Graduate Students

Ph.D. Candidate in Spanish Linguistics

Leah Adelson received her B.A. in Hispanic Studies and Anthropology from Hamilton College, where she spent two semesters studying Spanish linguistics in Madrid. Prior to coming to Georgetown, she lived and worked for four years in Baltimore City teaching middle and high school Spanish, during which time she received an M.S. in Educational Studies from the Johns Hopkins University. While at Georgetown, she had the opportunity to spend three months teaching English Conversation at a university in Assis, São Paulo. Her main areas of interest are L2 and L3 acquisition, foreign language pedagogy, and teacher training and preparation. In her free time, she enjoys attending theatrical performances in the area and taking dance classes.

Ph.D. Candidate in Spanish Literature and Culture

Nohora A. Arrieta Fernández received a BA in Comparative Literature from Universidad Nacional de Colombia. Her primary research interests are Latin American literature and cultural studies, post-colonial theory, visual culture, and the studies of the African Diaspora. Nohora is a former Fulbright Fellow (2014-2016). Before entering the doctoral program at Georgetown, she had a long tenure as an editorial assistant at Literatura, Teoría, Crítica (Universidad Nacional de Colombia), and Biblioteca de Autores Afrocolombianos. Currently, she is editing and co-translating the poetry of Afro-Colombian poets Romulo Bustos and Pedro Blas Julio with Professor Mark Sanders (University of Notre Dame), and co-editing a coming issue of Transition Magazine (Hutchins Center at Harvard) about black arts in Brazil.

Ph.D. Candidate in Spanish Linguistics

Gorka Basterretxea Santiso is a Ph.D. student in Hispanic Linguistics who joined the department in 2018. His main interests include sociolinguistics, dialectology, language contact and variation, and bilingualism both in Spanish and Basque. Originally from the Basque Country, he completed his B.A. in English Studies at Universidad de Salamanca (2016), an M.A. in Hispanic Linguistics at Illinois State University (2018), and an M.S. in Hispanic Linguistics at Georgetown University (2020). Gorka is currently the Assistant Director in the Spanish Language Program for the Intermediate level (since 2020) and he created the Intro to Basque course (Fall 2019), a course that was not offered at Georgetown since 1997. He is involved in the department as the founder of the Basque Coffee Hour (Euskeraren ordua) and he was the co-chair for GRAPHSY 2021 and junior co-chair for GRAPHSY 2020. In his free time he enjoys reading, music, traveling and spending time with his friends.

Ph.D. Candidate in Spanish Linguistics

Tyler Bergin is a Ph.D. student in Spanish Linguistics at Georgetown focusing on second language acquisition and phonology. He received a B.A. in Spanish from Indiana University and an M.A. in Spanish from San Diego State University. While an undergraduate, he studied abroad in Mexico and after graduating, lived in Spain where he taught English. His interests include playing music, traveling, cycling, and learning additional languages.

Ph.D. Candidate in Spanish Literature and Culture

Varun Biddanda received a B.A. from Cornell University in 2019 with a double major in Spanish and Biological Sciences along with minors in Linguistics, International Relations, and Latin American Studies. His senior thesis examined the construction(s) of the trickster figure in Andean novels. Current scholarly interests of his lie within the imbrications of trickery in queerness and spectrality. Having written the first pedagogical guide of his ancestral language, Kodava, Varun’s research interests are also informed by the study of minority languages in contemporary contexts.

Ph.D. Candidate in Spanish Literature and Culture

Lilian Bringas Silva
I hold a B.A. with honours in Hispanic Studies and a minor in World Cinema from McGill University (2018). My intellectual curiosity starts with the Enlightenment and continues to contemporary Iberian and Latin American literature/culture. I am interested in the Politics of Space, World Literature, Gender Studies, Formalism and Cinema. I take joy in inventing stories about Goya’s paintings, and most importantly, swimming in the hot waters of the Caribbean.

Ph.D Candidate in Spanish Linguistics

Leonardo V. Carvajal​ is a native from Ambato, Ecuador and started his Ph.D. in Spanish Linguistics in Fall 2018. Before joining the program at Georgetown, Leonardo completed a B.A. in Organizational Psychology and two M.A.s, one in Spanish at Saint Louis University and another in Spanish as a Second or Bilingual Language at Michigan State University. Leonardo is a speaker of Andean Ecuadorian Spanish and his research focus, mainly, in this variety. His research interests are sociophonetics (especially, the vowel system of Kichwa-Spanish speakers and Spanish monolinguals from Ambato), language perception, and heritage speakers whose home language is Kichwa. Leonardo has presented his research in conferences in Mexico, Canada, and Spain. Outside of Academia, Leonardo enjoys traveling, great food, cats, hanging out with friends, and taking selfies after working out.

