• Graduate Student Picnic 2009
  • Graduate Student Picnic 2014

Current Graduate Students

Click on the names below to read about each of the current graduate students in the Ethnic Studies Department at UCSD

Bayan Abusneineh

Bayan Abusneinehabusneineh

Email: babusnei@ucsd.edu

Education: University of California, Los Angeles, B.A. Political Science and Gender Studies

Sara Almalla

Sophia Armen

Christiane Assefa

Keva X. Bui

Keva X. Buikeva.JPG

Email: kxb002@ucsd.edu

Education: B.A. in English Literature modified with Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Dartmouth College

Research Interests: queer/feminist science and technology studies, science and speculative fiction, transnational and transpacific Asian/American studies, discourses of the category of human, and U.S. militarism and settler colonialism in Asia and the Pacific

Research: Keva is a PhD candidate in the Department of Ethnic Studies with a graduate certificate in Critical Gender Studies. Broadly, Keva’s research engages race, gender, and sexuality at the nexus of embodiment and scientific thought, conjoining questions about the materiality of racial violence and the underlying logics of structural and political power. Through analyses of Asian/American cultural production and US government and scientific archives, their dissertation examines how increasing military and scientific interest in matter—the active, dynamic constitution of the material, nonhuman world—in the post-World War II era reconfigured Asian/American racial form and engendered new technologies of violence. Keva also serves as a community organizer with VietUnity-SoCal and as the elected student representative on the Board of the Association of Asian American Studies. 

Website: kevaxbui.com

Antonio Catrileo

Antonio Catrileo

Email: acatrileo@ucsd.edu

Education: Pontifica Universidad Católica de Valparaiso, BA and MA

Research:  Mapuche Two-Spirit communities and histories

Esther Choi

Esther Choiechoi

Email: emchoi@ucsd.edu

Education: Columbia University, B.A. Economics

Research Interests: My dissertation explores the U.S. Solidarity Economy movement, which is seeding and networking alternative economic practices such as worker owned cooperatives, community land trusts, and mutual aid networks, as a strategy to shift the economy toward a post-capitalist future. I focus on how this movement understands and aims to transform subjectivities structured by race and property."

Adriana Echeverria

Burgundy Fletcher

Burgundy Fletcher

Email: bjfletch@ucsd.edu

Cecilia Frescas-Ortiz

Cecilia Frescas-Ortiz

Email: cfrescas@ucsd.edu

Education: BA The New School of New York; MA University of New Mexico

Research: My current research is focused on Black, Indigenous and migrant relationalities. Drawing primarily on Black feminist theory and Indigenous feminisms, I explore how the use of tear gas against Black, Indigenous and migrant bodies creates moments of rupture where anti-capitalist and anti-colonial solidarities can emerge. I use prison abolition as a necessary condition towards migrant justice, Black liberation and Indigenous decolonization. I hope to expand on this research by further exploring the role of tear gas within capitalist expansion and an ongoing colonial project.     


Andrea Gaspar

Andrea Gaspar

Email: adgaspar@ucsd.edu

Education: BA University of California, Irvine

Research Interests: I am interested in looking at how they generate community power and accountability through storytelling, healing intergenerational trauma, and by establishing formal and informal networks of political education.

Research:  In my project, I aim to compare the connections and differences on how Mixteco, Payómkawichum, and Kumiai people resist under a colonial, heteronormative, militant, capitalistic, and anti-Black regime. 

Camila Gavin

Gregory Seiichi Pōmaikaʻi (Pōmaikaʻi) Gushiken

Gregory Seiichi Pōmaikaʻi (Pōmaikaʻi) Gushikenupdated photo gushiken

Email: ggushike@ucsd.edu

Education:  BA in English and Political Science, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, 2018

Research Interests: Settler Colonialism and Militarism in the Pacific, Gender & Sexuality, the Environmental Humanities, Climate Justice, Pacific Studies, Indigenous Politics, the Hawaiian sovereignty movement, Aloha ʻĀina, Hawaiian Diaspora, Queer Indigenous Studies, Community-based Participatory Research, contemporary Hawaiian literature, Hawaiian Language archives, and oral history.

Oscar Gutierrez

Oscar Gutierrezoscar.jpg

Email: ogutierr@ucsd.edu

B.A. in Journalism and Race and Resistance Studies, San Francisco State University (2017)

Research Interests:
Environmental Justice, Latinx Studies, Critical Geography, Land and Memory, Working-class Epistemologies, Industrial Labor, Political Activism and Social Movements, (Southeast) Los Angeles, Gender and Migration, Queer Studies, Settler Colonialism, Community-based Participatory Research, and Grassroots Intergenerational Organizing.

