Mentors are recent MA graduates who serve as a resource for and work exclusively with current MA students enrolled in the Alumni Connect mentorship program. 

For more information about the program, please see this page. Please contact Assistant Director, Samantha Fan, if you have any questions. 

Boyan Zheng 郑博研

Alumni Connect Mentor in Sociology

Boyan Zheng completed his master’s thesis in sociology under Professor Xi Song. He is an international student from Shandong, China. He primarily concentrates on the sociological study of mobility, family and education. He is particularly interested in the application of quantitative methods. After graduating from MAPSS in August 2018, Boyan Zheng is working at a research institute affiliated with UChicago while preparing his PhD applications. 

Marie Akerman

Alumni Connect Mentor in Sociology

Marie completed her master's thesis in sociology under Professor William Sites. Originally from Chicago, Marie spent 5 years working in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors before returning to school for MAPSS. Marie focused on urban sociology during her time in MAPSS, and after graduating she hopes to work in foundations, nonprofits, higher education administration, or another field where she can continue to learn about and support Chicago communities. Marie lived in the Albany Park neighborhood during her MAPSS year, and is happy to talk about what it was like to live outside Hyde Park—and about Chicago neighborhoods, restaurants, and sights worth checking out!

Noah Briggs

Alumni Connect Mentor in Political Science

Noah Briggs completed his master’s thesis in political theory under Adom Getachew. He is originally from Phoenix, AZ and is interested in the revolutionary moment, how revolutionary space is created, and how norm formation happens after revolution. In 2018 - 2019, Noah will be working in Chicago as well as conducting self-directed research. He has an academic background in economics, political science, and philosophy in addition to political theory. 


Catherine Che

Alumni Connect Mentor in Economics

Catherine is currently working on her master’s thesis, which looks at consumer demand for air travel, under Dr. Chad Syverson (Booth).  She was born in Tianjin, China, and spent 4 years in Germany as a kid before moving to Southern Illinois with her parents and younger brother. Within Economics, she is mainly interested in Industrial Organization (or as she likes to think of it, how real-world markets work). Currently, she is exploring other subfields as an EPIC predoctoral fellow, working for Professor Michael Greenstone (Economics), whose research agenda focuses on energy and environmental economics, largely in developing countries. She anticipates applying to PhD programs in the near future. One fun fact about Catherine is that she graduated from elementary school 3 times…

Rafael Cruz Gil

Alumni Connect Mentor in Anthropology

Rafael completed his master’s thesis in anthropology under Professor. James Osborne. He is originally from Mexico City, where he completed his undergraduate degree in archaeology. His interests lie in archaeological research, specifically how the material record allows us to understand interactions between different cultures, the emergence of complex societies, and the use of GIS methods. He is currently residing in Chicago while preparing his PhD applications.

Sanchita Dasgupta

Alumni Connect Mentor in Sociology

Sanchita completed her master’s thesis in sociology under Sharon Hicks-Bartlett. She is originally from Mumbai, India and has worked in the advertising industry in New Delhi for 5 years. Primarily a qualitative methodologist, her research interests revolve around gender and sexuality, enthusiastic sexual consent, hierarchies, partner selection, South Asia, and caste dynamics and discrimination. She will be working at the UChicago Survey Lab as a research assistant for the next academic year, while also applying to PhD programs in Sociology. She is part of the LGBTQ+ community on campus and can also speak to issues of being an international student of color. 

Sierra Feasel

Alumni Connect Mentor in Psychology

Sierra completed her master’s thesis in psychology under Professor Jane Risen. She is originally from Ladera Ranch, CA and moved to Northern California for undergrad at UC Berkeley. Her research interests include intergroup relations, and stereotyping and prejudice. Her master’s thesis focused on the role of mixed-identity individuals in intergroup contact at the summer camp Seeds of Peace. For the 2018-2019 year, Sierra will be working as the lab manager for Professor Risen in the Psychology of Belief and Judgment Lab in Booth. She will also continue working with Seeds of Peace as a research professional. Sierra transitioned to Chicago after spending her whole life on the West Coast and is happy to support anyone else making a big move for MAPSS. 

Carman W. Fowler

Alumni Connect Mentor in Psychology

Carman completed her master’s thesis in social psychology concerning the effects of one’s identity upon views of cultural appropriation under Dr. Ayelet Fischbach. Carman’s wider research interests include the connection between one’s identities and their moral decision making, as well as the effects of cognitive dissonance on decision making. She plans to utilize her experience from the MAPSS program to assist her this fall in applying to PhD programs in social psychology. Carman will be working this next year as a research support assistant in the Center for Decision Research in the Booth School of Business, while also continuing her research assistant position in Dr. Fischbach’s lab. Carman is a first-generation student from Camden, South Carolina and attended the University of South Carolina for her undergraduate degree. She is happy to help incoming students become acquainted with the services provided by the Center for Identity and Inclusion and the Student Health and Counseling Services. Carman is also an avid player of board games, extensive listener of podcasts, and spends her free time learning how to embroider. 

