The Experiential PhD

CSSH provides PhD students with new paths to integrate the Social Sciences and Humanities into the public sphere. The Experiential PhD focuses on:

  • Meaningful engagement with community partners
  • Integrative research experiences related directly to their own scholarly agenda
  • Teaching graduate students to communicate the results of humanistic and social science research to various public audiences
  • Opening up career paths outside academia for PhD students after graduation
  • Preparing PhD graduates for jobs in universities and colleges of the twenty-first century

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Experiential Fellows engage in a long-term collaboration with an organization that brings social science and humanities methods and expertise into the community, supports and enriches the student’s PhD research, and provides students with experience and training in an intellectually rich and challenging work setting. Experiential fellows work within a partner organization closely aligned with their doctoral research program. These placements facilitate the student’s dissertation work providing students with a depth of knowledge that cannot be easily gained through traditional classroom learning.

Doctoral Summer Scholars placements are short-term work and research experiences with relevant partners. The Summer Scholars will hold positions for twenty hours per week for two to four months in the summer (half summer or full summer). Both the experiential fellowships and the summer scholars program will help students extend their professional networks and deepen their commitment to community engagement.

Claire Tratnyek, Department of History, Summer 2020

Location: WGBH Education, Boston, MA

Claire A. Tratnyek is a doctoral student in history studying the Boston Public Schools system, and the uses of images in history textbooks and museum curricula.  This summer, she will be the WGBH Education Doctoral Fellow, and will work on a project called PBS LearningMedia: Assessing the Present, Envisioning the Future.  Her work in this experiential fellowship will include assessing the impact of the PBS Learning Media platforms and curricula, working with the WGBH Education team to develop an interactive learning platform, and evaluating the current PBSLM US History curricula.  This work connects to Claire’s research on the development and content of history curricula, and to her background as a classroom teacher in Boston, where she taught for nine years.  Before returning to Northeastern for her PhD, Claire earned her BA in European History and Anthropology from Franklin Pierce College, and MA degrees in History and in Teaching from Northeastern University.

Molly Nebiolo, Department of History, Summer 2020


Location: American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, PA

Molly Nebiolo is a doctoral candidate in world history studying the early Atlantic world and the history of medicine. She previously conducted research at the American Philosophical Society as a 2019-2020 Digital Humanities Fellow and will be working with their Center for Digital Scholarship over the summer. The experiential fellowship consists of work on various digital humanities projects that use a host of historical collections, from climatological and scientific data to personal archives. The temporal and the geographic span of these projects overlaps with her dissertation, which examines the conceptualization of health and well-being in the planning and expansion of early American cities. Her experience as a digital historian dates to her participation in the graduate certificate program in DH at Northeastern. Molly received her B.A. in history and biology from Butler University.


Lourdes Vera, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Spring 2020student portrait (Lourdes)


Location: Earthworks, Texas

Lourdes Vera is a doctoral student in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, concentrating in Environmental Sociology and Sociology of Knowledge and Technology. As an Experiential Fellow, she is working with Earthworks’ Oil and Gas Accountability project in central Texas to collaborate with communities on monitoring toxic compounds emitted in the air by oil and gas facilities. This work directly overlaps with her dissertation on community air monitoring in Texas. Lourdes is a 2019 Switzer Fellow and on the coordinating committee of the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative, leading the working group on Environmental Data Justice. Lourdes holds a B.A. in Urban Studies with a concentration in Environmental Science from Barnard College at Columbia University. She also has a background in teaching and was an earth and environmental science teacher with an MA in Teaching Earth Science from CUNY Brooklyn College before she came to Northeastern.


student portrait (Alexis)Alexis Yohros, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Spring 2020


Location: Office of the Child Advocate, Boston, MA

Alexis Yohros is an Experiential Fellow at the Office of the Child Advocate, an independent state agency that overseas all child-serving agencies in Massachusetts. Alexis has previously worked for the Office of the Child Advocate during her time as a Harvard Rappaport Public Policy Fellow, where she worked on a variety of projects related to juvenile justice and child welfare reform in the state of Massachusetts. Her current role involves engaging in conversations with various agencies about what it means for youth to be dually-involved. This will lead to a proposed plan on how to properly define and measure how many children are dually involved, how this has trended over time, and what factors contribute to this transition. Alexis is a third-year doctoral student in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Northeastern. Much of her research and policy interests involve youth violence and juvenile justice, ecological perspectives, crime prevention, and evidence-based policy.


