The University names its first President's Postdoctoral Fellowship Program cohort

The University names its first President's Postdoctoral Fellowship Program cohort

By Andy OberUniversity Communications
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Lisa Covington
Lisa Covington
Tania García-Piña
Tania García-Piña
Brittany Miles
Brittany Miles
Carlos Parra
Carlos Parra
Nahrain Rasho
Nahrain Rasho

The University has named the inaugural cohort for the  President's Postdoctoral Fellowship Program. The five fellows will take on topics ranging from what brown dwarfs can teach us about other planets to media representations of Black youth and the Latino community.

The program was started by the University of California in 1984 to provide postdoctoral scholars from a variety of backgrounds a pathway to pursue careers in academia.  The university expanded the program in 2011 to invite other institutions to participate. The University of Arizona joined in 2021.

"It's always a top priority for the University to attract world-class faculty to our institution," said Alex Robie Harris, senior project director in the Office of University Initiatives. "Joining this network means joining a program with a proven track record of achieving that result."

The program also aligns with the Arizona Advantage pillar of the University's strategic plan, which calls on the University to drive social, cultural and economic impact and reinforce its commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Anyone who has finished a terminal degree is eligible to apply for the fellowship. The University of Arizona's selection process involves gathering feedback from faculty experts in each applicant's field, as well as input from department heads, deans and senior leadership. President Robert C. Robbins makes the final selections.

"I am very proud the University has joined the President's Postdoctoral Fellowship network," Robbins said. "We have invested a great deal in creating pathways to success for our students. Taking the same kind of approach for talented scholars and scientists from diverse backgrounds to begin academic careers enriches our University community and upholds our values as an institution. I am looking forward to welcoming our first cohort to campus in the fall and to the impact they will have in their careers."

Fellows have a one-year appointment with an opportunity to renew for a second year. Each fellow is mentored by a tenured faculty member and provided with professional development and community building opportunities. The fellows will begin their work in Tucson this fall.

At the conclusion of their term, fellows who demonstrate excellent performance may be considered for tenure-track positions without having to go through a search process, since a nationally competitive search was already conducted for their fellowship appointment.

"That benefit will attract a lot of top talent and provide a clear pathway for these people to move into tenure-track roles," Robie Harris said.

New cohorts will be selected annually, with the University anticipating four to six fellows per year.

The members of this year's cohort are listed below. Their full bios can be found on the President's Postdoctoral Fellowship Program website.

Lisa Covington | Africana Studies Program and the Center for Digital Humanities

Covington, a doctoral candidate in sociology of education at the University of Iowa, researches media representation of Black youth. Her fellowship project will involve expanding her sociological research on Black girls in film and developing a digital database to serve as a public-facing platform for community members and scholars.

Tania García-Piña | Department of Spanish and Portuguese

García-Piña is completing her doctorate in Iberian and Latin American languages and cultures at the University of Texas at Austin. Her research encompasses Latin American literature, culture and ethnohistory, with a focus on intellectual production, identity and colonial politics. During her fellowship, she will revise and expand her dissertation into a book, "Writing a People: Indigenous Politics, Agency, and Identity in Huexotzingo."

Brittany Miles | Department of Astronomy/Steward Observatory

Miles, who is finishing her doctorate in astronomy and astrophysics at the University of California, Santa Cruz, researches mid-infrared observations of brown dwarfs – astronomical objects that share properties with both planets and stars. As part of her fellowship, Miles will study the coldest known brown dwarf to inspect possible water clouds and water vapor and analyze how such features may behave on gas giant exoplanets.

Carlos Parra | Department of History

Parra completed his doctorate in history at the University of Southern California, where he researched Latino cultural formation in metropolitan Los Angeles and throughout the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. Parra, who earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, will expand his research for a book project, "Televising Latinidad: Latino Los Angeles and the Rise of Spanish-Language TV in the United States, 1960-2010."

Nahrain Rasho | School of Government and Public Policy

Rasho, a doctoral candidate in political science at the University of California, Davis, studies ethnic conflicts with a goal of developing evidence-based policy recommendations that promote minority group inclusion in state institutions. During her fellowship, Rasho will explore the implications of the return of Iraqi Christian migrants on the autonomy rights of Christians in Iraq and produce policy evaluations and recommendations specific to Iraq, with the possibility that those results might also be relevant in settings including Syria, Afghanistan and Sudan.

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