2017-2018 Raymund Fellows

One of the most important indicators of the overall quality of a research university is its ability to produce new generations of scholars and researchers. The continued success of Oregon as a research university depends on our ability not only to enroll the world’s most promising PhD students, but our ability to enroll a significant number of these students in a wide range of academic fields. Raymund Fellows are selected from the most talented new students applying to selected PhD programs at the University of Oregon and represent the top PhD students across a broad academic spectrum. From biology, chemistry, and psychology to education, anthropology, philosophy, and accounting, Raymund Fellows will exemplify excellence and academic diversity.

Amy Turner

Amy graduated from St. Olaf College in 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Physics. During these years, she was a researcher at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, the University of Glasgow in Scotland and at her own college, St. Olaf. The research projects included computational biophysics analyzing the flow of mucus in mammals, experimental materials science for future gravitational wave interferometers, and experimental biophysics/neuroscience studying retinal ganglion cells in snapping turtles. Although each research project had a different application, every experiment was founded on an optical method. These experiences allowed Amy's passion for optics to naturally grow into a desire to pursue further education.After her undergraduate degree was complete, Amy worked for Seagate Technologies as a research intern. She developed a new technique for measuring the thermal impedances of laser diodes, qualified the thermal traits of new laser designs, and learned to juggle many other projects simultaneously. The time Amy spent at Seagate opened her eyes to scientific research in industry. After completing her doctorate, Amy would like to pursue optical research at a biomedical company, fundamental research with immediate application.

Valérie Simon

Valérie Simon is a new philosophy PhD student from Montreal, Quebec, Canada. After a foray in the sciences through an International Baccalaureate and DEC in Natural Sciences at Jean-de-Brébeuf College (2008) and a DEC in Computer Science and Technology at Vanier College (2011), she was drawn to philosophy through LGBTQ+ activism in her hometown. She was inspired by workshops, festivals, marches and the participation in initiatives such as the Sense Project, which provides queer inclusive and non-judgmental peer-to-peer sex education to youth.

In June 2017, Valérie graduated from Concordia University with a BA in Honours Philosophy and a Major in Women’s Studies. During her time at Concordia, she received the Ada Israel Memorial Scholarship (2017), the Maïr Verthuy Scholarhsip (2015) and was nominated at the university level for the 2017 provincial competition Forces d’avenir in the category Personalité 1er cycle (Undergraduate Personality). Valérie’s work and approach is interdisciplinary and focuses on the intersections of phenomenology, sexuality and activism. More specifically, her work, through a focus on Merleau-Ponty and Sara Ahmed, explores issues of sexual health in lesbian and queer communities, heterosexism in activist communities, and lesbian and queer visibility. In 2016, she created and facilitated a lecture series titled “Learning How to Scream: A Lecture Series on Lesbian Lives, Theory and Activism”. This 12 week lecture series had two parts. The first part focused on key themes in lesbian theory (such as lesbian bar culture and compulsory heterosexuality) and the second part focused on specific themes such as lesbian cultural productions, lesbian narrative and testimony practices, and lesbian archives. Valérie sees her role in society as being an activist scholar that contributes to movements for the radical transformation of society by both imagining what could be and examining why we are where we are now. As such, theory and the kind of work philosophy permits her to do is a way to imagine new futures, new possibilities and find answers that go beyond the obvious.


Leslie Selcer

Leslie Selcer is a first-year PhD student in the English department at the University of Oregon. Her research interests include cultural studies, pedagogy, and literary theory. In particular, Leslie plans to pursue scholarship that examines the role of reader positionality, interrogates systemic influences on contemporary literature, and ultimately contributes to building liberatory curriculums. Her primary goal is to help create access to reading and writing practices for communities who have been historically marginalized—especially in academic settings.Before coming to the University of Oregon, Leslie received a Bachelor’s degree in English literature and a secondary teaching license from the University of Colorado Boulder (2016). She was awarded the Latin designation of summa cum laude for her honors thesis entitled “Learning to Love: Gendered Romance and Representation in Contemporary Young Adult Fiction” (2015). Leslie has also been honored with the Harold D. Kelling Essay Award (2015) and the Joanne Easley Arnold Undergraduate Literature Award (2014). At CU Boulder, Leslie served as the editor-in-chief for Walkabout Creative Arts Journal for two years, earned membership in Phi Beta Kappa and the Norlin Scholars Program, received the Boettcher Opportunity Award, and spent a year teaching and learning at New Vista High School.Leslie’s career objectives include teaching professionally or otherwise contributing to education through policy-making, as well as cultivating her writing practice. Her first novella was picked up for a small print run in 2012, and she continues to hone her work in the hopes of gaining further publishing opportunities.

