History Department
History Department

History Ph.D. students embark on professional careers in highly competitive market

Mon, June 18, 2012
History Ph.D. students embark on professional careers in highly competitive market
History Ph.D. graduates (l-r): Erica Whittington, Aragorn Storm Miller, Amber Abbas, Chris Dietrich, Lisa Lacy, Renata Keller, Jesse Cromwell, Christelle Le Faucheur

The Chronicle of Higher Education recently published information from the top 20 History graduate programs around the country tracking their 2010 Ph.D.'s, and in particular how many are in tenure-track jobs.

UT History topped the list, with 60% in tenure-track jobs -- a better percentage than Harvard, Yale, Princeton. One need look no further than the current year to see positive proof of this trend. 2012 marks one the strongest years for job placement among newly-degreed students in History's graduate program.

Read their stories below:

Amber Abbas joins the faculty of St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia as an Assistant Professor of South Asian History. Under the direction of Dr. Gail Minault, Dr. Abbas wrote “Narratives of Belonging: Aligarh Muslim University and the Partitioning of South Asia.” Her dissertation expands our temporal and spatial understanding of the sub-continent’s partitioning by examining the experiences of a group of South Asian Muslims across time and space through the lens of their remembered personal histories.  “I feel so privileged to have been a part of the UT History department, a place where I always received personal attention and support,” she states. “I've been able to work between departments and disciplines through the distinguished South Asia Institute that has also invited many of the most important scholars in my field to give talks and interact with students. Leaving Austin is bittersweet, it has been a wonderful home, but new adventures await! In Philadelphia!” More about Amber Abbas: Here, and throughout Not Even Past.

Christopher Albi will join the faculty of SUNY New Paltz, in the scenic Hudson Valley, as an Assistant Professor of History specializing in Latin America. Formerly a Visiting Assistant Professor at Trinity University in San Antonio, a Mendel Fellow at the Lilly Library at Indiana University, and a Research Associate at UT Austin's Institute of Historical Studies, Dr. Albi took his Ph.D. in 2009 under the supervision of Dr. Susan Deans-Smith. Entitled, "Contested Legalities in Colonial Mexico," his dissertation addresses the legal culture of Spanish colonialism in the late 18th century. "To get any tenure-track position these days you have to be lucky,” notes Dr. Albi. “I feel especially fortunate to have landed the job at New Paltz, a well-respected, public liberal arts college not far from New York City. I leave Austin feeling very grateful for the wise counsel and generous support I've received from so many people in the History department. I won't miss the Texas summers though!"

Nana Akua Amponsah has accepted a position as an Assistant Professor in the History Department at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. Her area is African History with specializations in women, gender, and reproductive health and a sub-field in the Atlantic World. Of her experience, Dr. Amponsah reflects:  “I think choosing UT for my graduate studies was one of the smartest decisions I ever made. The discipline and dedication to achieve excellence that I acquired at UT not only set me apart from my competitors when I entered the job market, but it has also given me the confidence that I can achieve the best in everything. I am excited to be joining the history department at UNCW. UNCW is one of the prestigious universities in the American southeast and I am looking forward to making my contribution and leaving the Longhorn mark there for posterity.”

Michelle Brock has accepted a position as Assistant Professor of European History at Bridgewater College, Virginia. Her dissertation, “The Fiend in the Fog: A History of Satan in Early Modern Scotland,” directed by Dr. Brian Levack, attempts, by asking how demonic beliefs shaped Scottish culture and identity, to recreate the role of Satan in the mental worlds of Scots from the beginning of the Scottish Reformation in 1560 through the early eighteenth century. “When I look back over the last six years of graduate school,” Dr. Brock recalls, “what stands out most is the academic guidance and moral support that I have consistently received from my supervisor and other members of the department. This has been invaluable. I look forward to a long and happy career as a professor of history.” More about Michelle Brock's work on Not Even Past.

Emily Brownell has accepted a position as Assistant Professor of African History at The University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, Colorado.  Her dissertation was supervised by Dr. Toyin Falola. “Growing: An Environmental History of Urban Expansion in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania,” examines Dar es Salaam's changing environment as a result of massive urban migration in the 1970s and 1980s and looks at the debates in urban politics that emerge in the aftermath of these changes. “My time at UT has taught me that teaching and research are both really about the communities they open up for you to be a part of and help create along the way,” notes Dr. Brownell. “I am really looking forward to being part of a new one now at UNC.” More about Emily Brownell: Here.

Takkara Brunson will be an Assistant Professor of History at Morgan State University in Baltimore. She is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Frederick Douglass Institute for African American Studies at the University of Rochester. Her dissertation, "Constructing Afro-Cuban Womanhood: Race, Gender, and Citizenship in Republican-Era Cuba, 1902-1958," written under the supervision of Dr. Frank Guridy, considers how Afro-Cuban women theorized citizenship and social equality in relation to evolving racial and gender ideologies prior to the 1959 Cuban Revolution. The project follows their involvement in Afro-Cuban, feminist, and communist movements for legal reform, as well as their use of cultural venues that include photography. “I loved my graduate experience at the University of Texas!” Dr. Brunson exclaims. “Through the History Department, I joined a community of passionate, supportive, and challenging historians who molded me into the scholar I am today. Leaving Texas has been bittersweet, but I look forward to beginning the next stage of my journey!” More about Takkara Brunson's research on Not Even Past.