Williastudent portrait (William W.)m Whitworth, Department of History, Spring 2020


Location: New College of the Humanities, London, England

William Whitworth is an Experiential Fellow at the New College of Humanities in London. He is assisting with the “Mapping Black London” project, which uses GIS software to create a visualization of non-white activities in the British capital during World War II. The aim of the “Mapping Black London” is to uncover new patterns in black activism that challenge our existing interpretations regarding the history of race in the British Isles, in highlighting the history of a black presence in Britain that stretches further than the post-1945 immigration period. This project will aid William in the development of his digital skills for his own research, which involves tracing the impact of Cold War protest movements. Prior to entering the PhD program in 2016, William received a BA in History from the University College London (UCL).


student portrait (Shirley)

Shiqin Liu (Shirley), School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, Spring 2020


Location: Center for Urban Research, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Melbourne, Australia

Shiqin Liu (Shirley) is an Experiential Fellow at the Center for Urban Research in the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) in Melbourne, Australia. Working remotely with the RMIT Healthy Livable Cities Group, Shirley is assisting in methodology and python scripting development of the global indicators research project. The goal is to help cities develop a set of open-source and reproducible planning indicators which could be used to benchmark, monitor and assess the potential of cities to promote health and wellbeing in a global context. This project will expand Shirley’s scholarship network and current research agenda in regional economic analysis, entrepreneurship development, and spatial analytics of urban indicators. For future research, Shirley hopes to develop more transparent and reproducible spatial analysis methods to leverage complex and open data sources to study urban and regional development dynamics. She is currently a doctoral candidate in urban planning and regional policy. Prior to entering the Ph.D. program in 2017, Shirley received an MS in urban and regional planning from the University of Iowa.


student portrait (Candence)Candence Wills, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Fall 2019


Location: United Nations Office of Drug and Crime, Vienna, Austria

Candence Wills is an Experiential Fellow in the United Nations Office of Drug and Crime in Vienna, Austria. She is assisting in collecting and analyzing data on human trafficking and anti-trafficking responses around the globe. While serving at the UNODC, Ms. Wills will also assist in writing the Global Trafficking in Persons Report, which examines the patterns and flows of trafficking in over 142 countries and highlights a broad range of human trafficking indicators. The UNODC provides her the opportunity to become familiar with the global trafficking dataset and narratives of trafficking cases used to produce the report that may also be used for her future research endeavors. From the University of Pittsburgh, Ms. Wills holds a B.A. in Communications: Rhetoric with minors in Political Science, Spanish, and Theatre and has earned a Master of International Development from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. Much of her academic career has focused on policy and institutional responses to marginalized populations and victimization. Ms. Wills excitedly anticipates broadening her institutional research across international boundaries during her fellowship with the UNODC and focusing on state responses to human trafficking.


student portrait (Alexandra)Alexandra Alden, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Fall 2019


Location: Massachusetts Department of Mental Health

Alex Alden is an Experiential Fellow at the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH). She is assisting in the support and evaluation of two mental health research and training centers. These centers are striving to meet important racial and health equity goals in their research, operations, and community-involvement. While embedded at DMH, Alex will study how public agencies approach equity which will facilitate her own dissertation work about racial equity efforts in mental healthcare. Alex is a sociology doctoral candidate and has been an SGA at the Institute for Health Equity and Social Justice Research (IHESJR) for the past several years. Her research interests include mental health services, health policy/political-economy, critical race theory, and mixed methods. Prior to entering the PhD program in 2015, Alex received her bachelor’s degree in sociology with a minor in psychology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.



