Urban Doctoral Fellows 2020-2021
The Urban Doctoral Fellows program provides a yearlong writing and professionalization experience for up to 10 University of Chicago doctoral students whose research focuses on urban issues. Students may come from any department or School at the University of Chicago; they may also be in any year of their PhD. Learn more.
Romance Languages and Literatures
Eufemia Baldassarre is a PhD candidate in Italian Studies in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures at The University of Chicago. Her research interests include spatial studies, issues of mobility/immobility, and the relationship between early modern writers and the built environment. Her dissertation, Landscapes of Exile: (Self)-Portrayals of Displacement in Italian Renaissance Literature, examines the phenomenon of exile in Renaissance Italy from an integrated framework that analyzes the specific geographies and their effects on the creative and literary practice of Humanist writers who were uprooted from their city and community of origin. Prior to her doctoral studies, Eufemia completed a MA in Italian Language and Literature at the University of Pittsburgh. She holds a MA in Translation and a BA in Foreign Languages and Literatures from the Università degli Studi di Torino, Italy.
Lauren Beard is a doctoral student in the Department of Sociology at the University of Chicago, with research interests in sociology of culture, education, health, and youth populations. Using mixed-methods approaches, she focuses on inequities in access to systems of health and education among young adult populations. In addition to her graduate studies, Lauren contributes to nonprofit programs rooted in trauma-informed care for Chicago-based youth. She is also actively involved in initiatives for first-generation, low-income students across Chicago. Lauren received her B.A. in Neuroscience and Modern Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.
Liang Cai is a doctoral student in the Department of Sociology. He is primarily interested in urban sociology, criminology of place, public health, and geography. His research asks how human behavior (esp. crime-related) shapes, and is shaped by, social and physical contexts (and the sequence of contexts) and how causally relevant contexts should be defined. Liang holds an MA in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago. Before coming to Chicago, he obtained an MSc in Sociology from Utrecht University and an LLB in Social Work from Nanjing University.
Geneva Cole is a 5th year PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Chicago. Her research interests broadly include public opinion, political behavior, and the role of political and social identities in shaping politics. Using a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods, her research focuses on how state-centered white identity shapes membership and belonging in the United States, the expression of racial animus, and perceptions of politics and policies concerned with minority rights. Geneva holds an MA in Political Science from the University of Chicago and a BA in Political Science and English from the University of Minnesota.
Personal website: https://www.genevacole.com/
Santiago Franco is a third year PhD student in the Economics Department. His research interest includes macroeconomics, economic growth, firm dynamics and urban economics. His ongoing projects on urban topics use machine learning techniques to study household location sorting and neighborhood composition. Outside urban economics, he has been working on productivity estimation and the relationship between intellectual property concentration and business dynamism. Santiago was born in Medellín, Colombia and holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics and a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics, both from Los Andes University in Bogotá, Colombia.
Social Service Administration
Samantha Guz is a doctoral student at the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. Her research interests include public education, gendered Whiteness, school social work as well as critical feminist research and practice. Her current work is focused on alternative high schools and gendered Whiteness within the profession of social work. Samantha received a B.S. in psychology and sociology from Texas A&M University and a Master’s of Science in Social Work from the University of Texas at Austin, with a concentration in clinical practice. Samantha is a practicing social worker in Chicago, currently working with community-based youth-serving organizations.
Comparative Human Development
Arvind Ilamaran is a PhD student in the Department of Comparative Human Development at The University of Chicago. He also holds a Master of Public Policy degree from the Harris School of Public Policy. His research is premised on viewing the ecosystem of child development in urban communities as complex systems. He is interested in how such ecosystems affect the life trajectory of individuals as they transition into adolescence, young adulthood and late adulthood. He is also interested in how such dynamics can have intergenerational effects. The methods employed in such pursuits range from conventional causal inference methods to modern computational methods such as Bayesian causal networks. He completed his undergraduate degree in Instrumentation and Control Engineering from the National Institute of Technology (Trichy, India) and worked in the oil-gas industry as a control-systems engineer before transitioning into public policy research.
Originally from Mumbai, Devika Lakhote completed a BA in economics with distinction from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai. Following graduation, Lakhote worked at MIT’s Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) in Bangalore, India. More recently, Lakhote was a predoctoral research fellow at Stanford University’s Institute for Economic Policy Research.
Lakhote is now a PhD student at the Harris School of Public Policy, University of Chicago where she studies discrimination in public goods access for disadvantaged groups in urban India. She is fluent in English, Hindi, and Marathi.
Personal website: https://devikalakhote.github.io/
Comparative Human Development
Helen Lee is a researcher, educator, and community organizer committed to developing and sustaining humanizing school systems and out-of-school spaces for youth. She is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Comparative Human Development at The University of Chicago, where she is studying the impact of sustained racial dialogue and ethnic community engagement on the collective identity and agency of Asian Americans. Her previous research has focused on mental health, civic engagement, and teachers. Helen’s research is informed by her work with schools, non-profits, and policymakers in Detroit and Chicago. She holds a MA in Educational Leadership and Policy and a BA in English and Political Science from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
Noah Schouela is a PhD student in Political Science studying comparative politics and quantitative methods. He is interested in questions of urban governance, inequality, redistribution, and political violence. More specifically, his research seeks to explore the intersection of national- and local-level politics in the governance and spatial organization of informal settlements in major urban centers. Methodologically, he is particularly interested in the role that spatial analysis and statistics can play in helping political scientists explore the geographic dimensions of questions of democracy, development, and conflict. Prior to starting his PhD, Noah earned an MA in the Committee on International Relations at the University of Chicago, where he held a fellowship in his second year, and a BA in Economics and Peace, Conflict, and Justice Studies from the University of Toronto.