2019 Dean's Research Associates

Meet the 2019-2020 College Research Associates!


Monique KellyMonique D. A. Kelly

Department of Sociology

I am currently a PhD candidate in the Sociology Department at the University of California Irvine (UCI) and my research broadly focuses on racial and ethnic identities, attitudes, and inequality, as well as on immigration processes connected to those social dynamics. More specifically, my dissertation, “Jamaican Ethnic Oneness: Race, Colorism, and Inequality,” analyzes racial and skin color stratification in Jamaica, the impact of an ideology of racial mixing on Jamaican’s explanation for that inequality, and racial and nation-based identification. A chapter of my dissertation is published in Social Identities: Journal for the Study of Race, Nation and Culture, with others currently under review. My post-dissertation research agenda will continue to investigate race, colorism, stratification, and inequality comparatively within the black Diaspora.

Reason for Applying

I applied to the College of Social Science (CSS) Dean’s Research Associate Program at Michigan State University, because: (1) the program has a strong reputation for being inclusive and striving for excellence among students and faculty, (2) the intentions of the faculty to produce well-rounded research strongly appealed to me, and (3) as the goal of the position is to transition into tenure-system positions at MSU, this demonstrated to me the commitment of the College to meet its aim of supporting and advancing diversity and equity in academia. By providing the opportunity for recipients to become a part of the academic community at the professorial level, the faculty are sending the message that this is a welcoming and progressive community. I expect to gain the time and support to build my research portfolio as well as to be mentored through my research and teaching pedagogy as I engage in the broader sociological community by challenging theoretical paradigms of race.

Monique D. A. Kelly has successfully transitioned into the tenure stream.



Nakia ParkerNakia Parker

Department of History

I am a doctoral candidate in the Department of History at The University of Texas at Austin under the direction of Dr. Daina Ramey Berry. My project, “Trails of Tears and Freedom: Slavery, Migration, and Emancipation in the Indian Territory Borderlands, 1830-1907,” examines the forced migrations, resettlement patterns, and labor practices of people of African and black Indian descent enslaved in Choctaw and Chickasaw communities during the nineteenth century. My research has received generous funding from The University of North Texas, the Texas State Historical Association, the New Orleans Center for the Gulf South, the Mellon Scholars Program at the Library Company in Philadelphia, and the Western History Association. In 2018, I was awarded the Huggins-Quarles Dissertation Award from the Organization of American Historians (OAH) and a 2018-19 American Association of University Women (AAUW) Dissertation Fellowship. I have a co-authored essay on women and slavery in the Oxford Handbook of American Women’s and Gender History, and a forthcoming article in the East Texas Historical Journal chronicling the life of controversial nineteenth century Texas politician Hal Geiger. From June 2014 to December 2016, I served as the National Graduate Student Representative for the Association of Black Women Historians.

Reason for Applying

My first interaction with MSU faculty and students occurred when I attended the Cross-Generational Dialogues in Black Women’s History Symposium in 2015. The innovative scholarship and genuine camaraderie I saw there left a deep impression on me and played a major factor in my decision to apply for the position.  I believe my scholarship and teaching will improve and thrive in the interdisciplinary community of scholars at Michigan State University. I especially look forward to working closely with the other fellows at the CSS Development Institute and with faculty and students in the History Department. 

Nakia Parker has successfully transitioned into the tenure stream.



Gabriel SanchezGabriel Sanchez

Department of Anthropology

I am an indigenous anthropologist completing my doctoral research at the University of California, Berkeley. My research interests include historical ecological approaches to understanding small-scale societies, community-based research, and applied zooarchaeology. The majority of my archaeological research has been conducted along the Central California coast where I investigate human-animal relationships and how these data can inform contemporary fisheries conservation and management. Currently, I am collaborating with the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band to conduct archaeological analyses of ancient and historic fisheries of the central California coast. The ultimate goal of the study is to define the biogeography of salmonids and to provide historical data about these organisms to tribal groups and fisheries managers to guide contemporary resource stewardship.

Reason for Applying

This program offers an opportunity to join a top-tier research institution, a cohort of diverse scholars, and the opportunity to be mentored and supported through the Development Institute. As a first-generation minority in the academy, I hope to engage with students and faculty at Michigan State to support the advancement of diversity, equity, and inclusion through engaged scholarship and teaching.

Gabriel Sanchez has successfully transitioned into the tenure stream.