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The American Bar Foundation Welcomes the 2019 Undergraduate Research Diversity Fellows

June 17, 2019, Press releases

Chicago, June 17, 2019 — The American Bar Foundation (ABF) has selected four exemplary undergraduate students as the 2019 recipients of the Undergraduate Research Diversity Fellowships in Law and Social Science (URDF). The 2019 fellows were selected from a highly competitive group of over 200 applicants and have demonstrated excellence throughout their undergraduate careers. This year’s fellows are Mariah Dozé, Lisette Gonzalez-Flores, Nya Hardaway, and Evan Zhao.

The ABF offers a rich environment to students from diverse backgrounds who are considering careers in legal research or the practice of law. Each fellow works closely with a specially designated ABF Research Professor on the design and implementation of a research project, affording them the rare opportunity to do socio-legal research with experienced scholars. While the students work primarily as research assistants, they also attend a series of seminars conducted by ABF faculty, program alumni, and practitioners in the legal system in Chicago, who acquaint the students with their research and work.

For the first time, the URDF Fellows will take part in two distinct fellowship opportunities that will introduce them to the demands of a research-oriented career in the field of law and/or social science. Dozé, Zhao, and Hardaway will take part in the Summer Research Diversity Fellowship for eight weeks during the summer. The Summer Fellowship opportunities are supported by the Kenneth F. and Harle G. Montgomery Foundation and Walmart.

“The Montgomery Foundation is a long-standing supporter of the Undergraduate Diversity Fellowship,” said Bryant Garth, President of the Kenneth F. and Harle G. Montgomery Foundation. “This program’s proactive approach in preparing diverse undergraduates for careers in law practice or the academy has meant that the ABF has had a direct and quantifiable effect on the diversity of the legal profession.”

“Walmart is proud to continue our support of ABF diversity programs and excited to be supporting the URDF for the first time this year,” said Charys Williams, Director and Counsel, Global Governance Professional Education & Development, at Walmart.  “Through support of the research and scholarship of talented students from underrepresented groups, the URDF program is a catalyst for broader inclusion in the legal profession.”

Gonzalez-Flores will be the inaugural Law School Admission Council (LSAC) Research Diversity Fellow. The LSAC, which has generously supported the Research Diversity Fellowship in the past, is now sponsoring a year-long fellowship opportunity which will last from June 2019 to May 2020.

“The Law School Admission Council is honored to support this program because of the critical need for researchers from diverse backgrounds and the ABF’s commitment to scholarly research,” said Kent Lollis, LSAC Vice President & Chief Diversity Officer.

Many URDF alumni go on to pursue academic careers in the social sciences and law, careers as legal practitioners, or work in government, social policy or business. The fellowship has produced many notable alumni, including Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar, a 1992 URDF alumnus who is now a Justice of the California Supreme Court. Cuéllar was also named a potential nominee for an appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2016. Another notable alumnus, Danielle Holley-Walker, currently serves as the dean of Howard University School of Law. Holley-Walker was given the inaugural Research Diversity Fellowship Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2018. 

“We are delighted to welcome a new cohort of Undergraduate Research Fellows to the ABF and Chicago this summer,” said Ajay K. Mehrotra, ABF Executive Director.  “This fellowship speaks to the ABF’s core values in building the pipeline of diverse legal professionals and aspiring scholars.”

About the American Bar Foundation

The American Bar Foundation (ABF) is among the world’s leading research institutes for the empirical and interdisciplinary study of law. The ABF seeks to expand knowledge and advance justice through innovative, interdisciplinary, and rigorous empirical research on law, legal processes, and legal institutions.  To further this mission the ABF will produce timely, cutting-edge research of the highest quality to inform and guide the legal profession, the academy, and society in the United States and internationally. The ABF’s primary funding is provided by the American Bar Endowment and the Fellows of The American Bar Foundation.