Zvi H. Hasnes-Beninson

Alumni Connect Mentor in History and Science Studies

Zvi completed his master’s thesis in science studies under Professor Paul Cheney of the history department. He is originally from Jerusalem, Israel. In the months to come, Zvi will apply for PhD programs in history and sociology of science. Zvi is interested in the mechanisms that naturalize ideologies into scientific disciplines, and the social, cultural and discursive implications of these processes. He intends to remain on campus for the 2018-2019 academic year as a teaching and research assistant. Before arriving to MAPSS, Zvi has completed an MA in the Cohn Institute for the history and philosophy of science and ideas at Tel-Aviv University. His TAU thesis won him the Amos Funkenstein Prize.

Emma Herms

Alumni Connect Mentor in Psychology

Emma Herms completed her master’s thesis in psychology under Dr. Harriet de Wit within the Human Behavioral Pharmacology Research Laboratory. Her research interests include psychotic disorders and neuroimaging. Post-graduation, Emma will be working under Dr. Keedy in the Clinical Neuroscience and Psychopharmacology Research Unit and plans to pursue a PhD program in clinical psychology. Emma is originally from Madison, Wisconsin and she actually enjoys the winter. She is a great resource for uplifting activities when the weather is not cheery. 

Brent Hoagland

Alumni Connect Mentor in Sociology

Brent completed his master's thesis in sociology under Professor Karin Knorr Cetina. Originally from New Jersey, he majored in economics at Lafayette College in Easton, PA, then spent five years of professional finance experience in New York City before moving to Chicago. Brent intends to pursue a PhD in the near future with a focus on sociological research in the topics of finance & accounting, infrastructure, law, information, and value. During the interim, he resides in Hyde Park and consults remotely.

Danielle Jacques

Alumni Connect Mentor in Sociology

Danielle hails from Worcester, MA. She completed her master’s thesis in sociology under Professor François Richard. Her research examined elite discourses on the “politics of indiscipline” in Dakar, Senegal. Still undecided on the PhD, Danielle’s goal for the immediate future is to gain experience working on international development projects in francophone West Africa. In her spare time, Danielle enjoys playing video games and meeting cats from around the world. Danielle is happy to give tips on navigating UChicago and academia as a first-generation student! 


Bobae Kang

Alumni Connect Mentor in Computational Sociology

Bobae completed his master’s thesis in sociology under Dr. Benjamin Soltoff. Bobae is originally from Seoul, South Korea and received his undergraduate education at Colgate University in upstate New York. Since his graduation from MAPSS in 2017 with the Certificate in Computational Social Sciences, Bobae has been working as a research analyst at the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, a state agency dedicated to improving the administration of criminal justice. Bobae has ongoing experience in searching for a balance between qualitative and quantitative approaches to social science research as well as in learning and using computational tools. He has been happily married to his wife who is from another culture/country and may have something to share about intercultural, international relationships.

Megan Kelly

Alumni Connect Mentor in Sociology

Megan completed her master’s thesis in sociology under Dr. Kristen Schilt.   Megan is interested in elites and processes of social stratification. Since she graduated from the MAPSS program, Megan has been doing independent consulting and working on her PhD applications. Megan is originally from Indiana, but has lived in Chicago for nearly 15 years.  Prior to coming to MAPSS, Megan worked in management consulting and healthcare strategy.  Megan previously had hobbies, but then she had a baby.  She now spends her free time enjoying Chicago with her husband and 2-year-old son.

Muxuan Lyu 吕慕翾

Alumni Connect Mentor in Psychology

Muxuan completed her master’s thesis in psychology under Dr. Marc Berman. She is currently working as a research assistant in Dr. Berman’s Environmental Neuroscience Lab. Her research interests include understanding how environmental factors affect people’s cognitive processes or behaviors and their underlying neural mechanisms. She is broadly interested in incorporating computational methods in her research. She is originally from Beijing, China and received her BS in psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 

Joshua Silver

Alumni Connect Mentor in Sociology

Joshua Silver completed his master’s thesis in sociology under Dr. Andrew Abbott. He is originally from Houston, Texas and is interested in the sociology of knowledge and culture. While at UChicago, Joshua worked as a writing intern in the College’s Humanities Core courses, as a teaching assistant at the Chicago Booth School of Business, and as an instructor for the Civic Knowledge Project. In the coming year, he will apply to PhD programs and continue to teach on campus and off.

Abigail (Abby) Spanier

Alumni Connect Mentor in Anthropology

Abby completed her master’s thesis in anthropology under Bozena Shallcross, focusing on gender and Jewish studies. She is originally from South Salem, NY and is currently seeking jobs with non-profit organizations sharing her values and interests. Abby is a gay woman who has experience in dealing with school-related anxiety and depression.

Dylan R. Tam

Alumni Connect Mentor in Psychology

Dylan served as lab manager for the Impression Formation Social Neuroscience lab under Professors Jeni Kubota and Jasmin Cloutier where they also completed their master's thesis on the topic of gender in social evaluation. Their academic interests include psychology, social neuroscience, gender studies and queer theory, and intersectionality. They are originally from New York City and attended Boston University from 2013-2017. After MAPSS they will be working in the downtown lab of the Center for Decision Research and hope to apply for the PhD for the 2020 cycle. They identify as queer and nonbinary and hope to bring these identities to light through their research. In their free time, they play the piccolo in the University Wind Ensemble. 

JonRobert Tartaglione

Alumni Connect Mentor in Psychology

JonRobert Tartaglione (or "Tat" as everyone calls him) received his first Master's (MSc) in Social Cognition from University College London, and my MAPSS thesis (advised by Dr. Eric Oliver) concentrated on how framing techniques can moderate political decision-making. Broadly, his research interests include political, moral, and financial judgment and decision-making, and the manners in which those processes are influenced. He currently operates his own consulting practice where he teaches clients how to operationalize concepts from psychology and behavioral science to more successfully accomplish their organizational objectives. Ultimately, he'd like to straddle the domains of consulting and academia (perhaps with a role as a visiting lecturer), and so while he intends to continue with his consulting work for the next few years, a PhD is more than likely on the horizon. He's originally from Rhode Island but has now lived in Chicago, New York, London, and Washington, DC.

Golnar Teimouri

Alumni Connect Mentor in Political Science

Golnar was born and raised in Tehran, Iran. She moved to the United States when she was 20 and earned both her BA and MA degrees in the U.S. She completed her master’s thesis in American politics and computational science under the supervision of Dr. Justin Grimmer. Her research interests are public opinion, representation, racial politics, and political methodology. She is currently working in a political campaign. She aims to pursue her PhD in political science. She loves exploring new places and in her 8 years of being in the US, she has lived in 5 different cities, 4 states!  Feel free to contact her if you are Middle-Eastern, an immigrant who constantly misses home, or just a big foodie who spends their lunchtime thinking about what they will eat for dinner!

Marisa Wakely

Alumni Connect Mentor in Psychology

Marisa Wakely completed her master's thesis in psychology while working in the Impression Formation and Social Neuroscience Lab under Professor Jasmin Cloutier and Professor Jennifer Kubota. Marisa was born and raised in Chicago, but completed her undergraduate degree at George Mason University in Virginia. As an undergrad, Marisa was a D1 athlete and completed an honors thesis on the effects of sleep deprivation on binge eating. She is currently the lab manager for the Social Cognitive Neuroscience Lab at the University of Chicago and is interested in morality, decision-making, and forensic psychology. 

Donghai Yu

Alumni Connect Mentor in History

Donghai Yu completed his master’s thesis in history under Professor Johanna Ransmeier. Donghai is from China, whose mountains and rivers he’s always obsessed with, but he also has a voracious appetite for dramas and gourmet foods from all over the world. For this reason, Chicago is so far so good for him. Starting in the fall, he will be working as a part-time RA near campus and applying for law school.  

Jiaqi Yu 于佳琪

Alumni Connect Mentor in Psychology

Jiaqi Yu completed her master’s thesis in psychology under Dr. Oleg Urminsky. Her research interests include self and identity, consumer behavior, and culture. She was born in Beijing, China. Before attending the MAPSS program, she earned a BA degree at Northwestern University. She has been living in Chicago for more than five years, so feel free to share your love and complaint about the Windy City with her!  

Chong Yu 余翀

Alumni Connect Mentor in Psychology

Chong completed her master’s thesis in psychology under Professor Oleg Urminsky. Chong comes from Beijing, China. She received a BS in psychology from Tsinghua University. Chong is broadly interested in judgment/decision-making, motivation and self-control, and emotions. She is currently working as a research assistant at Booth School of Business and hopes to pursue a PhD in social psychology or marketing in the future.

Ying Zeng 曾莹

Alumni Connect Mentor in Psychology

Originally from China, Ying completed her bachelor’s degrees in psychology and economics at Peking University. After that, Ying joined MAPSS and completed her master’s thesis in psychology under Professor Christopher Hsee. Her research mainly focuses on how human adults make judgment and decisions, and the situational factors that influence decision-making. Ying will work as a research assistant at the Booth School of Business during 2018-2019. Besides research, Ying is also a part-time volunteer at Midwest Workers Association in Chicago. She wants to understand and contribute to improving social inequality through practice.

Mindi Zhang

Alumni Connect Mentor in History

Mindi is a Chinese national originally from Hangzhou, China. He completed his master’s thesis in history under Dr. Johanna Ransmeier. He works on modern East Asian history, with a particular interest in the social and political experiences of marginalized groups such as prostitutes in early twentieth-century China. For 2018-2019, he plans to stay in Chicago and will be applying for PhD programs.