Interdisciplinary Research Groups

The IAH provides financial and logistical support for faculty and graduate students to engage one another across departmental and divisional lines in research clusters oriented around a specific theme.

The call for proposals is issued each spring. Please watch this space for the next call. 

Digital Humanities Research Group

The Digital Humanities Research Group is dedicated to critically exploring theoretical issues and practical applications pertaining to the use of emerging digital technologies in culture, knowledge production, and education. Through workshops, readings, campus field trips, group presentations, and invited talks, our group works to develop new skillsets, collaborative projects, and critical perspectives in digital research and education while fostering cross-organizational relationships on campus to better support these practices. In its two year existence, participants have come from Visual Arts, Literature, Political Science, Communication, Music, the Library, Library IT, Research IT, the San Diego Supercomputer Center, Calit2, and even Miramar College! We are a highly inclusive group and invite anyone to attend one of our meetings or events regardless of their departmental or organizational affiliation. For a sample of readings we explore, please see this list or visit the Digital Arts & Humanities Initiatives webpage here. For information about upcoming meetings, please email Erin Glass (

Core Members
Convener: Erin Glass, Associate Director of Digital Arts & Humanities Initiatives (IAH); Digital Humanities Coordinator, The Library, UCSD
Stefan Tanaka, Professor of Communication, UCSD
Linnea Ziener, Ph.D. Student in Communication, UCSD
Sam Gaffney, Ph.D. Student in Communication, UCSD
Rose Dwyer, Ph.D. Student in Music, UCSD
Jeanelle Horcasitas, Ph.D. Candidate in Literature, UCSD
Razvan Amironesei, Postdoctoral Scholar, Center on Global Justice, UCSD
Veronica Uribe Del Aguila, Ph.D. Student in Communication, UCSD
Rodrigo Gomez, Professor of English, Miramar College, UCSD
Ian Daly, San Diego Supercomputer Center

Global Early Modern Studies (GEMS)

Global Early Modern Studies (GEMS) is a research group of faculty and students from UC San Diego. Through discussions of works-in-progress, the group brings together members of several departments–Philosophy, Literature, History and History of Science, Music, Visual Arts, Theater, and more–to provide constructive feedback at various stages of the writing process. This coming May, GEMS will hold its first day-long symposium, entitled Troubling the Human: Material Entanglements of Early Modern Worlds. 

For more information on GEMS, individual members, research projects, courses, events, and other announcements, please visit the blog. With any questions or to be added to the mailing list, contact the graduate coordinator, Stacie Vos

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The establishment of Global Early Modern Studies, an interdisciplinary research group at UCSD, provides an empowering framework for exploring questions of common interest that extend beyond the boundaries of any single departmental discipline. In recent years, the concept of “the global” (along with the related concepts of planetarity, worlding, etc.) has become an important provocation for a variety of exciting, ground-breaking research questions pursued by scholars working in various language and culture fields, including the period of our specialization, 1450-1800. Currently, ideas about global scale and global systems are being used to help us break out of Eurocentric or disciplinary limitations. In particular, this global perspective allows scholars to look, in new ways, at questions that pertain to transnational, cross-cultural and comparative phenomena during the early modern period. Our group would link its intellectual charge to these current debates that are shaping the field. In addition, the notion of “the early modern” as a historical period has been the subject of much recent debate, and our group would be able to interrogate this concept further, in ways that link cultures, texts, artifacts, and histories across the globe.

Our central research question is two-fold:  how does thinking globally about our work in the early modern period help to inform, inspire and enliven our efforts at intellectual, interdisciplinary dialogue and help to define our research agendas? How should we connect local texts, art works, histories, etc. to global, long-term processes that, in turn, might link the early modern to our own postmodern time of globalization? 

