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Current Fellows

Illinois Distinguished Postdoctoral Research Associates

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Gonzalo Campillo-Alvarado

Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Ph.D. in Chemistry, The University of Iowa

Gonzalo Campillo-Alvarad obtained his B.Sc. in Biopharmaceutical Chemistry at Universidad Veracruzana in Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico, spending one semester at the National University of Ireland, Galway doing research in the field of small-molecule crystallography. He later completed a M.Sc. in Chemistry with emphasis on supramolecular chemistry at Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Morelos, Mexico, as a fellow of the Mexican Council of Science and Technology (CONACyT). In 2020, he received his Ph.D. in Chemistry with emphasis on the development functional materials (e.g., pharmaceutics, materials for separation, photoactive solids) from the University of Iowa under the supervision of Prof. Leonard R. MacGillivray also as a CONACyT fellow. His current research in the group of Prof. Ying Diao (Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, UIUC) focuses on the understanding of dynamic properties in single crystals of organic semiconductors aiming to design the next-generation multifunctional electronics.

Gonzalo has received multiple recognitions and awards, including the A. Lynn Anderson Award for Research Excellence and the Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award (University of Iowa), the Paul R. Sharp Award (University of Missouri-Columbia) and the Young Scientist Award from the International Union of Crystallography (IUCr). He was also the co-chair of the 1st American-Mexican Symposium on Supramolecular Materials Design (2019, Iowa City). 

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Bronte Charette

Department of Chemistry
Ph.D. in Chemistry, University of California, Irvine

Bronte Charette obtained her B.Sc. in Chemistry from the University of Winnipeg in Canada where she began her research career in synthetic organometallic chemistry. She continued this work throughout her M.Sc. studies under the supervision of Prof. Jamie Ritch at the University of Manitoba. Bronte received her Ph.D. in Chemistry in 2021 from the University of California, Irvine as a Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Postgraduate Doctoral Fellow. Her doctoral work focused on thermodynamic and kinetic investigations for the proton-coupled electron transfer reactions of transition metal complexes bearing proton and redox noninnocent ligands under the supervision of Prof. Alan Heyduk. Over the course of her doctoral studies, Bronte received the UC Irvine Most Promising Future Faculty Award, the American Institute of Chemists Graduate Student Award and two Graduate Dissertation Fellowships. Her current research in the group of Prof. Lisa Olshansky focuses on synthesizing switchable transition metal complexes and measuring the thermodynamic and kinetic parameters dictating their reactivities for renewable energy conversion strategies.  

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Víctor H. Cervantes

Department of Psychology
Ph.D. in Mathematical and Computational Cognitive Science, Purdue University

Víctor H. Cervantes is a Colombian scholar and current Postdoctoral Research Associate for the Illinois DRIVE Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellowship and Visiting Scholars Program at the Psychology Department of the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. He holds an M.S. in Statistics from Universidad Nacional de Colombia, an M.S. in Psychology and an M.S. in Mathematics from Purdue University, and a Ph.D. in Mathematical and Computational Cognitive Science from Purdue University, which he started thanks to a Fulbright fellowship. His research focuses on the mathematical development of a probabilistic theory of contextuality, and mathematics and statistics applications to psychological modeling and educational assessment. 

Stewart M. Coles

Department of Communication
Ph.D. in Communications and Media, University of Michigan

Stewart M. Coles is an Illinois Distinguished Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Communication at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research examines how people develop their understanding of social issues related to identity. More specifically, he studies the way media depictions of social issues and marginalized groups evoke prejudice and stereotypes, shape and activate identity, and influence public opinion and political behavior. He is especially interested in the political effects of entertainment media and how audience attributes affect whether people consider entertainment media to be politically relevant.

Previously, Coles served for 10 years in the U.S. Marine Corps as a public affairs officer, and he has a background in public relations, advertising, and multimedia design.

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Kayla Nguyen

Department of Materials Science and Engineering
Ph.D. in Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Cornell University

Kayla Nguyen received her Ph.D. from Cornell University, where she won the Lemelson-MIT Student Prize for her contributions as a co-inventor of the Electron Microscope Pixel Array Detector. Kayla now focuses her time developing new electron microscopy techniques with an emphasis on imaging the smallest unit of magnetism – the electron spin. Although she is first a scientist, Kayla is extremely passionate about building more pathways for girls and young women in the STEM fields.