Jesse Cromwell will be joining the faculty at the University of Mississippi, in Oxford, as an Assistant Professor of Latin American History. His dissertation, “Covert Commerce: A Social History of Contraband Trade in Venezuela, 1701-1789,” written under the supervision of Dr. Ann Twinam, explores the social history of smuggling in the eighteenth century Caribbean. Using colonial Venezuela as a case study, he charts how contraband trade influenced local community development and relations across empires. As he prepares to depart Austin for Ole Miss, Dr. Cromwell has this to say: “I am thrilled to have accepted this excellent job. I plan to use all that I have learned at UT to become a successful and collegial scholar. I am deeply grateful to my professors for the analytical skills they have helped me to develop and to my fellow graduate students for the warm and welcoming community that has sustained me over this long journey.” More about Jesse Cromwell: Here, and on Not Even Past.

Chris Dietrich has accepted a position as Assistant Professor of the History in U.S. Foreign Relations at Fordham University in New York. His dissertation, “The Permanence Of Power: Postcolonial Sovereignty, The Energy Crisis, And The Rise Of American Neoliberal Diplomacy, 1967 – 1976,” supervised by Dr. Mark Lawrence and Dr. Michael Stoff, examines the connection between Third World economic thought, the 1970s energy crisis, and American foreign policy. Dr. Dietrich’s parting thoughts: "I'm thrilled to be heading to New York! I'm ready to get in the saddle and head to the big city!" More about Chris Dietrich: Here, and on Not Even Past.

Stephen Dove will be joining the faculty at Centre College, in Danville, Kentucky as an Assistant Professor of Latin American History. His dissertation, supervised by Dr. Virginia Garrard-Burnett, is titled "Local Believers, Foreign Missionaries, and the Creation of Guatemalan Protestantism, 1882-1944." Dr. Dove’s work explains how early Guatemalan Protestants adapted missionary theology and practice to fit their social and cultural realities. "I could not have earned my Ph.D. or landed this great job without the support of the staff and faculty of the history department, not to mention my fellow graduate students,” Dr. Dove insists. “I owe them all a big 'thank you' as I move on to the next stage in my career." More about Stephen Dove: Here.

Matt Gildner will be joining the faculty at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia as an Assistant Professor. His dissertation, "Indomestizo Modernism: National Development and Indigenous Integration in Postrevolutionary Bolivia, 1952-1964," supervised by Drs. Seth Garfiled and Mauricio Tenorio Trillo, explores the cultural and racial politics of the Bolivian National Revolution. "I'm certainly going to miss UT—especially the Benson—and Austin," Dr. Gildner expresses. "At the same time, however, I am very excited to be teaching at Washington and Lee and look forward to exploring new intellectual horizons." More about Matt Gildner: Here, and on Not Even Past.

Bryan Glass has accepted a position as a Lecturer in the Department of History at Texas State University in San Marcos. Bryan’s dissertation, “Scots and Africa: A Nation of Empire-Builders in the Era of Decolonization,” written under the supervision of Dr. Wm. Roger Louis, investigates the reactions of Scots towards the ending of the British Empire in Africa, following the Second World War.  “I would like to thank the members of my Committee for all of their guidance and support over the years both with my dissertation and with the development of The British Scholar Society,” Bryan says. “It has been a true honor to work with such intellectual giants.” More about Bryan Glass: Here, and on the British Scholar Society web site.

Rob Holmes joined the faculty of Lone Star Community College-CyFair in Houston this year as an Associate Professor of History. His dissertation, "Substance of the Sun:  The Cultural History of Radium Medicines in America," written under the direction of Dr. David Oshinsky, examines how the American public understood the potential benefits and dangers of radium and explores the ways in which the medical establishment, the press, and commercial interests shaped and responded to public attitudes toward the exotic new element. Recalling his time at UT, Dr. Holmes explains, “Now that I'm teaching full-time I realize how lucky I was to gain exposure to such a wide variety of classroom settings at UT—the big classes taught me how to lecture, and the small classes taught me how to teach.”

Jennifer Hoyt will be a Visiting Assistant Professor in Latin American history at Samford University in Birmingham. Her dissertation, "Beyond the Dirty War: Urban Reforms and Protest in Buenos Aires during the Last Military Dictatorship, 1976-1983," written under the direction of Dr. Jonathan Brown, explores the wider social agenda of the Proceso military regime that held power in Argentina from 1976 to 1983, particularly the conflicts between the residents of Buenos Aires and efforts of the state to modernize and control the citizens. Dr. Hoyt opines, “I think Douglas Adams said it best: ‘So long and thanks for all the fish.’ I'm looking forward to a life of scholarship and teaching.”


