FrameWorks Fellows - University of Houston
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  • Leonard Wang

    Leonard Wang

    Leonard’s research with FrameWorks focuses on examining the COVID-19 pandemic as a sociocultural phenomenon. Professionally, he aspires to become both a physician and a writer. In his free time, Leonard loves traveling to national parks, rock climbing and exploring new restaurants and coffee shops. 

  • Sarah Mwihaki Nganga

    Sarah Mwihaki Nganga

    Sarah will be researching the cultural artifact of misogynoir and Black women’s health in America. Currently, she is majoring in health and aspires to be a medical and public health professional. In her free time, she enjoys art, trying new foods and traveling.
  • Rani Nune

    Rani Nune

    Rani Nune is a sophomore biology major, double minoring in chemistry and medicine & society, with hopes to become a physician-scientist. She is researching the unknown origins of the racial disparities in health care through a case study of Henrietta Lacks’ experience, as detailed in "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks," by Rebecca Skloot.
  • Vincent Taylor

    Vincent Taylor

    Vincent Taylor is a sophomore Honors architecture major with a minor in energy & sustainability. His research involves studying multiple Symbolist artworks and comparing them to the art / socio-political world at the turn of the 19th century. Taylor hopes to one day work at a local architecture firm.
  • Amber Ayub

    Amber Ayub

    Amber Ayub is researching how language can affect a patient’s experience with health care. She is a pre-med student who aspires to be a doctor and is majoring in public health with a minor in biology. Outside of her academic pursuits, Ayub enjoys watching TV and spending time with her friends.

  • Erin Satterwhite

    Erin Satterwhite

    Erin Satterwhite is a sophomore in the Honors College studying art history and French. Aside from being a nerd about art movements and such, Satterwhite is passionate about education in our current climate crisis. She is working on a research paper about environmental aesthetics. Her goals include working in a museum and successfully mastering sourdough baking.

  • Maya Garza

    Maya Garza

    Maya’s research interest in the historical reception of ancient culture times has caused her to enjoy a wide range of literature from classical, medieval and renaissance eras. For the FrameWorks program, Garza is reevaluating Milton’s characterization of Eve in "Paradise Lost," drawing on biblical source materials and cretionist theology as well as feminist criticism and hermeneutics. She plans to pursue a doctorate in English literature and become a professor.
  • Austin Mitchell

    Austin Mitchell

    Austin's theological research started in the seventh grade, with a devastating treatise against Saint Paul's soteriology. (Paul has yet to respond.) Today, they look for what biblical texts say about the apocalypse, bodies, economics, imperialism, sex and trauma. Their FrameWorks project examines womanist interpretations of Judges 19-21, one of the Hebrew Bible's most intimately violent passages. Mitchell plans to attend seminary and apply liberation theology in the field as a chaplain.

  • Lauren Rochelle

    Lauren Rochelle

    Lauren is currently researching the practice of Vodou and the different stereotypes which surround it. She is currently a junior, with a major in history and a minor in ethnic studies. She plans on going to graduate school after her time at the University of Houston is over.
  • Anna Mayzenberg

    Anna Mayzenberg

    Anna is a junior majoring in management information systems, with minors in English and Phronêsis. She is excited by the deep sea and interested in applying sustainability practices to places man has explored but has not yet conquered. Beyond college, Mayzenberg hopes to continue writing and exploring new ideas, whatever form that might take.
  • Rana Mohamad

    Rana Mohamad

    Rana is a senior at the University of Houston, majoring in English with a concentration in creative writing. As a Sudanese immigrant, she is particularly interested in the ways in which Black Arabs are depicted and situated in the context of the largely ethnolinguistic Arab identity. Mohamad has had the pleasure of exploring this interest through both the FrameWorks and the Mellon Scholars programs.
  • Cameron Mitchell

    Cameron Mitchell

    Cameron is on the ancient studies track under the world cultures and literature major with a Phronêsis minor. His FrameWorks research topic, under the mentorship of Richard H. Armstrong, is on how the ancient East and West culturally intersected, examining historical evidence in reference to extant literary and philosophical texts.
  • Giulia Zaffaroni

    Giulia Zaffaroni

    Giulia is currently a junior majoring in biology and minoring in medicine and society. She is currently researching the etymology of the word mystery and what caused theologians to transition towards the secondary definition of mystery. Zaffaroni hopes to one day be a physician. In her free time, she enjoys hammocking and cooking for friends.
  • Morgan Thomas

    Morgan Thomas

    Morgan is a junior majoring in history and minoring in education. Focusing on the 1963 Birmingham Children's Crusade, she is using oral history to study personal and collective narratives of triumph and trauma told by Black youth activists. After graduating, Thomas aims to gain teaching experience before attending graduate school.