Ph.D. Candidate in Spanish Literature and Culture

Mariamnny Contreras Fernández was born and raised in Venezuela. She is a sociologist who graduated from the Universidad Central de Venezuela and holds a Master of Arts in Iberian and Latin American Studies from the University of Notre Dame. Her research interests center on gender studies, performative-discursive practices in the Caribbean and Latin American subcontinent, diasporic writing, and the relationship between culture and politics. In her spare time, Mariamnny enjoys cooking Venezuelan desserts and dishes, playing cello, and spending time with her loved ones.

Ph.D. Candidate in Spanish Literature and Culture

Natalia Chávez Gomes da Silva received her bachelor’s degree in Strategic and Corporate Communication from Santa Cruz de la Sierra Private University in Bolivia, an M.A .in Advertising Design and Brand Communication from the Valencia International University and an MFA in Creative Writing in Spanish from New York University. She has done research on how the public opinion behaves in the context of grassroot news in social media. More recently, she has researched informational literacy in undergraduate students in Bolivia. Nowadays, her main area of interest is contemporary non-fiction literature and cinema, specifically the representation of Latin-American characters such as indigenous people and women. She is also interested in the poetics and politics of urban music, the handling of archives and the digital humanities. In her free time, she writes short stories, reads poetry, watches documentaries and walks long walks whenever possible.

Ph.D. Candidate in Spanish Linguistics

Matthew J. Dearstyne is originally from Rochester, NY.  He received his B.A. in Spanish from Roberts Wesleyan College and his M.A. in Latin American Literature from the University at Buffalo. During college he spent a semester studying in Costa Rica, and later returned to Costa Rica for 3 years working with different study abroad programs. His interests include sociolinguistics and language variation with a particular focus on Central American Spanish. In his free time he enjoys running, cooking, and travelling.




Ph.D. Candidate in Spanish Literature and Culture

Zyanya Dóniz Ibáñez is orginally from Durango, México. She received a creative writing scholarship to study her B.A. in Hispanic Literature at the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, graduating Magna Cum Laude. During her time as an undergraduate, Zyanya worked as research assisant, editor and workshop coordinator. She has also participated in various conferences, including the International Workshop on Spanish Sociolinguistics (CUNY 2018) and the Congreso Internacional México Transatlántico (Brown-ITESM 2018). Her primary interests include performance studies, art, politics, and feminism. She has published the article “El archivo encarnado en Lost Children Archive” (Lucero) and “Nuestros muertos: mujeres atravesadas por la violencia en Cartucho de Nellie Campobello y Antígona González de Sara Uribe” (Armas y Letras). In her free time, Zyanya enjoys cooking, watching chick-flicks and spending time with friends. 


Ph.D. Candidate in Spanish Literature and Culture

Maggie Dunlap received a B.A. in Political Science from Sewanee: The University of the South and an M.A. in Spanish from Middlebury College. While earning her masters, Maggie taught various levels of elementary, middle, and high school Spanish, first in Pawleys Island, South Carolina, and later in Silver Spring and Baltimore, Maryland. She is passionate about language learning and using comprehensible input techniques in the classroom. Originally from Spartanburg, South Carolina, Maggie spent her high school years in San Salvador, El Salvador. Her academic interests include feminist theory, contemporary Latin American fiction and the role of narrative in articulating identity, lived experiences of violence, and collective memory. In her free time, she enjoys reading short stories, playing on Duolingo, and visiting art museums.

Ph.D. Candidate in Spanish Literature and Culture

Iván Andrés Espinosa Orozco is a Ph.D. candidate in Literature and Culture Studies in Spanish at Georgetown University. He earned an M.A. in Education, with a concentration in Language and Arts at Carthage College after completing his B.A. in Spanish and English from the Universidad Pedagógica Nacional in Bogotá, Colombia. He also holds an M.A. in Spanish at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. His teaching experience includes EFL courses, as well as courses on Spanish language and Latin American literature both in the high school and the college level in Colombia and the United States. He is interested in critical theory, decoloniality, Andean narratives, and sound studies in Latin America. In his free time, he enjoys reading, playing (and talking about) sports, and swimming.

