Presidential Visiting Fellows 2017-18


Yale welcomes these distinguished scholars and practitioners to campus in 2017-18 as Presidential Visiting Fellows

Presidential Visiting Fellows are appointed as part of the Faculty Excellence and Diversity Initiative.  Approximately 10 exceptional scholars and practitioners who contribute to inclusive excellence will be appointed each year during the initiative

School of Architecture

Amina Blacksher, M.Arch ‘10
Senior Critic

Amina Blacksher, M.Arch ‘10, is an alum of the Yale School of Architecture and was named the Robert Leon Combs Scholar for Excellence in Architectural Design at commencement.  She has worked at two notable firms where she has taken on a leadership role. She has contributed to the architecture community at large through her role as a mentor with the Architecture, Construction, and Engineering (ACE) Mentor Program.  She has recently been on student reviews at the School and has distinguished herself as a superb, articulate critic with a strong grounding in contemporary architectural discourse. Ms. Blacksher will be teaching in three courses: 1011a – the first semester design studio for entering M.Arch I students; 1113b – a second semester advanced design studio she will teach along with the visiting Kahn Professor; and 1016b- Visualization III: Fabrication and Assembly – a required technical and theoretical course on three dimensional representation.

School of Art

A. L. Steiner
Senior Critic

A.L. Steiner utilizes constructions of photography, video, installation, collage, collaboration, performance, writing and curatorial work as seductive tropes channeled through the sensibility of a skeptical queer ecofeminist androgyne. Steiner is co-curator of Ridykeulous, co-founder of Working Artists and the Greater Economy (W.A.G.E.), a collective member of Chicks on Speed, and collaborates with numerous writers and artists. Steiner is based in Los Angeles and New York, and is featured in permanent collections such as The Brooklyn Museum of Art, Marieluise Hessel Collection of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, The Hammer Museum and The Museum of Modern Art. She is represented by Deborah Schamoni Gallerie in Munich and Koenig & Clinton in New York. Steiner received a BA in communications in 1989 from George Washington University. Steiner is currently MFA Adjunct Faculty at Bard College and was appointed critic in photography at Yale in 2016.  (Source:

Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Kristie Dotson
Visiting Associate Professor, Philosophy

Kristie Dotson is an associate professor at Michigan State University in the Department of Philosophy.  She received her M.A. and Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Memphis. She also received a MA from the University of Illinois at Chicago in Literature and a BA in African American Studies and English Literature from Coe College. Professor Dotson researches in epistemology, feminist philosophy (particularly Black feminism and feminist epistemology), and critical philosophy of race (bio from University of Michigan State, Dept. Philosophy website).

Stephanie Fielding
Lecturer, Linguistics

Stephanie Fielding is a member of the Mohegan Nation and is a leader in the area of language revitalization. She has a master’s degree in linguistics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where her thesis explored the phonology of Mohegan; this important scholarly work laid the groundwork for her subsequent efforts in revitalizing the Mohegan language. Fielding was elected to the Mohegan Council of Elders in 2008, the governing body for the Tribe for matters relating to language, culture, and religious governance. Fielding’s leadership in language revitalization and reclamation has been recognized through her appointment to the Board of Directors of the Endangered Language Fund and her invitations to teach classes on both the Mohegan language and on language revitalization in a variety of contexts (for example at the NSF-funded CoLang Summer School on language documentation). She is also an author of children’s books in Mohegan and pedagogical materials for adults.

Kimuli Kasara
Visiting Associate Professor, Political Science

Kimuli Kasara is an associate professor of political science at Columbia University. In the African context, She focuses on ethnic demography, political violence, and distributive politics. She has published in the American Political Science Review, the American Journal of Political Science, the Journal of Politics. Her current research is on how economic and demographic change affect politicians’ responses to ethnic and economic heterogeneity historically worldwide as well as in post-independence Africa. (Source:

Airin Denise Martinez
Visiting Assistant Professor, Race, Indigeneity, Transnational Migration and Sociology

Airin Martinez is an Assistant Professor in the School of Transborder Studies at Arizona State University.  She completed the W.K. Kellogg Health Scholars Program at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health between 2010-2012. In that postdoctoral fellowship, she learned to conduct community based participatory research (CBPR). In 2010, she received her PhD in Sociology from the University of California-San Francisco. Her areas of research interest include: Community-Based Participatory Research; Gender; Global & Transnational Sociology; Grounded Theory/Situational Analysis; Mixed Methods; Race & Ethnicity (Latinxs); Sociology of Health and Illness; and Sociology of Food.  At Yale, Dr. Martinez will contribute to areas of interest in the Center for the study of Race, Indigeneity and Transnational Migration, both for graduate and undergraduate students. For Sociology, she will engage in issues such as migration, ethnicity, inequality and health.

