Academic Diversity Fellows 2016-2018

Sophia Azeb

Sophia Azeb is a Postdoctoral and Faculty Fellow in the Gallatin School of Individualized Study. She earned her doctorate in American Studies & Ethnicity at the University of Southern California. Her research identifies historic articulations of blackness and black identity by diasporic writers, musicians, and artists based in Egypt, Algeria, and France during the height of the Third Worldist movement. Sophia’s dissertation, “Another Country: Black Americans, Arab Worlds, 1952-1979,” constructs a multilingual Afro-Arab cultural archive to analyze how the entangling of distinctive and varied experiences of blackness among Arab/African diasporic subjects fomented new and expansive articulations of blackness and the African diaspora across and through the boundaries of difference. Sophia often writes on the contemporary resonance of her research interests for the critical media blog Africa Is A Country, and her work on translational blackness in the Arab world has most recently appeared in the Chimurenga Chronic.  

Charlene Cruz-Cerdas

Charlene Cruz-Cerdas is an Assistant Professor/Faculty Fellow at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development in the Department of Administration, Leadership, and Technology. She obtained her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Pennsylvania in 2016. She holds a Master's degree in Sociology from the University of Pennsylvania and Bachelor's degrees in Political Science as well as Journalism & Media Studies from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Charlene is interested in understanding racial, gender, and class inequality in higher education by studying how college-educated millennials fare in the labor market. In “The Elusive Equalizer: How Racial and Gender Inequality Persists among College Educated Millennials,” she investigated earnings, the accumulation of student debt, and levels of financial stress among millennials. In “Taking Care of Our Own: Negotiating Marginalization in the Puerto Rican Community in Philadelphia,” she conducted a qualitative study looking at how a community-based organization negotiates political and economic marginalization in Philadelphia’s Puerto Rican community. Before coming to New York University, Charlene spent two years at Dartmouth College, first as the César Chávez Dissertation Fellow 2014-2015 in the Latin American, Latino and Caribbean Studies program and then as a Visiting Scholar 2015-2016. In addition, the University of Michigan’s National Center for Institutional Diversity named her Exemplary Diversity Scholar in 2015.

Jessica Jaiswal

Jessica Jaiswal is an Assistant Professor/Faculty Fellow in the Postdoctoral and Transition Program for Academic Diversity at NYU, as well as a REIDS Scholar-Visiting Fellow at Yale University. Jessica's current research, a mixed methods investigation, focuses on how medical and health-related mistrust may influence the ways in which young men who have sex with men (MSM) think about and make decisions regarding their sexual health, including the decision to use pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Prior to this study, she conducted a primarily qualitative investigation that explored disengagement from outpatient HIV care among low income people living with HIV (PLWH) of color, and the ideas commonly referred to as HIV-related “conspiracy beliefs.” Jessica received her Ph.D. from Columbia University, an MPH from Emory University Rollins School of Public Health, and a B.A. from the University of Michigan.

Proscovia Nabunya

Proscovia Nabunya is an Assistant Professor/Faculty Fellow at NYU’s Silver School of Social Work and McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research. Her primary research interests focus on three major areas of inquiry: 1) economic strengthening programming – efforts that enable individuals with limited financial and economic resources to acquire and accumulate long-term productive assets, for poor and vulnerable children and their families in developing countries, and how such programs impact children’s developmental outcomes, including social, economic, and well-being; 2) social capital and social support systems – both formal and informal sources available to poor and vulnerable children and their families; and 3) the intersection between economic strengthening, social support systems, and public health outcomes for poor and vulnerable children – including those affected by HIV and AIDS in developing countries. Her dissertation research examined a family-based economic strengthening intervention and non-kin support networks for children orphaned by HIV and AIDS living in low-resource communities in Uganda. She is currently working on a project that expands her line of inquiry to explore the intersection between economic strengthening, social capital and social support, and public health outcomes for poor and vulnerable children in developing countries, utilizing both quantitative and qualitative method approaches. Proscovia earned her B.A. from Makerere University, Uganda, a Master of Social Work (MSW) from Saint Louis University, Missouri, and a Ph.D. in Social Work from the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration.

Melissa Phruksachart

Melissa Phruksachart (prook-sa-shart) is an Assistant Professor/Faculty Fellow in the Department of Cinema Studies at the Tisch School of the Arts. She holds a Ph.D. in English from the CUNY Graduate Center and a B.A. with high honors from Swarthmore College. Her research focuses on economies of Asian racialized labor in American media industries. Her current project rethinks common claims about Asian American absence in U.S. media by using television as an archive to apprehend how racial knowledges about Asians and Asian Americans were produced after World War II and prior to the 1965 Immigration Act, a period in which both the television industry and Asian American communities rapidly established themselves in California. These counter-archives highlight the liminal, yet abundant, presence of Asian-raced bodies produced in the context of the civil rights movement, Cold War geopolitics, and the liberalization of U.S. immigration policies. At NYU, she is revising her dissertation, “Cherry Blossoms in Bryant Park: Mediating Asiatic Racialization on Cold War U.S. Television, 1957-1964,” into a book manuscript.