Ph.D. Candidate in Spanish Linguistics

Abbie Finnegan is a Ph.D. student in the Spanish Linguistics program. She received both her B.A. in Spanish and her M.A. in Spanish Pedagogy from the University of Cincinnati. During that time, she studied Spanish in Santiago, Chile. She has taught elementary Spanish in the Clifton Area Neighborhood School, worked as a research assistant for the Cincinnati Bilingual Center, and assisted in ACTFL-funded research. Abbie’s main areas of interest include SLA, research methodology, CALL, and interaction and individual differences. In her free time, Abbie enjoys exercising, baking, traveling, and online shopping.

Ph.D. Candidate in Spanish Literature and Culture

Montserrat García Rodenas graduated with a B.A. in English Studies from UNED (Spain), received an M.A. in English Studies from the University of Valencia, and received an M.A. in Spanish at Auburn University. Prior to coming to the US, she worked teaching English language in Spain. Her main areas of interest are the intersection of gender studies and trauma in Peninsular literature and new masculinities and cultural anxieties in Spanish cinema from the last half-century. In her free time, Montse enjoys reading essays and comic books, free pizza and exploring breweries.  

Ph.D. Candidate in Spanish Literature and Culture

Leopoldo González-Barajas is a Ph.D student in the Spanish Literature and Culture program. He is originally from Venezuela and has a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and a diploma on Screenwriting from the National School of Cinema in Caracas. He completed his M.A degree in the Department of Spanish Literatures and Linguistics at Syracuse University where he also worked as a Teaching Assistant. His interests include Peninsular Literature, the hero’s cult and journey, metafiction, the construction of identities, and cinema, among others. In his free time he enjoys writing short stories, drawing, traveling and playing Baseball.

Ph.D. Candidate in Spanish Literature and Culture

Maude Havenne is a PhD student in Spanish Literature and Cultural Studies at Georgetown University. Her primary fields of inquiry include affect theories and postcolonial literature and cinema with a special interest in the sounds of colonialism in Equatorial Guinea and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Before working on her dissertation titled “From Bad Manners in the Belgian and Spanish sub-Saharan Colonies to a Postcolonial Aesthetic of Disgust,” Maude was a visiting Assistant in Research at Yale University, a Belgian American Educational Foundation fellow (BAEF), and a member of the Belgian National Fund for Scientific Research (FNRS). Focusing particularly on Raúl Ruiz’s movies, she has collaborated with Benoît Peeters to compose Ruiz’s complete filmography in Raoul Ruiz, le Magicien (Les Impressions Nouvelles, 2015) and has published other research on Raúl Ruiz, Eduardo Halfon and cultural globalization in Honoré Champion Editions (Paris) and Revista Iberoamericana (Pittsburgh), among others. She has also worked as an intern at the Archives et Musée de la Littérature (Brussels) and is passionate about classical music (she earned a M.A. in musicology from the University of Louvain in 2016) and outdoor activities (especially climbing, skiing, and kayaking).

Ph.D. Candidate in Spanish Literature and Culture

Israel Hernández Luna is a Ph.D. candidate in Literature and Culture Studies in Spanish at Georgetown University. He is an honors graduate with a B.A. Spanish, Hispanic Literatures and Cultural Studies from the University of Illinois at Chicago. His academic research expands between 20th & 21th centuries literature, literary theory, philosophical and psychoanalytic approaches to literature, visual arts and history, cosmopolitanism, modernity and post-modernism; his main inquiry is in how the Other manifest itself in other art forms from the perspective of fiction. Israel was a visiting scholar at the Newberry Library in spring of 2017; in his spare time, he enjoys painting.

Ph.D. Candidate in Spanish Literature and Culture

Aned Ladino received her B.A. in Spanish and Latin American Studies with a minor in Journalism and an M.A. in Spanish from the University of Central Florida. She served as a Peace Corps Volunteer for two years in Ecuador in the Youth and Family sector. In collaboration with the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, she assisted refugees and was the instructor for the youth groups, kids club, and English class. Her interest includes Latin American female writers with an emphasis in hybrid narratives that transgress social and gender hierarchies and archetypes. She is also interested in post-structuralism, new historicism, feminist theory, comparative literature and borderland studies.  Aned is originally from Colombia, and she enjoys dancing, traveling, and coffee.  