Scholars working in the Early Modern period:

Ethnic Studies:
Ross Frank
Daphne Taylor-Garcia

Nancy Caciola
Mark Hanna
Matthew Herbst
Heidi Keller-Lapp
Weijing Lu
Dana Murillo
Sarah Schneewind
Nir Shafir
Uli Strasser
Robert Westman

Jody Blanco
Stephanie Jed
Sara Johnson
Lisa Lampert-Weissig
Seth Lerer
Sal Nicolazzo
Babak Rahimi
Dan Vitkus
Nina Zhiri

Theatre & Dance:
Janet Smarr

Visual Arts:
Norman Bryson
Jack Greenstein
William Tronzo

Graduate students:
Jillian Bolin (History)
Mayra Cortes (Literature)
Kailey Giordano (Literature)
Sky Johnston (History)
Mark Kelley (Literature)
Vincent Pham (Visual Arts)
Melissa Vipperman-Cohen (Literature)
Stacie Vos (Literature)

Interdisciplinary Forum for Environmental Research

The bi-national Interdisciplinary Forum for Environmental Research (IFER) is now planning its fifth year of discussions between UC San Diego literature, political science, economics, philosophy, and Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) students as well as master’s students in the Maestría en Administración Integral del Ambiente (MAIA) program at El Colegio de la Frontera Norte (COLEF). Environmental research is interdisciplinary in nature and these issues need to be addressed with an interdisciplinary approach in order to be applicable. The goal of IFER is to facilitate conversations and collaboration between graduate students working on environmental issues from different disciplines. It is IFER’s mission to not only broaden our perspectives and incorporate new ideas into our own research but to create collaborations across disciplines to further understanding of the complexity of environmental issues and to examine potential solutions to environmental problems.

Kyle Haines Political Science - USMEX Fellow
Ike Sharpless Political Science
Kaitlyn Lowder Marine Biology - CMBC/PIER
Jennifer Le Biological Oceanography - CMBC/PIER
Kayla Blincow Marine Biology - CMBC/PIER

Carlos Vazquez – El Colegio de la Frontera Norte, Integral Environmental Management
Lisa Levin – UCSD, SIO, Center for Marine Biodiversity & Conservation
Marc Jacobs UCSD, Economics
Marcel Henaff – UCSD, Literature Department

Politics, Ethics, Ontology: An Inquiry into the Ontologies of Nature

The topic of this research group is what we call “ontologies of nature,” framed as a new domain of analysis and inquiry. Our cross-disciplinary approach is defined by three central questions: what type of politics, what kind of ethical discourses, and what ontological claims inherently underlie the issues, concepts and problems that are presented for discussion? Moreover, how does the relationship between epistemology and ontology generate specific political and ethical questions and what implications does this relationship have for social inquiry?

Razvan Amironesei (Center on Global Justice, UCSD) - lead convener 2017-18
Ike Sharpless (Political Science, UCSD)
Jacob Hellman (Communications, UCSD)
Caleb Scoville (Sociology, UCB) – attending remotely
Danny Weltman (Philosophy, UCSD)
Ian Parker (Anthropology, UCSD)
Sean Morgan (Political Science, UCSD)

Faculty Members:
Harvey Goldman (Sociology, UCSD)
Gerry Mackie (Political Science, UCSD)
Marcel Henaff (Literature, UCSD)

Practice-Oriented Philosophy of Science Community

This year, the practice group, Practice-Oriented Philosophy of Science Community, is focusing on the practical question: “What are specific features of scientific practice to which philosophers of science, collaborating with social scientists, can contribute, and how can they do so?” Answers will require more targeted exploration of: (a) the philosophical literature regarding scientific practice, (b) social scientific studies of scientific practice, and (c) how to interrogate and integrate these methods for approaching science.

Morana Alač – Professor in Communication and Science Studies Program
William Bechtel – Professor in Philosophy and Center for Circadian Biology
Don Everhart – PhD candidate in Sociology and Science Studies Program
Rebecca Hardesty – PhD candidate in Communication and Science Studies Program
Hailey Kwon – PhD student in Philosophy and Science Studies Program
Noel Martin – PhD candidate in Philosophy and Interdisciplinary Program in Cognitive Science
Benjamin Sheredos – Postdoctoral Researcher in the Center for Circadian Biology
Robert Westman – Professor in History and Science Studies Program
Jason Winning – PhD candidate in Philosophy and Interdisciplinary Program in Cognitive Science

Reconfiguring Space and Temporality in Contemporary China

The participants of this group share an aspiration to explore not only the conceptualization, constitution, and transformation of space, but also the haunted temporality in China from an interdisciplinary perspective. As two fundamental concepts in humanities and social sciences, space and temporality have been extensively researched in various departments and contexts. Illuminated by these researches, our group intends to take China as a main subject to reproach these two concepts, in order to explore the drastic transformations that China has experienced since the early 20th century.

