Meet the first cohort of Dean's Distinguished Graduate Fellows

Seven outstanding new graduate students have been selected as the first Dean's Distinguished Graduate Fellows.

The new Dean's Distinguished Graduate Fellowship in Arts & Sciences recognizes incoming doctoral and master’s of fine arts students for exceptional academic distinction and a demonstrated interest in advancing the public good and contributing to the university community's diversity and vitality.

Within seven different graduate programs, this year's fellows will be pursuing research on identity and trauma in clinical psychology, delving into social movements and race, exploring intersectionality among artistic networks, studying the sounds of sporting venues, applying computational methods to understand Latin American voting behaviors, linking ethics to ways of knowing, and pushing the poetic imagination.

"We are thrilled to welcome this first cohort of fellows to campus," said William Acree, associate vice dean of graduate education. "They are pursuing field-defining research, pushing the frontiers of creativity and helping to build a vibrant cross-disciplinary community of fellows that will continue to grow. As part of Dean Hu's vision for the decade of Arts & Sciences, this new program exemplifies one of the many ways we are achieving excellence in graduate education."

The fellowship provides each student $8,000, in addition to Arts & Sciences fellowships or research assistantships, for each year of funding support the student receives at WashU. The fellows also engage in various professional development opportunities, community-building programs, and opportunities to connect with fellows from other university programs, such as the Olin and Chancellor's fellowships. 

"We are so pleased these stellar students have joined our community. Our goal is to help them excel in their scholarship while also developing various professional and personal skill sets," said Sophia Hayes, vice dean of graduate education in Arts & Sciences. "In helping to nurture their strengths, we hope to ultimately make a difference for the communities they wish to serve.”

Congratulations and welcome to the first cohort of Dean's Distinguished Graduate Fellows:

SynClaire Arthur, Psychological & Brain Sciences

Arthur's personal life experiences and work experiences, particularly those working with high school youth as a counselor, inform her interest in using political education and culturally relevant interventions in educational spaces. Her research will focus on the impact of these interventions on students' engagement and identity in schools, as well as their response to trauma. SynClaire completed her bachelor's and master's degrees in psychology at Temple University and Florida A&M University, respectively. She is originally from Vineland, New Jersey.




Zain Baweja, Creative Writing

Baweja is a queer poet from Karachi, Pakistan, whose writing practice is influenced by 18th-century Urdu poetics and their grandmother's stories. They graduated with a bachelor’s in English Language and Literature from the University of Oxford, and their poems have appeared in The Oxford Review of Books, The Aleph Review, and AGNI magazine.




Alexandra Cunningham, Philosophy

Cunningham's research focuses on questions within social and traditional epistemology, particularly those that lie at the intersection of epistemology and ethics. Cunningham's most recent thesis investigated what, if anything, generates our standing to epistemically blame others. Originally from New Brunswick, Canada, Cunningham earned a master’s in philosophy from the University of Calgary and a bachelor’s with double honors in philosophy and great books from St. Thomas University.




Brooke Eastman, Art History and Archaeology

Eastman focuses on American art and transatlantic modernisms. In her research, she plans to examine the role of intersectionality on networks of artistic exchange in the 1920s and '30s. Prior to coming to WashU, Eastman was a freelance curatorial assistant and researcher in London, most recently working on the renovation and reopening of Leighton House Museum, the historic home of Victorian artist Sir Frederic Leighton. She holds a bachelor’s in history of art from Yale University, where she was awarded the A. Conger Goodyear Prize for Outstanding Senior Thesis, and a master’s in history of art from The Courtauld Institute of Art, where she wrote her dissertation on Jazz Age painter and poet Florine Stettheimer's relationship to the construction of American cultural heritage. 




Bryce Noe, Musicology

As an athlete and sound studies researcher, Noe is passionate about examining sporting spaces and events as sites whereby knowledge — both semantic and embodied — is transmitted sonically. Additionally, he has written extensively on how athletes, particularly freestyle skateboarders, choreograph their maneuvers to music during contests and the (sub)cultural and gender politics embedded within these choreographies. Noe earned a bachelor’s in music and psychology at Hobart and William Smith Colleges and a master of music degree in musicology at the University of Miami. At WashU, he will also be pursuing a graduate certificate in American Culture Studies.




Leticia Oliveira, Political Science

Oliveira's main interests are political computational methods and voter behavior in Latin America. She previously worked as a researcher for the Butantan Foundation and Solidarity Research Network, investigating the social distancing policies in Brazil and how they could be applied to contain the spread of Sars-Cov-2. Originally from Brazil, Oliveira graduated with her master’s in political science from the University of Sao Paulo.




Antonia Roach, Sociology

Roach plans to pursue sociology research in the areas of social movements and race.

She completed her bachelor’s in psychological sciences at Purdue University and then earned a master’s in higher postsecondary education at Syracuse University. After obtaining her master's, she returned to Purdue to work at the Honors College on diversity, equity, and inclusion as well as leadership initiatives. While at Syracuse, the presence of ongoing student protests in response to race-based incidents on campus deepened her study into social movements and the factors that cause them to persist or wane. She also developed an interest in veganism as a social movement. Roach is originally from Easton, Pennsylvania.