Ph.D. Candidate in Spanish Literature and Culture

Rahma Maccarone is a Ph.D. student in the Hispanic Literature and Cultural Studies program. She received the B.A. in Foreign Languages with a Concentration in Spanish and Literature and a minor in Latin American Studies from George Mason University. Rahma also completed her M.A. in Spanish, Literature and Bilingual Education from George Mason University. While earning her B.A. she spent a semester in Ecuador Studying Spanish in Quito at the University of San Francisco Quito. Prior to coming to Georgetown, she taught Spanish for 4 years in both public and private schools in Fairfax, Virginia. Her main area of interest is African and African Diaspora literature, The Black Atlantic history and Latin American literature of the early Modern period as well as 18th and 19th-century literature. Her M.A thesis focused on exploring the articulation of resistance in the literary works of North American and Caribbean writers such as Juan Francisco Manzano and Omar Ibn Said. She is currently a Patrick Healy Fellow and hopes to work in the Archives to expand her research interests. She speaks Italian, Spanish, Somali and elementary French and hopes to recover Arabic this summer. She lives in Alexandria Virginia and in her free time she enjoys practicing yoga, traveling, spending time with her three daughters and her friends.

Ph.D. Candidate in Spanish Literature and Culture

Diego Maggi is a Ph.D. candidate in Spanish Literature and Cultural Studies at Georgetown University. He obtained an M.A. in Literature at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogota after finishing his B.A. in Social Communication from the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello in Caracas. His thesis in that program, “La dislocada identidad nacional del migrante venezolano en tres novelas” analyzes the topic of national identity in Venezuelan literature related to the massive migration occurred in this country during the last twenty years. Diego is interested in Venezuelan literature and history, the authoritarianism of Hugo Chávez, nationalism, Francoism, cinema and migration literature. He also enjoys eating arepas and cachapas, watching movies and soccer games, hiking and acting in a theater. 

Ph.D. Candidate in Spanish Linguistics

Juan Manuel Menjívar is originally from El Salvador, Central America. He received his B.A. in Spanish and Community and Culture from the University of California at Los Angeles. During his time as an undergraduate, Juan Manuel volunteered at the Salvadoran Consulate of Los Angeles. His interest in Central American linguistics motivated him to apply to the Spanish Linguistics Department at Georgetown. Juan Manuel wants to focus on the linguistic aspects of the Salvadoran community in Washington D.C. He is eager to start his research involving Central American voseo, accommodation, and variation. In his spare time, Juan Manuel likes to spend time with his family and his dogs in the California sun.

Ph.D. Candidate in Spanish Literature and Culture

Fernanda Martínez Varela received her B.A. in Sociology from the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile and an M.F.A in Creative Writing from New York University. Her primary interests include democracy, gender studies, folk poetry, and religious studies. As a researcher, she has studied the consolidation of democratic regimes in Latin America, the intercultural education in indigenous communities, and the similarities between traditional Chilean folk poetry and biblical psalms. On poetry, he has written three books and her work has been published by literature magazines in Mexico, Dominican Republic, Peru, Bolivia, United States and Chile.  

Ph.D. Candidate in Spanish Linguistics

Conor McKeon is a Ph.D. student in Spanish Linguistics. He graduated from Marquette University with a B.A. in Spanish for the Professions and an M.A. in Spanish Language, Literature, and Culture. During his undergraduate career, he studied abroad in Madrid, Spain. In his master’s program, he worked as a research assistant investigating L2 Spanish pragmatic development in study abroad context. Conor’s areas of interest include second language acquisition, pragmatics, CALL, cognitive processes in language learning, and bilingualism/multilingualism. In his free time, he enjoys reading, music, traveling, and learning additional languages.  

Ph.D. Candidate in Spanish Literature and Culture

Valeria Meiller holds a BA in Critical Theory from the University of Buenos Aires and an MA in Spanish and Portuguese from Georgetown University. She does interdisciplinary work at the intersection of Latin American Studies and the Environmental Humanities. Her primary research interests include literature, architecture and visual cultures, posthumanism, animal and plant studies, postcolonial theory, feminism, and translation. Her PhD dissertation “Argentina, A Nation of Flesh” proposes a cultural history of the Argentine slaughterhouse from the inception of the nation to the beginning of the twentieth century that looks into architecture, literature and the visual arts. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in peer reviewed journals both in Latin America and the United States, including Revista Iberoamericana and Revista Latinoamerica de Estudios Criticos Animales. She is currently working on two projects on ecopoetics; the translation of the volume A Tryptic About Water which gathers three poetry books by the Argentine poet Martín Rodríguez (endorsed by an ASLE Translation Grant) and the co-editing of an anthology on environmental poetry in the South Cone. As part of her practice, she has developed environmental interdisciplinary projects for the 5th Istanbul Design Biennial, the Contemporary Art Center of Lithuania, and Fundación FILBA in Argentina. She is also author of the poetry books in Spanish El libro de los caballitos, El mes raro and El Recreo. Before arriving at Georgetown, she was editor at the independent publishing house Dakota Editora, and collaborated in different media in Argentina writing about literature, including the newspaper Clarín and the Argentine edition of Rolling Stone magazine.

