This fall, five scholars in the study of race and ethnicity will join the Stanford community for three years as part of the IDEAL Provostial Fellows program, which is designed to support the work of promising early-career researchers from a variety of fields.

The five scholars are the fourth cohort of fellows to be appointed since the program began in 2021.

“The program has attracted some of the most promising young scholars in the nation doing research about the impacts of race and ethnicity,” said Provost Jenny Martinez. “They are an important resource for our students and faculty, and enrich our community of scholars with new methodologies and new ways of looking at these issues. I’m pleased that we’re able to continue this program at Stanford.”

The 2024-27 fellows will work within Stanford schools and departments, where they will have a mentor selected from among Stanford’s Academic Council faculty. Each fellow will teach one course per year while expanding on their research.

“This year’s group of IDEAL Provostial Fellows were selected for their impressive research and for their commitment to tackling societal issues related to race and ethnicity,” said C. Matthew Snipp, vice provost for faculty development, diversity, and engagement, as well as interim vice provost for student life. “We’re delighted to welcome them to the Stanford community and we look forward to supporting them in their research and teaching careers.”

The IDEAL fellows also organize an annual symposium at Stanford that brings together scholars from across the country. This year’s symposium, which will be organized by the 2023-26 cohort, is scheduled for October 17-18, 2024.

The IDEAL Provostial Fellows program was established by former Provost Persis Drell to increase the amount of research and teaching related to race and ethnicity at Stanford, as well as nationally.

“One of the goals for this program is to develop researchers and teachers who will lead the next generation of scholarship in race and ethnicity,” said Snipp. “The program has been successful even in these early days with some of our IDEAL fellows going on to faculty positions at Stanford and other institutions.”

April Burrage, management science & engineering

April Burrage portrait

April Burrage

April Burrage’s research focuses on understanding the institutional factors contributing to racial and gender disparities in entrepreneurship and innovation. Her research aims to examine how these disparities affect labor market outcomes in the knowledge economy, particularly in STEM fields. Through her work, she seeks to inform policies and practices that promote a more inclusive and dynamic entrepreneurial landscape.

Prior to beginning her PhD program, Burrage’s industry experience – including roles in risk management and tech sales – shaped her research interest in the motivations and decisions of entrepreneurs.

She is a PhD candidate in economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Abdulbasit Kassim, African and African American studies

Abdulbassit Kassim portrait

Abdulbassit Kassim (Image credit: Todd Treangen)

Abdulbasit Kassim is an interdisciplinary scholar specializing in the histories and cultures of Muslim societies with a geographical focus on West Africa and the African diaspora.

Kassim’s research spans the early modern and modern periods, tracing ideas that circulated in Muslim societies in West Africa and the African diaspora. He aims to bridge the Afrocentric, Black Atlantic, and Black Mediterranean models of African and African diaspora studies by synthesizing the historical interconnections between the peoples and cultures of Africa and the experiences of African diasporic communities as they adapt to new lives in the other parts of the world.

Before coming to Stanford, Kassim completed his PhD at Rice University. He received an MA from Keele University, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, England, and a BSc from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria.

Matthew Mendez, music

Matthew Mendez portrait

Matthew Mendez

Matthew Mendez is a music historian and media scholar whose research addresses the intersections between African American singing voices, recording industry histories, and critical legal studies. His current book project, Haunted House Blues: Bessie Smith, Vocal Possessions, and the Media of Redress, examines one of the first intellectual property reparations lawsuits in U.S. history.

Mendez also has interests in the cultural politics of intellectual property as it pertains to live debates surrounding the computational singing and speaking voice.

Mendez is a doctoral candidate in music history at Yale University, where he also completed a graduate certificate in the Film and Media Studies Program. He has master’s degrees from the University of Edinburgh and the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, and he received his BA from Harvard University.

Roxanne Rahnama, political science

Roxanne Rahnama portrait

Roxanne Rahnama

Roxanne Rahnama’s research examines the conditions under which elite communities mobilize around ideology and symbolic politics as tools to maintain hierarchy along race, class, and gender dimensions, who the primary agents of these tools are, and their social and political consequences. In her dissertation, she uses original quantitative historical data on the formation of local chapters of the United Daughters of the Confederacy in the early 20th-century Jim Crow South.

Rahnama is a PhD candidate in political science at New York University. She also holds a master’s in technology and policy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a BA and BS in economics and environmental economics and policy, respectively, from the University of California, Berkeley.

Laura Weiwu, economics

Laura Weiwu portrait

Laura Weiwu

Laura Weiwu is a labor economist interested in topics related to spatial inequality and urban policy. Her dissertation investigates the sources of racial segregation during the 1960s and the importance of institutional discrimination in residential locations. She examines the interaction between institutions and the Interstate highway system as a mechanism for why infrastructure policy has unequal distributional consequences across groups.

During her doctoral studies, she also served as an economist with the Census Bureau’s Center for Economic Studies to construct novel measures of intergenerational mobility by race.

Weiwu received her PhD in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and holds a BA in economics and a BS in applied mathematics from Stanford.

About the IDEAL Provostial Fellows Program

The Provostial Fellows Program is part of the IDEAL initiative, a set of university-wide efforts designed to create a culture of inclusion, access, equity, and belonging.

Each year, cohorts of five early-career scholars are selected for the program by a committee of Stanford faculty and appointed by the provost to a three-year term. Fellowships may be in any school of the university. To date, Stanford has recruited 20 scholars to the IDEAL Fellows Program, representing a wide variety of fields.

Read more about the IDEAL Provostial Scholars Program on the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Development, Diversity and Engagement website.