Kellogg PhD Fellows 2021-22

The Kellogg Institute for International Studies welcomed one of its largest-ever groups of PhD fellows this fall – a cohort unique for its diversity both in terms of students’ home countries and their disciplines.

The six first-year PhD fellows come from Africa, Latin America, and Europe, and are studying sociology, history, peace studies, political science, and anthropology.

“They bring such unique perspectives because of their backgrounds – the different institutions they attended and the countries they represent,” said Kellogg Assistant Director Denise Wright, who oversees graduate programs for the Institute. “Having them here only underscores our commitment to having a diversity of experiences and ideas within our scholarly community.”

The 2021 PhD Fellows are:

  • Matthew Coetzee, a sociology student whose work focuses on the subfields of political and cultural sociology, with an emphasis on how societies negotiate past injustices, diversity, and collective identities. Coetzee is from South Africa and holds a master’s degree from SOAS University of London and a BA from Yale University.
  • Rasheed Ibrahim, a political science student from Ghana whose research aims to understand the logic of ethnic voting in the African context, particularly how voting along ethnic affiliations may or may not hinder democratic accountability in African countries. He holds master’s degrees from Sabanci University in Istanbul and a BA from Hacettepe University.
  • Mayra Ortiz Ocaña, a political science student from Mexico whose research addresses how the creation of Mexico’s specialized prosecution offices on human rights-related crimes have impacted investigations, and how demands from victims and their families have influenced institutional creation and criminal prosecution. She holds a BA from the Law School of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM).
  • Debora Rogo, a history and peace studies student, is a Kenyan attorney and human rights advocate. Her research seeks to understand how the 1969 assassination of Kenyan politician Tom Mboya injected ethnic tensions into Kenya’s present-day political, cultural, and socio-economic landscape. Rogo earned a JD from Washington University in St. Louis and a BA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  • Aitor Valdesogo, a Spanish history student whose research addresses human rights advocacy networks in the 20th century, with a focus on the relations between Latin America and the US human rights movement, and how activists and institutions helped broaden those networks. He earned an MA and a BA from the University of Salamanca.
  • Agustina Vasquez Fiorani, is an Argentine student in archeology. Her research aims to combine archaeological science approaches with an anthropologically-guided focus to elucidate aspects of craft and food in early village societies to offer a more peopled view of these communities. She received a BA from the University of Cordoba in Argentina and an MS from the University of Évora, the University of Thessaloniki, and the University of Rome La Sapienza.

Wright noted that Kellogg offers the awards in partnership with prospective students’ academic departments, which submit nominations for the fellowships.

“For many of these students, these fellowships play a role in their decision to attend Notre Dame over other prestigious universities,” she said.

Several of the new PhD fellows, she added, said they were drawn to Kellogg because of its reputation and the scholarly work of its faculty fellows: “They recognize that they’re at a place that’s a leader in the fields of democracy and human development and they want to contribute to Kellogg’s legacy. 

“In turn, we are grateful for the significant impact these rising scholars, with their exceptional professional and academic achievements, have at Kellogg. They are integral to the life of the Institute.”