Tirrezz Hudson

Tirrezz Hudson

Email: thudson@ucsd.edu

Education: North Carolina State University, BA

Research: Black masculinities and sexualities; Black spiritualities

LeKeisha Hughes

LeKeisha HughesLeKeisha Hughes

Email: lekeisha.hughes@gmail.com

Education: B.A., Gender & Women's Studies, University of Arizona (2010)

Research Interests: LeKeisha's research interests focus around theories of sexuality, queer studies, critical race theories, and notions of desire that are articulated in black feminist thought. For her graduate work, she is interested in tracing the ways that white racism is theorized in black feminist accounts of sexuality in order to unpack the psychic and discursive mechanisms that are said to bind black female sexualities to white racist stereotypes. In doing so, she hopes to build upon and critically approach black feminist theories of sexuality by setting up frameworks that take steps toward disidentifying black female sexuality from dominant white conceptions.

Lea Johnson

Lea JohnsonLea Johnson

Email: lmj002@ucsd.edu

Education: B.A. Comparative Literature - University of California, Los Angeles (2011); M.A. Ethnic Studies - University of California, San Diego (2014)

Bio: Lea Johnson is a digital curator and Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Ethnic Studies, University of California, San Diego. Her major fields of interest are African American literature and cultural history, the transnational South, black feminist theory, and speculative imaginaries. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of Ceremony Press, an online publication for scholars of Black Studies to creatively recode their research across digital mediums.

Cheron Laughing

Cheron Laughing

Email: claughin@ucsd.edu

Education: BA Dartmouth College; MA University of Arizona

Research Interests: Recruiting and supporting students of color, low income, and DACA students to participate in study abroad programs that center around activities that highlight the legacies of American imperialism, and interact with local communities to think about bridging decolonization processes in distinctive sites impacted by US empire.    

Leon Lee

América Martínez

América MartínezAmerican Martinez

Email: amm001@ucsd.edu

Education: B.A. University of California, Los Angeles, 2012

Research Interests: Social justice research; migration; healing processes; metaphysical resistance; memory; (re)imaginings; Testimonios; collaborative and transformative work grounded in social change and empowerment.

Stephanie Martinez

Rochelle McFee

Gus Meuschke

Gus Meuschke

Email: gmeuschk@ucsd.edu

Education: BA Vassar College; MA University of Arizona

Research Interests: My research interests broadly include queer of color critique, Indigenous studies, comparative ethnic studies, visual archival research, museum studies, and performance studies. In my doctoral research, I want to investigate the possibility of queer multiracial social formations and shared ways of being that do not have foundations in anti-Blackness and settler colonialism, which I will locate in speculative visual archives, art, and performance.

Naaila Mohammed

Amira Noeuv

Omar Padilla

Omar PadillaOmar Padilla

Email: opadilla@ucsd.edu

Education: B.A. Latin American – Latino Studies/Politics, UC Santa Cruz (2007), M.A. Mexican American Studies, CSU Los Angeles (2013) 

Research Interests:  Race, Immigration, Visual Culture, Chicano Studies, Transnationalism, U.S. – Mexico Transnational Networks, Undocumented Student Movements, Diaspora Studies

Faculty Mentor: Curtis Marez

India Pierce

pierceIndia Pierce

Email: ipierce@ucsd.edu

Education: Ohio University, B.A. Women and Gender Studies; The Ohio State University, M.A. African and African American Studies  

Areas of Interests : Visual Ethnography, Performance Studies, Feminist Pedagogy, Gender and Sexuality, Religion, Black Radicalism, Embodiment epistemology,  Speculative Imaginaries and Methodologies, Social Movements, Popular Culture, and Queer theory. 

Research: My work investigates the expansive spiritual freedom that is opened up when thinking about the past/present/future of queer divine embodiment. Central to that exploration is my question of how queer women of color activists queer notions of salvation in order to create alternative pathways to the divine.  Ultimately,  illuminating how those practices can be read as not only acts of self-love that demand a different type of engagement with the world around them, but also as a practice of freedom that impacts their work as organizers and activists.

Krys Méndez Ramírez

Krys Méndez RamírezCMendez

Email: c3mendez@ucsd.edu

Education: Brown University, 2010, B.A in Sociology and Philosophy

Research Interests: postcolonial theory, Marxist urbanism, critical geography, critical race theory, spatial studies, disability studies, medical sociology, borderland studies, political economy.

