The Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study Announces its 2023-2024 Class of Distinguished Graduate Fellows

The Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study (NDIAS) has selected five Notre Dame Ph.D. Students for its Distinguished Graduate Fellowship Program. After a competitive application and interview process, these students were selected on the basis of their research profile, commitment to interdisciplinary engagement and community participation, and fit with the NDIAS research theme for the 2023-2024 academic term, The Long Run.

“This is our fourth cohort of Distinguished Ph.D. fellows at the NDIAS, and once again our selection board was blown away by the talent of our candidates,” said Meghan Sullivan, Director of the NDIAS and the Wilsey Family College Professor of Philosophy. "These fellows stand out for their academic excellence, research creativity, ethical vision, and commitment to engaging people far beyond their discipline. They join our group of faculty fellows with a similar ethos, and we can’t wait to welcome them to our program.”

The 2023-2024 Distinguished Graduate Fellows are:

  • Makella Brems, Department of Political Science, “Restoring Glaucus: The Nature of Freedom and the Freedom of Nature”
  • Sara Chan, Department of Philosophy, “Disability, Testimony, and Love”
  • Jaylexia Clark, Department of Sociology, “Racing Towards Global Racial Capitalism: An Investigation of How Racial and Gender Inequality is Reproduced in the Platform and Gig Economy”
  • Henry Downes, Department of Economics, “American Labor at its Peak: What Did Unions Do?”
  • Jacob Swisher, Department of History, “Precious Things: A Planetary History of an Early American Borderland”

The graduate fellows will spend the year making progress on their dissertation projects, all of which illuminate some aspect of The Long Run. As part of an interdisciplinary cohort, the graduate fellows will gain exposure to the ways that other disciplines approach questions that are central to their own research.

Graduate fellows receive financial support for their dissertation research in the form of a $39,000 stipend and a $1,000 research fund.

In joining the larger NDIAS community, graduate fellows take part in a roster of activities designed to facilitate their scholarly and professional development. NDIAS programming includes annual presentation and writing retreats, weekly research seminars, a conference, and public events, which have included theatrical performances, book talks, and a film series based on the yearly research theme.

Graduate fellows also participate in a weekly graduate seminar, allowing them to workshop their own research in a supportive community and receive training for the job market and academic careers. As a cohort, the graduate fellows will participate in an off-campus, two-day retreat on “Research and the Common Good,” organized by the NDIAS.

Now in its fourth year, the Distinguished Graduate Fellowship Program is made possible with support from Michael Wilsey (’65), who helped fund the pilot program for Ph.D. students in the College of Arts and Letters.

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

Jeff Tolly / Assistant Director of Educational Initiatives
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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