2019-20 Lab BA Fellowship Cohort

During the 2019-20 academic year, the Human Rights Lab piloted the inaugural cohort of the Lab BA Fellowship. Read a selection of theses from the 2019-20 Lab BA Fellows and watch a video of their year-end presentation on their thesis roundup page.


AK Alilonu (Public Policy, Computer Science)
AK’s thesis explores how Chicago residents respond to incidents of police misconduct, and what this says about the relationship between the Chicago Police Department and the neighborhoods it serves.

Britt Dorton (Comparative Human Development, Human Rights)
Britt researched the long-term mental health impacts of solitary confinement. She is particularly interested in the effects it has long after a person is released from prison.

Emma Ecker (Global Studies, Human Rights)
Emma’s thesis seeks to examine the social and structural forces that influence police and the criminal-legal system to criminalize human trafficking survivors. Despite national and state laws meant to protect trafficking victims from facing criminal charges, they are often kept in police custody, prosecuted, and incarcerated for crimes committed as a result of their victimization. This project reveals the causes of these lapses in legal protections in the hopes of improving a system that often fails survivors.

Taylor Fox (Political Science, Human Rights)
Taylor’s project illuminates the relationship between power and freedom in the context of contemporary prison struggles. Uniting theory and discursive analysis of interviews with National Prison Strike organizers, her project raises questions about the possibilities and challenges for transformative prisoner-led social movements.

Alisha Harris (Public Policy, Human Rights)
Alisha researched Radical Politics and government intervention as human rights issues through the comparative lens of the Black Panther Party (during the decade 1964 through 1974) and the Hong Kong Umbrella Movement.

Ayo Idowu (Public Policy, Geography)
Ayo’s thesis explores the spatial dimension of prison punishment by analyzing electronic monitoring. Using Cook County as a case study, her thesis uses geographic and policy texts to explore the future of U.S. prison reform. 

Madi Norman (Political Science, Philosophy and Allied Fields)
Madi’s thesis investigates the liberal tendency to seek gender justice through policing and punishment. In particular, the thesis uses discourse analysis and political theory to explore contemporary iterations of carceral feminism in recent political struggles as well as their popularity, despite a growing mainstream critique of mass incarceration.

Philip O’Sullivan (History, Math)
Philip wrote his thesis on a history of federal police misconduct lawsuits in Chicago in the 1960s.

Evan Zhao (Sociology, Critical Race and Ethnic Studies)
Evan conducted qualitative research on modernity and sexuality in China using interviews and ethnographic methods. Inspired by his bicultural upbringing, Evan’s project questions totalizing notions of neoliberal identity politics, offering a historicist and culturally interpretive approach towards a politics of difference. Focusing on the relationship between globalization, the state, and civil society, he has spent the past two summers exploring local and international communities in urban China.