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By Jessica Weiss ’05

Students of science in the United States are likely to recognize the names and discoveries of Sir Isaac Newton, Galileo and Charles Darwin. Fewer may know of the many influential curanderos, cosmologists and agriculturists from across the Americas whose work has impacted science across the globe for centuries. 

Thanks to a $400,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, a new project led by Professor of History Karin Rosemblatt aims to establish how Latin America’s popular, Indigenous and Afro-descendant communities were “never on the periphery of scientific developments.” 

“We aim to shift emphasis away from the discoveries of a few scientific geniuses and to foreground instead the many contributors to scientific work—porters, local guides, wives and family members, technicians, herbal specialists,” said Rosemblatt, who is also the director of UMD’s Nathan and Jeanette Miller Center for Historical Studies. 

The project, “Placing Latin America and the Caribbean in the History of Science, Technology, Environment, and Medicine,” will bring together senior and established researchers and graduate students in the field of HSTEM (History of Science, Technology, Environment and Medicine) in Latin America and the Caribbean. The network will secure ties among researchers in North and South America, produce publications that make their research widely available and provide training and mentoring to graduate students.  

Rosemblatt, whose research focuses on the transnational study of gender, race, ethnicity and class, has already coordinated a 13-person steering committee made up of scholars at different stages of their careers working in Latin America and the United States. The committee members specialize in different time periods, geographic regions and topics. They include: Miruna Achim (Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana-Cuajimalpa, Mexico City); Eve Buckley (University of Delaware); Marcos Cueto (Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, Rio de Janeiro); Sebastián Gil-Riaño (University of Pennsylvania); Pablo F. Gómez (University of Wisconsin-Madison); Carlos López Beltrán (National Autonomous University of Mexico); Camilo Quintero (UNIANDES, Colombia); Megan Raby (University of Texas at Austin); Julia Rodriguez (University of New Hampshire); Carlos Sanhueza Cerda (Universidad de Chile); Elisa Sevilla Perez (Universidad de San Francisco, Quito); and Adam Warren (University of Washington, Seattle). Ana Luísa Reis Castro (MIT) will serve as graduate student representative. 

Next steps involve growing the network and building out a website. 

Through the materials produced by the network, teachers of students of all ages will also gain access to bibliographies, lesson plans, essays and collections of syllabi that allow them to cover a broader range of scientific endeavors and a more diverse community of scientists, Rosemblatt said. 

“We hope to convince other historians, students and the broader public that the Western scientific tradition developed in conversation with other, often colonized, peoples,” she said.   

Image: “Two views of Cabo Tres Montes” (Chile), 1891, via memoriachilena.cl


PRIDE Awards – Outstanding Book/Monograph:

Aldoory, L, & Toth, E. (2021). The Future of Feminism in Public Relations and Strategic CommunicationA Socio-Ecological Model of Influences. Rowman & Littlefield.



The PRIDE awards are given by the PR Division of the National Communication Association, which is comprised primarily of faculty in the area of communication. Winners have proven to be some of the seminal works in the field.

The awards date back to at least 1989 and are designed to recognize achievement in public relations research. The number of categories has varied over the years, but some version of the best book/monograph and best research article have existed since the start. Some years include a best PR textbook category.

The winners are determined by a committee of three NCA PR Division members. Two are elected at the business meeting the preceding year. The third member, and chair, is the immediate past chair of the division. The committee automatically reviews all articles in Public Relations Review and Journal of Public Relations Journal, but accepts nominations from other journals.



Professor GerShun Avilez's book Black Queer Freedom: Spaces of Injury and Paths of Desire is nominated for the P. Sterling Stuckey Book Prize. The award is given by The Association for the Study of The Worldwide African Diaspora (ASWAD), a non profit organization of international scholars seeking to further their understanding of Africa and the African Diaspora. The award committee will consider scholarly articles on any period and from any discipline published in English and is particularly interested in publications that are methodologically and conceptually innovative and demonstrate academic excellence.

