Core Fellows

The Core Fellows Program at Boston College enables early career scholars from across the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences to develop their research and teaching potential. Core Fellows contribute to the Core Curriculum, the foundational, fifteen-course program in the liberal arts that all Boston College students complete as part of their undergraduate education at a Jesuit, Catholic institution. Fellows are attached to home departments as Visiting Assistant Professors. Salary and research support are competitive. Initial appointments are for one year and are potentially renewable depending on curricular needs.

During one semester, Core Fellows teach lab sections for interdisciplinary Complex Problems courses, team-taught by Boston College faculty. They work alongside experienced teaching mentors on topics such as climate change, race and gender, terrorism, and design and innovation. Labs for Complex Problems courses are devoted to problem- and project-based learning. During the other semester, each Core Fellow teaches an elective in his/her field as well as an Enduring Questions course, linked pairs of classes that two Core Fellows design together.

Before beginning the program, Core Fellows participate in a workshop on interdisciplinary teaching and active learning at Boston College’s Center for Teaching Excellence.

Required specializations vary from year to year. Candidates should exhibit exceptional interdisciplinary research and teaching skills, display a capacity for originality and innovation, and be open to teaching undergraduate students holistically.

Current Core Fellows


John Brooks

John Brooks

John Brooks is a Core Fellow/ Visiting Assistant Professor in English. Before coming to Boston College, he was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry at Emory University, having received his Ph.D. in English and American Studies from Indiana University. He also holds a M.A. in American Literature from the University of South Carolina and a B.S. in English, History, and Philosophy from Central Michigan University. John’s research examines the role of experimental aesthetics in denaturalizing racial discourse. In his book manuscript, The Racial Unfamiliar: Encountering Illegibility in Contemporary African American Literature and Culture, he argues that a cohort of twenty-first-century African American visual artists and writers have turned to abstractionism to query historically entrenched ideas about black identity and black experience, and that doing so can complicate and confuse audiences’ assumptions about race.


Tara Casebolt

Tara Casebolt

Tara Casebolt is a Core Fellow/Visiting Assistant Professor in Global Health. She has a PhD in Maternal and Child Health with a minor in Population Studies from University of North Carolina Chapel Hill's Gillings School of Global Public Health. Her research is focused on access to reproductive health services for people with disabilities in low- and middle-income countries. During her PhD program, she was a predoctoral Trainee at the Carolina Population Center and served as an adjunct professor at Elon University in the department of Public Health Studies and Poverty and Social Justice Studies. Before beginning her PhD, she spent two years as an ASPPH/CDC Allan Rosenfield Global Health Fellow serving in the Ethiopia and Zambia CDC offices. Her work with the CDC focused on HIV prevention, gender-based violence, and monitoring and evaluation. She also spent a year as a William J Clinton Fellow for Service in India, working with a children's health and sanitation education program in Darjeeling, India. Tara also holds bachelors degrees in social work and women and gender studies from Ohio University and a Masters of Public Health and Masters of Social Work with an emphasis on international development was Washington University in St Louis.


Nora Gross

Nora Gross

Nora Gross is a 2020-2021 Core Fellow/Visiting Assistant Professor in Sociology. She received her PhD in 2020 from the University of Pennsylvania in Sociology and Education, where she was a Harry Frank Guggenheim Dissertation Fellow. Nora’s research examines educational inequality with a focus on race, gender, and emotion in secondary school contexts. She is currently working on a book manuscript from her dissertation research: an ethnographic study of the role of grief in the school lives of Black adolescent boys who lose friends to neighborhood gun violence, and the school practices and policies that shape their emotional and educational recovery. A secondary project explores the way white students in elite private high schools experience their schools’ diversity and inclusion efforts. Nora is also a documentary filmmaker and recently completed her first feature-length film – about Black gay men in the South and role of performance in sharing others’ stories – as well as a short film related to her research on gun violence and grief. Before her PhD, Nora was a high school teacher in Chicago and earned a Graduate Certificate in Documentary Media Studies from the New School, an M.A. in Sociology of Education from NYU, and a B.A. in Art History and African American Studies from Princeton University.



Carlos Zúñiga Nieto

Carlos Zúñiga Nieto

Carlos Zúñiga Nieto has a Ph.D., M.Phil., and M.A. from the Columbia University Department of History. He also earned his B.A. in History from Sonoma State University. He is currently working on a manuscript entitled “Violent Passions: Childhood and Emotions in the Making of Modern Mexico, 1870-1910” which tells the story of the crucial role played by emotions in the meaning and process of attaining childhood and adolescence in modern Mexico, in the cities of Mexico City and Merida, located on the greater Caribbean region. His research areas include colonial and modern Latin America with a focus on the greater Caribbean region, childhood and adolescence, and the history of emotions. For the past two years, Carlos has been a postdoctoral research fellow at the Center for the History of Emotions at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, Germany.

Office Stokes Hall 272S
Email: zunigoni@bc.edu


Vena Offen

Vena Offen

Vena Offen is a Core Fellow/Visiting Assistant Professor in Environmental Studies. She received a Ph.D. in Oceanography from the University of Connecticut. Her research examines the interactions between humans and the coastal environment, focusing on marine pollution and commercially important shellfish. During her Ph.D. she was an EPA STAR Fellow and a Chateaubriand STEM Fellow in France for her work on emerging contaminants, including the effects of nanoparticles on the development of oyster larvae. Current projects include the impact of plastic pollution on the physiology of oysters and mussels. Vena also holds a B.S. in Biology from Pacific University, and a M.S. in Environmental Science and Engineering from Oregon Health and Science University.


Russell Powell

Russell Powell

Russell Powell is the 2020-21 Core Fellow/Visiting Assistant Professor in Environmental Theology and Ethics. Before earning his PhD from Princeton Theological Seminary in 2019, Russell earned his B.A. in Religious Studies from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and his M.Div from the Yale Divinity School. Russell's research is in contemporary environmental issues and their religious, ethical, and political resonances, and particularly the religious dimension of American environmental thought. He is currently at work on a manuscript focused on John Muir, the famed nineteenth-century American conservationist and founder of the Sierra Club, and Muir's influence on conceptions of the sacred in modern American religious consciousness. Russell's research also examines the intersection of race, religion, and environment. He is currently editing a special issue of the Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature, and Culture that reappraises cornerstone American environmental thinkers in light of contemporary justice concerns over race, gender, and class. For the last two years Russell has worked as Visiting Assistant Professor at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, and as Visiting Lecturer in the Religion Department of Amherst College.


Robin Wright

Robin Wright

Robin Wright is a Core Fellow in Environmental Studies. She received her PhD in Geography, Environment, and Society from the University of Minnesota. Her research is broadly interested in the ways that race and law function as sites for the creation of identities and environmental landscapes. In particular, her scholarship is concerned with the production of whiteness, and explores the spatial dynamics of resurgent nationalism in the U.S.  Her current research project investigates the mainstreaming of far-right politics by examining the production of a right-wing discourse focused on the radical defense of the U.S. Constitution in the Pacific Northwest. Prior to Boston College, Robin taught Geography at the University of Minnesota and Environmental Studies at St. Olaf College. In her courses, Robin teaches to inspire students to confront the consequences of our changing climate and information environment, with a particular focus on how we can build more racially and environmentally just futures. Prior to her PhD, Robin worked on immigrant rights and economic development in Oregon. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in History from Willamette University.

Previous Core Fellows have moved onto

Davidson College

Miami University, Ohio

Duke University

Virginia Tech

State University of NY Potsdam

Babson College

University of California, Los Angeles