Ph.D. Candidate in Spanish Literature and Culture

Alexandra Mira Alonso holds a B.A. in English Studies from Universitat de Barcelona, as well as an M.A. in Humanities from Hood College. She has worked as an English, Catalan, and Spanish tutor, high school teacher, and ESL coordinator in Barcelona, Spain. She also worked as a TA for elementary Spanish courses in Frederick, MD. She has done research on trauma, violence, and gender in contemporary theater, and interdisciplinary re-readings of American playwrights. Her primary research interests deal with the intersection of comedy and popular culture of 21st-century peninsular society, as well as the meaning and impact of parallel constructions of literature in social media. She is interested in analyzing memory, historical reconstruction, and the accepted elements of Spanish costumbrismo portrayed in reality shows through a comedic and uncontextualized use of digital sources. In her free time, she enjoys dinner parties with friends, good coffee, and YouTube tutorials.

Ph.D. Candidate in Spanish Literature and Culture

Sebastián Moreno Santacruz is a Ph.D. student in the Hispanic Literature and Cultural Studies program. He holds a M.A. in Literature from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, after completing his B.A. in Political Science & Government at Universidad del Rosario in the same city. In his Master’s thesis, which received departmental honors, entitled “Marginalia y los usos del sentir de la materia: un análisis del archivo-obra de Darío Rozo Martínez”, Sebastián examined both the archive and its materiality, and sought to bring disparate disciplines into dialog by relating Rozo’s scientific, academic, and literary production that draws on the disciplines of mathematics, physics and geodesy, as well as poetry, short stories, chronicles, and travel literature. For his doctoral research, Sebastián wants to focus on the relationships between the archive, materiality, and scientific annotation of the botanical archives and herbaria assembled by travelers in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Ph.D. Candidate in Spanish Linguistics

Jeong Mun received her B.A. in Spanish-Latin American Language and Literature with English Language and Literature from Chonbuk National University, an M.A. in Spanish Linguistics from Korea University, and an M.S. in Spanish Linguistics from Georgetown University. During her undergraduate years, she studied abroad at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. During her master’s program, she worked as a research assistant for four years for a governmental project collaborated with big Korean companies and embassies of Latin American countries in Korea, funded by National Research Foundation of Korea. Her research interests include SLA, L3 phonological acquisition, phonetics, and data analysis. During her spare time, she enjoys playing the piano and cello.

Ph.D. Candidate in Spanish Literature and Culture

Kevin Murphy holds a B.A. in Spanish from the University of Mary Washington where he also completed a PreK-12 teacher training program. After completing his undergraduate degree and obtaining his teaching license, he spent a few years working as an English teacher in São Paulo, Brazil before returning to the US to obtain his M.A. in Spanish language and literature from the University of Delaware. At Georgetown, he decided to immerse himself in the world of medieval literature after having the opportunity to work on a digital edition of the Libro de buen amor as a research assistant during his first year in the Ph.D. program. He is currently writing his dissertation on modern and contemporary adaptations of the Cid legend and Spain’s medieval past in academia, pop culture and politics. Apart from working on his dissertation, he teaches Spanish and Portuguese language as well as Peninsular literature and culture courses at the undergraduate level.

Ph.D. Candidate in Spanish Linguistics

Maja Nikolic is a first year Ph.D. student in the Spanish Linguistics program. Originally she is from Serbia. She completed her B.A. in Spanish Language and Literature at the Faculty of Philology in Belgrade. She completed her M.A. in the Department of Spanish Languages, Literatures and Linguistics at Syracuse University. While earning her M.A. degree, she was also working as a Spanish Teaching Assistant. Her research interests include Second language Acquisition, Bilingualism and Syntax. In her free time she enjoys traveling and playing tennis.

Ph.D. Candidate in Spanish Literature and Culture

Brisa Daniela Núñez García is a Ph.D. candidate of Hispanic Literature and Culture at Georgetown University. She received her B.A. in Applied Linguistics at the Universidad Mayor de San Simón in Cochabamba, Bolivia. She also holds an M.A. in Hispanic Literature from the University of New Mexico. She is primarily interested in the 20th century Latin American Literature with an emphasis in Subaltern Studies and post-dictatorship Testimonio. She focuses on this topic because it allows alternative forms of interpreting literature from the perspective of marginalized voices. She is also interested in indigenismo urbano in the Andes region, race, and ethnicity, which is why her research will focus on Dirty realism and the situation of marginal indigenous people in Bolivia.

Ph.D. Candidate in Spanish Linguistics

Annie Ornelles is a Ph.D. student in Hispanic Linguistics. She has a B.A. from Wake Forest University with a double major in Spanish Language and Culture and English Literature and a minor in Linguistics. During her undergraduate career, she studied abroad in Salamanca and wrote an honors thesis on the interaction between language policy and sociocultural factors in the Catalan context. After graduation, she spent a few years living and working abroad as an EFL teacher, including two years in Lugo, Galicia, and a year in Andorra as a Fulbright Scholar. Some of her interests include Spanish in contact with Galician and Catalan, discourse and narrative analysis, language and identity, and bi-/multilingualism. In her free time, she enjoys playing soccer, painting, and hiking.

Ph.D. Candidate in Spanish Linguistics

Ángeles Ortega-Luque received her M.S.Ed. in Intercultural Communication from the Educational Linguistics Division at the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. She pursued her B.A. in Translation and Interpreting studies in Spanish, English, and German at the University of Cordoba in Andalusia, Spain. Her research interests lean on discourse framing in everyday life, the linguistic construction of relationships and identities, bi/multilingual communication development, interaction, and biliteracy during childhood, and multilingual language policy and planning. In particular, she is interested in studying multicultural and multiracial home environments and educational settings. Before coming to Georgetown, Ángeles has worked as a program coordinator at the Inter- American Educational Leadership Network (RILE – Red Interamericana de Liderazgo Educacional) and as an educational consultant at Sapience Leadership LLC in Philadelphia. She also has multiple years of experience teaching Spanish for undergraduate students from beginner to advanced levels at Wellesley College and the University of Pennsylvania and teaching French, English, and Spanish as second languages in private tutoring. Additionally, Ángeles has collaborated in several international educational projects such Girl Up, a campaign that supports girls’ education through the United Nations Foundation, and Hogar de Nazaret, a religious Catholic community that hosts and educates sheltered children. In her spare time, she enjoys swimming, dancing salsa, singing, learning about diverse cultures through food and music, and painting portraits and landscapes with oil on canvas!

Ph.D. Candidate in Spanish Literature and Culture

Alex Pereira is an author, translator and Ph.D. candidate in Spanish Literature and Cultural Studies. He received his bachelor’s degree in History from Universidad Nacional in Bogotá, and a Master’s of Contemporary Latin American History at Universidad Michoacana, in Mexico. Before coming to Georgetown, Alex taught Colombian history, oral history and biography, autobiography and autofiction in Colombia as well as Latin American Literature and History in the CUNY system in Brooklyn. His interests are focused on the tension between literature and history, with special emphasis on the field of biography. In his free time, Alex enjoys riding his bicycle and cooking for his boyfriend.

Ph.D. Candidate in Spanish Linguistics

Sara I. Ramirez received her B.A. in Spanish and minor in English from York University and her M.A. in Foreign Languages with a concentration in Bilingual / Multicultural Spanish Education from George Mason University. Prior to entering the Ph.D. program at
Georgetown, she worked as a Spanish instructor in both public and private education settings. She experienced first-hand the growing number of heritage language learners (HLL) inside university second language classrooms, which developed her interests in second and heritage language curriculum development, language ideologies surrounding HLLs’ varieties, and the internalization of such ideologies as well as the demotivation of students resulting from factors both inside and outside the classroom. Sara hopes to contribute with further research on how HLLs learn the language, language variation and identity, and how their motivation and attitudes towards the heritage language and culture impact learning and language maintenance. In her free time, she enjoys working out, yoga, traveling with her husband, Joe and spending time with her grumpy cat, Luna.

Ph.D. Candidate in Spanish Linguistics

Jorge Ramos received both a B.A. in Linguistics and in Asian Languages and Literature (Japanese), along with an M.A. in Linguistics from the University of Iowa. Building towards a politically conscious linguistics, his research focuses on the complex relationship between language, the construction of ethnoracial categories and identity. He has further interests in folk perceptions of language, phonological changes and internet linguistics. As a native of Puerto Rico, his work generally draws on Puerto Rican Spanish and its speakers as a point of entry into these various topics. In his free time, he likes to read literature about social issues, stay active, watch anime and spend time with friends.

