Graduate Student Fellows
Rana Abulbasal is a PhD student in the sociology and anthropology department, with a focus on social inequality. Her research interests include intersectional gender and racial inequalities in the workplace, and she hopes that her work will contribute to the Problem-Solving Sociology. Rana is an Arab-American immigrant, a wife, and a mother of two children. She has an international MBA from Portland State University in Oregon, and a bachelor's in management information systems from Balaq’ Applied University in Jordan.
Megan Hamilton is a scholar-activist of Anishinaabe and European ancestry, and citizen of the White Earth Nation. She is also a Ph.D. candidate in the department of Instructional Technology & Learning Sciences at Utah State University. Throughout her career, she has actively sought academic spaces where Indigenous perspectives and histories can be embraced in K-12 and post-secondary educational settings. Her scholarly work is at the intersection of social justice, education, and cultural competence.
Hay Pradell, BS (they/them), is a 2nd-year student in the Clinical/Counseling Psychology PhD Program. They are also a 2021-2022 Graduate Fellow for the USU Center for Intersectional Gender Studies & Research and member on the USUSA Graduate Student Council. Their research interest is in transgender mental health and identity, as well as documenting experiences at the intersection of multiple oppressed identities.
Hannah L. Stevens is a second-year PhD student in the Technical Communication & Rhetoric program at USU and current managing editor of the academic journal Technical Communication Quarterly. Her most recent research investigates the intersections of race, police violence, and public policy through an analysis of the law enforcement ‘Use of Force’ document, pinpointing areas for disruption to the cycle of oppression.
Elizabeth Grace Wong
Elizabeth Grace Wong (she/her) is a third year PhD student in Utah State University's Combined Clinical/Counselling Psychology Program, supervised by Dr. Renee V. Galliher. She is interested in identity development and multicultural psychology, and particularly how spiritual/religious LGBTQ+ BIPOC individuals experience a positive sense of self in the everyday. She is one of the founding members of the Graduate Students of Colour Association at USU.
Lili Yan is a Han Chinese from Southeastern China. Lili is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences. She has a background in English education and English language literature. Prior to joining USU, she taught English at the post-secondary level in Shanghai. Lili is broadly interested in research at the intersection of culture, technology, and learning. Her dissertation research focuses on understanding youth’s cultural awareness through creating (re)presentations of culture.
Dr. Brian Droubay
In 2021-2022, Dr. Brian Droubay will complete a manuscript centering on the relationship between sexual orientation, homophobic attitudes, and self-perceived pornography addiction. This research will explore how personal values impact interpretation of one’s sexual behaviors and, more specifically, how the World Health Organization’s new compulsive sexual behaviour disorder diagnosis might impact sexual minority individuals, particularly those residing in conservative, religious communities.
Dr. Ehsan Estiri
In his research, Dr. Ehsan Estiri employs methods and theories from cultural anthropology, history, religious studies, folkloristics, migration studies, media studies, and race and ethnicity. As a research fellow, Dr. Estiri will pursue an interdisciplinary project that explores how Iranian Americans perceive and construct their racial identity through seemingly trivial behaviors and narratives and how white Americans respond to this construct.
Dr. Oluwadamilola Opayemi
Dr. Oluwadamilola Opayemi is a Postdoctoral teaching fellow at Utah State University. Her area of research focus is stressful transitions, dyadic coping, and supportive communication. As a 2021 Research Fellow of the Center for Intersectional Gender Studies and Research at Utah State University, Oluwadamilola is currently exploring Queer parents’ experiences of pregnancy, perinatal loss, pregnancy after perinatal loss, and pre and postpartum depression, with interest in dyadic coping, social support, health, and relational wellbeing.
Dr. Adena Rivera-Dundas
As a Research Fellow, Dr. Adena Rivera-Dundas will examine how Black American scholars, poets, and novelists deploy personal archives to disrupt oppressive epistemologies. Her book project, Intimate Scholarship: Black Feminist Epistemology and the Contemporary Autobiographical Turn, investigates the ways in which contemporary writers use embodied experience as evidence to create intimacy with readers while simultaneously resisting easy, unearned access to Black subjectivities.
