Espinosa was awarded the Brodbeck Fellowship to further her research into the impact of yellow fever, and the fight against it, on the history of the Caribbean.
"In no other part of the globe has disease been more important to the course of historical events than in the Caribbean, at the crossroads of the Atlantic World," Espinosa explained in her proposal for the award. "Recent works in the field have underscored this point. They have, however, neglected the role of medicine: the generation, diffusion, acceptance, and application of medical knowledge about the distinctive disease environment of the region were equally important. In my new book manuscript, Fighting Fever in the Caribbean: Medicine and Empire, 1650-1902, I examine how both yellow fever and medical understandings of the disease combined to affect the struggle for empire in the region, the result of which yielded the multilingual, multicultural, multinational Caribbean of today."
The May Brodbeck Humanities Fellowship is a competitive award designed to encourage and support the study of language, linguistics, literature, philosophy, history, jurisprudence, criticism, and theory of the arts as well as humanistic aspects of the natural and social sciences.
The fellowship is named for May Brodbeck, who received her PhD in philosophy from the UI in 1947, under the supervision of Gustav Bergmann. In the later years of her career, she served as Carver Professor of Philosophy and Dean of the Faculties at the UI, and is credited with helping to create one of the first women's studies programs in the nation, now known as the Department of Gender, Women's & Sexuality Studies. Brodbeck retired in 1983, and died the same year.