Mellon Fellows

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has generously funded three fellowships as part of the Sawyer Seminar.

 Lisa Ortiz
(Mellon Postdoctoral Research Fellow, 2019-2020)

Lisa Ortiz is a 2020-21 Provost Postdoctoral Faculty Fellow continuing at the University of Iowa after her appointment as the 2019-20 Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Research Fellow for the “Imagining Latinidades: Articulations of National Belonging” Mellon Sawyer Seminar in the Latina/o Studies Program at the University of Iowa. As an interdisciplinary scholar, her work is grounded at the intersection of Latina/x/o (im)migration, media, and education and specifically explores how, in the context of Puerto Rico, the media portray migration processes in comparison to first-person accounts of their migration experience. Her book project examines (non)traditional ideas of education by focusing on Puerto Ricans moving between the Rural Midwest and Puerto Rico. The book unveils how Puerto Rican migrants and their families employ community and cultural knowledges to find and define their own joy and progress in light of existing colonial inequalities. She earned her Ph.D. in Educational Policy Studies with minors in Latina/o Studies and Gender & Women’s Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2018.

Rachel Torres 
(Mellon Dissertation Fellow, 2019-2020)

Rachel Torres is PhD candidate at the University of Iowa in Political Science. She graduated from the University of North Texas with a B.A. in Political Science in 2016, and was previously a McNair Scholar. Her dissertation is related to the political beliefs and behaviors of both foreign- and nativeborn Latinx populations, specifically regarding the impact of variation in immigration enforcement. Rachel was a 2017-2018 American Political Science Association Minority Fellow, and has presented her work at various conferences within the discipline. Most recently, Rachel presented two co-authored papers at the Western Political Science Association’s 2019 meeting in San Diego California. Find out more at

Enrico Bruno
(Mellon Dissertation Fellow, 2019-2020)

Enrico Bruno is a PhD student in English studying American literature from the late 19th century to today. His literary interests include black American literature, the migration of fabulist trends across geographic and cultural boundaries, literature of the (post)Plantation. His dissertation, tentatively titled Flying African Americans: The Trope of Black Flight in 20th/21st Century Literature, relies on black American social and literary history since the end of the civil rights movement, the role—and evolution—of folklore within the African American literary tradition, and Henry Louis Gates, Jr.’s concept of tropological revision to explore how black writers have revised and renegotiated the trope of literal human flight to address various forms of unfreedom in each author’s unique historical moment. Before coming to Iowa, he earned a BA in English and Creative Writing from The College of New Jersey and worked in the publishing industry in NYC.