CENHS has fellowship opportunities for both early career and senior scholars in the human sciences undertaking research on energy and environmental issues. Our principal fellowship program is the “Cultures of Energy” Postdoctoral Fellowship, now in its fourth year. We further routinely offer pre-doctoral fellowships to support early career energy and environmental research in the human sciences at Rice. The 2017-2018 year marks the largest cohort of pre-doctoral fellows in the history of the center. We are also periodically able to invite distinguished scholars to join CENHS as Visiting Research Fellows for up to a semester. If you are interested in spending sabbatical time at CENHS or in joining our transnational research network, please contact the Director (dcb2@rice.edu) for more information.


Research Fellows:


Dr. Jennifer Carlson (Ph.D., The University of Texas at Austin; A.M., The University of Chicago; B.A., Southwestern University)

Jennifer Carlson is an anthropologist who has been associated at CENHS since she completed her doctorate in 2014. Her current project focuses on Germany’s transition from nuclear to renewable energy sources, and particularly on emergent forms of sentiment, class and citizenship in rural communities on the path to carbon neutrality. She is preparing a book manuscript based on her findings, which indicate that aspects of the energy transition circumscribe opportunities for formal participation at the same time that people draw upon renewable technologies in informal but consequential ways, fashioning mundane forms of citizenship in this emerging energy polity.  Jennifer has a decade of field experience in Germany and has also conducted research on wind energy and hydraulic fracturing in south Texas.  Her work has been supported by the Mellon Foundation, the Council for European Studies, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), and the Fulbright Commission.


fullsizerenderDr. Lina Dib

Lina Dib is an multidisciplinary artist and anthropologist. Her installations and compositions range from the experimental to the ethnographic and investigate socio-technical and ecological change. Dib is an affiliate artist at the Topological Media Lab at Concordia University in Montreal and research fellow at the Center for Energy and Environmental Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences at Rice University. Dib also teaches at Rice as part of the Program in Writing and Communication. Her work has been supported by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Canada’s Social Science and Humanities Research Council, AMIDA’s European training program, and the Moody Center for the Arts.
Recent publications include Audible Observatories: Notes on Performances; The Forgetting Dis-ease: Making Time Matter (differences), and Of Promises and Prototypes: The Archeology of the Future (LIMN). Her work has been presented internationally including, Hierarchy Gallery, Washington DC; Lawndale Art Center, Houston; Yerba Buena Gardens, San Francisco; MOP Projects, Sydney; and The Museum of Fine Arts Houston.


Mike Dieterich

Mike Dieterich is a LEED Accredited Professional, environmental scientist, best-selling author, and award winning produce. His research focuses on the integration of culture, technology, and policy, as it relates to the future of energy, water, and waste in our built environment. Dieterich has a strong focus on resiliency and sustainability. Exploring and identifying opportunities to instill best practices, achieve goals, and improve profitability. Over the past decade, he has written policies and programs that support sustainable development. His efforts have culminated in the success of passing historic sustainability efforts in Washington DC.

Dieterich has been called upon as an expert for the US Congress, United Nations Climate Action Forum and has led conversations at Georgetown and Carnegie Mellon Universities. His efforts have been featured in The New York Times and various national broadcast outlets. Dieterich brings energy, innovation to the subject making critical issues for the world to solve understandable and interesting. Most recently, Dieterich did a Tedx talk on “A Zero Energy Water Waste Future” discussing the policies and projects that have been driving this future.


Hackbarth-headshot-CENHSDr. Daniel Hackbarth

Daniel Hackbarth is an art historian with degrees from Grinnell College (B.A.) and Stanford University (Ph.D.).  His research focuses on twentieth-century artists and filmmakers, exploring their use of media to conduct, disrupt, and modulate energies ranging from affect to electromagnetic radiation. Daniel’s current projects include essays on the notions of light energy represented in the post-Dada photography of Man Ray, László Moholy-Nagy, and Raoul Hausmann; on the role of energy and information in the modernist poetry of Ezra Pound and in the experimental films of his student Hollis Frampton; and on German Expressionist woodblock prints as documents of artists’ physical and psychic energy. Daniel’s book project, Media as Medium: Raoul Hausmann 1915-1945, addresses the difficulty art historians have had in understanding Hausmann beyond the watershed years of Berlin Dada (1918-1920) by arguing that his work is best understood through the theories of media it presents. He argues that one decisive moment in Hausmann’s career came during the early 1920s, when the artist reimagined his project in terms of the oscillatory motion responsible for sound, light, and invisible electromagnetic radiation. Daniel moreover contends that Hausmann’s wave-based worldview is only one especially telling articulation of a dialectic between material media and energetic processes that underlies some of the twentieth century’s most significant avant-garde production.


