm in contemporary society. Elaine is committed to understanding how other forms of storytelling can serve as a resource to expand the imagination and cultivate more ethical relationships with time and with one another. Outside of academia, Elaine enjoys playing with time through playwriting, screenwriting, filmmaking, podcasts, and fiction.  

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Suhaila Meera

Suhaila Meera is a director, dramaturg, and PhD candidate in Stanford University’s Theater & Performance Studies (TAPS) department, also pursuing PhD minors in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity. Her dissertation, “Playing Children: Statelessness and the Performance of Childhood,” examines contemporary theatrical and cinematic representations of children crossing borders, with an emphasis on South Asia and the Middle East. She was recently the dramaturg for Yilong Liu’s PrEP Play/or Blue Parachute at the New Conservatory Theatre Center in San Francisco. Before graduate school, Suhaila worked in operations and development at Teamwork Arts, Girls Write Now, and The Juilliard School.

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Stephanie Reist

Stephanie Virginia Reist is a Lecturer in Civic, Liberal, and Global Education at Stanford University. Prior to coming to Stanford, she was a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Education Department at the Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro. She completed a PhD in Romance Studies with a focus on Latin American Cultural Studies as well as a Master's in Public Policy at Duke University in 2018. She holds a BA in Comparative Literature from Williams College. Her research and writing focus on race, public policy, Black feminisms, cultural production, access to higher education and urban belonging in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  As part of her commitment to public scholarship, her writing has been featured in RioOnWatch, The Baffler, The Independent and Jacobin Magazine. She has also worked for NGOs committed to children's advocacy and recently joined the board of Catalytic Communities (which publishes RioOnWatch), "an advocacy NGO working since 2000 in support of Rio’s favelas at the intersection of sustainable community development, human rights, local-global networks, communications, and urban planning."

Beatrice Smigasiewicz

Beatrice Smigasiewicz is a 6th-year Ph.D. candidate in the Art and Art History Department. She focuses broadly on the political and artistic revisionist movements before the collapse of the Soviet Union; she is specifically interested in the legacy of the avant-garde, the transformation of the public sphere after 1968, and the development of new media art in Eastern Europe (Poland). Before coming to Stanford, she worked with Art Papers, Iowa Review, Asymptote Journal, and others as a writer and translator. In addition to her doctoral work, Beatrice was active with her local DSA chapter. She holds a Master’s degree in writing from the University of Iowa and a Bachelor’s degree in art history from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

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John Turman

John Turman is a lecturer for the Civic, Liberal, and Global Education (COLLEGE) program. He earned his bachelor's degree in philosophy at U.C. Berkeley and completed his PhD in philosophy at Stanford University. John's current research is focused on foundational questions about the concept of knowledge, concepts of action, concepts of the mind, and how facts about a person's mind explain facts about their behavior. As a lecturer and teaching fellow John has taught (or helped to teach) Why College; Health Care Ethics and Justice; and Emotion. John looks forward to teaching Citizenship in the 21st Century this Winter!

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Valeria Vergani

Valeria Vergani is a PhD candidate in Religious Studies and a PhD Minor student in Anthropology. She researches religion and politics in contemporary US and Canada. Her dissertation project examines changing public perceptions of religion in American public life, especially among the religious left, in the aftermath of 9/11. She focuses on religious liberals’ responses to 9/11 on social media, on the progressive rise of the interfaith dialogue industry in a variety of public institutions, and on newly emerging religious material cultures. Valeria hails from Verona, Italy. She holds a BA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies from Quest University Canada in British Columbia and an MA in Religious Studies from the University of Toronto. She has extensive experience working in the faith-based non-profit world in Canada. At Stanford, she works as an Academic Skills Coach for the Center of Teaching and Learning.

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Daniela Weiner

Daniela R. P. Weiner is a COLLEGE Lecturer in the Civic, Liberal, and Global Education program, a part of Stanford Introductory Studies. Before beginning her COLLEGE fellowship, she was a Jim Joseph Postdoctoral Fellow in the Stanford Graduate School of Education (2020-2022). She earned a PhD in History and a graduate certificate in Jewish Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2020. She is currently finishing a book project, "Teaching a Dark Chapter: History Books and the Holocaust in Italy and the Germanys.” A new project focuses on the history of baptism and conversion during the Holocaust. She has received fellowships/grants from: the Fulbright U.S. Student Program (Germany, AY 2018- 2019); the Leibniz Institute for Educational Media | Georg Eckert Institute; the German Historical Institute, Washington, D.C.; the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies; and the Carolina Center for Jewish Studies. She is currently a member of the editorial board of AJS Perspectives: The Magazine of the Association for Jewish Studies and is one of the co-coordinators of the SIS Fellows Research Seminar.

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Ruth Wurl

Ruth Wurl is a lecturer in the Program for Civic, Liberal, and Global Education at Stanford University. She holds a PhD in Slavic Languages and Literatures, also from Stanford, and is currently writing a monograph on 19th century trans author Alexander Alexandrov.