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 2022 Fellows! See the list of past participants here.

2022 Cohort

Clara Bergamini, History 
“Learning Nation and Enacting Empire Through Disaster”

Leonard Butingan, History
“Black Anti-Racism Activism and the Afterlife of Empire in Britain 1978-2000”

Susanna Collinson, History of Art and Visual Culture
“Pacific Experiments”

Anandi Gandhi, Anthropology
“Coexistent Futures: Elephant Socialities in South-East Asia”

Mario Gómez-Zamora, Latin American and Latino Studies
“Colonial Violence, Murder, and Strategies of Resistance among Queer P’urhépecha People in Michoacán and the United States”

Kaiya Gordon, Feminist Studies
“Abolition, Community Practices, and Gender Variance in the Transsexual News Telegraph Collection”

Aaron Samuel Mulenga, History of Art and Visual Culture
“Embodied Absence: The Phantom Load of the Tenga Tenga”

Lalu Esra Ozban, Film and Digital Media
“Koli Sinemaları: Sex Cinemas as Trans Sites of Memory, Community-Building, and Sex Work”

Matthew Polzin, Literature
“Speculative Biologies: Race, Gender, and Science in Feminist and Queer Utopian Fiction”

Koda Sokol, Sociology
“Feeling Gendered: Affect and the Relational Politics of Gender Recognition”

Summer Sullivan, Environmental Studies
“Fantasies of Farm Labor: Digital Agriculture’s New Kind of Worker in the Salinas Valley Lettuce Industry”

Alex Wand, Music
“Monarch Waystation Soundmap: Tracing the Migratory Corridors of the Western Monarch Butterfly”