Headshot of Kimberly C. Ransom

Kimberly C. Ransom

Department of Education Policy, Organization & Leadership
Ph.D. in Educational Studies, University of Michigan

Dr. Kimberly C. Ransom is an interdisciplinary historian who studies the History of African American Education and the History of Childhood. Her research examines the oral histories and material objects of Black children who once attended segregated schools in the Deep South during the Jim Crow Era (1940-1969). As a public scholar and artist, Kimberly also uses her historical research to create public exhibits related to African American childhood in and around schools. In her most recent project, she has worked in partnership with her dissertation respondents to create a local museum in the sole remaining Rosenwald Schoolhouse in Pickens County, Alabama.

Dr. Ransom has received a number of fellowships and awards for her research and leadership including the 2019 NAEd Spencer Fellowship, the 2018 Rackham Public Scholarship Fellowship, the 2017 Rackham Public Scholarship Grant, the 2015 Jackson Scholar Award, the 2011 Chicago Community Trust Fellowship, the 2013 University of Chicago President’s Diversity Leadership Award, and the 2010 New York University Women of Color Policy Fellowship. She earned her Ph.D. in Educational Studies from the University of Michigan, M.A. from DePaul University, and a B.S. from Bradley University.

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Saima Siddiqui

Department of Materials Science and Engineering
Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering, Massachussetts Institute of Technology

Saima Siddiqui is a postdoctoral associate at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. After completing her Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from MIT in 2018, she spent nine months at Argonne National Laboratory as a postdoctoral researcher in Materials Science division. Her research focus is to explore novel physical phenomena of electron’s spin in quantum materials and implement them in building Boolean and non-Boolean devices for next generation energy-efficient computing. She received her Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from MIT in 2014 and completed her undergraduate studies in Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) in 2011. After her undergrad, she worked as a lecturer in the same department at BUET. During her Ph.D., she was involved in organizing Path of Professorship – a workshop for female graduate students and postdocs interested in career at academia. She has been selected as an EECS rising star in 2019.

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Stephanie Thurston

Department of Religion
Ph.D. in Religion and Society, Princeton Seminary

Dr. Thurston’s research and teaching interests include religion and politics, philosophical and theological social ethics, political theory, and political theology. She has taught and written on complicity and moral responsibility and is especially interested in moral and political questions concerning school segregation, policing and prisons, and migration.  Dr. Thurston recently completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship with the Program for Leadership & Character and the Divinity School at Wake Forest University. She received her B.A. in Religious Studies and Politics/International Relations from Scripps College and earned her M.A.R in Ethics from the Divinity School at Yale University. She completed her Ph.D. in the Religion and Society program at Princeton Seminary. Her dissertation, titled Making Citizens in a Credential Society: Identities, Values, and Practices at Brooklyn High, is an ethnographic study of moral and civic formation at a Title I public high school.

Past Fellows

Renee Harton – Department of Materials Science & Engineering

Headshot of Renee Harton

Renee Harton is an Illinois Distinguished Postdoctoral Scholar conducting research in the labs of Professor David Cahill and Professor Nadya Mason. She received her Bachelor of Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and her Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Michigan, both in the field of Physics. Her research area focuses primarily on studying the magnetization dynamics of intermetallic magnetic compounds in the fast and ultrafast regime using both Time-Domain Thermoreflectance and the Time-Resolved Magneto-Optic Kerr Effect.

Blair Smith – Department of Fine & Applied Arts / Krannert Art Museum

Headshot of Blair Smith

Blair Smith loves to rigorously play and make Black girl sounds, spaces, lands, planets, and galaxies with Black girls. Her artist-scholar-curator dreams and praxis emerge where Black girlhood as a creative and relation building life force with Black girls/women, Black feminist poetics, sound, and alternative modes of cultural work and production meet. Her work previously explored poetics and sound as practiced with Black girls and collective Saving Our Lives Hear Our Truths (SOLHOT), a space to envision Black girlhood and our world anew, locally and galaxy-wide.

The collective, music-making, love and poetics of nuanced and intergenerational relationships with Black girls and women are conceptual and creative obsessions of her work. Creative forms take shape in the curation of alternative Black girl centered spaces, DJ sets, sonic research, samples, beat and loop making, poetry, visual art and performance. 

Blair continues to expand understandings of Black girlhood with SOLHOT as a post doc fellow in art education with the Krannert Art Museum at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2019–21). Her curatorial and artistic praxis is focused on Black girl celebration, Black feminist poetics, sound art and design with Black girls locally and worldwide.

More about the Illinois Distinguished Postdoctoral Research Associates and Visiting Scholars Program.