Graduate Student Committee

Since 2015, LASC has invited a committee of graduate students to co-organize an annual conference. The committee, a group of graduate students from many different departments, gets together to decide the theme of the conference. From this, the group organizes the entire event. The formulation of the call for papers, developments of workshops, creation of conference program, invitation of keynote speakers, and all the details that involve the structuring of a conference are the responsibility of the graduate student committee. It is a valuable opportunity for students to be in contact with different scholars and to get experience in planning events. For more information contact us at

Nohely Alvarez

Alvarez, Nohely
PhD Student
Urban Planning, School of Architecture and Planning Department
Nohely Alvarez is a Ph.D. Student in Urban Planning at the School of Architecture and Planning. Her focus and interests include the intersection of immigrant communities, transnational planning, participatory community building, social justice, gentrification, and equity development. She is particularly interested in advocacy and radical planning pedagogy in her field and thinking of ways the gap between practice and academia in planning can be improved. In her spare time, she likes learning about other cities, creating maps for side gigs, cooking, and playing with Son Cosita Seria (a DC-based Jarocho collective group).

Keisha Allan

Allan, Keisha
PhD Student
Comparative Literature Department
My name is Keisha Allan and I am a native of Trinidad and Tobago. I am currently a fifth year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Comparative Literature and my broad area of interest is twentieth-century Caribbean literature. Within this field, I examine Caribbean literature by women of English, Spanish and French expression who deal extensively with the rewriting of the homeland to imagine ways to overcome social and patriarchal repression. My research seeks to investigate the ways in which normative constructions of the homeland are problematized and contested by Caribbean women writers of the late twentieth century.

Jonathan Brower

Brower, Jonathan
PhD Candidate
Department of History
Jonathan Brower is a doctoral candidate in the History Department. He graduated from the Johns Hopkins University in 2010 with a BA in History and Near Eastern Studies. At the University of Maryland, Jonathan studies the French Revolution, with an emphasis on questions relating to religion, identity and the nation during the Terror. His dissertation argues that the cultural and religious policies of the Terror were actually part of a larger project of nation-building during the French Revolution. Besides his dissertation topic, Jonathan is also interested in questions relating to the transnational experience of revolution in the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries. Finally, both within and outside academia, Jonathan is passionate about community organizing and labor rights.

Lissette Escariz Ferrá

Escariz Ferrá, Lissette
PhD Student
English Department
Lissette Escariz Ferrá is an English PhD student at the University of Pittsburgh focusing on Latinx, Caribbean, and Postcolonial literature. She was born and raised in La Habana Del Este, Cuba and has lived most of her time abroad in Miami, FL. In the Spring of 2018 Lissette graduated with a Master's in English from the University of Maryland, where she made LASC her home away from the Caribbean. She was LASC's 2018 Queer/Cuir Americas main conference artist and will once again take on the role for the center’s 2019 Huracán, Tormenta, Storm conference. Aside from her research and other graduate work, Lissette enjoys dancing Cuban salsa, painting watercolors, taking pictures, and spending time by the sea.

Sergio Garcia

García Mejía, Sergio.
MSc Student
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Sergio Garcia is a Fulbright Scholar from Guatemala. He graduated from Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala with a BA in Civil Engineering. He is currently pursuing a Water Resources MSc degree at the University of Maryland, College Park, and is part of the Center for Disaster Resilience at the A. James Clark School of Engineering. His research focuses on improving the comprehension of risk to natural hazards in Guatemala. Sergio has significant experience working in municipal planning in both rural and semi-rural environments in Guatemala. He has also assisted in developing educational projects near Guatemala City's garbage dump and is currently working to design and build a new community development and educational program in the same area. Sergio has also played in several musical groups and participated in various non-profit music projects.

Sabrina Gonzalez

Gonzalez, Sabrina
PhD Student
Department of History
Sabrina González is a PhD candidate in the Department of History. She graduated from Universidad Nacional de La Matanza, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, with a BA in social communication. Her dissertation entitled: “Schools as Laboratories: Science, Children’s Bodies, and School Reformers in the Making of Modern Argentina (1880-1930)” studies the historical processes by which schoolteachers in South America used education as a tool for emancipation and built a transnational school reform movement that both challenged and contributed to children’s disciplining. In Argentina, she has taught multiple classes at public universities, high schools, and alternative schools for adults. Since 2006, she has been working with social movements as a communicator, educator, and student and labor organizer. At UMD, she tried to bring her previous activism to engage with the Latin American and Latinx community on campus. As an advocate for community building and collective action she co-founded the Latin American Studies Center Writing Group and the LASC Graduate Student Collective, and she served as the co-president of the History Graduate Student Association (2018-2019). After working as a GA for LASC in 2015-2019, Sabrina is excited to come back to LASC offices as a Graduate Resident and keep contributing to the center’s interdisciplinary mission and community building.

Victor Hernandez-Sang

Hernandez-Sang, Victor
PhD Candidate
School of Music, Ethnomusicology
Víctor is a PhD candidate in ethnomusicology originally from the Dominican Republic. His doctoral project examines the performance of gaga (Haitian-Dominican music and dance) and issues of race, immigration, and racial discrimination in the Dominican Republic. At the University of Maryland, he also completed his MA with a thesis focused on the performance of palos music in fiestas de misterios in the Dominican Republic. Before coming to UMD, he received his BA from Luther College, Decorah, IA in music (flute performance) and taught flute, ear training, and English in his hometown, Santiago. Victor has contributed to the LASC annual student conference since 2016 as a presenter and member of the organizing committee.

