Each year, 15 Kenan Graduate Fellows are selected to be part of an interdisciplinary research community focused on significant normative questions. This year’s cohort comes from Ph.D. programs in five faculties/schools, and 10 different departments at Duke. They will meet throughout the year with the general aim of enhancing each other’s ability to contribute to debates involving ethical issues, and to do so in ways that engage scholars and others within, and especially outside, their own academic disciplines. Professor Wayne Norman, who directs the Graduate Fellows program, notes that “This year’s Fellows all face a double challenge. They were selected because they are each tackling timely – and often timeless – questions in their Ph.D. dissertations: political polarization, diversity and inclusion in higher education, religion and violence, global inequality, and sources of bias in moral reasoning from law to political science. But they are also trying to make sense of our world and their own career paths as we struggle to climb out of a global pandemic.”
Some students, from disciplines such as philosophy, political theory, or theology, focus directly on fundamental ethical or political concepts and theories. Other Fellows, from the sciences and social sciences, try to understand phenomena that are relevant to major, and often controversial, public-policy debates. Still others attempt to resolve debates in their areas of research that seem to be sustained by long-standing disagreements over both empirical claims and ethical or ideological commitments.
Read more about the Kenan Graduate Fellowship. Meet the Fellows
Jackson Adamah is a Ghanaian Th.D. student studying Theology and Ethics at Duke University Divinity School. His research engages questions regarding the morality of debt through dialogue with political and economic theology, anthropology of money, and the history of West African currency exchanges. Jackson received a B.Sc. in Geomatic Engineering from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (Ghana), an M.Div. from Campbell University, and a Th.M. from Duke.
Hunter Augeri is a 4th year Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of English at Duke University. His research explores the cultural shifts and experimental living practices of 20th-century America with a focus on the ideological and material formation of suburbia.
Devon Carter is a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in musicology who studies the history of the voice. His in-progress dissertation discusses developments in vocal technique and aesthetics in Europe from roughly 1825 to 1850, focusing on the history and invention of the voice as metaphor for the liberal political self, as well as shifting gender norms and expectations around new methods of vocalization in opera singing. Devon is a member of the Duke University Scholars Program (Graduate Consul '22-'23 academic year), a James B. Duke Fellow, and current President of the Music Graduate Student Association. Prior to coming to Duke, he studied music and comparative literature (with a focus in literary translation) at Brown University as an undergraduate. He also occasionally performs with Duke Opera Theater.
Devin Creed is a Ph.D. student in the History Department where he studies modern South Asia and the British Empire. His research interests include famine, food, and capitalism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. His dissertation examines ideologies and practices surrounding giving and nutrition in times of famine in North India and Bengal. He received a B.A. in Economics and English from Hillsdale College and an M.A. in History from Villanova University.
Gabriela Fernández-Miranda is a Ph.D. student in Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke. She works in the intersection of cognitive psychology, philosophy, and neuroscience to understand the relationship between memory and forgiveness. Gabriela is interested in disentangling this relationship by considering variables as severity of the moral transgression, closeness between victim and perpetrator, and cultural differences. She also works in other projects related to morality, using imagination to overcome negative experiences, and self-control. She earned a M.A. in Psychology from Universidad de los Andes and a B.A. from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana (Bogotá, Colombia).
Daniela Goya-Tocchetto is a Ph.D. Candidate in Management & Organizations at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University. She holds a B.A. and a M.S. in Economics from UFRGS (Brazil), a M.S. in Philosophy & Public Policy from the London School of Economics, and a Ph.D. in Philosophy from UFRGS (Brazil). Daniela previously worked as an adjunct professor at the College of Charleston, teaching courses in economics and political philosophy. She researches political biases and the psychology of socioeconomic inequality. Her main goal is to help provide a better understanding of the cognitive and motivated processes underlying the general acceptance of rising inequalities. Daniela’s work has been published in peer-reviewed academic journals such as Political Behavior, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, and Journal of Consumer Psychology; and in popular press outlets such as Behavioral Scientist and Politico.