Paulina EzquerraPAULINA EZQUERRA, Winner of the 2019/2020 FrameWorks Prize

By Ayania Hicks

Paulina Ezquerra was awarded the FrameWorks Prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Research in the Interdisciplinary Humanities for an article that drew from her personal experience. Born in León, Guanajuato, Paulina immigrated to the United States when she was in first grade. However, it was only a year ago that she and her family began the process of becoming United States citizens. As her family was dealing with the complex bureaucratic process of obtaining citizenship, Ezquerra began writing her article, “Reading Kafka in the Age of Trump” for FrameWorks.

A: So how did your research process begin?

P: Well, it didn’t start with a desire to write about immigration. It really began from a passion for Kafka, because I took this class with Dr. Zaretsky and we read "The Trial." I enjoyed writing a paper for the course on that book, and I realized that I wanted to delve a bit more into it, and the FrameWorks program gave me the path to do that.

Paulina asked Professor Zaretsky to be her mentor, and she found inspiration in online articles that, she says, described immigration systems as “Kafkaesque.” Delving into her family’s experiences, she asked if that word seemed appropriate.

A: How did you begin to frame your paper once you started to have a better idea of the direction you wanted to go in?

P: I was reading a lot because I began my research at the political and social peak of the Border Wall. I began tracking legislation, while also immersing myself in Kafka’s worlds. All of this allowed me to develop this narrative about the immigrant experience, while also taking these lessons from Kafka about what happens people are refused access to the mechanisms of the law. I saw how Kafka’s vision applied to the U.S. Immigration System and the people in it. My mentor, Dr. Zaretsky, also provided me with a lot of material to work with as well.

As a double major in philosophy and political science, Ezquerra occupies an interdisciplinary space between politics and literature. FrameWorks provides students the opportunity to bring together seemingly different ideas and approaches. The program is not without its demands, providing a series of deadlines to guide their progress. At the same time, students are encouraged to explore their own writing processes.

A: Describe your writing process.

P: I’m very specific about what’s in my writing space. Prior to the pandemic, coffee shops were my go-to. I did a lot of writing at The Nook and Cougar Grounds. I have to start with a cup of coffee near me and really prefer warm lighting. Post-rock instrumentals are my chosen sound when I’m writing.

A: How did you manage to balance FrameWorks with your other academic pursuits?

P: The deadlines helped so much. I was doing all this reading, but on the side, I was writing article summaries and notes to myself, which I was able to compile into drafts when they were due throughout the semester.

A: FrameWorks encourages students to find mentors, so what was the benefit in you seeking your own mentor?

P: Dr. Zaretsky is a wonderful human being. We connected because I was really eager in his class, and I liked the material he selected for our course. When I asked him to help with this project, it was so nice because he took me seriously from the very beginning. He saw the potential in my paper and treated me as though I had already fulfilled that.

Dr. Zaretsky’s faith was not misplaced as Ezquerra was awarded the FrameWorks Prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Research in the Interdisciplinary Humanities. Her work on Kafka and the U.S. Immigration System was published in the inaugural edition of Frameworks: A Journal of Undergraduate Research in the Interdisciplinary Humanities alongside the work of 8 other talented scholars.

A: If you could go back, and tell yourself one thing while in the program, what would it be?

P: Remember how good it feels to do the research, to do the reading and to write about it when it gets hard. Because it will get hard, and when that happens, remember how excited you were when you first opened up that book, and you started thinking about all the possibilities and all the places you could go with this paper.

A new cohort of FrameWorks fellows will have the opportunity to explore such possibilities and places in the 2021-2022 academic year. If you are interested in applying, click here for information on requirements and eligibility.


If you have any questions, email Max Rayneard