Ph.D. Candidate in Spanish Linguistics

Gabriella Reyes is a Ph.D. student in Spanish Linguistics at Georgetown. Her research interests are sociolinguistics, language change, dialectology and the phonological characteristics of Caribbean Spanish and Portuguese. She is a heritage speaker of Spanish and grew up in a multicultural household with parents from the Dominican Republic and Lebanon which sparked her interest in studying Dominican Spanish. Prior to Georgetown, she received her B.A. in Romance Studies from The Ohio State University where she learned how to speak French, Portuguese and Arabic. While an undergraduate, she visited Brazil for 6 weeks and studied abroad in France the year after. She is passionate about traveling and trying new foods everywhere she goes. She takes joy in playing the guitar, singing, reading, cooking, working out and doing art!

Ph.D. Candidate in Spanish Literature and Culture

Annie Robinson received her B.A. in Latin American Studies from Tulane University and her M.A. in Spanish from the University of Colorado, Denver. She has studied Spanish and taught English in Argentina and Spain, and most recently completed her M.A. in Latin American Literature from the Complutense University of Madrid. Her teaching experience includes K-5 ELA for Spanish-speakers, high school L2 and Heritage Spanish classes, and college-level Spanish language and culture courses. Her main areas of interest are queer and feminist narratives, critical teaching pedagogy, and politically motivated literature. In her free time, she enjoys dancing salsa, going to concerts, and spending time in nature.

Ph.D. Candidate in Spanish Linguistics

Michael Sciacca is a PhD student in Spanish Linguistics at Georgetown University. He holds a B.A. in Hispanic Studies with honors from East Carolina University, where he studied abroad at the University of Granada in Granada, Spain. Additionally, he earned an M.A. in Hispanic Linguistics from North Carolina State University and taught introductory Spanish courses to undergraduate students. More recently, Michael completed an M.A. in Teaching from Relay Graduate School of Education while teaching high school Spanish in Brooklyn. His research interests include sociolinguistics, acoustic phonetics, second language acquisition, and the role of gender and sexuality in sociolinguistic variation. In his free time, he enjoys singing, learning new languages, and accidentally overwatering his houseplants.

Ph.D. Candidate in Spanish Literature and Culture

César Salgado Portillo did his undergraduate work at the University of California, Davis (2016), where he majored in Spanish/International Relations and minored in Education. In 2017, he completed his M.A. in Literary and Cultural Studies at NYU-Madrid. During his years at UC Davis/NYU, César worked as a Spanish Tutor, interned as a translator at courthouses and served as an English facilitator in Barcelona. His academic interests included: the history and culture of Spain and Latin America, historical memory and how gender, sexuality, religion and immigration are portrayed in literature. In his leisure time, César enjoys hiking, traveling and spending time with his loved ones. 

Ph.D. Candidate in Spanish Linguistics

Daniel Stewart received his B.S. in Latin American, Latino, and Iberian Studies as well as Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Richmond. After graduating, he worked as an auxiliar de conversación in la Comunitat Valenciana of Spain, where he discovered a keen interest in bi-/multilingualism and second language acquisition. Following his stay in Spain, he gained insight into the hallmarks of conducting research at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences while studying the structure of proteins. Daniel is enthusiastic about using his science research background and applying it to novel topics in linguistics. In his free time, he enjoys participating in online language meetups, running, cooking, and watching international films/series.

Ph.D. Candidate in Spanish Literature and Culture

Willyam Thums  received his B.A. in Portuguese and English Language and Literatures from the Faculdade Porto-Alegrense (2009) in Brazil. During the academic year of 2012-13, he taught Portuguese and Brazilian Literature and Culture at Michigan State University, where he was a visiting Fulbright Scholar. He also holds an M.A. in Brazilian Literature and Cultural Studies from the University of New Mexico (2015), and an M.S. in Spanish from Georgetown University (2017). On campus, he is one of the Celpe-Bras certified examiners, as well as the Portuguese proficiency language examiner for the Department. His primary research interests deal with hunger and theories of affect in Latin American cinema and literature. As a fiction writer, Willyam has published The Code and the Three Virtual Greatnesses. The first of a series, and translated into six languages, the book explores the erosion, and transformation of power and politics in the digital age.

Ph.D. Candidate in Spanish Linguistics

Emma Tierney is a first-year Ph.D. student studying Spanish Linguistics. Like many people from the ever so specific “just outside of Philly” area, she attended Penn State University (just as her father always hoped she would). Deciding to pursue the more lucrative of her two degrees, Emma worked as an English language assistant in a rural Andalusian town before enrolling at Georgetown University. While at Penn State, she also studied abroad in Santiago, Chile. Her academic interests include bilingualism, L2 acquisition, and syntax. Outside of the classroom, she enjoys rowing at Potomac Boat Club and baking lots and lots of bread.