Jing Chen (Literature)
Xiaojiao Wang (Literature)
Yi Liu (Visual Arts)
Yiqing Li (Visual Arts)

Faculty members:
Kuiyi Shen (Visual Arts)
Yingjin Zhang (Literature)

Vivian Szu-Chin Chih (Literature)
Ningning Huang (Literature)
Pai Wang (Literature)
Yanqin Tan (Literature)
Yiwen Wang (Literature)
Xing Zhao (Visual Arts)

Revolutions and Rebellions

The “Revolutions and Rebellions” group's agenda focuses on theoretical explorations of revolutions and post-revolutionary societies that represent the overturn of multiple political systems. At UCSD, faculty and graduate students working in the Humanities, the Social Sciences, and technology, are concerned with the effects of revolution and protest on media, literature, historiography, politics, sports, art, and medicine, to name a few key areas. This workshop will convene around several important questions, across cultures and disciplines: How has the experience of political overturn affected the notions of freedom, transparency of government, and history? What can be gleaned from historical revolutionary regimes that will help us to better understand the role of revolutionary ideologies (including, but not limited to, Marxism) in society? How does the idea of popular protest shape the relationship between East and West, North and South? And, most relevant to recent events in the United States, how does the rhetoric of “riot,” “protest”, or “revolution” serve popular uprisings and the institutions that they threaten? Key Revolutionary moments in history, in particular the twentieth century Revolutions in Russia, China, and Cuba, will remain at the center or our discussion, but we are particularly interested in creating dialogue between scholars of area studies and scholars of political, literary, and cultural theory.

Julia Fermentto-Tzaisler, Graduate student, Literature (lead convener, 2017-18)
Olga Lazitski, Graduate student, Communication (lead convener, 2017-18)
Amelia Glaser, Assistant Professor, Literature (lead convener, 2014-15)
Martha Lampland, Associate Professor, Sociology (lead convener, 2013-2014)
Patrick Patterson, Assistant Professor, History

Current active workshop members:
Betty Ramirez, Graduate Student
Julia Fermentto, Graduate Student
Teresa Kuruc, Graduate Student
Olga Lazitski, Graduate Student
Stacie N. Vos, Graduate Student
Alan Stauffer, Graduate Student
Natasa Garic-Humphrey, graduate student
Deborah Hertz, Professor, History
Michael Kenny, Graduate student
Julia Klimova, Lecturer
Fred Lonidier, Professor, Visual Arts
Joel Palhegyi, graduate student
Paul Pickowicz, Professor, History
Babak Rahimi, Associate Professor, Literature
Yingjin Zhang, Associate Professor of Literature
Gary Fields, Professor, Communication

Semantics Babble

Philosophy of language and logic have played a major role in the study of natural language meaning and the development the fields of linguistics known as formal semantics and pragmatics in the past forty years. We believe it’s important that faculty and students from linguistics, philosophy and other departments as well (anthropology, psychology, cognitive science, etc.) to meet regularly to brainstorm together and enrich and stimulate each other’s research. 

Core Members:
Ivano Caponigro, faculty, linguistics, co-organizer
Jonathan Cohen, faculty, philosophy, co-organizer
David Barner, faculty, psychology
Leon Bergen, faculty, linguistics
Priyanka Biswas, lecturer, linguistics
Jennifer Carr, faculty, philosophy
September Cowley, graduate student, linguistics
Max Edward, graduate student, philosophy
Roman Feiman, post-doctoral fellow, psychology
Andrew Kehler, faculty, linguistics
Marcus Mcgahhey, graduate student, philosophy
Till Poppel, graduate student, linguistics
Paolo Santorio, faulty, philosophy
Ayoob Shahmoradi, graduate student, philosophy
Sebastian Speitel, graduate student, philosophy
Crono Tse, graduate student, linguistics
Joshua Wampler, graduate student, linguistics
Eva Wittenberg, faculty, linguistics

Southern California Urban Group

The Southern California Urban Group (SCUG) is an attempt to foster regular interdisciplinary conversations across institutions in the Southern California region. SCUG will continue building cross-disciplinary and cross-institutional discussions, both by running independent talks, and also by co-sponsoring events organized by Cities, Space, and Politics (a group funded by the new International Institute with anthropologist Matilde Cordoba Azcarate as the lead faculty member and including almost all SCUG members.) This year we will focus on “grassroots urbanism.” We continue to be interested in other ways of understanding cities beyond institutions, governments, and formal planning. Instead of state-driven studies, we would like to think more critically about the negotiation of power between urban citizens and other entrenched actors including but not limited to the state. We also want to interrogate the way grassroots place-making activities like public art and adaptive reuse shape economic and social opportunities for urban residents. City folk continue to be at the center, not the margins: we are less interested in abstract policies or generalized urban design and architecture and much more interested in how people make sense of urban space at the level of the grassroots.