Liffman bioDr. Paul Liffman

Paul Liffman (Chicago, 2002) is a professor of anthropology at the Colegio de Michoacán (Mexico) and has been associated with Rice’s Department of Anthropology since undertaking sabbatical research here in 2012. Previously he worked as a consultant and translator at the National Museum of the American Indian (Washington, DC) with Wixarika (Huichol) community elders and museum staff as they designed the Wixarika territory and history exhibit. He has done fieldwork with Huichols since 1990, partly in collaboration with a Mexican NGO as an expert witness on land rights cases. The territorial model that emerged from that multi-sited research is discussed in his book Huichol territory and the Mexican nation (Arizona, 2011) and other publications. His current work addresses the shifting identities and scalar relations to space and climate as Huichols and their allies confront transnational mining projects in their ceremonial territory of Wirikuta in the San Luis Potosí desert.


Mason_PhotoDr. Arthur Mason

Arthur Mason holds degrees in Cultural Anthropology from Columbia University (BA) and University of California at Berkeley (PhD). He is the recipient of three Fulbright Chair awards for Arctic research (Canada, Norway, Russia) and has published widely on changes to large technical systems and US energy regulation. At CENHS, he is Principal Investigator (Dominic Boyer co-PI) of National Science Foundation research (2014-2018) focused on expert formulations of energy futures. This project follows his earlier NSF Early Grant for Exploratory Research (2010-2013) that examined the role of transnational networks of expertise in communicating economic forecasts of Arctic oil and natural gas developments. Arthur’s forthcoming research focuses on interconnections of The Global Arctic, a proposal that aims to advance system-level understandings about interconnections between the Arctic’s changing natural environment and the global cultural systems of Energy and Infrastructure, Water and Adaptation, and Chemospheric and Toxicological Flows.


Laura Napier

Laura Napier is an interdisciplinary artist and educator. Her work explores the sociology of behavior and place through photography, moving image, installation, and participatory and collaborative performance. She is currently based in Houston working on Sea of Oil, an artistic research project about the social cultures of the oil and gas industries of Texas. She is an affiliate artist with the University of Houston and on the advisory board of Habitable Spaces, a sustainable farm and artist residency in Kingsbury, Texas. Her work has been supported by the Idea Fund, a re-granting program administered by DiverseWorks, Aurora Picture Show, and Project Row Houses and funded by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; The Puffin Foundation; and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, among others.

She shows nationally and internationally. Recent performances, presentations, and screenings with Alabama Song, Houston, TX; Aurora Picture Show, Houston, TX; Open Engagement, Queens, NY; and Petrocultures 2018, Glasgow, UK. Collaborative projects include Lucha Por Nuestra Tierra: Arte Poder with Law Office Center for Citizenship and Art, Artist/Activist Environmental Working Group, and Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services, Houston, TX; Happy Valley with Flint, City Wide Choir, Flint Male Chorus, and Flint Public Art Project, Flint, MI; and Activity Committee with the Andrew Freedman Home, No Longer Empty, and Bronx Museum artist educators in collaboration with Carmen Julia Hernandez, Bronx, NY. She writes about Texan art and oil for the online publication Settlers and Nomads, Las Vegas, NV. 


Dr. Kali Rubaii (Ph.D., Anthropology, UC Santa Cruz)

Kali Rubaii is an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow studying the environmental impacts of less-than-lethal militarism, especially how military projects (re)arrange and (re)distribute beings and objects in morally fraught ways in the name of “letting live.” Her book project, Counterinsurgency and the Ethical Life of Material Things, examines how Anbari farmers struggle to survive the rearrangement of their landscape by transnational counterinsurgency projects. Taking toxicity as an analytic for material politics, Rubaii’s book highlights the alterlives of war objects as they facilitate particular configurations of relations among humans, ghosts, plants, animals, and molecular agents, while precluding others. Her current ethnographic research explores how the concrete industry in post-invasion Iraq enforces global regimes of race, class, and cartographies of power, as well as regimes of environmental extraction and degradation. In approaching the corporate-military enterprise of concrete in Iraq, Rubaii is interested in sharpening resistance strategies that target the vulnerable nexus between coercive power and the physical world.