Sam Maron, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Spring 2019student portrait (Sam M)


Location: Department of Kinesiology, California State University, Northbridge

Sam Maron is an Experiential Fellow at California State University, Northbridge in the Department of Kinesiology. Sam’s research uses mega-events as a lens to explore the intersections of global cultural institutions and power in global cities. His current work uses the Olympic Games in Los Angeles (past and future) as a case study of how event-legacy discourses shape the future of the city. He also brings his background with the Tibetan freedom movement and as a union organizer to the study of solidarity activism in social movements. Prior to entering the PhD program in 2014, Sam earned an MS in environmental studies from Antioch University New England.


Ieke de Vries, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Spring 2019


Lostudent portrait (Ieke)cation: New College of the Humanities, London

Ieke brought her passion for digital, data-based approaches to the social sciences into an experiential PhD semester in London, working with undergraduate students in the semester-long program on Data, Ethics, and Culture at the New College of the Humanities. Ieke taught a practicum in Data Science (DS2000/DS2001) as part of our collaboration with Northeastern’s College of Computer and Information Science. Adapting materials developed by Sociology professor Laura Nelson, Ieke taught students how to use the Python coding language to access and analyze data while understanding the social implications of these activities.




Katharine Petrich, Department of Political Science, Fall 2018/Spring 2019

Location: National Security Affairs Department, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, CA

Katharine Petrich is a PhD Candidate in Political Science, specializing in student portrait (Katharine)insurgency, terrorism, and transnational crime, with regional expertise in the Horn of Africa and Northern Latin America. She will spend 2018-2019 as an Experiential Fellow at the National Security Affairs (NSA) department of Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA. NSA is “one of the few remaining departments in the nation that offers a comprehensive, interdisciplinary program in area and regional security studies for all the major regions of the world,” making it an excellent fit for Kate’s research agenda and investigative approach. Kate has previously worked with the United States Military Academy, US Department of Justice, and US State Department. She received generous funding from the Brudnick Center on Violence, Northeastern’s Department of Political Science, and the Northeastern Provost’s Office to support her fieldwork in Kenya and Colombia during spring 2018, and looks forward to publishing her findings this year.



Jessica Trapassi, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Fall 2018/Spring 2019/Summer 2019

Location: Massachusetts Department of Correction, Office of Strategic Planning and Research, Concord, MA

student portrait (Jessica T.)Jessica Trapassi is an Experiential Fellow in the Massachusetts Department of Correction’s Research and Planning Division, located at MCI-Concord. She is gathering data for a federally-funded project during her appointment, both through departmental databases and qualitative data collection.  While embedded at the DOC, Jessica will assist the Research and Planning Division as they work towards various research initiatives, as well as access data that could facilitate her own dissertation work.  Jessica holds a B.A. in Justice Studies from Rhode Island College with minors in Sociology and Spanish and an M.A. in Criminology from the University of South Florida.  Thus far, her academic career has focused on capital punishment and the use of mitigation in capital sentencing cases.  Jessica looks forward to expanding her interests during her time with the Department of Correction, specifically researching correctional officer well-being. 




Talia Kaufmann, School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, Fall 2018/Spring 2019

Location: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Paris, France

student portrait (Talia)Talia Kaufmann is an Experiential Fellow in the Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Regions and Cities at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Talia’s research is devoted to planning cities with data by deploying quantitative analysis methods in the practice of city planning. She spent the last two years specializing in quantitative methods as a Resident doctoral fellow at the Network Science Institute at Northeastern. At the same time, she has been collaborating with the OECD on her research that measures accessibility to services in cities across the world with the goal of creating a ranking of cities by the level of accessibility they provide to their residents. At the OECD, she is also a part of a team  working on a report to measure the global state of cities in the last 50 years using large scale datasets. Talia holds a Master’s degree in City Planning from MIT and a Bachelor of Architecture from Tel-Aviv University. Before joining MIT, Talia served as a city planner and a planning information manager at the Tel Aviv-Yafo City Planning Department in Israel.