Angel David Nieves
Visiting Associate Professor, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Angel David Nieves codirects Hamilton’s Digital Humanities Initiative. He completed his doctoral work in architectural history and Africana studies at Cornell University. Nieves coedited the book, We Shall Independent Be: African American Place-Making and the Struggle to Claim Space in the U.S., and is associate editor of Fire!!!: A Multimedia Journal of Black Studies, among other work. and Newsweek have featured his digital research and scholarship. Nieves’ scholarly work and community-based activism engages with issues of memory, heritage preservation, gender and nationalism at the intersections of race and the built environment in cities across the Global South.  (Source:

Rafael Rojas
Visiting Professor, Spanish and Portuguese

Rafael Rojas, a distinguished Cuban essayist and historian who currently resides in Mexico and is Professor of Latin American History at the CIDE (Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas).  He will be a Visiting Professor at Princeton in Fall 2017 and will visit Yale for the Spring 2018 semester.
Working across the disciplines of history and literary studies, Professor Rojas has authored over twenty books on topics ranging from Latin American Independence-Era cultural and political debates to contemporary issues of Cuban culture, politics, and art.  His important research on how the trans-Atlantic exchange of cultural ideas and debates took place between Spain and Latin America in 20th-century literary and cultural journals, will help build out Spanish’s focus on trans-Atlantic cultural relations between Spain and Latin America and will contribute to the department in the areas of teaching on topics related to contemporary Latin American culture. 

Daniel Steinmetz-Jenkins
Lecturer, Religious Studies

Daniel Steinmetz-Jenkins is a historian of Modern Western European Political and Intellectual History with a specific focus on 20th century France and Germany. He has subsidiary interests in Transatlantic Intellectual History. He primarily concentrates on such topics as conservatism, nationalism, secularism, and religion and politics.  He is currently working on a manuscript for Columbia University Press titled, Raymond Aron and Postwar American Political Ideologies.

He recently stepped down from being the managing editor of the Immanent Frame, which is the Social Science Research Council’s website devoted to questions of religion, secularism and the public sphere. 

His public commentary has appeared in The Nation, Foreign Affairs, The Atlantic, Times Literary Supplement, Dissent Magazine, and elsewhere.  

In 2016-2017 was the post-doctoral fellow in Public Theology for UC Berkeley’s Center for the Study of Religion. At Yale he will be offering religion and politics courses in the Department of Religious Studies. 


Diego Alejandro von Vacano
Visiting Associate Professor, Political Science

Dr. von Vacano is the Editor of the Oxford University Press book series “Studies in Comparative Political Theory.”  He has been a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. He was also a Member of the School of Social Science of the Institute for Advanced Study, in Princeton, NJ, during 2008-2009. He is the author of The Color of Citizenship: Race, Modernity and Latin American/Hispanic Political Thought (Oxford University Press, January 2012) and The Art of Power: Machiavelli, Nietzsche and the Making of Aesthetic Political Theory (Lexington Books/Rowman & Littlefield, November 2006), as well as of various articles, including a piece on “The Scope of Comparative Political Theory” for the Annual Review of Political Science in 2015. He received his doctorate in Politics from Princeton University and his master’s degree in public policy from Harvard University. He also studied in the College of Social Studies at Wesleyan University. He was born and raised in Bolivia, moving to the US as a political refugee in his youth. As an immigrant in New York City, he learned English at PS 102 in Elmhurst, Queens. He is a frequent contributor to NBC NEWS Latino.
Dr. von Vacano’s teaching and research interests are in political theory, political philosophy and the history of political thought. He works mainly in Comparative Political Theory (modern Latin American and European political thought) and also in immigration ethics and race & ethnicity. The authors he focuses on are Machiavelli, Las Casas, Nietzsche, Bolivar, and Vasconcelos. Prior to joining the faculty at Texas A&M University, Dr. von Vacano served on the faculties of Hunter College CUNY, Vassar College, and Williams College. He was also a Visiting Scholar in Latin American Studies at Columbia University. Professor von Vacano has been the recipient of an NEH faculty grant in Latin American philosophy; the University Center for Human Values Graduate Fellowship at Princeton University; and grants from the Spencer Foundation, Tinker Foundation, and Mellon Foundation as well as from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, where he studied Public Policy of Political and Economic Development. (Source:

School of Forestry & Environmental Studies

Michael Mendez

Michael Mendez returns as a James and Mary Pinchot Fellow of Sustainability Studies, Associate Research Scientist and Lecturer.  His research interests include urban planning, public health, and Science & Technology Studies (STS) how the built environment, policymaking process, and social movements influence sustainability and population health in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color.  He arrived at Yale from the University of San Francisco, where he was the Provost’s Inaugural Gerardo Marin Postdoctoral Scholar.

School of Medicine

Christopher Cutter

Dr. Cutter is a clinician researcher whose focus is on evidence-based therapeutic interventions associated with substance abuse and chronic pain. He serves as a research supervisor and course instructor for the Department of Psychiatry, including the Child Study Center, and Division of Substance Abuse. He precepts Yale School of Medicine psychiatry and psychology fellows on the application of cognitive-behavioral therapeutic approaches to chronic pain and opiate dependence. Dr. Cutter currently serves as the director of Silver Hill Hospital’s Chronic Pain and Recovery Center, and clinic director of the Pain Treatment Services at the APT Foundation.