Graduate Fellows Help Change the World

Gina Stuart-Richard, Edward Polanco, Erin Durban-Albrech
Monday, April 18, 2016

Each year, Confluencenter awards individual fellowships to graduate students engaged in creative, innovative research projects. Now in its fourth year, the Graduate Fellowships program is producing outstanding scholars, such as alumna Gina Stuart-Richard, PhD, whose doctoral work was done in the UA’s American Indian Studies department. In fall 2015, Stuart-Richard (Choctaw) was appointed to a tenure-track assistant professor position in Native American Studies at Montana State University.

As a 2014-15 Confluencenter Graduate Fellow, Stuart-Richard pursued “Radical Cartographies: Relational Epistemologies and Principles for Successful Indigenous Cartographic Praxis,” an exploration of the most effective mapping methods for meeting the needs of Native American tribes. In Montana, she is teaching and implementing the United States Indigenous Mapping Institute, the first of its kind in the country. Stuart-Richard said, “The wonderful support Confluencenter provided is having a positive effect on the Native Nations and graduate students in Montana.”

Erin Durban-Albrecht, PhD, Gender & Women’s Studies scholar and a 2013-14 Confluencenter Graduate Fellow, won the 2015 Ralph Henry Gabriel Dissertation Prize from the American Studies Association - an annual prize that recognizes the best doctoral dissertation in American Studies, American Ethnic Studies or American Women’s Studies. She also joined the faculty of the Women’s and Gender Studies program at Illinois State University in fall 2015 as an Assistant Professor.

“Because I was pursuing a PhD in a relatively new field without established funding for doctoral research, the Confluencenter Graduate Fellowship was essential to conducting the research necessary to complete my dissertation,” she said.

Durban-Albrecht’s dissertation is based on her Graduate Fellowship project, “Heteronormativity and the Postcolonial Nation-State: Queer Haitians After the Earthquake of 2010,” which explores “the effects of United States imperialism in Haiti over the last century in terms of race, gender, sexuality, class, and nationality.”

Edward Polanco’s “Nahuatl Naman: Conserving and Disseminating an Indigenous Language through Technology and Collaboration” explored the most effective, community-friendly ways of conserving Nahuatl, a quickly disappearing indigenous language of Mexico. A PhD candidate in the History department, Polanco was awarded a Confluencenter grant in 2014-15 to develop Nahuatl Naman, an app for Android devices that includes memory games, flash cards, lessons and a glossary that can help anyone learn the language.

“Without funding from the Confluencenter, I would have never built Nahuatl Naman,” Polanco wrote in his final report. He subsequently received a prestigious Fulbright-Garcia Robles Research Grant in 2015-16 to conduct dissertation research in Mexico.

“Now on my Fulbright, I am continuing my study of Nahuatl at UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) and getting feedback to improve the application.” Find it at by searching Nahuatl Naman.

Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry