Laura Martin began working with The Humanities Institute team in 2019 on the Deep Read Initiative, a community reading program that brings together undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, staff, alumni, and members of the community to think deeply about literature, art, and important issues of our time. The program, which is organized around one contemporary author and book each year, features books from a wide range of genres and explores their role in our politics, lives, and communities. Laura teaches the undergraduate Deep Read course at Porter College, manages the Deep Read program, and assists with other THI projects. She is a literary scholar, writer, and teacher, and she holds a PhD in Literature from UC Santa Cruz. Her research focuses on the relationship between servitude, slavery, colonization, and race in the 17th-and 18th-century Anglo-American Atlantic, with a particular focus on the early novel. She is also a Lecturer at Porter College and in the Literature Department.
Saskia Nauenberg Dunkell joined The Humanities Institute team in 2019 to manage the Mellon-funded Expanding Humanities Impact and Publics project. This project supports graduate student success and public scholarship through a range of events, workshops, and initiatives. Saskia is a humanistic social scientist and holds a PhD in sociology from UCLA. Her research examines the development, spread, and implementation of transitional justice measures used to address human rights violations in the wake of mass violence, and draws on her extensive fieldwork in Colombia. Before moving to UC Santa Cruz, she was a Research Affiliate at the UCLA Promise Institute for Human Rights, a Program Director for Global Youth Connect’s Colombia Human Rights Delegation, and a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Kingdom of Tonga.
Jessica Guild has a BA in Latin American and Latino Studies with Honors from the University of California Santa Cruz and an MA in Cultural Sustainability from Goucher College. After several years working in youth development, Jessica found her way back to UCSC working in the Humanities Division and the Humanities Institute, where she enjoys showcasing the work of humanist students and faculty. Jessica is passionate about environmental and agricultural sustainability, traveling the world, exploring the outdoors, cooking, biking, skiing, and reading. She is also a big sci-fi and fantasy nerd.
Irena Polic is the Managing Director of The Humanities Institute and a passionate advocate for the humanities in the public sphere. She studied philosophy, literature, and linguistics and is a UC Santa Cruz alumna (BA and MA in Linguistics). She returned to UC Santa Cruz in 2008 to help lead the effort to reimagine the humanities research infrastructure on campus. Prior to that, Irena worked at the UC Humanities Research Institute at UC Irvine where she managed special research projects and organized workshops, seminars, and art exhibits with international collaborators. Irena was profiled in the UC Santa Cruz Review Magazine in 2012 and selected as the Outstanding Staff Member for UC Santa Cruz in 2017. She is an active member of the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes, UC Humanities Network, and the National Humanities Alliance.
Nathaniel Deutsch is a professor of history, the Director of the Center for Jewish Studies, and the Chair of the Consortium of University of California Humanities Centers. He holds the Murray Baumgarten Endowed Chair in Jewish Studies. His award winning books include The Maiden of Ludmir: A Jewish Holy Woman and Her World (University of California Press), Inventing America’s “Worst” Family: Eugenics, Islam, and the Fall and Rise of the Tribe of Ishmael (University of California Press), and The Jewish Dark Continent: Life and Death in the Russian Pale of Settlement (Harvard University Press), for which he received a Guggenheim Fellowship. Deutsch’s writings have appeared in The New York Times, Haaretz, and many other publications and he has served as an advisor for a wide range of museums, university programs, non-profits, and other cultural organizations. He is currently co-authoring (with Michael Casper), The Camp in the Desert: Hasidim, Hipsters, and the Gentrification of Williamsburg, Brooklyn (Yale University Press, forthcoming) and creating The Digital Minhag Archive, a crowd-sourced, on-line collection of Jewish customs from around the world.