IIT Fellows

2017-2018 Fellows

Interdisciplinary Inquiry and Teaching (IIT) Fellows

Tashal BrownTashal Brown is a third year doctoral student in Curriculum, Instruction, and Teacher Education. As a teacher educator and former NYC public school teacher, Tashal is committed to exploring the role of power, identity and privilege in social institutions as well as fostering the development of educational spaces with an increased capacity for innovative, critical and collaborative teaching and learning. Her research examines epistemic and ontological concerns regarding what knowledge(s) and ways of being are valued and embodied in the culture, curriculum and instructional practices within urban schools as well as predominately white educational institutions. More specifically, Tashal seeks to center the narratives of teachers and students of color by illuminating how personal and external perceptions of their ways of being and knowing impact their experiences within educational institutions.

Annabelle EsteraAnnabelle Estera is a third year doctoral student in the Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education program within the Department of Educational Administration. Her interests include understanding discourses of diversity and multiculturalism, and teaching and learning particularly in regards to women of color. She also interested in curriculum issues and critical pedagogy within interdisciplinary spaces. She received her Master’s degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs from Ohio State University and her Bachelor’s degree in Music in Contemporary American Society from the University of Rochester. Outside of the university, Annabelle enjoys playing music, going to arts performances, and spending time with family.

Tara MockTara Mock is a fourth year doctoral candidate in African American and African Studies at Michigan State University (MSU). Her dissertation, entitled "Manufacturing Sameness: Continuities and Expansions of Community Identity in Afro-Chinese Relations", explores cultural identity and community formation through the lens of Chinese nation branding in Africa. Prior to MSU, Tara received a MALD in International Relations from the Fletcher School at Tufts University and studied International Business at the HEC School of Management in Jouy-en-Josas, France. Her areas of research interest include Afro-Chinese relations, cultural political economy, and globalization in Africa.

Sudha SankarSudha Sankar is a doctoral candidate in the department of Human Development and Family Studies, specializing in Couple and Family Therapy (CFT). Her academic interests are in the prevention of relationship and sexual violence in South Asian communities and in mental health services for those who have experienced intimate partner or sexual violence. Her dissertation work is focused on maternal socialization of South Asian women around relationship and sexual health. Sudha has set up and served as the Coordinator for the Interpersonal Conflict and Violence Initiative housed within the CFT Clinic at MSU.

As an educator, Sudha is interested in exploring the application of concepts and approaches of translational science with classroom as community, classroom technology and peer supported learning, towards propelling shifts in the culture of violence, particularly on college campuses. For her fellowship, Sudha is conducting a two phase project aimed at developing guidelines for teaching courses on relationship and sexual violence on college campuses. Sudha holds a Master’s degree in Psychology from Pittsburg State University in Kansas and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Madras in India.

Erin SchaeferErin Schaefer is a third year doctoral student in the Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures department. She is interested in studying narratives about emotions and the mind, both in popular culture and in the fields of psychology and neuroscience. Through interdisciplinary work, she seeks to dissolve several binaries, including mind-body, brain-culture, and emotion-logic. Erin has challenged these binaries in her teaching by integrating discussions of the brain’s plasticity along and mindfulness practices as a way of shifting students’ understanding of their own agency as writers, learners, and citizens. In addition to examining problems of agency, she is interested in exploring what these interdisciplinary conversations might mean in terms of problems of prejudice. With an emphasis in digital rhetoric and professional writing, she examines how digital tools, including neurofeedback, can support students’ examination of prejudicial narratives. In her spare time, Erin enjoys being in nature, exploring music, watching movies, playing sports (e.g., volleyball, tennis, bowling, softball, and ping-pong), playing games (board and "classic" nintendo systems), and taking too many pictures of her cats.

Heather Noel TurnerHeather Noel Turner is a PhD candidate in the Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures department. Her research interests include visual/digital rhetoric, social justice, and pedagogy. Her current research focuses on culturally inclusive technology practices in design, communication, and pedagogy. Outside of the university, you can find her staring at one screen or another. She likes tweeting the gifs she makes, obsessively following pop culture, and watching Netflix with her cats.

Vivek VellankiVivek Vellanki is a doctoral student in the Curriculum, Instruction, and Teacher Education program, Michigan State University. His research interests revolve around transnational identities, South Asian diaspora, and cultural studies. His current work considers the affective and creative affordances of photography in exploring youth identity, culture, and experiences. In his research and teaching, Vivek is driven by a desire to explore diverse forms of writing, reading, and experiencing. He is currently involved in producing two podcasts that aim to make educational research conversational and accessible. Twitter: @vellankiv | Email: vellank1@msu.edu