Brian, Cohen, Kruger, Longfellow, Thaggert named DSHB Faculty Scholars

The CLAS awards—established by the UI's Developmental Studies Hybridoma Bank—fund humanities faculty research
Monday, December 4, 2017

When the Developmental Studies Hybridoma Bank (DSHB) at the University of Iowa announced its intention last year to fund research scholarships for UI humanities faculty, its director, Professor of Biology David Soll, said the initiative was meant to advance the broad-based education of liberal arts students, including aspiring scientists. 

"These DSHB Faculty Scholar awards will be directed not to scientists, but to professors in areas that teach our future scientists how to read, write, and think," Soll said. "We look at this as an investment in the future vitality of the scientific disciplines. All scientists need the skills that the humanities teach in order to engage in forward-looking, ethical research and communicate the relevance of their work to society."

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has now announced the second class of DSHB Faculty Scholars, who are engaged in the type of innovative humanities research envisioned by the DSHB board of advisors.

  • Associate Professor Amber Brian of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese will travel to Seville, Spain, for ten days during Spring 2018 in order to conduct research at the General Archive of the Indies (Archivo General de las Indias). As part of a larger project, she will locate and document examples of letters written in the sixteenth century by native leaders from Mexico to King Charles V and King Philip II. These letters sought to make claims for the status and autonomy of native communities during the colonial period. Professor Brian's research, which is part of a book-length study, will probe how colonized people used the genres and discourses of the colonizers in order to appeal for greater independence and privilege. As the 500th anniversary of Hernando Cortés's 1519 arrival to Mexico draws closer, there is increased scholarly and popular interest in the impact of the Spanish conquest and the ways in which native groups responded.
  • Associate Professor Mary Cohen of the School of Music will use the award to work on Silenced Voices: Music-making in U.S. Prisons. This ground-breaking book is about the potential power of music education in prisons, its ability to transform those within and beyond the prison walls, and inspire positive relationships, respect, and care. The previously published book on this topic is from 1936. Grounded in past practices of music-making in U.S. prisons and recent programs, discourse on transformative and restorative justice, and desistance theory, the book examines the successes and challenges faced by those facilitating programs, distills the pedagogical aspects that foster success, explores ethical and power structure issues, and provides ideas for starting new programs and applying core concepts. This funding will allow for in-person collaboration with the coauthor based in Connecticut, books and materials, and visits to select U.S. prisons that have music education programs.

  • Associate Professor Marie Kruger of the Departments of English and Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies will use the funding to return to her primary research site at Constitution Hill (Johannesburg), a former prison turned into a memorial site, and complete research for her book on South African visual culture and its representation of women’s traumatic experiences with racially motivated violence in apartheid South Africa. Her project links the representation and commodification of trauma to specific types of visual culture (films; memorials) and the vulnerabilities of the female body. In Johannesburg, she will evaluate previously unavailable archival resources and document new types of interactions through which visitors are invited to engage with the permanent exhibitions. As a result, Professor Kruger’s research will stay current with recent developments at the site and allow her to  incorporate the new materials into the book’s existing drafts.

  • Associate Professor Brenda Longfellow of the School of Art and Art History will undertake field research at the ancient Roman city of Pompeii in Italy. The goal of the research is to produce the first systematic survey of the monuments, inscriptions, and objects in the city’s sanctuaries, markets, civic center, and cemeteries that were commissioned by or for women. This survey will provide the source material for Professor Longfellow’s single-author book titled Women in Public in Pompeii. Because this book analyzes the economic and social implications of public activities and engagement of women in Pompeii, Professor Longfellow’s research will further our understanding of the historical nature of female involvement in the larger community and outside of the domestic sphere. Professor Longfellow teaches courses on ancient Roman art history, including a course specifically on Pompeii. Her research during the award period will directly inform undergraduate and graduate discussions in all of her classes about women in the Roman world.

  • Associate Professor Miriam Thaggert of the Departments of English and Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies will use the award to complete her second single-author book, Riding Jane Crow: African American Women and the Railroad, a social and literary history of African American women and nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century train travel in the United States. Despite the storied position the railroad occupies in American cultural memory and numerous published books on American railroad history, the experiences of African American women are notably absent. While scholars have examined black men’s relationship with the railroad as a symbol representing a blues-inflected freedom or Jim Crow segregation, Professor Thaggert argues that a focus on the experiences of black women more fully depicts the paradoxical progress and retrenchment of black travel during this period. Looking at the railroad—the period’s most triumphant technological achievement—through the eyes of a group that routinely had its citizenship status and femininity questioned reveals the train car as a political space, where racial and gender identities were performed and contested. The award will cover travel to research archives.

The DSHB Faculty Scholar program annually supports up to five rotating positions in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Each DSHB Faculty Scholar, selected by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, receives $2,500 over two years to defray research-related expenses such as travel and archiving in the service of a specific project.

The Developmental Studies Hybridoma Bank is housed in the UI Department of Biology, but is independently funded solely through sales of biological samples to biomedical researchers. Created in 1986 by the National Institutes of Health as a national resource, DSHB exists to facilitate biomedical research by providing monoclonal antibody samples to researchers at a fraction of the cost of commercial markets. With the largest non-commercial collection of such samples in the world, which are used to fight cancer and other diseases, DSHB has some 110,000 customers worldwide, including about 200 at the UI. DSHB holds exclusive distribution rights with the National Cancer Institute. 


The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Iowa is a comprehensive college offering 68 majors in the humanities; fine, performing and literary arts; natural and mathematical sciences; social and behavioral sciences; and communication disciplines. More than 17,000 undergraduate and 1,900 graduate students study each year in the college’s 37 departments, led by professors at the forefront of teaching and research in their disciplines. The college teaches all UI undergraduates through the General Education Program, and confers about 70 percent of the UI's bachelor's degrees each academic year.