Skip to main content

Four Northwestern faculty named Guggenheim fellows

EVANSTON - Four Northwestern University faculty members have earned 2017 Guggenheim Fellowships.

The newly announced fellows include Shalini Shankar of the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, J.P. Sniadecki of the School of Communication, Hans Thomalla of the Bienen School of Music and Teresa Woodruff of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation awarded the 2017 fellowships to a diverse group of 173 people from a pool of almost 3,000 applicants from the United States and Canada.

The prestigious fellowships are granted to scholars, artists and scientists “on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise.”

Shalini Shankar

Shankar is a professor of anthropology and the director of the Asian American Studies Program. She is a sociocultural and linguistic anthropologist concerned with issues of race and ethnicity, diaspora and migration, language use and media.

She has conducted ethnographic research with South Asian American youth and communities in Silicon Valley, with advertising agencies in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles and with spelling bee participants and producers around the U.S.

During the Guggenheim Fellowship year, Shankar will research Generation Z, exploring how this demographic category can be defined in ways that more centrally account for the contributions of immigrants and minorities. She will also be completing her book titled "Beeline: What Spelling Bees Reveal about Generation Z’s New Path to Success," to be published by Basic Books.

J.P. Sniadecki

Sniadecki is an assistant professor of radio, television and film and serves as core faculty for the MFA in Documentary Media program. As a filmmaker and anthropologist active in China and the United States, his work explores collective experience, sensory ethnography and the possibilities of cinema.

His films are in the permanent collections of New York’s Museum of Modern Art and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and they have been exhibited at the 2014 Whitney Biennale, the 2014 Shanghai Biennale, The Guggenheim, the MAK Museum Vienna, Beijing’s UCCA, the Centre Georges Pompidou, the Shenzhen Center for Public Art, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Harvard Film Archive, the Berkley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Anthology Film Archives and the American Museum of Natural History.

Sniadecki's works have won awards at the Berlin International Film Festival, Locarno International Film Festival, Cinéma du Réel, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Punto de Vista International Documentary Film Festival, DocsBarcelona, L'Alternativa, Beijing Independent Film Festival, Festival dei Popoli and the Taiwan International Documentary Film Festival. They have screened at the New York Film Festival, AFI, BAFICI, DocLisboa, Edinburgh, Hot Docs, RIDM, San Francisco, Torino and the Viennale, among many others. 

Hans Thomalla

Thomalla is an associate professor of music and the founding director of the Institute for New Music. His compositions explore the transitions between music as historically formed expression and music as sound as its own acoustic reality.

He has written chamber music as well as orchestral works, and a particular focus of his activity lies in composing for the stage. His first opera “Fremd” for soloists, choir, large orchestra and electronics, was premiered at the main stage of the Stuttgart Opera in 2011. His second opera “Kaspar Hauser” was produced by the Freiburg Opera in 2016.

As a Guggenheim fellow, Thomalla will work on his third opera, “Dark Spring.”

Teresa Woodruff

Woodruff is the Thomas J. Watkins Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the vice chair of research (OB/GYN), the chief of the Division of Reproductive Science in Medicine at Feinberg and a professor of molecular biosciences at the Weinberg College.

She is an internationally recognized expert in endocrinology and ovarian biology. She has made and continues to make lasting contributions to the fields of reproductive science and medicine. She was the first to clone the key endocrine hormone inhibin.

Woodruff has published more than 300 peer-reviewed original research papers, editorials and reviews. She also has authored and edited several books on oncofertility, a term she coined in 2006 to describe the merging fields of oncology and fertility.

Through the Guggenheim fellowship, she will generate an unprecedented view of germ cells across the globe — from ocean corals to humans. In her project, titled the Global Germ Cell Metallome, she will interrogate and catalogue the metal content and dynamics that comprise the inorganic signature of life in species that inhabit the most diverse corners of our world.

“It’s exciting to name 173 new Guggenheim Fellows,” said Edward Hirsch, president of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. “These artists and writers, scholars and scientists, represent the best of the best. Each year since 1925, the Guggenheim Foundation has bet everything on the individual, and we’re thrilled to continue to do so with this wonderfully talented and diverse group. It’s an honor to be able to support these individuals to do the work they were meant to do.”