Academics, Campus News

Meet the newest Carolina Postdoctoral Program for Faculty Diversity Fellows

The six CPPFD researchers will gain funding and mentorship through this three-decade-old program, a model for diversity in higher education.

(From left to right) Anna Fetter, Julia Yi, Millicent Robinson, Raquel Escobar, Rebekah Cross, Ling Zhang
(From left to right) Anna Fetter, Julia Yi, Millicent Robinson, Raquel Escobar, Rebekah Cross, Ling Zhang.

UNC-Chapel Hill is pleased to announce the 2022-24 Carolina Postdoctoral Program for Faculty Diversity Fellows.

The CPPFD prides itself on being a model for diversity in higher education and on effectively developing postdoctoral scholars. This year, the program will fund six new postdoctoral researchers and immerse them in their fields with support from mentors. The goal of the CPPFD is to aid in diversifying the tenured faculty community at Carolina or other research universities.

The CPPFD has provided opportunity and guidance for a multitude of researchers representing diverse groups for more than 30 years. We are pleased to introduce the newest group of fellows.

Ling Zhang, School of Education

Zhang’s research primarily focuses on designing, implementing and evaluating technology-enhanced personalized learning (PL) for students with and without disabilities in diverse educational settings. She takes an interdisciplinary approach to investigating PL that is grounded in inclusive instructional design frameworks and learning theories. In addition, Zhang’s research explores effective ways to improve educators’ capacity to integrate emerging technologies and innovative teaching methods into PL. To achieve these goals, she works with researchers across disciplines from universities, non-profit educational organizations and industry to promote accessible, inclusive and innovative experiences for all learners.

Zhang holds a doctorate in special education with a focus on instructional design, technology and innovation from the University of Kansas.

Julia Yi, School of Medicine

Yi’s research focuses on language and literacy, especially as it relates to disability, race and socioeconomic issues. She is working on developing targeted literacy interventions for adolescents who are under the jurisdiction of courts, given the disproportionately higher rates of language and literacy impairments amongst these adolescents. Yi’s interests are guided by more than a decade of experiences working as a speech-language pathologist with children and adolescents with disabilities in urban schools and in her private practice, which focused on supporting students with language-based learning disabilities.

Yi holds a doctorate in speech and hearing sciences with a focus on literacy from UNC-Chapel Hill.

Rebekah Israel Cross, Gillings School of Global Public Health

Cross is a population health scientist with training in sociobehavioral sciences, urban planning and health policy. Her research explores how racism shapes the health of Black communities in two ways: conceptualizing and measuring racism to document its impact on population health and explaining how housing-related injustices determine how space is managed, maintained and made accessible to different people. She’s also interested in how progressive housing interventions can counteract injustice and improve population health.

Cross holds a doctorate in community health sciences from the UCLA Jonathan and Karin Fielding School of Public Health and a master’s in sociology from American University.

Raquel Escobar, College of Arts and Sciences

Escobar is an interdisciplinary scholar whose research areas include race and Indigeneity, colonialism and empire, and political and intellectual history. She is writing a book manuscript tentatively titled, “Indigenous Diplomacies: Negotiating and Mapping Indigeneity in the Americas.” The book documents transnational Indigenous political and intellectual networks that blossomed across the Americas during the 20th century. By mapping these exchanges and centering Indigenous perspectives from a range of positionalities, the book manuscript shows how racial frameworks and constructions of Indigeneity were relationally developed in the Americas.

Escobar holds a doctorate in history with a graduate minor in American Indian and Indigenous studies from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Anna Kawennison Fetter, College of Arts and Sciences

Fetter is broadly interested in the development of resiliency among marginalized youth and emerging adults. Her research focuses on how culturally relevant and identity-based stressors and coping strategies at multiple levels contribute to the longitudinal development of resilience among Indigenous youth and emerging adults, with a particular focus on educational contexts. In partnership with community stakeholders, Fetter aims to ultimately inform educational policy and practice to best support Indigenous youth.

Fetter holds a doctorate in counseling psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Master of Education in human development and psychology from Harvard University.

Millicent N. Robinson, School of Social Work

Robinson investigates the life-course biopsychosocial mechanisms that distinguish mental and physical health risk among Black women. Robinson’s research agenda integrates theories and perspectives from social work, public health, medical sociology, and African, African American, and diaspora studies to address three key issues: interconnections between mental and physical health, culturally relevant forms of coping and ethnic heterogeneity among Black women. Robinson’s goal is to be an interdisciplinary scholar whose research provides a comprehensive framework elucidating the pathways through which social stress and coping processes shape the health outcomes of ethnically diverse Black women.

Robinson holds a doctorate in community health sciences from the UCLA Jonathan and Karin Fielding School of Public Health.