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2022 Doctoral/Postdoctoral Fellows

Use the links on the lefthand side to learn about our past fellows. More information on the ABF's doctoral/postdoctoral fellowship opportunities can be found here.

Heba Alex, ABF/University of Chicago Doctoral Fellow in Law and Social Science 

Heba Alex is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Chicago. Her research focuses on how legal practices and institutions structure political spaces and understandings of citizenship. Her dissertation examines the coupling and decoupling of citizenship and rights. Using the U.S. as a case study, the project probes the conditions under which citizenship becomes the organizing principle of a specific right and why a right is removed from the citizenship field. She examines the variations in how rights and citizenship are bundled over space and time and how their (dis)connection moves across different activities and attributes. In addition, she is interested in examining legal decision-making from a Weberian perspective. Her research project on Cook County courts speaks to a broader interest in theorizing legal actors' behavior in a highly contingent legal environment that resists generalization. Prior to pursuing her doctoral studies, Heba worked at the International Center for Transitional Justice in New York and earned an M.A. in Gender and Women's Studies from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Brandon Alston, ABF/Northwestern University (NU) Doctoral Fellow in Law and Social Science

Brandon Alston is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Sociology at Northwestern University with graduate certificates in African American Studies and Teaching and Learning. His research examines how parallel surveillance systems operate across poor neighborhoods, prisons, and probation programs. Brandon has been recognized as a National Academies of Science Ford Predoctoral Fellow and a member of the Edward Bouchet Graduate Honor Society. He has received awards from regional and national professional associations, including the Midwest Sociological Society, Association of Black Sociologists, and American Men’s Studies Association. Brandon previously earned a Master of Science in Management from Wake Forest University Business School, where he was a Corporate Fellow. In addition, he received a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Religion (with distinction) from Haverford College, where he was a recipient of the Mellon Mays Fellowship.

Isabel AnadonABF/National Science Foundation (NSF) Doctoral Fellow in Law and Inequality

Isabel Anadon is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research examines the intersection of punishment and migration with a focus on race and ethnicity and the sociology of law. Her dissertation, “Interior Immigration Enforcement: structural mechanisms and the punishment of immigrants in the United States,” conceptualizes systems of immigrant punishment into three broad and intersecting areas: 1) institutions, 2) laws and policies, and 3) procedural processes. This project uncovers how these key structural mechanisms impact outcomes for immigrants and other populations across space and time. Her research is inspired by her extensive community organizing and collaborative efforts alongside local Chicago communities and stakeholders on issues of immigrant integration, education, local & federal immigration policy and access to health care. Isabel has a M.S. in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, M.P.P. from the University of Chicago. and a dual B.A. in Anthropology and Psychology from the University of Notre Dame.

Oscar R. Cornejo Casares, ABF/Northwestern University (NU) Doctoral Fellow in Law and Social Science

Oscar R. Cornejo Casares is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Sociology at Northwestern University. His research lies at the intersection of the sociology of law, race, and migration, particularly undocumented immigration. His dissertation, "The Life and Afterlife of Migrant Illegality,” explores the long-term, cumulative, and dynamic effects of undocumented status. The study is based on in-depth life history interviews of undocumented and formerly undocumented immigrants, their family members, as well as immigration lawyers in the Chicagoland area. Oscar’s research is informed by his personal connections and political activism with undocumented communities. In 2019, his co-produced documentary, “Change the Subject,” was released, which documents the history and political efforts to replace the subject headings "illegal aliens" from the Library of Congress. Oscar earned his B.A. in Sociology and Native American Studies from Dartmouth College where he was also a recipient of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship.

Hardeep DhillonABF/NSF Post-Doctoral Fellow in Law and Inequality

Hardeep Dhillon completed her doctorate in History with a secondary in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGS) at Harvard University. Her dissertation examined the global development of U.S. immigration and border controls through the lens of Asian exclusion at the turn of the twentieth century. Hardeep’s multi-sited research across four continents was supported by the Fulbright Program, American Society of Legal History, American Historical Association, and multiple research centers at Harvard University. Her larger research interests include histories of law, mobility, empire, racial capitalism, and settler colonialism.

Hardeep has supervised an array of undergraduate theses and research projects in these fields of study while serving as academic counsel to Asian American, South Asian, and women’s organizations. Her teaching and supervision was recognized with outstanding distinction by Harvard University, and Hardeep served as the Stephen A. Walsh History Prize Instructor in the History Department in Fall 2020.

At present, Hardeep serves on the Academic Council at South Asian American Digital Archive (SAADA), as academic counsel to Asian American filmmakers, artists, and writers working on immigration and border issues, and is learning to bridge the divide between her academic research and more public-facing work.

Sonya Rao, ABF/AccessLex Institute Post-Doctoral Fellow in Legal and Higher Education

Sonya Rao is a linguistic and legal anthropologist. She completed her PhD in Anthropology at the University of California, Los Angeles in June 2021. She examines courtrooms as workplaces, courtroom professionals as communication workers, and professional outlooks on language as working conditions. From 2014-17, she observed hearings in Immigration Courts and at the National Labor Relations Board for a dissertation, Privatizing Language Work: Interpreters and Access in Los Angeles Immigration Court, supported by the National Science Foundation program in Law and Social Sciences. The analysis focused on the impacts of private management of language services on courtroom practice and resulting labor organizing of court interpreters. At the American Bar Foundation, she will investigate the current state of legal training around cross-linguistic communication, and clinical legal education for working with interpreters informed by empirical knowledge about language and communication. Her work has been published in the Journal of Anthropological Research and Anthropology News.

Alex Reiss-SorokinABF/AccessLex Institute Doctoral Fellow in Legal and Higher Education

Alex Reiss-Sorokin is a doctoral candidate in the Program in History, Anthropology, Science, Technology, and Society at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her research examines how technological and policy choices around legal information structure legal practice and access to justice. Her dissertation project combines historical and ethnographic methods to trace how lawyers, professors, librarians, and technologists talk about, develop, and use legal information technologies across the United States, Israel, and Russia. Alex holds an LL.B. from Tel Aviv University Faculty of Law and an LL.M. in International Legal Studies from New York University School of Law. She also holds a BA from the Multidisciplinary Program in Humanities at Tel Aviv University with a focus on the history and philosophy of science and ideas. Alex is licensed to practice law in Israel and New York State and has worked as a criminal defense attorney in Israel.


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