Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study and the Graduate School announce inaugural graduate fellowship class

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The Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study (NDIAS) and the Graduate School have selected 12 Notre Dame students for its NDIAS-Graduate School Ph.D. Fellowship Program. The 2020-2021 fellowship class, the first cohort of the newly formed program, is notable for its interdisciplinarity, with members representing a wide variety of departments on campus, including sociology, theology, history, engineering, English, computer science, and philosophy. 

“We are thrilled to partner with the Graduate School on this program,” said Meghan Sullivan, Director of the NDIAS and the Rev. John A. O’Brien Collegiate Professor of Philosophy. “Ph.D. students are a crucial part of research life here at Notre Dame. The inaugural cohort of NDIAS-Graduate School Ph.D. Fellows will bring a spirit of entrepreneurship, drive, and collaboration to our Institute community. They will have the chance to be mentored by a truly world-class group of faculty fellows and to provide mentorship to our undergraduate research fellows. We were so impressed with their dissertation projects and believe they’ll contribute unique insights during our Nature of Trust program.”

The NDIAS-Graduate School Ph.D. Fellowship Program aims to accelerate students' dissertations, develop their research communication skills, and cultivate professional and scholarly networks, all within the context of a vibrant and supportive intellectual community. Each graduate fellow is pursuing research on a topic related to the nature of trust, the organizing research theme of the NDIAS for 2020-2021.

"This opportunity to serve as fellows of the Institute will have a formative and foundational impact on these graduate students. They will learn to work in community, to adopt a multi-disciplinary perspective to a central idea, and to actively refine their scholarship in light of new ideas and conversations and insights," said Laura Carlson, Dean of the Graduate School and Vice President and Associate Provost. "These students will mature into incredible scholars through this experience, which will have long-lasting effects on their studies at Notre Dame and beyond."

The 2020-2021 NDIAS-Graduate School Ph.D. fellows are:

  • Melissa Coles, graduate student in the Department of History
  • J. Columcille (Colum) Dever, graduate student in the Department of Theology
  • Patrick Graff, graduate student in the Department of Sociology
  • Samuel Grieggs, graduate student in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering
  • Kristin Haas, graduate student in the Department of Theology
  • Ross Jensen, graduate student in the Department of Philosophy
  • Sara Judy, graduate student in the Department of English
  • Megan Levis, graduate student in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
  • Nicholas Roberts, graduate student in the Department of History
  • Emily Smith, graduate student in the Department of History
  • Dominique Vargas, graduate student in the Department of English
  • Luiz Vilaça, graduate student in the Department of Sociology

More information about the fellowship class can be found at

The graduate fellows will have access to research funding and faculty mentorship from NDIAS faculty fellows and participate in research communications training and skill-building workshops. They will also attend weekly research seminars co-led by Meghan Sullivan and Paul Blaschko, Assistant Director for Research and Outreach and chief organizer of the program for the NDIAS.

Designed and executed in partnership with Demetra Schoenig, Director of Academic Enhancements in the Graduate School, the fellowship program further develops efforts by the Graduate School to foster community and purpose among graduate students by giving fellows access to research boot camps, writing accountability groups, and professional and scholarly networking events.

Graduate fellows will also be integrated into the NDIAS’s wider programming on the nature of trust during 2020-2021, which includes research conferences co-sponsored by the Notre Dame Technology Ethics Center and the Cushwa Center and visits by science fiction writer Ted Chiang and National Book Award winner Susan Choi.

To learn more about the NDIAS-Graduate School Ph.D. Fellowship Program, please visit

The NDIAS convenes an interdisciplinary group of faculty fellows, top doctoral candidates, and undergraduate scholars to study questions that require a joint focus, benefit from sustained research and discussion, and advance our understanding on core issues that affect our ability to lead valuable, meaningful lives. To learn more, please visit

The Graduate School at Notre Dame attracts premier students to top degree programs where they pursue academic excellence augmented by outstanding professional development within a culture of vibrant well-being. By providing students with an environment that tells them you matter, it affirms their potential and orients them toward marshaling their research toward being a force for good. To learn more, please visit


Paul Blaschko / Assistant Director for Research and Outreach

Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study / University of Notre Dame / 574.631.4838 / @NotreDameIAS

About Notre Dame Research:

The University of Notre Dame is a private research and teaching university inspired by its Catholic mission. Located in South Bend, Indiana, its researchers are advancing human understanding through research, scholarship, education, and creative endeavor in order to be a repository for knowledge and a powerful means for doing good in the world. For more information, please see or @UNDResearch.

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