College of Letters and Science Announces 2024 Dean’s Faculty Fellows
Diana Aramburu, Stacy Fahrethold and Marie Heffern headshot photos organized in a primary image.
Diana Aramburu, Stacy Fahrenthold and Marie Heffern have been named 2024 Dean’s Faculty Fellows for the College of Letters and Science at UC Davis.

A scholar examining the portrayal of the pregnant and postpartum body in maternal narratives of the Hispanic world, a historian examining the Middle Eastern diaspora in the Golden State and a chemist investigating the role of metal micronutrients in human health have been named 2024 Dean’s Faculty Fellows for the College of Letters and Science at UC Davis. 

The three-year fellowships are part of the College of Letters and Science Faculty Investment Initiative to support early faculty research excellence and development. The fellowships provide each award-winning faculty member with $7,500 per year for a total of $22,500.

Diana Aramburu

Associate Professor, Department of Spanish and Portuguese

Diana Aramburu

Through her research, Aramburu examines pressing questions regarding migration, race, illness and gender violence in Spain and Latin America. In recent years, her scholarship has focused on exploring the female body as a political space in contention with racist, heteronormative and misogynistic ideas of femininity. The fellowship will support Aramburu’s work on her second book, which is tentatively titled Examining the Madre Rebelde: A Transatlantic Study of Prenatal and Postpartum Care in Contemporary Hispanic Fiction. 

“To be considered in this group of scholars is a tremendous honor, and I am humbled by the selection and recognition of my research,” Arambutu said. “I am incredibly excited about the opportunities that being a Dean’s Faculty Fellow will bring in advancing my research on my second book project as well as the collaboration it will bring about with colleagues and students on campus.”

Aramburu’s book examines works that document women’s physical, emotional and mental transformations during and after pregnancy with particular attention being paid to narratives written by women of color. 

“Although maternal narratives conventionally break free from medical writing, I argue that they often problematize the interactions with healthcare providers by emphasizing how the privileging of the fetus leads to the invisibility and silencing of the pregnant (medicalized) body, especially for women of color,” Aramburu said.    

Stacy Fahrenthold

Associate Professor, Department of History

Stacy Fahrenthold

A historian of the modern Middle East, Fahrenthold specializes in subjects including labor migration, displacement and refugees, border studies and diasporas. The fellowship will support Fahrenthold’s research examining the histories of Middle Eastern refugees who resettled in California from 1915 to 1950. 

“I am grateful for the honor of this award. The fellowship is meaningful to me and funds a project which began locally—at the Angel Island Immigration Station—as I pursue the transnational dimensions of refugee migration.,” Fahrenthold said. “I look forward to being a Dean's Fellow, developing this project through archival research, and collaborating with scholars of refugee studies.”

Fahrenthold will use the fellowship to complete archival research in Washington D.C., Geneva and Beirut. The research will ultimately result in a book about California’s Middle Eastern refugee diasporas. 

“The project traces the journeys of Arab, Assyrian and Armenian refugees, exploring their displacement experiences shaped by ethnic cleansing, European colonialism and partition in their homelands,” Fahrenthold said. “I argue that refugee resettlement was shaped jointly by American immigration policies and Middle Eastern state building.” 

Marie Heffern

Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry

Marie Heffern

The environment outside and between our cells is imperative to understanding disease states. In this extracellular space, biomolecules signal important biological processes. With her Dean’s Faculty Fellowship, Heffern will further investigate and develop tools for monitoring the role metal micronutrients play in processes like hormone signaling, energy balance, and redox homeostasis in both healthy and disease states.

“I am truly humbled and honored to be selected as a Dean's Faculty Fellow,” Heffern said. “I am incredibly grateful to my colleagues in the Department of Chemistry, the students and postdocs that I've been fortunate to mentor, and my peers and collaborators in the College and campus at large for fostering a motivating environment where I can freely pursue my intellectual passions. I am excited for the opportunity as a Dean's Fellow to help celebrate, represent, and support the vibrant community of researchers that we have here at UC Davis.”

The fellowship will support Heffern’s efforts to develop new tools for profiling extracellular metals and investigating the interplay between nutritional metals and extracellular signaling molecules. 

“The extracellular space is rich in potential biomarkers that may bear clinical importance,” Heffern said. “My research group is simultaneously expanding the chemical toolbox for this space and establishing new paradigms relating extracellular metal nutrient homeostasis and biomarker discovery.” 

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