Tayfun Gur is a 4th year Ph.D. student in Philosophy. He works primarily in ethics, with interests in the history of philosophy and comparative philosophy. His dissertation explores the role of narratives and storytelling in our ethical cultivation and in shaping how we think about normative issues, with particular emphasis on our conceptions of identity and the possibility of tragic ethical dilemmas.
Shih-Han (Sally) Huang is a Ph.D. candidate in Philosophy at Duke University. She works on ethics, aesthetics, and Chinese philosophy. Her dissertation explores how the Zhuangzi, an ancient Daoist text, can shed light on the question of how to live. More specifically, it finds motivations in the Zhuangzi for establishing the ideal of playfulness as an appealing alternative to the familiar pursuit of meaningfulness.
Jihyun Jeong is a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at Duke, studying normative political philosophy and political theory. Her dissertation aims to theorize the ethics of victimhood within the contexts of oppression. It argues that the most important questions about victimhood have been neglected in both political theory and political science. First, what must be our attitude about victimhood—of our own and of others? Second, how can victimhood be channeled to ameliorate oppression? Exploring these crucial questions, her dissertation argues that victims of oppression must accept their victimhood and that victimhood, if rightly conceptualized, can be a positive political resource for the victims’ resistance. Jihyun’s research interests also include hate speech, freedom of speech, and legal theory. Before coming to Duke, Jihyun earned her B.A. in English at Seoul National University, J.D. at Korea University, and worked as a Korean lawyer at the ILO (International Labour Organization) headquarters.
Botian Liu is a Ph.D. candidate in the philosophy department. He has a broad interest in philosophy while focusing on ethics and classical Chinese philosophy. His dissertation examines Aristotle and Confucians’ discussions on “how to become a better person” and whether following their advice helps us become one. Botian received a B.A. in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology, an M.A. in Liberal Studies from Duke, and an M.A. in philosophy from Georgia State University.
Warren Lowell is a 4th-year Ph.D. candidate in the joint-degree program in Sociology and Public Policy at Duke University. He researches how housing insecurity, gentrification, and homelessness are related to broader processes of racial inequality in the United States. His dissertation is on the recent growth of real estate investing in historic, Black neighborhoods in North Carolinian cities. In this project, he combines qualitative interviews with investors and residents with geospatial and statistical analysis of real estate transactions to tell the story of how investors have come to own an increasing share of property in Black neighborhoods and what the growing presence of investors in local housing markets means for the future of these neighborhoods and their original residents.
Miguel Martinez is a Ph.D. Candidate in Duke’s Political Science studying Race, Ethnicity, and Politics (REP) and Behavior and Identity broadly. His dissertation focuses on the role that racial ideologies play in forming the foundation for racial political attitudes and behaviors among Mexican immigrants in the U.S. Using a historical, comparative, and an ideological lens, Miguel hopes to show that Mexican immigrants hold a distinctive position in the American racial hierarchy where they can both be victims of discrimination but also perpetuators of it. Prior to arriving to Duke, Miguel graduated from Cornell University. He is a proud Mexican American and first-generation college student.
Leann Mclaren is a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at Duke University. Her research interests are in race in American politics, Black political behavior, immigration, and group identity. Her dissertation research explores how Black immigrant candidates navigate identity in political campaigns. Her other projects include mapping Black political behavior through social movements, and political participation. Her work has been supported by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (NSF-GRFP), among others. She received her B.A. from the University of Connecticut, as well as her M.A. in political science from Duke University.
Wan Ning Seah
Wan Ning Seah is a Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science at Duke University. Her research focuses on the relationship between religion and politics in the history of political thought. Her dissertation examines the case for toleration in contexts that extend beyond democracy, and the ways in which regime type shapes the practice and conception of toleration. Her recent work examines the concept of civil religion in Rousseau’s Social Contract and its normative implications for our understanding of toleration in democratic societies. Wan Ning received her B.A. from Middlebury College.
Allison Wattenbarger is a doctoral student at Duke Divinity School in Hebrew Bible/Old Testament with a secondary focus in Israel and Palestine Studies. Her research explores the relationship between the academic field of biblical studies and lived theology and politics in Israel and Palestine. Allison received a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.Div. from Duke Divinity School.