OADI Research Collective


The Diversity Research Collective is a cohort-based, year-long program comprising GSAS graduate students across multiple disciplines. All participants must be actively conducting research on topics that have particular relevance for communities affected by persistent marginalization and exclusion. This work might include an explicit focus on the social, educational, economic, health, environmental, and other inequities that derive from marginalization and exclusion, but can also focus on these communities in and of themselves or have only indirect implications for them. Often, research and scholarship in these areas is itself marginalized, limiting the possibilities for the creation of new knowledge. 

The Diversity Research Collective provides a space for emerging scholars to explore and refine their ideas among a supportive, collaborative, and affirming community. It is designed to be an incubator for interdisciplinary thought and an exercise in public scholarship. Originally conceived by graduate students serving as OADI Fellows in Academic Administration, the Collective engages critical conversations about the impact that research and scholarship on, about, and implicating marginalized groups can have on the members of those communities as well as the broader academic enterprise. Importantly, it seeks to bridge these two constituencies in the knowledge-making process. 

Program Components

  • Monthly cohort meetings throughout the fall and spring semesters where participants present their ideas and receive feedback from their peers
  • Occasional readings and workshops on public scholarship and applications to participants’ work
  • Regular practice in horizontal leadership and development of relevant skills
  • Spring semester capstone project and presentation (e.g., op-ed, TED-style talk, congressional hearing testimony) engaging both academic and public audiences

Who Should Apply

GSAS master’s and doctoral students at any level can participate. All participants must be actively working on an independent scholarly project (e.g., thesis, dissertation, conference paper) on which they have made significant conceptual progress and that could benefit from perspectives outside of their disciplines. Projects need not be explicitly focused on marginalized communities, but participants should be interested in exploring the relevant implications and developing those ideas. Participants should have some interest in learning more about public scholarship and incorporating it in their work. For scientists, this can be helpful in developing activities to actualize the broader impacts (now required for grant proposals to the National Science Foundation) of your research. 

Applications will be available in October, 2019. 

QUESTIONS? Email us at GSAS-diversity [at] columbia.edu.


2019-2020 Members

Laina Dawes

Laina DawesLaina is a PhD candidate in Ethnomusicology at Columbia University. She is also the author of What Are You Doing Here? A Black Woman’s Life and Liberation in Heavy Metal (Bazillion Points, 2013; 2020). Before moving from Toronto, Canada, to New York City to attend Columbia and prior to that, earning her MA in Liberal Studies at The New School in 2013, she worked as a music journalist, cultural critic, and concert photographer.

Amelia Herbert

AmeliaAmelia is a PhD candidate in the Anthropology and Education program at Columbia University, Teachers College, and a visiting instructor in the Department of Educational Studies at Colgate University. Amelia’s research examines the racial and spatial politics of inequality and aspiration in marketized urban schooling landscapes, particularly in the United States and South Africa. She engages anthropology, comparative education, and African/a studies in her work. Her dissertation explores how students, alumni, staff, and families of a low-fee independent high school in Cape Town, South Africa, perceive schooling’s role in facilitating social mobility and broader societal transformation and tensions between these aims. Amelia taught in Newark, New Jersey, for nearly a decade, and has also worked in teacher education programs that serve schools in New York City and Cape Town. Her experience as a teacher fuels her commitment to research on the complex meanings of schooling in lived experiences. Amelia holds a BA in History from Duke University and a master's degree from Teachers College. Her research has been supported by fellowships from the Ford Foundation, the Fulbright-Hays Program, the American Association of University Women, and the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation.

Dyala Kasim

Dyala KasimDyala is a master's student in the American Studies program at Columbia University's Center for Ethnicity and Race (CSER). She received her bachelor's degree in English, Communication, and Writing and Rhetoric from Villanova University. At Columbia, Dyala is studying the intersection of ethnicity, race, and gender in multicultural American literature. She is focusing specifically on space and social theory within contemporary Middle Eastern-American literature, examining the way these individuals utilize literature as a way to transgress boundaries.

At Columbia, Dyala is a part of the Office of Academic Diversity and Inclusion's (OADI) Diversity Research Collective, where she is examining the phenomenon of white passing among Middle Eastern immigrants within the Arab-American community. She is also a Saturday Academy Educator at the Museum of the City of New York, teaching a course entitled “Checking the Box: Immigration, Identity, and the Census in New York.” This course examines the United States census, personal identity, and multiple racial/ethnic patterns of immigration to the city.

Dyala lives in Manhattan with her cat, Val.

Toru Momii

Toru MomiiToru (he/him/his) is a PhD candidate in Music Theory at Columbia University. A native of Japan, he holds an MA in Music Theory from the Schulich School of Music, McGill University, and a BA in Music and Economics from Vassar College (Phi Beta Kappa). Prior to pursuing academic research, he worked in the investment banking industry in Tokyo.

His current research interests include interculturality in twenty-first century music, performance analysis, instrumental gestures in gagaku, contemporary popular music in North America and Japan, and decolonial theory. He has presented his research at the annual meetings of the Society for Music Theory and the American Musicological Society, the Congress of the International Musicological Society, and Analytical Approaches to World Music. His research has been funded by the Japanese American Association-Honjo Foundation Scholarship and the Junior Fellowship in Japan Studies from the Weatherhead East Asian Institute.

During the 2019–20 academic year, Toru serves as an academic administration fellow for the GSAS Office of Academic Diversity and Inclusion and on the executive board of the Students of Color Alliance. He has recently joined the graduate student committee of Project Spectrum, an organization committed to addressing issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in music academia.

Holly Sumner

Holly SumnerHolly is a master’s student in the Sociocultural Anthropology program in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Much of Holly’s research surrounds the current sociopolitical conflict in Nicaragua, where she lived from late 2013 to May 2019. Her master’s thesis explores what motivates members of the Nicaraguan diaspora to organize for political, humanitarian, and cultural purposes in New York and New Jersey. Prior to conducting this research, she researched the effectiveness of online teaching methodologies in emergency settings and analyzed the significance of Facebook memes in the ongoing conflict in Nicaragua. Having completed coursework in the spring, Holly hopes to graduate in October 2020. She currently holds an EdM in International Education Policy from Harvard Graduate School of Education and a BS in International Development from Universidad Americana in Managua, Nicaragua.

Dominic T. Walker

Dominic WalkerDominic is a third-year PhD student in the Sociology Department. His work examines questions at the nexus of race, identity, neoliberalism, and the cultural politics of education. More specifically, he is examining how the logic of racial capitalism structures notions of racial progress and social mobility in education spaces. His current project is an ethnographic study of identity work (construction, negotiation, and presentation of identities) among students of color in transitional school programs: non-profit organizations that recruit poor and working-class students of color and prepare them to transition from mostly public schools in urban communities to elite, private schools.