Grant Leadership

Teresa Mangum | Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, Departments of Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies and English

Teresa Mangum is the P.I. of the Humanities for the Public Good project. She is the director of the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies and a professor of Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies and English at the University of Iowa. She is the UI representative to the Mellon-funded Humanities Without Walls consortium headed by Antoinette Burton at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research focuses on nineteenth-century women, aging, and animal studies as well as publicly engaged humanities. She co-founded the Obermann Graduate Institute on Engagement and the Academy and leads a national working group on experiments in humanities publicly engaged graduate education. Teresa co-edits the University of Iowa Press book series Humanities and Public Life and is a member of the National Humanities Alliance Board of Directors.


Jennifer New | Obermann Center for Advanced Studies

Jennifer is Associate Director of the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies. She oversees the Center’s communications and plays a major role in facilitating the programs, community engagement, and event planning. An accomplished writer, she is the author of three books, Dan Eldon: Safari as a Way of Life (Chronicle Books, 2011) being the most recent. She has curated several exhibits and co-directed two short documentaries. Jennifer is a lifelong student of yoga and teaches locally.


Mellon Postdoctoral Scholar

Ashley Cheyemi McNeil | Obermann Center for Advanced Studies

McNeil earned her bi-national PhD in English from Georgia State University and in American Studies from the Obama Institute for Transnational American Studies at Johannes Gutenberg University in Germany. As a manager for the Student Innovation Fellowship at Georgia State, she worked with cross-disciplinary teams of students, faculty, and community partners to imagine and implement public-facing projects that leveraged digital tools to display and disseminate stories and research. She focused her efforts on engaging the rich knowledge networks outside of academia, frequently partnering with minority groups in the Atlanta area. McNeil’s scholarly work is grounded in narrative expressions of empathetic humanisms, while her research agenda focuses on practice-based and community-engaged graduate training.


Mellon Postdoctoral Scholar

Laura Perry | Obermann Center for Advanced Studies

Laura Perry received her PhD in English from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Before joining HPG, she was Managing Editor of Edge Effects magazine and collaborated on several grant-funded projects, including the research group Environmental Justice in Multispecies Worlds as well as a year-long public humanities partnership with a local nonprofit. Her work engages with environmental and racial justice, digital publishing, and the public humanities. Her current book project, tentatively titled “The Nuisance: A Cultural History,” examines how ideas about nuisances have shaped American neighborhoods in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.


Graduate Research Assistant

Dominic Dongilli | Departments of American Studies; Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies

Dominic is a second-year PhD student with research interests in American zoos, environmental humanities, and the bio-politics of animal conservation programs. His engagement with the humanities is deeply informed by his undergraduate education in biology, and prior work as a Great Apes zookeeper and conservation educator. He also serves as a member of the Iowa City Public Art Advisory Committee and gallery team member at Public Space One, a community-driven contemporary art space.


Program Alumni

Graduate Research Assistant (2019/2020)

Torie Burns | Department of English

Torie is an English PhD candidate studying American literature from 1900 to the present. Her interests include memoirs, food studies, and embodiment. Prior to attending Iowa’s program, she earned a BA in English and Psychology at Duke University and worked at Vanderbilt University’s business school. When she’s not reading, she’s most likely taking pictures, traveling, or taking pictures while traveling.


Graduate Research Assistant (Spring 2019)

Aiden Bettine | Department of History

Aiden M. Bettine is concurrently pursuing a Ph.D. in History and a Master’s in Library and Information Science at the University of Iowa while focused on producing community-engaged digital history projects that centralize marginalized histories in the U.S. He holds both a Bachelor’s in History and African & Black Diaspora Studies and a Master’s in Critical Ethnic Studies from DePaul University. His public facing doctoral work is grounded in interdisciplinary methodologies with an emphasis on developing local oral history projects and companion archives, most notably through the founding of the Transgender Oral History Project of Iowa. His dissertation research examines the development of community archives cities across the Midwest, wrestling with issues of race, access, preservation, knowledge production, and historical memory.