Chris Newton ’15 • April 30, 2015

Five first-year PhD fellows settled in this year as members of the Kellogg community. They are eager to delve more deeply into their own research in the coming years and to seize upon the many opportunities available to them at Kellogg. With a wide range of research interests, they are united in their commitment to studying various aspects of human development.

Every year, the Institute welcomes aspiring scholars across a range of disciplines and methodological approaches as Kellogg PhD Fellows. With a focus on core Kellogg themes of democracy and/or human development, the graduate students receive five years of supplementary funding and engage with one another and Kellogg scholars in a variety of formats.

This year’s new PhD fellows are based in multiple departments: one each in anthropology, history, and sociology, and two in economics. Three are Latin Americans who intend to focus their research on the region while two others, both from the United States, plan to conduct research on sub-Saharan Africa.

Here are excerpts from what the 2014–2019 PhD fellows have told us about themselves and their work:

Catalina Ararat-Ospina (history) aims to study drug trafficking in the 1980s and 1990s in her native Colombia from a business history perspective. She is also interested in how the entrepreneurial class established itself as a distinct group and what social practices contributed to this social demarcation.

“One of the aspects that excites me the most about research is the challenge of finding sources that speak to my investigation,” she explains. “As a historian, it is not always easy to access sources, sometimes because the sources never existed or were destroyed.”

“Leaving Colombia, coming to Notre Dame, and becoming a Kellogg PhD fellow has given me the opportunity to take distance from the Latin America I knew and (re)encounter it,” she says. “Thanks to the Kellogg Institute, I can see Latin America through the eyes of different disciplines and nationalities, different approaches and topics.”

Emily de Wet (anthropology) is exploring whether or not integration has to mean assimilation in the South African context. Of South African heritage herself, de Wet plans to investigate economic mobility, the rising black middle class, and the creation and reinforcement of segregated space as well as the policy implications of these questions.

“The Kellogg emphasis on integrated scholarship is hugely important to me and my studies,” she says. “Beyond the supportive community which I have found so valuable, the emphasis on human development—and particularly the policy implications of the nexus between social and economic activities—makes Kellogg the ideal institute to be involved in.”

Matthew McEwen (sociology), who has conducted research on disparities in access to clean water in sub-Saharan Africa, is broadening his research focus to include additional issues of international development within the region, including unconditional cash transfers, a topic typically dominated by economists.

“What excites me most about my work is that I get to form my research agenda around what I am most passionate about—human development. Being able to interact and work with scholars with similar research interests from outside my own department has been invaluable,” says McEwen. “Even as a first year student, I have already greatly benefited from the many resources the Kellogg Institute has to offer.

“The Kellogg PhD fellowship was the driving factor in my decision to both apply to and attend Notre Dame for this very reason.”

Carlos Rondón Moreno (economics), a Colombian, is studying international finance and monetary policy in emerging economies after stints at the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and the Inter-American Development Bank. He intends to focus in particular on financial bubbles and sudden stops.

“Kellogg's interdisciplinary approach to development issues allows me to enrich my research with different and unique points of view,” he says. “Receiving feedback from different social sciences and perspectives will give my research a broader and more comprehensive focus.”

Reyes Ruiz González (economics) will build on his work experience with Evercore Mexico and the Mexican Ministry of Finance and Public Credit in his research. He plans to study the interactions between national and subnational levels of government in public service delivery as well as how efficient public sector debt management can contribute to the quality of such services.

“As a Kellogg PhD fellow, I have access to a huge network of successful academic researchers in various disciplines. Exposing my ideas to their insightful feedback will enrich the approach and span of my studies,” he says.

“Coming from Mexico, a country that faces great challenges such as poverty reduction and provision of equal opportunities to all individuals, I understand that effective public policies are supported in solid and scientific economic research, which I plan to perform with the support of the Kellogg Institute.”