2024-26 Kling Undergraduate Honors Fellowship cohort announced

Seven sophomores join the competitive humanities research fellowship

The Merle Kling Undergraduate Honors Fellowship welcomes its 2024–26 cohort. Over the next two years, seven new fellows from the Washington University Class of 2026 will pursue their own independent research projects in the humanities or humanistic social sciences, explore the public dimensions of humanistic work and enrich the intellectual life of the Center for the Humanities. Students apply during the spring of their sophomore year and enroll in a two-year research seminar during their junior and senior years.

Left to right: Ryan Altman, Sonal Churiwal, Halla Jones, Marissa Mathieson, Avery Melton-Meaux, Emilio Parra-Garcia and Lauren Perkins.

The incoming Kling Fellows’ proposed projects range across (and between) numerous disciplines in Arts and Sciences, with overlapping thematic interests in history, literature, art history, media studies and other humanistic topics of study.

Ryan Altman is a History and Political Science double major and is pursuing a minor in legal studies. His project will examine Jewish relations with local African communities in Northern Rhodesia during the early 20th century and how Jewish mining conglomerates affected the lives of local Africans.    

Sonal Churiwal is a Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Political Science double major. Her project will systemically review rape coverage in Indian newspapers, examining how caste and religious hierarchies sustain a rape script that construct “India’s daughter” as a modern, Hindu, caste-privileged rape victim, fueling imperial and nationalist narratives. 

Halla Jones is an Art History major pursuing minors in African and African American Studies and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. Her project will explore sculpture as an artistic medium used by Black female artists and will engage with questions about the racial politics of artistic exhibition and museum spaces.

Marissa Mathieson is an American Culture Studies and Political Science double major pursuing a minor in Psychology. Her project will be a comparative analysis of three indigenous communities — Navajo, Native Hawaiian and Maori — within the context of mobility, freedom and resistance under settler colonial conditions. 

Avery Melton-Meaux is an English and Creative Writing major pursuing a minor in drama. Their project will trace the genealogy of queer Nigerian poetry, focusing especially on the online spaces where the authors of these poems have developed new collectives.  

Emilio Parra-Garcia is a Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies major, pursuing a minor in Spanish. By analyzing eating disorders, his project seeks to uncover how systems of heteronormativity and white supremacy ostracize Black and Latinx queer bodies, while advantaging white cisgender women. He will focus on these dynamics through the lenses of queer, disability and critical race studies.

Lauren Perkins is a History major pursuing a minor in Political Science. Her project will be a case study of St. Louis’ first African American mayor, Freeman Bosley Jr., within the larger context of U.S. electoral politics as a means for Black social advancement.