Each spring, the Program in Latin American Studies seeks departmental nominations of promising entering Ph.D. students who have demonstrated strong commitment to the study of Latin America. A select cohort is awarded the PLAS Lassen Latin American Fellowship, which provides outstanding first-year students with:
- Full tuition
- A 12–month graduate stipend
- Research funds to support fieldwork during their first year at Princeton
Nominations are evaluated for depth of anticipated scholarship in Latin American studies, and guided by a departmental assessment of each candidate’s overall success potential. Lassen Fellowships, appointed by PLAS, are administered by the Graduate School.
Lassen Fellows, 2020-2021
Angelika Joseph is a first-year doctoral candidate in the department of architecture and holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology, with a minor in history, from the University of California, Davis where she studied decision-making through coursework in neuroeconomics, reinforcement learning, game theory, social and cultural psychology, and social cognition. While concurrently working as an investment analyst at the world’s largest seed-stage venture capital firm, Joseph analyzed the behavioral-elicitation capacities of digital designs, aggregating insights and trends, to help portfolio companies and investors adjust and improve their strategies. Her undergraduate paper, which examined how the trend of “personalization” in digital design reconfigures consumer self-perception and, in turn, how designers reconceptualize consumers, was awarded the University’s Lang Research Prize and Prized Writing Award.
Joseph’s research explores colonial-Indigenous architectural interaction on reservations, focusing on Native American reconciliation of colonial trauma, and the reinterpretation, or reversal, of existing power structures in the interest of Indigenous sovereignty. This research, conducted from the perspective of the colonized and rooted in the contemporary, will add a long-overdue perspective to global architectural history intended to inform future explorations into decolonization of the built environment. In addition to the Lassen Fellowship, Joseph’s research is funded by the Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship and Princeton University’s President’s Fellowship.
Wyatt Leaf is a first-year doctoral candidate in the department of comparative literature and holds a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University, with a double major in French and Iberian & Latin American cultures. As an undergraduate, he focused primarily on modern prose in French and Spanish, with essays on authors ranging from Albert Memmi and Louis-Ferdinand Céline to Miguel de Unamuno and José Martí.
Leaf developed a passion for romance languages and literature as a teenager living in California's Central Valley. He began his university studies in 2016 at City College of San Francisco, and in 2018 he was one of 24 transfer students to be accepted to Stanford University. Leaf's journey from the rural heart of California continues to motivate him, and as he begins his postgraduate studies at Princeton, he wishes more than anything to make a meaningful contribution to the world of letters that so inspired him from the beginning.
Leaf is currently interested in modernist and experimental prose from Latin America, as well as its connections to French literature from the Middle Ages to the Belle Époque. He hopes to explore these multiple crossings in depth and come to a deeper understanding of the many voices and aesthetic movements of the early 20th century.
Daniel Persia is a first-year doctoral candidate in the department of Spanish and Portuguese and holds a bachelor’s degree in creative writing and mathematics from Denison University and a master’s degree in education from Boston College. A writer and translator, he has served as editor-at-large for Asymptote Journal and his work has appeared or is forthcoming in a range of literary journals, including Asymptote, Exchanges, Your Impossible Voice, and KROnline. His translation of Escritos (Writings), by Basque sculptor Eduardo Chillida, was published in 2019 (La Fábrica and Hauser & Wirth) for the re-opening of the Chillida-Leku museum in Hernani, Gipuzkoa, Spain. He comes to Princeton after two years in Curitiba, Brazil, where he served as a Fulbright English teaching assistant at the Federal University of Paraná (2018) and Fulbright regional leader for the states of São Paulo and Paraná (2019).
Persia’s research interests include: collaborative and inclusive frameworks for the translation of Afro-Brazilian literature; intersections of race, gender and identity in translation; translating alterities; empathy and ethics in translation; black feminisms; postcolonialism and decoloniality; and writing center theory and practice across the globe.
Marie de Testa Alvarez
Marie de Testa Alvarez is a first-year doctoral candidate in the department of architecture and holds a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture of The Cooper Union, a master’s degree in scenography from the Norwegian Theater Academy and a master’s degree in spatial design from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. She earned her license in architecture from the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City. She was awarded a two-year fellowship from the National Fund for Culture and Arts (FONCA), a public agency of the Mexican federal government, and the Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACYT), Mexico's entity in charge of the promotion of scientific and technological activities, from 2015-2017. Prior to coming to Princeton, she worked as a set designer and was based in New York.
De Testa Alvarez understands her practice as an experimental mode of spatial inquiry at the intersection of architecture and theater. She has increasingly become interested in comparing both disciplines in terms of the specific temporalities ascribed by their respective fields and the mediation they offer between the public and a context. Her research is supported by Princeton University's President Fellowship.
Alejandro Virue is a first-year doctoral candidate in the department of Spanish and Portuguese and holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the Universidad de Buenos Aires and a master’s degree in Latin American literature from the Universidad Nacional de San Martín (UNSAM). In his master's thesis, he studied the publications of Tirso, an Argentinian publishing house that existed between 1955 and 1966, and its strategies to introduce homoerotic literature in the homophobic context of the Argentina of those days. Specifically, his focus lies in the work of Renato Pellegrini, one of the founders of Tirso and the author of Siranger (1957) and Asfalto (1964), two novels that depict the lives of Argentinian homosexuals at the time.
Virue also worked at Argentina's National Library (Biblioteca Nacional), first at its exhibitions department, and then as a researcher at the Centro de Estudios y Documentación Jorge Luis Borges. There he edited the second version of Borges. Libros y lecturas, a compilation of Borges handwritten notes found in many volumes of his own library, under the direction of Laura Rosato and Germán Álvarez.
In 2016, Virue co-created along with fellow students at UNSAM a digital journal called Transas that focused on Latin American literature, arts, and cinema. He has been the journal’s editor-in-chief since March 2017, and has published articles in the journal about Ricardo Piglia, Oscar Masotta, and Renato Pellegrini, among others. His work has also been published in El Espectador (Colombia), Nexos (México) and La Agenda (Buenos Aires).