About Black Queer Freedom

From the publisher: Whether engaged in same-sex desire or gender nonconformity, black queer individuals live with being perceived as a threat while simultaneously being subjected to the threat of physical, psychological, and socioeconomic injury. Attending to and challenging threats has become a defining element in queer black artists’ work throughout the black diaspora. GerShun Avilez analyzes the work of diasporic artists who, denied government protections, have used art to create spaces for justice. He first focuses on how the state seeks to inhibit the movement of black queer bodies through public spaces, whether on the street or across borders. From there, he pivots to institutional spaces--specifically prisons and hospitals--and the ways such places seek to expose queer bodies in order to control them. Throughout, he reveals how desire and art open routes to black queer freedom when policy, the law, racism, and homophobia threaten physical safety, civil rights, and social mobility.


By Jessica Weiss ’05

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded a $100,000 grant to support the continued development of user-friendly, open-source software capable of creating digital texts from Persian and Arabic books. 

Matthew Thomas Miller, assistant professor in the Roshan Institute for Persian Studies in the School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, leads an interdisciplinary team of researchers from Northeastern University, Aga Khan University (AKU) in London and the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities at Maryland. The Mellon Foundation has been funding the team’s work since 2019.

“We are honored that The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has again supported our efforts,” Miller said. “They have been global leaders in building open-source tools and open-access collections for the expansion in access to and digital preservation of cultural traditions across the world, and we are delighted to be a part of these efforts.”

The project, known as “OpenITI AOCP,” aims to enable the digitization of texts from the premodern Islamicate world—an enormous tradition stretching over 1,000 years. The tools being created by the project team will be free and open to use and will allow academics and the public to produce high-quality digital transcriptions of Persian and Arabic printed texts, from poetry to the Quran. 

“Premodern Islamicate textual production is a massive and understudied archive that remains particularly underrepresented in the field of digital humanities,” Miller said. “This democratization of access to digital text production will change the landscape of Islamicate studies.”

Thus far, the project team—made up of computer science and humanities experts—has successfully improved the accuracy of Persian and Arabic optical character recognition (OCR) tools, which are tools that transfer printed text into machine-encoded text, and have begun experimenting on Ottoman Turkish and Urdu. They are integrating those tools into a platform called eScriptorium. They also held a training session at the University of Maryland in 2020 for OCR experts from all over the world. And they taught a Spring 2021 Global Classrooms course, “The Islamicate World 2.0: Studying Islamic Cultures through Computational Textual Analysis,” on the basics of computational textual analysis as it relates to textual data about the Islamicate world.

Next steps include finalizing the open-source software for widespread use, as well as holding additional workshops and community building activities around the new tools. This latest Mellon grant will last one year. 

Earlier this year, Miller was awarded $282,905 by the National Endowment for the Humanities to support the project.

Image description: The introduction to George B. Whiting's Kitab fi al-Imtina‘ ‘an Shurb al-Muskirat, published in Beirut by American Mission Press in 1838 and housed at Harvard's Houghton Library (*98Miss168). Licensed for non-commercial use.


Congratulations to Philip Resnik, one of 101 scientists to receive an Amazon Research Award for 2020, his in the area of Natural Language Processing. The award goes towards Philip's work on "Advanced topic modeling to support the understanding of COVID-19 and its effects," and gives him "access to more than 200 Amazon public datasets, [...] AWS AI/ML services and tools," as well as "an Amazon research contact who offers consultation and advice along with opportunities to participate in Amazon events and training sessions." This is not Philip's first award from Amazon: in 2018, he received an Amazon Machine Learning Research Award on "Tackling the AI Mental Health Data Crisis."

Dean Thornton Dill created a special COVID Relief Fund to help support TTK faculty who have been met with barriers to their promotion and tenure goals over the last year due to COVID. Examples of funded requests include purchase of books and resource materials, digital subscriptions, duplication of archival materials, and professional editing services. The following faculty were awarded funds this semester. 



  • Mercédès Baillargeon, School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

  • Julius Fleming, Jr., Department of English

  • Bayley Marquez, Department of American Studies

  • Thomas Zeller, Department of History

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