Ph.D. Candidate in Spanish Linguistics

Will Travers is a Massachusetts native, with a B.A. from the University of Michigan, currently finishing his Ph.D. in Spanish Linguistics. His research centers around L3 acquisition and its facilitating factors, with a special focus on metalinguistic awareness and pedagogical interventions.  At Georgetown, he has worked to promote the many L3 classes offered, such as French for Spanish Speakers, which he created in 2016 and subsequently taught for four semesters.  Will is also a Fulbright scholar, has published in the journal Hispania, and has presented his research most notably at SLRF, ISB, and ACTFL. For more information, please visit willtravers.com (new window).

Ph.D. Candidate in Spanish Literature and Culture

Édgar J. Ulloa Luján received his B.A. in Literature at The University of Texas at El Paso and his MFA in Creative Writing at New York University. As a doctoral student at Georgetown, his research deals with the study of the representations of narcotics and cultural criminology in the cinema and narcoliterature. His areas of interests are cultural memory, trauma, immigration and México-US border visual culture. He is a performance artist, poet and composer from Ciudad Juárez, México. Ulloa’s work was included by CONACULTA in the first national anthology of visual poetry in México. Ulloa-Lujan has performed in Latin America, US, Europe and Japan. His passion is teaching Spanish & Culture Studies and inspiring his students to learn and dream.

Ph.D. Candidate in Spanish Linguistics

Austin Vander Wel is originally from Seattle, Washington. He has spent extended periods of time in both Costa Rica and Chile, and his experience in Latin America includes a Fulbright ETA grant in San Isidro del General, Costa Rica, where he worked at la Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica. He received his M.A. in Spanish language and literature from the University of Oregon and B.A.s in Spanish, international relations, and cross-cultural studies from Whitworth University. Austin has also studied Brazilian Portuguese through an immersion program at Middlebury College. His primary research interests are sociolinguistics, sociophonetics and SLA, particularly concerning how each addresses informal registers.

Ph.D. Candidate in Spanish Linguistics

Katherin Vargas Henao is a Ph.D. student in Hispanic Linguistics. Her main interests include language in contact, heritage language learning and sociolinguistics. Katherin is from Colombia where she received her B.A. in Humanities and Languages at the Universidad Libre de Colombia. She also participated in a cultural exchanged in Minnesota where worked as a language facilitator in a Spanish immersion school. She earned her M.A.T. in Spanish at Northern Arizona University. During her master’s degree, Katherin spent a summer in Bilbao, Spain where she explored the varieties of the Spanish culture and langue. Katherin enjoys languages which allow her to get in contact with new cultures around the world, in her spare time she likes exercising, reading, watching movies and exchanging experiences with people. 


Ph.D. Candidate in Spanish Linguistics

Alyssa Yarbrough received her B.A. in Spanish and B.S. in Mathematics from the University of Kansas in 2019. During her undergraduate studies, Alyssa studied Spanish linguistics for two semesters at the Universidad de Costa Rica. Her research interests include semantics, the history and role of Spanish in the rural U.S., and second language acquisition. In her free time, Alyssa enjoys running, dancing, reading, and hiking.

Ph.D. Candidate in Spanish Linguistics

Laura Zalazar (she/her/hers) is a PhD student in the Spanish Linguistics program. Originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina and prior to becoming a doctoral graduate student, Laura graduated with a BA in Teaching English as a Foreign Language. In 2018, Laura was awarded a Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistantship grant that took her to teach Spanish in the US. She went to Amherst College, Massachusetts, where she was both a Teaching Assistant of Spanish and a cultural ambassador. In 2021, she received a Master of Arts degree in Spanish a Second or Bilingual Language from Michigan State University (MSU). At MSU, she taught introductory and intermediate Spanish courses and during the AY 2020-2021, she worked as the Graduate Assistant coordinating the MSU Spanish Writing Center. Laura is primarily interested in second language learning. Her research interests include Instructed Language Learning (ILL), second and heritage language development with a focus on reading and writing, bi/multilingualism, and language assessment. Outside of academia, Laura enjoys listening to music, biking and spending time with friends. 

 

Ph.D. Candidate in Spanish Linguistics

Linxi Zhang is a PhD student in Hispanic Linguistics. Originally from Beijing, China, she completed her bachelor’s degree in Spanish Language and Literature in Beijing Language and Culture University, and pursued an M.A. in Spanish Linguistics in Florida State University, Tallahassee. Her research interests include Spanish Phonology, Second/Third Language Acquisition, and Psycho-linguistics. In her free time, she likes cooking (carrying out interesting experiments in her kitchen) and spending time with her personal statistician.