In my research, I hope to examine the intersections of race, space, health, and the political economy. Specifically, I’m interested in exploring questions of how the built neoliberalized urban environment impacts identity-formation and biopsychosocial health among residents of various racialized and criminalized communities, as well as investigate the potential for revolutionary healing through the formation of resistive identities and ‘counter-spaces.’ I aim to study migrant subjectivities in borderland cities across the Americas, drawing from multiple schools of thought in postcolonial theory, Marxist urbanism, and critical geography.

Daniel Rios

B. Pricila Rodriguez

B. Pricila RodriguezB. Pricila Rodriguez

Email: brr022@ucsd.edu                                                                 

Education: B.A. in Gender and Women Studies and B.A. in Anthropology at the University of Arizona

Research Interests: Race, space, and punishment; connections between the spaces of prisons, immigrant detention centers, reservations, ghettos, and borders

Boke Saisi

Boke SaisiBSaisi

Email: bsaisi@ucsd.edu

Education: Bachelor of Journalism, Ryerson University (2012), MA Communication and Culture, York University (2014)

Research Interests: Settler colonialism, Black feminist thought, Indigenous feminisms, carceral studies, decolonial studies, post-colonial studies, critical gender studies, transnational feminisms, social justice research, political economy, Marxism, media representation

Research: Utilizing theories of settler colonialism, I aim to investigate the racialized nature of imprisonment of Black and Indigenous women in Canada and the US examining the ways in which the Prison Industrial Complex affects and is propelled by the presence of racialized women in those spaces. Moreover, I am interested in women-led activist organizations engaged in prison abolition work and modes of resistance to carceral regimes.

Liliana Sampedro

Noelle Sepina

Bettina Serna

Bettina Serna

Email: bserna@ucsd.edu

Education: California State University, San Marcos, BA and MA

Research: Latinx communities, economy and incarceration related to cannabis

Sierra Sims

Sierra Sims

Email: ssims@ucsd.edu

Education: BA Southern Oregon University

Research Interests: I am interested in furthering my study in Native American Studies through the vein of violence against Native women, girls and 2Spirit peoples in Oregon. In order to do so, I aim to follow and support Oregon House Bill 2625, which is undergoing its year long trial, where the state police department will be working with Native Nations to create a database for accurate statistics.

Kai Small

Katherine Steelman

Katherine Steelman

Email: ksteelma@ucsd.eduGraduate Student

Education: B.A. English, University of California, Riverside; M.A. English, Cal State Long Beach

Research Interests: 

Her current project examines the effects of US cultural production on the development of queer space in Tijuana, MX, as well as the Tijuanense response to the US's narrative of the city and it's queer communities.This work juxtaposes critical analyses of cultural texts with ethnographic interviews.

Cynthia Vazquez

Cynthia VazquezCVasquez

Email: c5vazque@ucsd.edu

Education: B.A. Political Science, University of Nevada Las Vegas (2008); M.A. Latin American Studies (History), UC San Diego (2014).

Research Interests: traditional/sacred knowledge, critical pedagogy, Indigenous education, transnational/borderlands, Latin American history/literature, indigenismo, Marxism, decolonial studies.

Jael Vizcarra

Jael Vizcarra

Jael Vizcarra

Email: jvizcarr@ucsd.edu

Research: Jael Vizcarra is a Ph.D. Candidate in Ethnic Studies at UC San Diego. Her dissertation is entitled, "En Búsqueda de Posada: Military Rule and the Laotian Resettlement Program in Misiones, Argentina." Jael’s dissertation historicizes the 1979 Southeast Asian refugee resettlement program in Argentina and analyzes the incorporation of Laotian refugees into the Argentine labor force during and after the Argentine military dictatorship. Her research highlights the political origins of displacement and humanitarianism in South America and their relation to U.S. imperialist projects. Jael analyzes the resettlement of Southeast Asian refugees in various Argentine provinces to understand how refugees contest their ascribed role as objects of compassion and intervention.

Jael's scholarship is informed by comparative racial formation theories, Asian-American Studies, and Critical Refugee and Immigration Studies. Her research gestures towards a transnational reading of the US-centric and universalizing category of "Asian-American" by elucidating the geopolitical implications of South American racial formations that produce Asians beyond US-based racial logics and categories.  

Her work has appeared in Amerasia and the popular historiography blog Tropics of Meta.

Melanie West

Syed Muhammad Abbas (Muhammad) Yousuf

Email: syousuf@ucsd.edu

Education: B.A. in Philosophy, Political Science, Gender and Women Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2017

Research interests: historical and narrative depictions of martyrdom; ideas of the self, the soul, and liberation in critical theory and decolonial thought; gender and resistance; critical Muslim studies

Learn more about the Ethnic Studies Ph.D. Alumni