Carrie Schneider

Carrie Schneider is an artist interested in collapsing moments across time and the ability of people to reimagine their space. Her projects include Hear Our Houston (2011), a hub of public generated audio walking tours in the world’s largest petrochemical hub, Care House (2012) an installation in the house she grew up in considering the roles of caregiving/caretaking and the bodies of mother/home through cancer and the medical-industrial experience of it, Sunblossom Residency (2009-2015) a skill exchange between artists and middle school students who are refugees resettled in Houston. Informed by a family history that tracks intimately with the oil industry, Schneider’s projects often collage architectural and affectual artifacts of boom and bust cycles.

She is currently a Fellow with Project Row Houses and the University of Houston College of the Arts Center for Art and Social Engagement Fellow. Her work has been featured by the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Project Row Houses, Diverseworks, Alabama Song, Labotanica, and many places outside of arts institutions. She has organized and hosted many public conversations including the Art of Equity panel for the Rothko Chapel’s Confronting Inequality Symposium, and dialogues between artists and experts in a range of other disciplines for the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts. Her visual work and writing have been featured in Gulf Coast, Temporary Art Review, and Cite Magazine. She earned her BFA in Fine Arts and Culture and Politics from Maryland Institute College of Art and has engaged in a self-constructed MFA program by auditing courses at local universities.  http://www.carriemarieschneider.com/


Dr. Allison Turner (Ph.D., English, University of Chicago)

Allison Turner is an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow who is studying the history of salvaging in British literature of the long eighteenth century. Her research brings together literary studies, environmental criticism, and theories of globalization to recover cultural and aesthetic objects from the past that dramatize our present condition of social and ecological entanglement. Her current book project, The Salvaging Disposition: Waste and the Novel Form, locates the emergence of a modern sense of waste in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when Baconian science and European colonialism began to conceive of the New World as an untapped spring of inexhaustible resources. Rather than simply documenting the presence of waste materials in literary texts, The Salvaging Disposition argues that the novel itself emerged in this period as a form for managing the waste generated by a rapidly shifting economy. Throughout her research, Turner is interested in understanding how literature and other cultural objects provide tools for imagining forms of collectivity across distances and at varying scales.


Dr. Mark Vardy

Mark Vardy is an interpretive sociologist trained in Canada where he received a MA from the University of Victoria and a PhD from Queen’s University (both funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council). He joined CENHS in February 2018 as a postdoctoral fellow to work with Dominic Boyer on the NSF RAPID project, “Recovery, Relocation, and Alluvial Awareness in Post-Harvey Houston.” Prior to moving to Texas, Mark was postdoc at the Climate Futures Initiative at Princeton University with Michael Oppenheimer. At Princeton, Mark conducted an ethnography of the visualization of near-real-time sea ice data at the National Snow and Ice Data Center, a study that provides insight into the infrastructures, everyday work, and social-technical relations necessary to make sense of sea ice data collected from Earth-observation satellites as indicators of climate change. He also began a long-term ethnography of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change with PI Jessica O’Reilly, a project that will examine the social processes through which selected chapters of the Sixth Assessment Report are written. As a sociologist of scientific knowledge, Mark is interested in researching the ways that climate change becomes meaningful for people. He draws on idioms and approaches developed in Science and Technology Studies (STS) that open up space for public debate about ethical, political, material and social issues associated with environmental change. For more info, see https://mvardy.com/.




Predoctoral Fellows:

Paul Burch (2018-2019)

Paul is a second-year PhD student with the department of English at Rice University. In addition to his work with CENHS, he also serves as a Diana Hobby Fellow with the office of SEL: Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 and holds previous degrees in Religious Studies, English literature, and Comparative Literary Studies from the University of Edinburgh and Goldsmiths, University of London. His research focuses on representations of mobility in 20th century American literature and cinema, with a view to theorizing/reconceptualizing the experience of living within the structures of a petro-economy. He is particularly interested in the forms of seeing and inhabiting that are engendered by different and overlapping (auto)mobilities and how these forms of seeing can be interrogated through the use of literary theory and comparative cultural analysis. 