Nicole Nakata

Nicole is a PhD student in Biology based out of the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology. She graduated with a B.S. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Yale University in 2013. Upon graduating she returned home to California and joined the staff of Cabrillo Marine Aquarium as a lab assistant. In 2015, she started a Master's of Biology at CSU Los Angeles, which she is still working to complete. For her master's project she reviews and analyzes the diet preferences within Sacoglossa, an order of sea slugs that specialize on siphonous green algae. Based on a phylogenetic hypothesis of 282 species, she uses model-fitting statistical packages in R to assess the role of diet and host specificity in the evolution of sacoglossans. Nicole is excited to shift her focus for her PhD project to invertebrate larval biology. She was drawn to the University of Oregon after participating in a summer course taught by Dr. Emlet, one of the faculty of OIMB. For her doctoral work she hopes to examine how flexibility in developmental mode affects the evolution and performance of marine invertebrate juveniles. Events in early life can have profound effects on the success of marine organisms, but the unique ecology of post-metamorphic young has been under appreciated in the literature.  In addition to advancing her own research, she would like to dedicate time in the future to working with young people who are interested in science. As a lab assistant at Cabrillo Aquarium she mentored middle and high school students who completed original research projects focused on marine life. This experience of mentorship encouraged her to pursue an academic career which could give me the opportunity to follow my passions for research, teaching and mentoring at the university level.  

Jack Maurer

Jack is an incoming PhD student within the Chemistry Department at University of Oregon. He will be working within the Center for Optical, Molecular and Quantum Science, the recently reorganized faction of physicists and chemists on campus. His research interest lies mainly in optical science, particularly spectroscopic techniques and quantum optics methods. The field deals primarily with processes involving the interaction of light and matter, which constantly occurs in the world around us. His hope for the future is to bring his research and expertise in optics to the greater industry of photonics. Newly emerging technologies hinge heavily on the development of new and improved techniques for generating light. One of the major sectors emerging out of the photonics industry is augmented and virtual reality systems. These devices are only made possible by the precise and constant generation of electromagnetic fields inside the users field of view. As the world moves towards greater levels of automation and seeks out more immersive digital experiences, this technology will become indispensable.Jack completed his undergraduate education at the University of Denver, majoring in chemistry and physics as well as obtaining minors in mathematics and german. He graduated in 2016 and worked as a technical sales consultant within the elevator industry prior to making the decision to continue his education. He received the Outstanding Senior in Physics Award, completed a thesis on the “Measurement of electron dephasing in semiconductor nanostructures” as well as two research projects in chemistry and physics. 

Nathan Mather

Nathan Mather is excited to begin his doctoral studies in Counseling Psychology Program at UO. In collaboration with his colleagues and mentor, Dr. Ellen McWhirter, Nathan plans to investigate critical consciousness and college access among queer, Latinx, and undocumented students.In 2015, Nathan graduated from Azusa Pacific University with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a minor in Spanish. His undergraduate research examined attitudes toward gay men and lesbians among Christian college students, and he received the Outstanding Senior in Psychology Research Award from his department. After graduation, Nathan completed a Fulbright grant in Mexico City, where he facilitated bilateral exchanges with Mexican university students through conversations about cultures, traditions, and international relations. He also served as an AmeriCorps member in Seattle, guiding and supporting first generation college applicants through process of accessing higher education. After completing his doctorate, Nathan hopes to work as a faculty member and community-based psychologist, continuing his research while also providing accessible mental health care. He feels honored to receive the Raymund Fellowship, and he looks forward to the interdisciplinary and research opportunities it will bring.

Allie Eckert

 From a young age, Allie had a passion for education. This passion led her to pursue the study of Elementary Education at the University of Nevada, Reno where she earned a Bachelor’s of Science in 2006. Upon graduating, she began teaching at the elementary and middle school levels where she was heavily involved in the National Writing Project as well as the Home Visit Project. In order to have a stronger knowledge base with which to support her students, she moved to Los Angeles and attended the University of California, Los Angeles. While in school, she had the opportunity to present her research on creating humanizing spaces in the classroom at multiple conferences through the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. During this time, she continued her work with students as a seventh and eighth grade Humanities teacher at Aspire Public Schools and graduated with a Masters degree from UCLA in Urban Teaching in 2012. Upon graduation, she began teaching methods classes to pre-service teachers at Great Basin College while also spending time on teacher inquiry focused on the integration of technology in the classroom. As a result of this work, she was able to present at a variety of Educational Technology conferences through both Google and CUE. While her experience in education has afforded her the opportunity to learn and grow as a teacher and researcher, her passion for educational research drew her to the University of Oregon where she's working toward a PhD in Critical and Sociocultural Studies in Education. While she has a variety of research interests, they all center around equity issues and social justice initiatives in schools. She is interested in studying the ways in which exclusionary methods such as school discipline policy, Eurocentric curriculum and pedagogies, and subtractive forms of parent engagement are used to further disenfranchise marginalized communities. In this, she hopes to work with preservice teachers at the university level in developing progressive and critical pedagogy as well as focusing her research on alternative and restorative methods of discipline in schools. Overall, Allie's future career objectives are to continue her research and be able to use her findings to catalyze educational change.  