 The 2019 Undergraduate Research Diversity Fellows 

Mariah Dozé, of Saint Louis, Missouri, is a rising fourth-year at Emory University pursuing a B.A. in sociology and African American studies as a Robert W. Woodruff Dean's Achievement Scholar (DAS) She is interested in prison reform and striving for racial and economic justice in the U.S. legal system.  She has worked in the American Civil Liberties Union's (ACLU) national office as the only undergraduate intern in the Criminal Law Reform Project (CLRP), where she conducted sociolegal research and corresponded with attorneys to help prepare court cases for trial. An avid researcher, Dozé's research exploring the intersection between rhetorical studies and social justice was awarded publication in the peer-reviewed, scholarly journal Young Scholars in Writing. On campus, she works to advance under-served populations through initiatives like the DUC-ling Worker Scholarship Fund, which she founded to support food service workers on her campus. She also co-founded the Emory chapter of IGNITE, which is an organization that seeks to close the gender gap in politics and support women interested in becoming public servants. Currently, she is studying abroad in Ghana gaining insight into the Ghanaian penal system and learning about economic development. Dozé hopes to pursue a J.D. to further her study of human and civil rights law after graduation and will work with ABF Research Professor Laura Beth Nielsen during her summer fellowship.

Lisette Gonzalez-Flores

Lisette Gonzalez-Flores, of Glendale Heights, Illinois, is a rising junior at the University of Chicago majoring in Sociology and Comparative Race & Ethnic Studies as an Odyssey and Questbridge Scholar. She is a fiercely proud Latina, daughter of Mexican immigrants, and the first in her family to attend college. While at UChicago, she has dedicated herself to making this institution a more inclusive community by serving on the Executive Boards of El Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlan (MEChA), a decades old national student organization created from the seeds of the Chicano Movement, and Leaders of Color, an organization committed to providing students of color with leadership and professional development. Gonzalez-Flores is passionate about immigrant rights, working as a legal researcher for an immigration law firm in Chicago last summer. She is interested in the intersection of immigration, law, and higher education, seeking to understand the barriers to mobility for Latinx immigrants. Gonzalez-Flores hopes to pursue a both a J.D and Ph.D in Sociology and will work with ABF Director Emeritus Robert Nelson during her summer fellowship. 

Nya Hardaway

Nya Hardaway, of Cleveland, Ohio, is a rising senior at Washington University in St. Louis majoring in African and African American Studies and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. She is interested in the historical impact of the legal system on the lived experiences of marginalized people, specifically Black women and girls. A Mellon Mays Undergraduate Research Fellow, Nya is currently researching how racial and gender disparities in discipline and criminalization in educational institutions influence the ways in which Black girls perceive themselves and form relationships with their peers. Outside of her studies, Nya is the President of Washington University’s Association of Black Students. She also serves as a Writing Center Tutor and a volunteer Coordinator of City Faces, a mentoring program that serves African American children in inner city St. Louis to help them individually explore talents and habits of achievement with a mentor. In Spring 2019, Nya lived for a semester abroad in Cape Town, South Africa where she studied debates in African history and the politics of decolonization. Nya hopes to purse a joint J.D. and Ph.D. in history to study historical implications of inequality and systemic oppression and will work with ABF Research Professor Chris Schmidt.

Evan Zhao


Evan Zhao,
 of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is a rising senior at the University of Chicago in a joint degree program pursuing a B.A. in Sociology with a minor in Comparative Race and Ethnic Studies and an M.A. in the Social Sciences. He is interested in postcolonial subjectivities, cultural migration, information technology law, political economy, and the history of liberalism. At the University of Chicago, he has participated in the Center for Leadership and Involvement, served on the Student Advisory Council of the Center for Identity and Inclusion, and worked as a research assistant in the Harris School of Public Policy. In his sophomore year, he began an independent project as a University of Chicago PRISM Research Scholar, conducting qualitative research on global modernity in China using interviews and ethnographic methods. Inspired by his bicultural upbringing, his project challenges totalizing notions of neoliberal identity politics, offering a historicist and culturally aware approach towards a politics of difference. Zhao hopes to pursue a joint J.D. and Ph.D. in political sociology to further his involvement with intercultural diplomacy and will work with ABF Executive Director and Research Professor Ajay Mehrotra during his summer fellowship.


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Posted by Whitney Peterson 

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