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The ABF Announces the 2022-23 Doctoral Fellows

July 21, 2022, Press releases

The ABF Announces the 2022-23 Doctoral Fellows

CHICAGO- The American Bar Foundation (ABF) has awarded its 2022-23 doctoral fellowships to two emerging scholars who will work in residence at the ABF offices in Chicago beginning in September 2022.  

For over 30 years, the ABF has offered several diverse fellowship opportunities intended to foster the next generation of scholars engaging in original and significant research in the fields of law, social science, and higher education. 

Two fellowships were open to new candidates in 2022. Both the ABF/Northwestern University Doctoral Fellowship Program and the ABF/University of Chicago Doctoral Fellowship Program foster research on law, the legal profession, and legal institutions to students who are candidates for Ph.D. degrees in the social sciences or related fields.

Among a highly competitive pool of applicants, this year’s selected scholars are:

- Heba Alex, ABF/University of Chicago Doctoral Fellowship

- Oscar R. Cornejo Casares, ABF/Northwestern University Doctoral Fellowship.

“The ABF has a longstanding tradition of identifying and mentoring the next generation of outstanding empirical and interdisciplinary legal scholars,” said ABF Executive Director, Ajay K. Mehrotra. “We look forward to welcoming the next cohort of talented junior scholars to the ABF this fall.”

Heba and Oscar join a community of Doctoral/Post-Doctoral fellows continuing their work in 2022. Doctoral fellows are immersed in the intellectual and interdisciplinary community of the ABF by participating in a weekly seminar series with leading scholars from around the country, working closely with ABF faculty, who serve as mentors helping to guide and direct their research, and participating in workshops and discussions with other Fellows. Alumni of the fellowship program have moved on to promising careers as tenure track professors, legal practitioners, and social science researchers.

Qualified scholars interested in applying for an ABF fellowship can learn more about the application process and requirements here.

About the ABF’s 2022-23 New Doctoral Fellows:

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.

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.


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


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