Alicia DeLouize

Alicia has two Bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and Human Biology. She used archeological and anthropological evidence to show that there may have been an increase in dopaminergic systems around 1.8 million years ago, when Homo erectus, one of our ancient ancestors, was evolving. This work was presented in a symposium at the Union for International Prehistoric and Protohistoric Sciences in Burgos, Spain and at the American Psychological Association in Orlando, Florida. After my undergraduate education, she did cancer clinical research for three years before pursuing graduate school. she's continued to collaborate with my old colleagues, and is currently working on a number of treatment outcome and toxicity studies for the University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus Cancer Center.Recently, she finished her Master of Arts degree in Psychological Science with the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. She received an Outstanding Psychological Science Student of the Pikes Peak Region award from the Psychological Society of the Pikes Peak Region, a Graduate Research Fellowship, a Graduate Opportunity Scholarship, and a travel award from the University of Colorado Graduate School. In addition, she worked in the Center for Cognitive Archaeology and became a board member for the Museum of Cognitive Archaeology. The museum was recently approved by the chancellor and building should start in one year’s time for the stand alone building in which the museum will be housed. She will continue to serve as a board member and as the scientific designer of the exhibits in my her new position at the University of Oregon. For her Master’s thesis, she is focusing on one aspect of the dopaminergic paper that may have been a major driver of the encephalization, increases in cognition, and increases in dopamine seen: endurance running. Endurance running behavior significantly predicted endocranial volume in primates, when controlling for group size, dietary quality, and body size. Additionally, speed was a better predictor of brain size than group size. This work was recently presented in a talk at the American Association for Physical Anthropologists.Alicia is pursuing a PhD in Biological Anthropology at the University of Oregon researching global health biomarker. This will allow her to combine her experience in health/clinical research and psychology with anthropology to answer applied research questions that will benefit human health. For instance, currently they are working on a project considering the rates of depression, rates of depression diagnoses, and their relation to personal socioeconomic status in six different middle and low income countries. In the future, she plans to pursue a career in academia and would like to eventually create her own neuro-endocrine biomarker lab at a campus with a medical school to pursue both basic and clinical research.  

Brent Cowley

Brent is honored to be selected as part of the Raymund Fellowship community pursing a PhD within the School of Journalism and Communication at The University of Oregon researching Media Studies. Upon earning a Bachelor’s degree in Film Studies and Psychology with a minor in Communications (Documentary Studies) from the University of Utah, Brent began teaching as an adjunct for the Salt Lake Community College (SLCC). He enjoyed creating his own curriculum for courses such as “Introduction to Film” and “Film and Culture.”After teaching at SLCC for 5 years, he then completed a Master’s degree in the Media Arts department at the University of North Texas, specializing in Critical Studies. He researched various aspects of film, media, and industry studies. He was honored twice with the MA Graduate in Excellence award. His thesis analyzed director Christopher Nolan’s auteur persona and the use of industrial branding and self-promotion in his focus on creating cinematic “realism.” Through his doctoral program, he wishes to combine his education in film/media, communications, and psychology to research how media influences and educates culture and society. A research concentration he is interested in studying is media censorship, especially from an industry standpoint. Being raised in a conservative state (Utah) and religion (Mormon), has given me a unique perspective in understanding the ways in which certain groups censor media. He is interested in exploring religion’s role in the promotion of censorship (e.g. CleanFlix, ClearPlay, VidAngel) both historically and contemporarily.He is also interested in exploring alteration to early animated works (mostly Disney), due in part to today’s more politically correct society. Other areas of interest include: the use of film clips in stimulating critical thinking in education; industrial branding of authorship within political economy; and the impact of film digitization and questions of access in an uncertain digital future where physical media is quickly losing favor.His ultimate goal is to teach communications and film courses at the university level and to make significant contributions to research within cinematic media, principally within the U.S. film/media industry. He is very appreciative of the opportunity to be a Raymund Fellow and looks forward to being able to share research and become a part of the community. 

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