Zeynep Balcioglu, Department of Political Science, Fall 2018/Spring 2019

Location: Migration Research Center in Istanbul, Turkeystudent portrait (Zeynep)

Zeynep Balcioglu is a doctoral student in the Department of Political Science, specializing in public policy and comparative politics. She has a strong background and research interest in migration and social policy. Zeynep is currently on the Scholars Advisory Board of the Boston Consortium on Arab Region Studies (BCARS) and organizes workshops on the Syrian Refugee Crisis in the MENA Region and the Balkans. Following a workshop Zeynep organized in March 2016 in Istanbul, in partnership with the Migration Research Center at Koc University, Zeynep co-authored a policy report with Prof. Denis Sullivan: Moving Toward Dignity: Human-Centered Approaches for Displaced Syrians in Turkey, Jordan, and Beyond. She will be an Experiential Fellow at the Migration Research Center in fall 2018.  



Ezgi Deniz Rasit, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Fall 2018

Location: Berlin Institute for Integration and Migration Research, Germany

student portrait (Ezgi)Ezgi Deniz Rasit is an Experiential Fellow in the Berlin Institute for Integration and Migration Research (BIM) at University of Humboldt. She is collecting data for her own dissertation work and working with BIM in some of their research activities during her appointment. Ezgi’s research is devoted to understanding migrant incorporation and practices of citizenship in urban spaces with a particular focus on the cultural politics of refugee integration in Turkish neighborhoods of Berlin. Ezgi has a strong background in migration, law, and gender studies. She has received her LLM degree in international human rights law from Queen Mary University of London, and prior to that, has worked as a lawyer in Turkey for several years.



Dylan Maguire, Department of Political Science, Spring 2018

Location: Office of Opinion Research (OPN) in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research in Washington, D.C.

Dylan Maguire, PhD Candidate

Dylan Maguire is an Experiential Fellow in the Office of Opinion Research in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research at the State Department. The Office of Opinion Research is tasked with collecting and analyzing open-source data and foreign opinion in the Middle East. Dylan is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Political Science, specializing in International Relations and Comparative Politics. He has a strong background and interest in US foreign policy and regional strategic issues in the Middle East. Dylan’s dissertation examines external state support for non-state groups in civil wars. Specifically, he focuses on how threat perceptions impact alliance networks between states and non-state groups.





Alex Press, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Fall 2017/Spring 2018

Location: Jacobin Magazine, New York City, NY

Alex Press, PhD SociologyAlex Press is an Experiential Fellow at Jacobin Magazine in New York City. She is simultaneously engaged in fieldwork for her dissertation which is focused on the publishing industry and working as an assistant editor. Alex Press entered the sociology doctoral program at Northeastern in the Fall of 2014. Her research interests include urban sociology, globalization studies, political economy, political sociology, and social movements. In particular, she is interested in intellectual property regimes and the privatization of seeds, along with the consequences of this process for communities. She recently finished an article on the role of the newspaper in mega-event bids, taking the Boston Globe’s coverage of Boston’s recent Summer Olympics bid as a case study. She is conducting ongoing dissertation research on the high-tech industry’s relationship to local governance structures and extra-local economic forces in Pittsburgh, PA. Originally from Pittsburgh, PA, Alex received her MA in Sociology from Northeastern in May 2016 and before that, graduated from Boston University summa cum laude with a B.A. in International Relations.



Stacie St. Louis, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Fall 2017/Spring 2018

Location: Massachusetts Department of Correction, Office of Strategic Planning and Research in Milford, MA

Stacie St. Louis is an Experiential Fellow in the Massachusetts Department of Correction’s Office of Strategic Planning and Research. She is collecting data for a grant-funded project, working with the DOC on some of their research initiatives, and accessing data that will facilitate her own dissertation work. Stacie St. Louis received her B.A. in both Legal Studies and Theater from UMass Amherst in 2015. During her time at UMass, she also received a Sociology minor and a Criminal Justice certificate. This past August, she graduated with her M.S. in Criminology and Criminal Justice at Northeastern University. Stacie has spent much of her academic career studying capital punishment, but looks forward to expanding on her interests during her time as a doctoral student. She has had the opportunity to work on a variety of research projects; most notable is a correctional officer stress study where she was able to travel to seven different Massachusetts prisons and conduct hour long interviews of over fifty officers.


Experiential PhD Interest Form