Renata Keller joins the Department of International Relations at Boston University as an Assistant Professor. Dr. Keller’s dissertation, “Capitalizing on Castro: Mexico's Foreign Relations with Cuba and the United States, 1959-1969,” written under the supervision of Dr. Jonathan Brown, analyzes Mexico's international relations with Cuba and the United States in the decade after the Cuban Revolution. It uses newly-declassified intelligence records to make the revisionist argument that Mexican leaders' fear of the domestic Left drove their decision to maintain relations with Castro's revolutionary regime. As she embarks on her new life, Dr. Keller reminisces: “The people I have met at the University of Texas—the professors, staff, and fellow students—have provided the tools and training I will use as I begin my exciting new career as an historian of Latin American International Relations. They have also encouraged, comforted, and inspired me. I thank them for making the years I spent in Austin some of the best of my life.” More about Renata Keller: Here, and on Not Even Past.

Brian Mann will be an Assistant Professor of Middle Eastern History at Eastern Illinois University. His dissertation, “‘Integrating’ the Multi-Ethnic Nation State: Perso-Iranian Nationalism, the Pahlavi State, and Iran’s Ethnic Minorities," directed by Dr. Kamran Aghaie, examines the development and use of Perso-Iranian nationalism by the state during the Reza Shah period and analyzes how it affected Iran’s non-Persian ethnic groups with regard to national identity formation. “I believe that being an innovative scholar and devoted teacher are two vital attributes candidates need in this tough job market, and UT-Austin provided me with both,” Brian explains. “I leave UT-Austin deeply grateful to my professors and the staff members of the Department of History and Department of Middle Eastern Studies, all of whom, in one way or another, helped me become the scholar and teacher I am today.”

Rubén Martínez is a part-time instructor at Sacramento State University and Sacramento City College. He teaches U.S. history, World Civilizations, and the History of the Physical Sciences.  His dissertation, supervised by Dr. Bruce Hunt, is about identity formation among 20th century American physicists. “The Adventures of Luis Alvarez: Identity Politics in the Making of an American Science,” borrows from the literature of Chicano identity and applies it to the rise of Big Science at Berkeley. The dissertation also allowed Dr. Martínez to explore whiteness in science and the evolution of science textbooks.  “The University of Texas was a fortuitous choice for me,” he says, “exposing me to a wide array of people and ideas beyond what I could have foreseen.  I miss Austin dearly but teaching is an exciting new adventure.”

Aragorn Storm Miller will be a Visiting Scholar and Lecturer at Cornell University. His dissertation, "Precarious Paths to Freedom:  The United States, the Caribbean Basin, & the New Politics of the Latin American Cold War, 1958-1968," supervised by Dr. Mark A. Lawrence, explores U.S. efforts to maintain Venezuela as a bulwark against right-wing and left-wing political extremism during the most dangerous period of the hemispheric Cold War, and argues that the success of this partnership ensured that the hemisphere remained oriented towards U.S. interests. “I have learned so much, and built so many wonderful relationships with students, staff, and faculty, that it is very hard to leave UT,” laments Dr. Miller. “On the other hand, I'm very excited about the opportunity to share the knowledge and skills gained with new students and new faculty in a new campus setting.  I'll be proudly carrying the Longhorn standard on my adventure to upstate New York!" More about Aragorn Storm Miller: Here, and on Not Even Past.

Cristina Salinas will be an Assistant Professor specializing in U.S. History and Mexican American History in the Department of History at the University of Texas at Arlington. She will also be affiliated with the Center for Mexican American Studies. Dr. Salinas’s dissertation, “Contesting Mobility: Growers, Farm Workers, and U.S.-Mexico Border Enforcement During the Twentieth Century,” explores social relations forged on the ground between agricultural growers, workers, and the Border Patrol to help explain the border as a simultaneously local and federal space, in which federal authority influenced local constructions of race and class, and vice versa, connecting politics and relations of labor. She worked with Dr. Emilio Zamora and Dr. Laurie Green on this project. Dr. Salinas looks forward to her future at our sister university: “I am very excited to be joining the history department at UT-Arlington, and I feel my time at UT has prepared me for the opportunities and challenges of a large public institution with a diverse student body.” More about Cristina Salinas on Not Even Past.

Marc-William Palen will be a Visiting Lecturer in the History Department at Tufts University in Boston the fall. He has been a Postdoctoral Fellow with the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney in Australia since completing his dissertation early last fall. Working under the supervision of Dr. H. W. Brands, his dissertation, "The Conspiracy of Free Trade: Anglo-American Relations and the Ideological Origins of American Globalization, 1846-1896," examines how the ideological conflict between free traders and economic nationalists reshaped American party politics and imperial expansion in the mid to late nineteenth century, laying the foundations for today's global political economy. More about Marc-William Palen: Here, and on Not Even Past.

See also:
The Chronicle of Higher Education on "Where Recent History Ph.D.'s Are Working"?

UT History Doctoral Student Alumni:

Group portrait photo credit: Emily Kinsolving, at Emily Kinsolving Photography.

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