Joe Carson (2017-2019)

Joe is a doctoral candidate in the Department of English at Rice University, and his dissertation, “Savage Arcadia: The American Romance in the Anthropocene,” traces episodes of American Romance novel alongside histories of environmental change. He argues the Anthropocene mirrors the form of the Romance novel, and, as such, the interweaving of human histories and environmental ones are central to understanding the project of the novel and narratives of national development. In turn, by historicizing the literary form of the Anthropocene, “Savage Arcadia” interrogates the limits and possibilities surrounding current ecological conversations. In addition to working on the novel, Joe teaches experimental and modern American drama, and he is currently working on a research project on environmental history in the works of Tennessee Williams.


Mel Ford (2017-2019)

Mel is a third-year PhD student in the Department of Anthropology. Her research focuses on interventions in the ravines (los barrancos) that compose almost half of Guatemala City’s terrain. She is interested in how ravines—their vertical and negative forms—are spaces of and for collaboration in Guatemala City’s urbanized and ecologically-minded future. She works with architects, urban planners, and policy makers to ask how experts differently design and call into view diverse applications for los barrancos. What nostalgia and whose memories do ravines hold; how are they tapped into for democratic and public/common futures? While fascinated by the nexus of design and ecology, her project adds to existing scholarship on democracy, public space, property, and security in postwar and peacetime Guatemala. Before coming to Rice she received a B.S. in Anthropology and a minor in Gender and Sexuality Studies from the University of California, Riverside where she cultivated research interests in environment, design, infrastructure, and science and technology studies from my research with the NSF REU in Menomonie, Wisconsin and the Downtown Riverside Farmers Market. At Rice she is also a co-coordinator of the Ethnography Studio.


Ya-Yun Kao (Sherry) (2017-2019)

Sherry is a PhD candidate in philosophy at Rice University with a specialization in normative ethics and value theory. She is interested in social and political philosophy, history of ethics, applied ethics (esp. biomedical ethics and environmental philosophy), and comparative Western and Chinese ethical theories. Her current project is to propose an account of wellbeing arguing that an individual’s wellbeing consists in attaining values and commitments which survive critical reflection and guide one toward leading a life that is both authentically one’s own and justifiable to others. She won the Course Development Grants in Environmental Philosophy sponsored by the Center for Energy and Environmental Research in the Human Sciences at Rice in 2016.


Gebby Keny (2018-2019)

Gebby is a PhD student in the Department of Anthropology at Rice University. His research is situated in South Korea, where he’s interested in how Low-Carbon Green Growth initiatives have given way to large-scale infrastructure projects that dramatically alter the country’s physical and social landscape. More specifically, he is interested in tidal energy plants planned for construction along the country’s north-western coastline along with large-scale land-reclamation efforts mobilized throughout the region. He’s principally interested in how projects such as these alter inter-tidal mud flat zones and the form human encounters with these spaces take.


Kevin MacDonnell (2016-2019)

Kevin is a PhD student in the Department of English at Rice University. His research interests include the history of science, ecocriticism, science & technology studies, and narrative theory. His research has been focused primarily on 17th and 18th century English literature, and in particular, the ways in which literature and art influenced the development of theories of energy as well as the production of industrial technologies.


Katie Ulrich (2017-2019)

Katie is a PhD student in the Department of Anthropology at Rice University. She works with Brazilian sugarcane scientists who are researching how to make sugar-based replacements for petroleum-derived materials, including plastics, synthetic fabrics, solvents and adhesives, and even toothpaste. She’s exploring how as a result of these efforts to make Brazilian sugarcane central to post-petroleum futures, the deeply entrenched cultural, political, and economic significance of sugarcane in Brazil is acquiring a new form. She’s interested in thinking about how science and biotechnology are driving new forms of industry and state-building in Brazil, how environmental ethics get scaled down to individuals and even certain molecules, and about the ordinary and extraordinary materialities of environmental futures. Her research interests include the anthropology of biology and chemistry, Latin America science studies, feminist science studies, biotechnology, natural resources, chemicals, agriculture, environmentalism and the Anthropocene, energy and petrocultures, and knowledge economies.


Version 2Clint Wilson III (2016-2019)

Clint is a PhD student in Rice University’s English Department, having received an MA in literature from West Virginia University and an MSc in creative writing from the University of Edinburgh. He is a Diana Hobby Editorial Fellow for Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900 and a teacher for the Houston non-profit, Writers in the Schools. Framed by the contributions of biopolitics, Clint’s research explores how networks of race, governmentality, and contamination shape renderings of “toxicity,” particularly in the Modernist and Avant-Garde imaginaries.