Meet our Student Awardees | 2023-2024

H+U+D is a joint effort among the Schools of Arts and Sciences (SAS) and the Weitzman School of Design whose objective is to promote synergies among the humanities and design disciplines. The initiative has “The Inclusive City” as its theme, focusing on issues of inclusivity and diversity, undergraduate and graduate students will receive small research grants to support interdisciplinary design/humanities projects in humanities and design disciplines that focus on the built environment. Resulting communities of interest, understanding and networks will endure beyond the life of the program.


Adwaita Banerjee is interested in unpacking the intricate relationships between plastics and human dynamics within urban ecologies. His doctoral research at Penn focuses on the nuanced flows of plastics in the city of Mumbai, India. Before embarking on this academic journey, Adwaita actively contributed to civil society organizations, particularly those related to habitat, urban knowledge structures, and the democratization of data. With a blend of training as both a filmmaker and an anthropologist, he melds narrative craft with academic rigor, bringing new perspectives to the complexities of urban life and material interactions.



Basak Eren is a Ph.D. student in Architecture, in history and theory at the Weitzman School of Design. Her research focuses on the practices, recognition, and archival representation of displaced architects in the 20th century. Utilizing an intersectional approach that combines feminist and migration studies lenses, Basak’s research focuses on the complex relationship between national and global histories of architecture. Her work examines how the identity and recognition of individuals have influenced their architectural practices. She holds a bachelor’s degree in architecture and a master’s degree in architectural design from Istanbul Technical University, Turkey.


Valeria Seminario is a PhD candidate in the Department of Hispanic and Portuguese Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. She holds an M.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies from New York University. Her research focuses on the nineteenth century Latin American novel and examines its intersection with infrastructure and global markets during the steam-powered transportation revolution.



Sara Saad Alajmi is a PhD candidate in the History and Theory of Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. Her dissertation examines the interrelationship between architecture and ecology in Arabia in the 20th century, where she focuses on nomadic and modern settlements in the Arabian desert. Sara obtained her professional Bachelor of Architecture from Kuwait University in 2017 and holds a post-professional Master of Architecture II from Yale University. Sara practiced as a junior architect in Kuwait and taught at Kuwait University, Yale University, and the University of Pennsylvania. She is the recipient of the Kuwait University Master’s and PhD scholarship. Her research was featured in the Venice Biennale and presented at Princeton University. Sara’s work is concerned with transience, informality, domesticity, and poetry in the desert environment.



Michael Toste is a PhD candidate in Architecture History and Theory at the Weitzman School of Design. Before entering the program, he received his Bachelor of Architecture degree at Pratt Institute (2008); worked for architecture firms in New York City; co-founded a design and digital fabrication company in Beacon, NY; and received a Master of Science in Architecture History and Theory degree from Penn in 2018. His past research focused on the political underpinnings of mid-century architecture pedagogy in the US and West Germany. His current research concerns the involvement of architects in left-wing political movements in the United States during the Great Depression and World War II.

Nursyazwani Jamaludin  is a PhD candidate at the Department of Anthropology. Her dissertation research examines the world-building practices among displaced Rohingya individuals and communities on the peripheries of ummah, the global Muslim community. She has been working with Rohingya refugees in Malaysia since 2017 and resettled Rohingya refugees in Chicago since 2021. She received her M.Soc.Sci. from the Department of Sociology at the National University of Singapore, where she studied the co-construction of refugee legibility among Rohingya in Malaysia. Previously, she was a Research Associate at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore.



Joey Jung is a senior at the University of Pennsylvania majoring in Urban Studies and Political Science. He grew up in Tallahassee, Florida, and is primarily interested in community development, public policy, and urban planning. He would like to work in local government, economic consulting, and/or urban affairs in the future. In his free time, he plays spikeball, pickleball, runball, and Go, and reads books sometimes.




Carlos Aguilar is a PhD student in Sociology at UPenn, and a 2022 and 2023 Turner Schulman Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for the Study of Ethnicity, Race, & Immigration. Throughout my graduate career, my theoretical and empirical work has revolved around the experiences and opportunities encountered by undocumented youth and young adults in the United States. Today, my dissertation explores the meanings and implications that immigrant “illegality” poses in the lives of Dominican migrants residing in Puerto Rico, and the ways in which this community carves out spaces of belonging in a context characterized by colonialism.