WASHINGTON (August 16, 2023) — Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization, today announced the selection of 16 interdisciplinary scholars as PRRI Public Fellows, the organization’s sixth cohort of fellows and the third cohort under the its Religion and Renewing Democracy Initiative. Selected via a nationwide open call, the diverse cohort of fellows will work alongside PRRI researchers and staff to generate impactful public scholarship focused on contemporary issues at the intersection of religion, culture, and politics.
“High-quality public scholarship is critical today, as questions of what it means to live in a multi-racial, multi-faith and pluralistic democracy populate the news and dominate politics,” said Melissa Deckman, Ph.D., chief executive officer of PRRI. “I look forward to the innovation, collaboration, and insight this year’s cohort of PRRI Public Fellows will bring to both our organization and the public square.”
Through the Religion and Renewing Democracy Initiative, the Public Fellows program, now in its sixth year, provides expanded access to resources designed to encourage collaboration and professional growth among the cohort. Through the Initiative, the Public Fellows are organized into four groups, based on their work in PRRI’s major research areas: religious, racial, and ethnic pluralism; racial justice and white supremacy; immigration and migration studies; and LGBTQ rights. The full cohort will also benefit from PRRI’s ongoing research and media engagement expertise.
The PRRI Public Fellows program is made possible by generous grants from the Henry Luce Foundation and the Mellon Foundation. The 2023-2024 cohort is comprised of scholars from both quantitative and qualitative fields, including history, sociology, political science, geography, and religious studies, as well as other areas in the humanistic social sciences.
PRRI welcomes 2023-2024 Public Fellows: Dr. Danielle Boaz, Dr. Kelsy Burke, Dr. Youssef Chouhoud, Dr. Dara Delgado, Dr. Michael R. Fisher Jr., Dr. Andrew Flores, Dr. Emily Frazier, Dr. Flavio Rogelio Hickel Jr., Dr. Suzanna Krivulskaya, Dr. Will McCorkle, Dr. Veronica Montes, Dr. Leah Payne, Dr. Allyson Shortle, Dr. Dheepa Sundaram, Dr. Joanna Wuest, and Dr. Amina Zarrugh.
PRRI is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to conducting independent research at the intersection of religion, culture, and public policy.
2023-2024 PRRI Public Fellows
Immigration and Migration Studies
Emily Frazier, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Geography at Missouri State University
Dr. Emily Frazier’s research examines the shifting landscape of U.S. refugee resettlement, focusing on the work of resettling organizations and experiences of newcomers. Frazier’s work has appeared in public-facing and academic publications such as the Washington Post, Journal of Refugee Studies, Social & Cultural Geography, and the Geographical Review. She is a recipient of the Russell Sage Foundation Pipeline Grant, and is a Religion, Spirituality, and Democratic Renewal Fellow of the Social Science Research Council.
Will McCorkle, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Teacher Education at the College of Charleston
Dr. Will McCorkle’s research and advocacy are focused on the experiences of asylum seekers coming to the Mexican-American border. He is especially interested in the role that faith plays both in the lives of migrants and advocacy efforts for more just and compassionate immigration and border policies. His public and scholarly work also centers on how to create more inclusive narratives around immigration in areas such as the U.S. South.
Dr. Veronica Montes, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Sociology at Bryn Mawr College
Dr. Veronica Montes earned her doctorate from the University of California at Santa Barbara and was an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow at the University of Southern California. Her research falls into two areas: immigration from Mexico and Central America to the United States and the intersection between gender, belonging, and migration. Her work has been published in journals such as Gender & Society; Gender, Place and Culture; Apuntes; Latino Studies Journal, and several chapters in edited volumes. Currently, Montes is working on a book examining the intersection between transnational motherhood, family separation due to deportation, and migration.
Amina Zarrugh, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Sociology at Texas Christian University
Dr. Amina Zarrugh’s research and teaching focus on how states shape the politics of belonging along the lines of race, religion, and gender in the United States and in North Africa with particular attention toward the global impacts of Islamophobia. Her work has appeared in journals such as Critical Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies, Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, Teaching Sociology, and Women’s Studies Quarterly, among others. She received her Ph.D. in Sociology with a Certificate in Women and Gender Studies from the University of Texas at Austin.
