UCSC SSRC-Dissertation Proposal Development Program


The Dissertation Proposal Development program trains doctoral students to apply an interdisciplinary approach in the early stages of their graduate careers. Participants in the program receive financial and mentoring support for summer research and attend practical workshops in spring and fall that introduce them to a range of social science, cultural, and humanistic methodologies.

At UC Santa Cruz, the Social Science Research Council Dissertation Proposal Development (UCSC SSRC-DPD) project supports dissertation proposal development through interdisciplinary peer discussion and faculty perspectives; training in key research and related professional skills; introduction to a range of social science, cultural, and humanistic methodologies; and practical workshop activities to advance PhD students’ progress towards candidacy and dissertation research/writing. As students shift from coursework and exploratory research to independent, original research, they learn from their peers and benefit from the program’s emphasis on communicating across disciplinary boundaries.

UC Santa Cruz was one of five universities selected to take part in the SSRC University Initiative and received a three-year grant to launch the UCSC SSRC-DPD program. In 2020, four UC Santa Cruz divisions supporting the program expanded the award’s impact by extending funding for a further three years. The Humanities Institute hosts this initiative, and we are pleased to work with the Division of Graduate Studies, the Humanities Division, the Social Sciences Division, and the Arts Division to continue to support graduate students through innovative and interdisciplinary approaches to research proposal training.



Grace Delgado, History (2016 – 2019, 2021)

Miriam Greenberg, Sociology (2016 – 2018, 2019 – 2020)

Debbie Gould, Sociology (2018 – 2022)

Muriam Haleh Davis, History (2022)



A series of profiles focused on graduate students highlights the diversity of research on campus and the impact of interdisciplinary training fostered through the SSRC-DPD program.



The SSRC-DPD program welcomes participants from a wide-range of Humanities, Social Sciences, and Arts Division departments including History, Environmental Studies, Feminist Studies, History of Consciousness, Sociology, Latin American and Latino Studies, and History of Art and Visual Culture. Congratulations to the 2021 Fellows! See the list of past participants here.

2021 Cohort

Christina Ayson Plank, History of Art and Visual Culture
“Counter-framing the Nation: Art and Visual Culture of the Filipino Labor Diaspora”

Bree Booth, Latin American and Latino Studies
“Tracing Queerness Through the Atlantic”

Philip Conklin, History of Consciousness
“Visionary Politics: Popular Religious Movements in the Colonial Philippines”

Ksenia Firsova, Film and Digital Media
“Robocops and Prison Spaceships: Carceral Futurism in American Film and Television”

Ana Flecha, Latin American and Latino Studies
“The Santo Daime Bailado as Racialized and Gendered Psychedelic Religious Choreography”

Michelaina Johnson, Environmental Studies
“Towards Equitable Groundwater Governance: A Case Study of California’s Most Critically Overdrafted Coastal Basin”

Marilia Kaisar, Film and Digital Media
“When Bodies and Algorithms Meet”

Alexyss McClellan-Ufugusuku, History
“Unmari kara Shimanchu, itsui madei Bichidannu: Ryukyuan Indigeneity and its Implications for Geopolitical Protocol, 1945-2019”

Rowan Powell, Politics
“Radical Land Reform and Real Estate at St George’s Hill: A Case Study In and Against Colonial Property”

Catherine Ries, History of Art and Visual Culture
“Facets of the Feminine: Javanese Portraits of Women, Material Culture, and Islam”

Joshua Tan, History
“Migrants and Missionaries: Chinese Diaspora, Religion, and the Cold War”

Jonathan van Harmelen, History
“Legislating Injustice: Congress and the Incarceration of Japanese Americans”