Urban Doctoral Fellows 2021-2022
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.
Harris School of Public Policy
Ari Anisfeld is a PhD student at the Harris School of Public Policy. His research focuses on how economic and social policy influences structural inequality. His current urban-related project investigates the neighborhood-level effects of the location decisions of payday lenders. Other work focuses on the determinants of educational choices of young people. Ari holds a MS in Computational Analysis and Public Policy from the Harris School, an MA in Education from the University of New Mexico and a BA in History from Grinnell College.
Nathalie Barton is a fifth year PhD Candidate in the Department of History at the University of Chicago, whose research centers on the intersections of housing, race, and domesticity in urban life. Her dissertation explores the social and cultural history of renting in mid-twentieth century Chicago. Additionally, Nathalie has worked on a variety of other historical projects, including those aimed at audiences outside academic institutions. She is currently a research assistant for the American Historical Society’s Historians and American Racism initiative. She previously served as a research fellow for the NPR podcast Throughline, and a story researcher for a documentary in development. She holds an MA in History from the University in Chicago as well a BA in American Studies and History from Columbia University.
Crown Family School of Social Work, Social Policy, and Practice
Emily Claypool is a doctoral student at the Crown Family School of Social Work, Social Policy, and Practice. Her research draws on science and technology studies & medical anthropology to understand the nature of social scientific knowledge production and institutionalization in the interdisciplinary context of social service research and provision. Her dissertation is an ethnographic study of a randomized controlled trial, which examines how politics, measurement practices, and different forms of expertise impact the way knowledge is translated, the role of actors like community organizations in this process, and the consequences for the populations they serve. She received her B.A. from the University of Minnesota in English Literature, with an emphasis in postcolonial literature and obtained a Masters in Clinical Social Work from the Crown School. She has 5 years of post-graduate social work experience primarily in community mental health.
Committee on Evolutionary Biology
Jacob Drucker’s world revolves around connecting people to biodiversity via its best ambassadors: birds. He has done so in cities from his native New York to Nanjing, where people are often surprised to discover the scope of their local avifauna. For his dissertation research, Jacob is using remote sensing techniques to understand how birds migrate in tropical climates, and identify key migratory corridors to prioritize for conservation. He is conducting this work in Barrancabermeja and Bogotá, Colombia, hoping to fill fundamental knowledge gaps about how many species that fill Chicago’s streets in the boreal spring and fall reach their winter destinations.
Jacob is currently a third year PhD student in the University of Chicago’s Committee on Evolutionary Biology. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree at Hampshire College. For over a decade he has conducted fieldwork and outreach for various state agencies, non-profits, universities, and commercial tour companies.
History and Art History
Edward Johnson is a doctoral student in the Departments of History and Art History at the University of Chicago. His research primarily revolves around the themes of urbanism, architecture, and sound in the cities of late Medieval and Renaissance Italy. In essence, he is concerned with exploring the dynamic relationship between sound, space, and architecture and examining their role in the construction of premodern urban societies. Before arriving in Chicago, Edward obtained BA and MA degrees from King’s College, London.
Comparative Human Development
Zihao Lin is a doctoral student in the Department of Comparative Human Development at the University of Chicago. He is interested in critical disability studies, anthropology of infrastructure and design, and post-socialist China. Following ethnographically the professional, activist, everyday practices and enactments of “barrier-free” visions in contemporary China, Zihao’s research provides a vantage point to critically reflect on why, in cities, access and accessibility are not an individual state of affairs but an ongoing project calling for negotiation and questioning. Zihao holds a MA in Media and Political Communication at Freie Universitaet Berlin, Germany, and a BA in Communication at Sun Yat-Sen University, China.
Alex Shams is a PhD candidate in Sociocultural Anthropology at the University of Chicago. His dissertation examines the role of religion in public life by exploring the politics of sacred space, urban heritage, and transnational identity in the contemporary Middle East. Drawing on three years of ethnographic and archival research, his work examines the contemporary history and governance of Islamic holy sites and the cities around them in Iran and Iraq. Shams holds a master’s degree in Middle Eastern Studies from Harvard University and a BA from the University of Southern California in International Relations. He is a founder of Ajam Media Collective (ajammc.com), an online platform focused on culture and society in Iran and Central Asia.
Natalie Smith is a doctoral candidate in the Department of History at the University of Chicago. Her research focuses on the social and environmental effects of industrial pollution in urban environments, with a particular emphasis on the port cities of the modern Mediterranean. She is interested in questions of urban governance, inequality, and the forms of protest and resistance that have historically accompanied industrial proliferation. Using a combination of archival research and digital mapping methods, her dissertation examines the role that industrial pollution played in shaping the built environment of nineteenth-century Marseille. Before coming to the University of Chicago, Natalie received an MA in Global history from Georgetown University and a BA in Political Science from Duke University.
Stephanie Ternullo is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Sociology. She specializes in political and urban sociology, with a particular focus on how place matters for political outcomes. Her dissertation examines this through an interview- and ethnographic-based study of three Midwestern communities during the 2020 presidential cycle. Ternullo has received funding for this research from the National Science Foundation and the Social Science Research Council. She also has an article forthcoming in the Journal of Politics on social welfare policy and voter turnout during the New Deal. She obtained an MPhil in Economic and Social History from Cambridge University and a BA in Economics from Amherst College.
Jose Eos Trinidad
Sociology and Comparative Human Development
Jose Eos Trinidad is pursuing a joint PhD in Sociology and Comparative Human Development at the University of Chicago. His research brings together insights from organizational sociology, educational policy, and quantitative methods. Substantively, he investigates how schools organize data and how data organize schools–with broader theoretical applications to public institutions and private organizations. His research has been published in more than 20 journals including Social Science and Medicine, International Journal of Educational Development, and Studies in Educational Evaluation. He is author of two books on research methods, one of which won the Philippine National Book Award. Originally from the Philippines, he obtained his bachelor’s degree summa cum laude from the Ateneo de Manila University, and master’s degree in social sciences at the University of Chicago.