Racial Justice and White Supremacy
Danielle N. Boaz, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Africana Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Dr. Danielle N. Boaz’s research focuses on the legal restrictions on African cultural and religious practices in the 19th and 20th centuries, and the modern-day impact of those laws on public perceptions of these practices; she also teaches courses on human rights, social justice, and the law. She is the author of Banning Black Gods: Law and Religions of the African Diaspora and Voodoo: The History of a Racial Slur and is the co-Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Africana Religions. Additionally, she cases of discrimination and violence against religious communities in North America and Brazil. tracks cases of discrimination and violence against religious communities in North America and Brazil.
Michael R. Fisher Jr., Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of African American and African Studies at The Ohio State University
Trained as an interdisciplinary scholar, Dr. Michael R. Fisher’s areas of specialization include race and socio-economic inequality, housing and urban policy, and Black religion and cultural studies. He is a 2023 Pardee RAND Faculty Leader Fellow in Policy Analysis, and a 2022–2023 Public Voices Fellow with the Op-Ed Project. Before his career as an educator, he was a public policy advocate on Capitol Hill where his policy portfolio included federal social welfare programs addressing poverty. He later transitioned to local politics and policy when he became the inaugural Director of Advocacy at a nonprofit organization with a mission to end chronic homelessness in the nation’s capital.
Allyson Shortle, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Oklahoma
Dr. Allyson Shortle studies group identity in the context of American political behavior. She is also a faculty member in Latinx Studies and Women and Gender Studies, runs OU’s Community Engagement + Experiments Laboratory (CEEL), and serves as the PI of Oklahoma City’s Community Poll. She is the co-author, along with Eric L. McDaniel and Irfan Nooruddin, of The Everyday Crusade: Christian Nationalism in American Politics (Cambridge University Press, 2022).
Dheepa Sundaram, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Denver
Dr. Dheepa Sundaram’s scholarship examines social media hate politics, religious nationalism, and the formation of Hindu religious publics through online platforms and emerging technologies. She has written about how caste- and race-oppressed, Indigenous, and minority religious communities are characterized, minimized, and effaced in digital spaces. Her current monograph project, Globalizing Dharma: The Making of a Global Hindu Brand, examines how commercial ritual websites fashion a new, digital canon for Hindu religious praxis, effectively branding religious identities and imposing caste-privileged religious norms as a default Hinduism that largely conforms to the Hindu nationalist agenda. She is also a contributor for Religion News Service on Hindu perspectives and a founding member of the South Asia Scholar Activist Collective (SASAC) and coauthor of the Hindutva Harassment Field Manual.
Religious, Racial, and Ethnic Pluralism
Youssef Chouhoud, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Political Science at Christopher Newport University
Dr. Youssef Chouhoud researches the United States and the Middle East models support for core democratic norms, with a focus on political tolerance. At Christopher Newport University, he is affiliated with the Reiff Center for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution. He also has an extensive record of public scholarship on American Muslim attitudes and behaviors. Prior to joining CNU, Chouhoud was a Provost’s Fellow at the University of Southern California, where he received his Ph.D.
Dara Coleby Delgado, Ph.D.
Chair of Religious Studies and Assistant Professor of History and Religious Studies, as well as affiliate faculty in Black Studies and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Allegheny College
Dr. Dara Coleby Delgado’s research interests include Race, Gender, Public Policy, and Popular Culture in American Religious Life. Delgado received her Ph.D. from the University of Dayton, and her research has been funded by the AAUW Dissertation Fellowship. She has written about American religion broadly and Pentecostals/Pentecostalism narrowly in scholarly journals, edited volumes, and popular news outlets. Delgado is continuing her work on Bishop Ida Bell Robinson, founder of the Mount Sinai Holy Church of America, in a forthcoming book with Penn State University Press. The text uses a social-historical frame that employs various theories around race, gender, and class to critically examine Bishop Robinson’s life and work around gender justice.
Flavio Rogerio Hickel Jr., Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Political Science at Washington College
Dr. Flavio Rogerio Hickel Jr.’s research explores how individuals navigate political/social marginalization with an emphasis on the Latino/a/x community. More specifically, he is interested in the different ways in which individuals define Latino/a/x identity and the political implications of those understandings. Drawing on Social Identity Theory, his work also explores the conditions in which the strength/salience of Latino/a/x identity evolves, how individuals navigate conflicting interests from multiple identities, and how this impacts support for policies/politicians that advance or harm the social status of their groups. His work has been published in Public Opinion Quarterly, Social Science Quarterly, and Politics and Religion. His work has also been featured in The Washington Post, Religion News Services, and through PRRI Spotlight analyses.
