Predoctoral Fellowships

The University of Pennsylvania is pleased to invite applications for the 2020-21 Predoctoral Fellowships for Excellence through Diversity. These awards are designed to provide mentorship and access to Penn’s resources for doctoral students in the humanities or social sciences, enrolled in graduate or professional programs at universities other than Penn, as they complete their dissertations. The Fellowships are intended to support scholars from a wide range of backgrounds, who can contribute to the diversity of Penn and the higher education community.

 These residential Fellowships support graduate students in the final stages of dissertation research or writing at Penn for an academic year, normally September through August. They offer an opportunity for scholars who plan an academic career to take advantage of Penn programs and faculty expertise and afford access to libraries and the resources of the Philadelphia region. Each scholar will be selected and hosted by a department or school and assigned a faculty mentor. Recipients will be in the stage of either advanced dissertation research or writing.

The Fellowship provides a stipend of $36,000, health insurance, library privileges, and a $4,000 research and travel fund.  Moving expenses, up to $4,000, are also covered. The application deadline is December 16, 2019.

This year, up to five Fellowships will be awarded.


Candidates for the fellowship must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, enrolled in a PhD program in the humanities or social sciences at an accredited university graduate or professional school other than Penn. Candidates must have passed any PhD qualifying examinations and be in an advanced stage of research and writing on an approved dissertation topic. Candidates must be students of exceptional academic merit, who also belong to a group underrepresented in higher education; come from a socially, culturally, or educationally disadvantaged background or have faced other significant personal obstacles; and/or pursue academic research on cultural, societal, or educational problems as they affect disadvantaged or underrepresented sectors of society.


Applicants should submit:

  • A 2-3 page double-spaced personal statement describing the applicant’s dissertation project, and providing any other information the applicant would like to present. The statement should address:
    • the dissertation’s aims, methodologies (how the student will conduct the research), originality, and contribution to its field, and
    • how the student and/or the dissertation contributes to understandings of diversity and inclusion.
  • Two letters of recommendation, signed and on official letter head. One must come from the dissertation advisor, commenting on the student’s performance, potential, and expected time to degree. At least one of the letters must address the applicant’s contribution to diversity in higher education.
  • Official graduate transcript(s).
  • Current curriculum vitae.

Applications will be accepted at  

Questions can be addressed to the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty at

Northwestern University
Dissertation: From the Cradle to the Grave: Tracing the Gendered and Sexual Consequences of Surveillance and Punishment in the Lives of Black Men

(Arts & Sciences)
Princeton University
Dissertation: Amazing Grief: The Politics of African American Mourning

(Arts & Sciences)
Duke University
Dissertation: Revolution in the Sheets: The Politics of Sexuality and Tolerance in the Mexican Left, 1971-2001

(Arts & Sciences)
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Dissertation: Politics of Composure: Performing Asian/American Femininities

University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Dissertation: Kneading our Daughters: Pedagogies of nation building and girls education in (Post)colonial Bahrain

(Annenberg School for Communication)
Northwestern University
Dissertation: Necessary Innovations: Local Computer Production in Brazil

(Arts & Sciences)
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Dissertation: Do Ethnic and Pan-Ethnic Appeals Mobilize Political Behavior?

(Social Policy & Practice)
City University of New York-Graduate Center
Dissertation: Contested Development of Skid Row: Property, Carcerality, and Abolition 1970s-2015

(Annenberg School for Communication)
University of California Los Angeles
Dissertation: Scratchin' and Survivin': Agency and Resilience in the Black Sitcoms of Tandem Productions (1972-1975)

(Arts & Sciences)
University of Chicago
Dissertation: Black, Brown, or Asian?: How Caribbean Indians Negotiate Identify in New York City

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business
Dissertation: Precarious work and workers in the gig economy

Harvard University, Sociology
Dissertation: Privilege and Punishment: Unequal Experiences of Criminal Justice

(Arts & Sciences)
Princeton University, Comparative Literature
Dissertation: Noise and Variations: Decolonizing Sound in Post-1945 Caribbean Literature and Music

(Arts & Sciences)
George Mason University, American History
Dissertation: Because the Night: Nightlife and Remaking the Gay Male World, 1970-2000

Prairie View A&M; University, Educational Leadership
Dissertation: Recruitment experiences of top tier African American student athletes who choose to attend Historically White Institutions (HWIs) instead of Historically Black Institutions (HBIs)

Mariana Giusti-Rodriguez
Government, Cornell University
Dissertation: From Social Cleavages to Party Systems: The Impact of Social Network Structures on Party Building Processes in the Andes

Sandy Placido
American Studies, Harvard University
Dissertation: A Global Vision: Dr. Ana Livia Cordero and the Puerto Rican Liberation Struggle: 1931-1992

Kaya Williams
Anthropology, University of Chicago
Dissertation: 'We Aspire to be Transformative': Maintaining and Alternative within American Criminal Justice

Allison Harris

Political Science, The University of Chicago

Dissertation: Who’s on the Bench? The Political Implications of Judicial Selection Methods


Dominick Rolle

English Language and Literature, Emory University

Dissertation: Properties of Confinement in African Diasporic Autobiographies (1896-1977)


Celeste T.V. Sharpe

History and Art History, George Mason University

Dissertation: They Need You! Disability, Visual Culture, and the Poster Child, 1945-1980

Darius Bost                       

American Studies             

Home School: University of Maryland, College Park

Dissertation: Without Witness: Racial Trauma and Contemporary Black Male Subjectivity  


Solange Bumbaugh                      

Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations

Home school: University of Chicago

Dissertation: Meroitic Worship of Isis as Seen through the Graffiti of the Dodecaschoenus


Francisco Ramos

Educational Studies

Home school: Indiana University, Bloomington    

Dissertation: Appropriating Policy, Practicing Identity: College Student Experiences of Intercultural Education in Veracruz, Mexico    

Courtney Carter, Graduate School of Education

Home School: The University of Illinois at Chicago

Dissertation: An Investigation of Diversity Initiatives in HBCUs Given Their Race-Specific Mission


Nahir Otaño Gracia, Comparative Literature, School of Arts and Sciences

Home School: University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Dissertation: Arthur's Heirs: Arthurian Texts in the Peripheries of Europe


Grace Sanders, Africana Studies, School of Arts and Sciences

Home School: University of Michigan

Dissertation: La Voix des Femmes: Haitian Women’s Rights, National Politics and Activism in Port-au-Prince and Montréal, 1934-1986