Lead faculty:
Isaac Martin (Sociology)
Danny Widener (History)
Nancy Kwak (History)
Andy Wiese (SDSU – History)

Studio for Ethnographic Design (SED)/Studio for Tactical Ethnography

The Studio for Ethnographic Design (SED), now in its fifth year, continues to be a unique space on campus in which graduate students and faculty from numerous disciplines meet to discuss ethnographic research design and methods, debate ethical practice, critique ethnographic writing, present in-process research, engage with practitioners and experts from other disciplines, and explore other issues in contemporary ethnographic research.

Roshanak Kheshti (Ethnic Studies)
Christo Sims (Communication)
Joe Hankins  (Anthropology)
Anya Gallaccio (Visual Arts)

Grant Kester and Ricardo Dominguez (Visual Arts)
Abigail Andrews, Vanesa Ribas, and Martha Lampland (Sociology)
Fernando Dominguez Rubio, Lilly Irani, and Elana Zilberg (Communication)
David Pedersen, and Nancy Postero (Anthropology)

Graduate Students:
Amy Kennemore
Maddie Boots
Waqas Butt (Anthropology)
Christina Aushana and Yelena Gluzman (Communication & Science Studies)
Alex Kershaw
Tim Ridlen
Noni Brynjolson
Amy Reid (Visual Arts)

Transdisciplinary Disability Studies

The Transdisciplinary Disability Studies (TDS) group takes a critical, yet broad, approach to disability, a category that includes cognitive differences as well as physical, sensory, and intellectual or developmental impairments. We seek to examine and expand the possibilities for new inter- and transdisciplinary theoretical models for approaching disability while also assessing and critiquing conventional models for understanding disability. These include the medical model (focused on the body’s so-called pathology) as well as the social model, focused more on environmental and social limitations than on the body of the disabled individual. Understanding disability as an intersectional identity and cultural category opens important opportunities. The transdisciplinary field of disability studies is characterized by distinct disciplinary contributions: life writing, poetry, memoirs and novels written by people with disabilities in literature; cultural studies readings of popular culture texts and media that unpack representations of disability; ethnography and social science that centers the life experiences with people with disabilities in various social and cultural positions; and historical research that investigates how bodily and mental difference is documented or absent in the historical archive and examines configurations of what is currently called disability in the past.


Ricardo Dominguez, Associate Professor, Department of Visual Arts
Rachel Fox, Phd Student, Department of Communication
Brian Goldfarb, Associate Professor, Department of Communication / Center for Iberian and Latin American Studies
Louise Hickman, Phd Student, Department of Communication
Jenni Marchisotto, Phd Candidate, Department of Literature
David Serlin, Associate Professor, Department of Communication and Science Studies Program
Haydee Smith, Phd Student, Department of Literature
Riley Taitingfong, Phd Student, Department of Communication

Matthew Herbst, Associate Professor, Director, Making of the Modern World Program
Ari Heinrich, Associate Professor, Department of Literature
Michael Davidson, Professor Emeritus, Department of Literature
Howard Kushner, Professor Emeritus, Emory University, And Visiting Scholar, Department of Communication
Patrick Anderson, Associate Professor, Department of Communication
Deniz Ilkbasaran, Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Linguistics
Nalini Biggs, Phd Student, Department of Communication
John Armenta, Phd Candidate, Department of Communication
Alex Edelstein, Phd Student, Department of Communication
Jungyoung Kim, Phd Student, Department of Communication
Alanna Reyes, Phd Student, Department of Communication
Gabi Schaffzin, Phd Student, Department of Visual Arts
Catherine Czaki, Phd Student, Department of Visual Arts
Laura Dorwart, Phd Student, Department of Theatre And Dance