Leah Payne, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of American Religious History at Portland Seminary in Oregon and Director of the Summer Institute for Global Charismatic and Pentecostal Studies at Candler School of Theology
Dr. Leah Payne’s research explores the ascent of Charismatic and Pentecostal Christianity in the American religious and political landscape. Her first book, Gender and Pentecostal Revivalism: Making a Female Ministry in the Early Twentieth Century (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), won the Pneuma: the Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies 2016 Book Award. Her forthcoming book, God Gave Rock and Roll to You: A History of Contemporary Christian Music, (Oxford University Press, 2024), shows how Charismatics and Pentecostals shaped the political and theological imaginary of white American evangelicalism through popular music. Payne’s analysis of American Charismatics and Pentecostals has appeared in The Washington Post, NBC News, Religion News Service, and Christianity Today, and she is cited as an expert on Pentecostals, Charismatics, and American politics in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, La Presse, Religion & Politics, and Christianity Payne is also co-creator and co-host of Weird Religion, an award-winning religion and pop culture podcast, and Rock that Doesn’t Roll, a Templeton-funded PRX podcast launching in October of 2023, that explores how Contemporary Christian Music shaped the lives of a generation of evangelicals who came of age in the 1990s.
Kelsy Burke, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Dr. Kelsy Burke is an award-winning researcher of religion, sexuality, and culture. Burke’s past research has examined a wide range of topics, including religious freedom laws and LGBTQ rights, evangelical women’s ministries, public debates over pornography, and the Christian sex advice industry. She is the author of Christians under Covers: Evangelicals and Sexual Pleasure on the Internet (University of California Press, 2016) and The Pornography Wars: The Past, Present, and Future of America’s Obscene Obsession (Bloomsbury, 2023). Burke’s research has been supported by multiple grants and fellowships, including from the National Science Foundation, and has been published by top academic journals and popular outlets, including The Guardian, Newsweek, Slate, and The Washington Post. As a PRRI Public Fellow, she will examine Americans’ attitudes about transgender rights as part of a larger project on the origins and evolution of trans-exclusionary politics in the United States.
Andrew R. Flores, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Government at American University and an Affiliated Scholar at the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law.
Dr. Andrew R. Flores’ research centers on attitude formation and attitude change about LGBTQ+ people and LGBTQ+ rights, and he studies how politics affect the wellbeing of LGBTQ+ people. Dr. Flores is an Associate Editor of Political Research Quarterly, among the leading generalist journals of political science. His peer-reviewed research has appeared in Science Advances, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America, the American Journal of Public Health, Policy Studies Journal, Public Opinion Quarterly, and Political Psychology.
Suzanna Krivulskaya, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of History at California State University San Marcos
Dr. Suzanna Krivulskaya teaches courses in religion, gender, sexuality, and digital history and specializes in modern U.S. history and studies the relationship between sexuality and religion. Her first book, Disgraced: How Sex Scandals Transformed American Protestantism, is a sweeping religious and cultural history of Protestant sex scandals in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Krivulskaya is the recipient of the 2019-2020 Virginia Ramey Mollenkott Award from the LGBTQ Religious Archives Network and the 2023-2025 cohort member of the Young Scholars of American Religion Program at the Center for the Study of American Religion and Culture. Her work has been published in peer-reviewed journals and popular outlets like the Revealer, Religion News Service, and Religion & Politics.
Joanna Wuest, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Politics at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts
Dr. Joanna Wuest is a sociolegal scholar specializing in LGBTQ+ and reproductive rights, religion, and health, whose research has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Social Science Research Council, the American Association of University Women, and the American Political Science Association. Wuest is the author of Born This Way: Science, Citizenship, and Inequality in the American LGBTQ+ Movement (University of Chicago Press, 2023), and is currently writing a book on “dark money” and religious liberty legal organizations. Her popular writing has appeared in outlets including The Nation, Boston Review, and Dissent, and her academic work has or will appear in Perspectives on Politics, Law & Social Inquiry, The Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics, and other peer-reviewed journals and edited volumes.