Skip to content Skip to navigation
The latest Bobcat news, information and events

Four Ph.D. Students Awarded Chancellor’s Fellowship for Inclusive Excellence

September 14, 2022
Sociology Ph.D. student Jullanar Williams Chancellor’s Fellowship for Inclusive Excellence
Sociology Ph.D. student Jullanar Williams is one of four recipients of the Chancellor’s Fellowship for Inclusive Excellence.

UC Merced has awarded its second cohort of Chancellor’s Fellowship for Inclusive Excellence to four incoming Ph.D. students from the schools of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts, Natural Sciences and Engineering. Their studies will contribute to the representation of Black scholars in academia and beyond.

UC Merced is committed to the recruitment, admission and retention of a high-quality and diverse graduate student population. The yearlong, $30,000 recruitment fellowship is the result of a partnership between the Office of the Chancellor and Graduate Division, in consultation with graduate group chairs, Graduate Council, Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and other stakeholders.

Sociology Ph.D. student Jullanar WilliamsJullanar Williams is pursuing her Ph.D. in the Sociology Graduate Group with her advisor Professor Whitney Pirtle. She is working in the areas of Critical Race Theory, inequality, culture, diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB), systemic racism and Black feminism.

Williams, who resides in her hometown of Hanford, received her bachelor's in criminal justice from California State University, Sacramento.

The Chancellor’s Fellowship for Inclusive Excellence will allow her to attend graduate school and continue to provide for her son without incurring additional student debt.

“Receiving this fellowship means being able to pursue my sociology Ph.D. unencumbered by the necessity for full or part-time employment for the first or third year of my studies, allowing me to completely focus on research and coursework,” Williams said. “This fellowship allows me to bring my unique lived experience and perspectives to the graduate community at UC Merced fully and authentically.”

Before beginning doctoral studies in Environmental Systems this fall, Berhanu Sinshaw earned a bachelor's degree in water resources and irrigation management from Wollega University in 2014, and a master's degree in Hydraulic and Water Resources Engineering from Bahir Dar University Institute of Technology in 2018, both in his home-country of Ethiopia.

Environmental Systems Ph.D. student “This Chancellor's Fellowship for Inclusive Excellence award provides me confidence that I am joining an institution that supports graduate student diversity and inclusion regardless of academic status and background,” Sinshaw said. “This fellowship is all about the significance of diversity at UC Merced, and I feel honored and appreciated as an African American scholar, and I will contribute to the fellowship's mission throughout my studies.”

He will work with Professor Safeeq Khan on surface water and groundwater flow interaction in California using numerical models to sustainably manage water resources.

“My future research will concentrate on the application of hydrological models, machine learning and numerical models to large-scale environmental system and water resource management in order to make informed decisions,” he said.

This fellowship allows me to bring my unique lived experience and perspectives to the graduate community at UC Merced fully and authentically.

Jullanar Williams

Fellowship recipient Andrea Montano joined the Management of Complex Systems Graduate Group with Professor Alexander Petersen.

She earned both her bachelor’s and master's degrees in statistics from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Bogotá, her hometown. There, she examined how people can identify domestic violence victims using only their clinical information and statistical learning algorithms.

Management of Complex Systems Ph.D. student Andrea MontanoAt UC Merced, her research delves into the analysis of multi-campus university systems (MUS) to provide data-driven insights into the human dynamics of social and intellectual capital in relation to public innovation systems.

“This fellowship is a dream come true; I feel grateful, loved, blessed and eager to study and learn everything I can to be excellent,” Montano said.

The fellowship will have a profound effect on her family as well.

“I grew up as an ordinary girl who was raised by a single mother in a white family, where only my little sister and I were Black, so I needed to be outstanding to receive attention,” Montano said. “I'm the first in the family with the possibility of obtaining a Ph.D., so it's significant to all of us. I want to use this opportunity to tell them how grateful I feel for their help and love.”

I'm the first in the family with the possibility of obtaining a Ph.D., so it's significant to all of us. I want to use this opportunity to tell them how grateful I feel for their help and love.

Andrea Montano

While working on a bachelor’s degree in biology at Howard University in Washington, D.C., Tahirah Williams interned at UC San Diego on a project to induce drug resistance in laboratory-grown Plasmodium falciparum to identify mutations that might convey drug resistance.

Quantitative and Systems Biology Ph.D. student Tahirah Williams“P. falciparum is the deadliest of the human malaria parasites. My aim was to develop novel malaria drugs in anticipation of future outbreaks,” said Williams, who will spend her first year in the Quantitative and Systems Biology Program at UC Merced doing lab rotations to find the best advisor for her. “I’m excited to explore the amazing work that is currently being done at UC Merced.”

The Kingston, Jamaica, native said she is honored to receive the Chancellor’s Fellowship for Inclusive Excellence.

“During my years as an office coordinator in the tech field, I did a lot of work to improve the diversity and inclusion in that space,” Williams said. “I feel my hard work is being validated through this award. Getting this award means that I can focus my energy into learning and growing as a scientist.”

Brenda Ortiz

Senior Public Information Representative

Office: (209) 228-4203

Mobile: (209) 628-8263

bortiz@ucmerced.edu