FrameWorks Fellows - University of Houston
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  • Nine Abad

    Nine Abad

    Nine’s research focuses on the Santo Niño de Cebu and its role in the creation of Filipino nationalism, its interaction with indigenous religions, and the Filipino diasporic identification with the symbol. Nine double majors in Political Science and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. They plan to attend graduate school and pursue research related to Filipino cultural studies.

  • Kalena Holeman

    Kalena Holeman

    Kalena is majoring in English literature with a minor in Creative Work. Her research interests lie in receptions and adaptations of antiquity across the Black diaspora. Her FrameWorks project examines the legacy of Dante’s Commedia in twentieth-century Black literature.

  • Skyler Houser

    Skyler Houser

    Skyler is a sophomore pursuing a psychology B.S. with minors in Phronēsis and Air Force Leadership. Her research explores Ancient Egyptian culture and Tutankhamun’s dagger, which was recently discovered to be fashioned from meteoritic iron. In her free time, she enjoys dancing ballet, drinking coffee, and traveling.

  • Tuyen Le

    Tuyen Le

    Tuyen is a philosophy and political science major who aspires to become a professor. Her research focuses on the War in Vietnam, as it was experienced by North Vietnamese soldiers and common people.
  • Adriana Lopez Cajigas

    Adriana Lopez Cajigas

    Adriana is a junior Computer Engineering student and a Creative Work minor. Adriana's research focuses on the shift from analog animation in the The Lion King (1994) to the photorealistic CGI of its remake (2019).

  • Alivia Mayfield

    Alivia Mayfield

    Alivia is a junior double-majoring in History, and World Cultures and Literatures with a focus in Ancient Studies, and a minor in Phronesis. She is researching personhood of Alexander the Great as seen depicted in the Alexander Mosaic.

  • Isha Merchant

    Isha Merchant

    Isha is researching the Bollywood ‘item song’, and its cultural significance for the Indian diaspora. She is majoring in Journalism and minoring in India Studies. She enjoys sewing, creating art, and spending time with her dog.
  • Katerina Munoz

    Katerina Munoz

    Katerina is writing about Father-Daughter rape in Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita (1955). She is majoring in Sociology and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and plans to pursue a doctorate in Gender Studies. In her free time, she enjoys reading, photography, and spending time with loved ones.

  • Miracle 'Meneh' Ofomaja

    Miracle 'Meneh' Ofomaja

    Meneh majors in Chemical Engineering. She is writing about Nigerian post-colonial writer Ben Okri's “Stars of the New Curfew” and its character’s experience of his political context and social class.

  • Saron Regassa

    Saron Regassa

    Saron majors in Public Policy. She is interested in transformative research and designing effective policy. She is writing about Afro-Surrealism in Jordan Peele’s revival of The Twilight Zone, with an interest in the way its world-making reflects Black experience. She also works at REACH and competes as a part of the UH Debate team.

  • Adolfo Salazar

    Adolfo Salazar

    Adolfo is a sophomore concentrating on biotechnology and philosophy, with a minor in Medicine & Society. As a future physician with an interest in accessible and inclusive practices, he enjoys exploring the intersection of the humanities and sciences. He is researching how the history, present, and future of the interaction between Mexican traditional medicine and Western biomedical approaches.

  • Zainab Tafish

    Zainab Tafish

    Zainab is a sophomore majoring in Biomedical Science and minoring in Medicine and Society. Her research focuses on mentions of disability in the Quran. She plans on pursuing medicine and working on global health issues. In her free time, she enjoys going to museums and making art.


Paulina EzquerraPAULINA EZQUERRA, Winner of the 2019/2020 FrameWorks Prize

By Ayania Hicks

Paulina Ezquerra was awarded the FrameWorks Prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Research in the Interdisciplinary Humanities for an article that drew from her personal experience. Born in León, Guanajuato, Paulina immigrated to the United States when she was in first grade. However, it was only a year ago that she and her family began the process of becoming United States citizens. As her family was dealing with the complex bureaucratic process of obtaining citizenship, Ezquerra began writing her article, “Reading Kafka in the Age of Trump” for FrameWorks.

A: So how did your research process begin?

P: Well, it didn’t start with a desire to write about immigration. It really began from a passion for Kafka, because I took this class with Dr. Zaretsky and we read "The Trial." I enjoyed writing a paper for the course on that book, and I realized that I wanted to delve a bit more into it, and the FrameWorks program gave me the path to do that.

Paulina asked Professor Zaretsky to be her mentor, and she found inspiration in online articles that, she says, described immigration systems as “Kafkaesque.” Delving into her family’s experiences, she asked if that word seemed appropriate.

A: How did you begin to frame your paper once you started to have a better idea of the direction you wanted to go in?

P: I was reading a lot because I began my research at the political and social peak of the Border Wall. I began tracking legislation, while also immersing myself in Kafka’s worlds. All of this allowed me to develop this narrative about the immigrant experience, while also taking these lessons from Kafka about what happens people are refused access to the mechanisms of the law. I saw how Kafka’s vision applied to the U.S. Immigration System and the people in it. My mentor, Dr. Zaretsky, also provided me with a lot of material to work with as well.

As a double major in philosophy and political science, Ezquerra occupies an interdisciplinary space between politics and literature. FrameWorks provides students the opportunity to bring together seemingly different ideas and approaches. The program is not without its demands, providing a series of deadlines to guide their progress. At the same time, students are encouraged to explore their own writing processes.

A: Describe your writing process.

P: I’m very specific about what’s in my writing space. Prior to the pandemic, coffee shops were my go-to. I did a lot of writing at The Nook and Cougar Grounds. I have to start with a cup of coffee near me and really prefer warm lighting. Post-rock instrumentals are my chosen sound when I’m writing.

A: How did you manage to balance FrameWorks with your other academic pursuits?

P: The deadlines helped so much. I was doing all this reading, but on the side, I was writing article summaries and notes to myself, which I was able to compile into drafts when they were due throughout the semester.

A: FrameWorks encourages students to find mentors, so what was the benefit in you seeking your own mentor?

P: Dr. Zaretsky is a wonderful human being. We connected because I was really eager in his class, and I liked the material he selected for our course. When I asked him to help with this project, it was so nice because he took me seriously from the very beginning. He saw the potential in my paper and treated me as though I had already fulfilled that.

Dr. Zaretsky’s faith was not misplaced as Ezquerra was awarded the FrameWorks Prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Research in the Interdisciplinary Humanities. Her work on Kafka and the U.S. Immigration System was published in the inaugural edition of Frameworks: A Journal of Undergraduate Research in the Interdisciplinary Humanities alongside the work of 8 other talented scholars.

A: If you could go back, and tell yourself one thing while in the program, what would it be?

P: Remember how good it feels to do the research, to do the reading and to write about it when it gets hard. Because it will get hard, and when that happens, remember how excited you were when you first opened up that book, and you started thinking about all the possibilities and all the places you could go with this paper.

A new cohort of FrameWorks fellows will have the opportunity to explore such possibilities and places in the 2021-2022 academic year. If you are interested in applying, click here for information on requirements and eligibility.


If you have any questions, email Max Rayneard