Lassen Fellows

PLAS awards five to six Lassen Fellowships in Latin American Studies annually to outstanding first-year graduate students nominated by their home department who have a demonstrated commitment to the study of Latin America. This prestigious fellowship covers full tuition and fees for the first year, a 12-month stipend, and a summer grant to support research in Latin America.



Luisa Dalla Valle Geisler (Spanish and Portuguese)

Luisa Geisler is a first-year doctoral student in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. She holds an M.A. in Creative Process (National University of Ireland) and another M.A. in Brazilian literature and Culture (University of New Mexico). She is a Brazilian fiction author, winner of awards such as Jabuti (2021), Associação Paulista de Críticos de Arte (2019), Açorianos (2019), and Minuano (2020). She has taken part in artistic/literary endeavors at the Serpentine Gallery in London, the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires, the Museo Jumex in Ciudad de México, and D-Light Studios in Dublin. As a literary translator from English into Portuguese, she has translated work from authors such as Lewis Carroll, Joseph Conrad, Joyce Carol Oates, George Orwell and Torrey Peters.

For her doctoral project, Luisa will investigate narratives of bodies under metamorphosis in literature written by Latin American women authors. In dialogue with concepts of monstrosity and non-normative bodies, her research emphasizes such corpo-realities as a form of thematic inheritance within female authorship in the Southern Cone. Her interests include Latin American literature, Brazilian Literature, Ecocriticism, Gender and Queer studies.



Jorge Sánchez (Art and Archaeology)

Jorge Sánchez is a first-year doctoral student in the Department of Art & Archaeology. He holds a double B.A. from Tufts University, a J.D. from Rutgers School of Law, an M.F.A. from New York University, and is admitted to practice law in NY and NJ. He serves as the curator and arts coordinator of “Dispossessions in the Americas: The Extraction of Bodies, Land, and Heritage from La Conquista to the Present," a multidisciplinary initiative between the Mellon Foundation and the University of Pennsylvania. As the former curator of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies (CENTRO) at Hunter College, he helped create the Diasporican Art in Motion archive. Jorge obtained a scholarship from the Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona (MACBA) to participate in the 7th edition of their Independent Studies Programme (PEI).  His writings have been published by the The Archive: The Journal of the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, La Revista del Instituto de Cultura de Puerto Rico, Anomaly Journal, the Queens Museum, The Journal of New Jersey Poets, among others. In 2019, he managed the creative studio of visual and political artist Tania Bruguera. He has collaborated in several artist projects like ‘Female Disappearance Syndrome’ with Lucia Egaña and ‘Muerte Rosa/Pink Death’ with Carlos Martiel.  Among his recent curatorial projects include co-curating the exhibition 'RAÍZ' at the Center for Contemporary Art in Quito, Ecuador, as well as the exhibition 'RUMBLINGS OF THE EARTH' at Iceberg Projects in Chicago. His poetry, photographs, and curatorial projects address Latinx, Diaspora studies, HIV/AIDS, Queer/Cuir perspectives and sexual dissidence. 

His research interests include Modern and Contemporary Art with a special focus on Queer Art, Latin American & Latinx Art, and Performance. 


Luna Eaton Sharon (Architecture)

Luna Sharon is a first-year doctoral student in the School of Architecture. She holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in Architecture from Tulane University and a master’s of science in Critical, Curatorial, and Conceptual Practices in Architecture from the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University. Her master’s thesis focused on extractive labor industries in late 19th century Nevada, namely sex work and mining, and their ties to and impact on the formation of the State and the fantasy formation of the so-called ‘American West.’ Her research interests include feminist architectural scholarship, the history and aesthetics of sex work and brothels in the United States, late 19th century American literature, and the land relationships between North and Central America in the mid to late 19th century.


William Trlak (Comparative Literature)

William Trlak is a first-year doctoral student in the Department of Comparative Literature. He received his A.B. in Comparative Literature from the University of Chicago in 2022. His undergraduate research entitled “’Mejor soñar que lo hacemos’: Queer Humility and Futurity in Pedro Lemebel’s Loco afán” examined the chronicles of Chilean artist Pedro Lemebel and his representations of queer life in postdictatorship Chile. His theoretical intervention is made through the study of political and aesthetic stakes of carcerality on South American queer literature. William works to understand how queer futurity is conceived of and understood in the South American imaginary amongst the physical and psychological remnants of dictatorial repression. How does a South American queerness emerge, formed by a carceral past, and troubled by an uncertain future? He found his way to this work after four years of leading creative writing workshops at Cook County Jail in Chicago. 

William’s doctoral research will linger around these questions and more, expanding to understand how queer life in South America at large remains haunted by carcerality in the postdictatorship period. To work through these questions, he hopes to foster his interests in queer theory, critical theory, affect, Marxist thought, and confinement studies. 


Mario Alberto Carrillo Ramírez Valenzuela (Spanish and Portuguese)

Mario Valenzuela is a first-year doctoral student in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. He holds a master’s degree in Translation Studies from El Colegio de México and a bachelor’s degree in Hispanic Language and Literature from Universidad Veracruzana. He has worked as a professor at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México’s (UNAM) Escuela Nacional de Lenguas, Lingüística y Traducción (ENALLT), teaching History of Translation and Translation Theory. His research has been focused on the relationship between literature and politics, especially in 60’s Mexican social poetry, and on the cultural, political, and literary repercussions of translational practices in Latin America during the 20th Century. His MA dissertation, El traductor en fuga, studies Sergio Pitol’s work and thinking as a translator. At present, his research interests include linguistic and cultural identity, migration, foreignness, and memory in contemporary Hispanic literature.

Writer and literary critic, he has published the book of poems Roldán (2015), which deals with State and Cartel violence in Veracruz during the infamous Javier Duarte administration, and writes book reviews for Criticismo.