Dr. Elizabeth Vargis
Dr. Elizabeth Vargis is interested in increasing the diversity of the undergraduate engineering student population at Utah State. With support from the Center, Dr. Vargis will develop strategies and a pilot project to build an inclusive community for transfer students, focusing on undergraduate research opportunities and relationships with peers and faculty mentors.
Dr. Katherine N. Vela
Dr. Katherine N. Vela is an Assistant Professor for the School of Teacher Education and Leadership. She is located at the Eastern Campus in Price, UT. Her research interests include empowering students from underrepresented groups to pursue STEM pathways. As a Research Fellow, Dr. Vela will explore the impact of Virtual (Video) STEM Role Models on students’ STEM psychological dispositions, such as interest, self-efficacy, and identity compatibility.
Dr. Tao Zhang
Tao Zhang’s scholarly training is primarily focused on intercultural communication, postcolonial studies, autoethnography, and critical communication pedagogy. Her research inspiration is mostly situated in personal lived experiences, where culture, communication, identity, power, and history are intersectionally examined. Tao studies marginalized identity in global and transnational contexts with a focus on how power works through culture to impact personal experiences communicatively.
Chris Babits is a Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow in the Department of History at USU. Chris is an interdisciplinary scholar with specializations in the history of the modern United States, lived religion, gender and sexuality, and psychology. The Center’s teaching fellowship will support Chris’ efforts to develop a global and inclusive course on the history of modern psychology.
Dr. Beth Buyserie
As a Teaching Fellow, Dr. Beth Buyserie will design a graduate special topics course, ENGL 6890: Studies in Writing and Rhetoric, to focus on queer and antiracist pedagogies. While the course will highlight rhetoric and composition, portions of the class will examine queer and antiracist writing pedagogies across the disciplines; as such, students in any discipline are encouraged to enroll. The goal is for graduate students to apply their learning of queer and antiracist pedagogies to their own teaching.
Dr. Jennifer Givens
As a Teaching Fellow, Dr. Jennifer Givens will create an undergraduate Environmental Justice course for the Sociology program. Environmental justice is intersectional and interdisciplinary. The course will incorporate many of the Center’s curricular clusters topics such as gender, race, ethnicity, and Indigenous studies, global and transnational concerns, and science, technology, and the environment. Environmental justice incorporates not only fair and equitable outcomes but also meaningful involvement and participation.
Cree Taylor is a Lecturer in the Department of English who teaches writing, composition, and Ethnic Studies. Her research and pedagogical interests include Social Constructivism, Black Feminist Thought, Critical Race Theory and Pedagogy, and Pedagogies of Care. Professor Taylor will revise the ENGL 2640: Introduction to Ethnic Studies course by incorporating a more collaborative learning experience that helps students increase awareness of the historical inequities built into the structures of our nation and to motivate them to do something to change those structures in their spheres of influence.
Sarah Timmerman (she/her) teaches IGS 1010 and works in the Inclusion Center. Her teaching is student-centered, applying active-learning pedagogies, consistent formative assessment, and praxis to promote social justice and develop students’ critical analysis skills. As a Teaching Fellow, she will utilize both anti-racist and inclusive teaching pedagogies to further bring intersectionality to the center of the course. Her interests include feminist studies, critical race theory, queer theory, disability studies, fat activism, and autoethnography.
Dr. Rachel Turner
Rachel K. Turner, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the School of Teacher Education and Leadership at Utah State University Eastern in Price, UT. Rachel teaches pre-service teacher courses such as Social Studies Methods, Classroom Management and Introduction to Elementary Education. Her research interests include integrating curriculum, children’s picture books for teaching social studies and the marginalization of social studies in the elementary classroom.