Marco Polo Juarez Cruz

Juarez Cruz, Marco Polo
PhD Student
School of Music, Ethnomusicology
Marco Polo Juarez Cruz is a Ph.D. student in the Art History program at the University of Maryland College Park. He is studying the emergence and consolidation of abstraction in the distinct artistic groups across the Americas, and its relationship with cultural policies, museums, literature, and religion. Marco Polo received his BA in Architecture and his master’s degree in Art History, both from UNAM. He has collaborated in research projects of the Museo de Arte Moderno and the Instituto de Investigaciones Esteticas. Before enrolling at UMD, he was the Head of the Exhibitions Department in the Museo Nacional de Culturas Populares and participated in curatorial projects for the Fonart, in Mexico City.

Rod Martinez

Martinez, Rod
PhD Candidate
Sociology Department
Rod Martinez is a doctoral student in the Department of Sociology where his work examines the U.S. Carceral State, Race, Gender (Masculinities), and Political Sociology. Specifically, his research examines the political consequences and responses to the U.S. carceral state for individuals, families, and communities. He follows two major streams of research using mixed methods. First, he examines incarceration as both a form of repression and a mobilizing factor in social movement participation. His first project looks at how Latinx carceral proximity influences participation in Black Social Movements. Second, Rod examines civic engagement among formerly incarcerated men in Washington D.C.

Danielle LaPlace

LaPlace, Danielle
Ph.D Student
Women’s Studies Department
Danielle is a second -year student in the Women’s Studies, Ph.D program. Born and raised in St. Kitts and Nevis, Danielle moved to North Carolina to continue her studies, receiving a BA in French and a BA in International Studies from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 2010. She was then granted an Endeavor Award by the Australian government and pursued a Master of Development Practice at the University of Queensland. She then returned to St. Kitts and Nevis, serving briefly as the Executive Officer in the Department of Gender Affairs where she had the opportunity to represent the country at the 2016 European Union-Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (EU-CELAC) Gender Equality and Women’s Economic Empowerment Seminar in Brussels, Belgium. She recently completed an MA in Women's and Gender Studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) and her current work investigates public health and notions of racialized contagion.

Ana Nadalini Mendes

Mendes, Ana Nadalini
PhD Student
History Department, Upenn
Ana Mendes received her first MA in History from the Universidade Federal do Paraná - Brazil in 2009 when she dedicated herself to the study of sacred food in the Afro-Brazilian religion Candomblé. She received her second MA from the University of Maryland in 2020, where she developed research on liberated African women in Rio de Janeiro analysing the intersections aomg freedom, resistance, and domestic service. She started her PhD program at University of Pennsylvania in 2020 where she intends to expand her research on gender and liberated Africans.

Ofelia Montelongo

Montelongo, Ofelia
MA Student
History Department
Ofelia Montelongo, a Mexican bilingual writer, has published her work in Latino Book Review, Los Acentos Review, Rio Grande Review, and elsewhere. She received a BA in accounting and finance, an MBA, and a BA in English and Creative Writing. Ofelia was the 2019 Writer’s Center Undiscovered Voices Fellow and the PEN America New Voices Fellow for the Emerging Writers Festival. She earned a MA in Latin American literature in 2020.

Kristofer Jon Reed

Reed, Kristofer Jon
PhD Candidate
English Department
Kris Reed is working on a dissertation entitled, "Animal Nation: Species, Transnationalism, and Nineteenth-Century US American Fiction." Kris has taught courses in literature, including US Latinx literature, and in writing and rhetoric. In addition to Latin America, animality, and the US nineteenth century, Kris is always eager to hear about and talk about egalitarian pedagogies, queer identity, and drag performance (stan of Alexis Mateo and Trixie Mattel).

Néstor Romero Chavarría

Romero Chavarría, Néstor
PhD Student
Electrical Engineering Department
Néstor is a Fulbright Scholar from Bolivia. He graduated from Universidad Mayor de San Andrés (La Paz, Bolivia) with a BEng in Electrical Engineering and a minor in Telecommunications. At the University of Maryland, College Park he is currently pursuing a Cybersecurity MEng degree, as part of his transition from hardware to software, and is part of the Graduate Student Government advocating for students in cybersecurity, engineering and those with an international background. Nestor has previous work experience contributing to projects for public and private institutions in Bolivia with the particular motivation of making education available to Bolivian residents in rural areas through the access to software and technology-oriented solutions. Nestor is passionate about languages, both programming and natural, and is currently an avid student of French, Italian, Russian and Japanese.

Nancy Vera

Vera, Nancy
Ph.D Candidate
Comparative Literature Department
Nancy Vera is a Ph.D. Candidate in Comparative Literature at the University of Maryland, College Park. Her research focuses on Afro-Mexican folklore on both sides of the U.S/Mexican border. She examines how the Afro-Mexican trickster figure Uncle Rabbit has recently transformed into a border crosser figure that disrupts settler colonial narratives.

Mariángel Villalobos

Villalobos, Mariángel
Ph.D Student
Ethnomusicology Department
Mariángel Villalobos is a PhD student in Ethnomusicology at the University of Maryland and is originally from San José, Costa Rica. Her current research project is dedicated to the music of the Central American community of the Washington D.C. metro area, with a special focus on music and national identity among Salvadorans. In support of her doctoral research, Villalobos was awarded the 2018 Blanton Owen award by the American Folklife Center to document various festivals in Maryland that celebrate the independence of the isthmus, which resulted in brown bag presentations at Smithsonian Institution, Library of Congress, and a photography presentation at the Salvadoran Consulate through Casa de la Cultura El Salvador. Besides her doctoral work, she has been an intern with the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage at the Smithsonian, working for the Catalan program of the Folklife Festival and the 2017-2018 Mother Tongue Film Festival.