Cotsen Lab Members Honored with Fellowships, Awards, and Grants

Knowledge may be its own reward, but graduate students in the Andean Lab and Architecture Lab at the Cotsen Institute are also being recognized by an extraordinary number of notable fellowships, grants, and awards. 

"The fellowships that have been awarded to members of the laboratories are incredibly prestigious and hard to get," according to Stella Nair, director of the labs, associate professor of art history, and core faculty member of the Cotsen Institute. "They are also all very well-deserved. Each of the award-winning students has a great project and has worked incredibly hard on their research and applications," she added. 

The Cotsen Institute offers nearly two dozen labs where students can study and learn from others. The obvious advantage of participating in one or more of the laboratories at the Cotsen Institute is the exchange of ideas and information between scholars with similar interests. In the Andean Lab and the Architecture Labs, the collaborative research environment has also nurtured students whose work ethic and scholarship have been recognized with exceptional financial support.

"Grant writing is not just about getting funding," Nair explained. It is also about refining your scholarly ideas and learning how to explain your project to others. The process is very helpful in crafting one's project, regardless if one wins a grant or not. In addition, students learn a lot by getting and giving feedback on grant proposals. Unless students are applying for the same grant, I encourage them to share their applications, not only with me, but with each other." She proudly celebrates the accomplishments of our students and urges others to learn about these awards and how to approach the process of getting them.

Louise DeglinLouise Deglin, a PhD candidate in art history, has been an active participant in both the Architecture and the Andean Laboratories and is one of the founders of the very successful Andean Lab Instagram account. Her most recent award is The Sylvan C. Coleman and Pam Coleman Memorial Fund Fellowship which includes a twelve-month residency at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. During this pre-doctoral fellowship she will be able to participate in and witness the reinstallation of the approximately 4,000 works of art kept by the museum from the Andean region of South America. She will receive $42,000 for the year and aims, during this time, to finish her dissertation on the art of the Wari, the first empire of the Andes.

Deglin has also received a three-month fellowship from the John Carter Brown Library, awarded annually to scholars engaged in research on the early Americas. She will use this fellowship to finish her dissertation after her fellowship at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Her goal is to work with the manuscripts and books in the library of the museum. During the summer, Deglin will be working on her dissertation using monies from the Rothman Graduate Research Endowment Fund. She pointed out that “this funding will help me through the summer because our stipend is only for three-quarters of the academic year, and I still need to pay rent for the whole year!”

Obtaining these multiple grants is part of a process she began before she even entered the PhD program. She followed Nair’s advice and started compiling a spreadsheet of grants whenever she would find one on-line. “I would start by putting in the deadline, the amount, the link, etc. You always find grants in a lot of different places: websites, our mailing list, and other sources. There is not one source for finding fellowships. When it is time to apply, you have to have everything ready, and you have to start applying around three months before the deadline,” she explained. She also shares her list with other students of Nair.

Alba Menéndez PeredaAlba Menéndez Pereda, a PhD candidate in archaeology, has been the coordinator of the Andean Laboratory and a member of the Architecture Laboratory. She is the current recipient of an Edward A. Dickson Fellowship in the History of Art, open to students outside the department of art history, as long as their research delves into an art historical issue. The fellowship is designed to cover tuition, fees and a living stipend, according to Menéndez Pereda, who added that “I believe many students at the Cotsen Institute would fit the eligibility criteria, as their work often focuses on aspects of material culture (ceramics, architecture, etc.). If students take art history courses or have art historians on their dissertation committees, this is something they should look into.”

During the first two years of her PhD program (2018–2020), she was funded through a “la Caixa” Foundation fellowship for Spanish and Portuguese postgraduate students studying abroad. This foundation offers competitive fellowships for these students to pursue master or PhD programs in certain countries in North America and the Asia-Pacific region. The fellowship covers tuition, fees, and a monthly allowance intended to cover living expenses.

Menéndez-Pereda pointed out that “although these two fellowships are not designed to cover research expenses specifically, they allow students to dedicate their time fully to their coursework and research.”

Anthony “A.J.” Meyer, a PhD candidate in art history and coordinator of the Architecture Laboratory and its well-read Instagram page, has received so many fellowships that he has actually had to refuse one major award in order to accept a larger, more flexible one. He credits his various experiences in the Architecture Laboratory with “giving me the confidence to talk and write about architecture. It has also been really useful to run the Instagram page for the lab because it helped me learn how to talk about what I study in an accessible way and present it to the public. AJ MeyerWhen I was going through the interview process for the Center for Advanced Study of Visual Arts, I kept coming back to what I said in those Instagram posts that I now use to speak to non-specialists,” he added.

He is referring to his Andrew W. Mellon Predoctoral Fellowship, CASVA 2021–23, which is a two-year pre-doctoral fellowship, funding a year of research abroad and then a second year in Washington, DC, in residence at the National Gallery of Art. The fellowship provides about $60,000 for two years, and the residency includes housing in Washington. He is especially proud that he is following in the footsteps of Nair, who received the same fellowship about 20 years ago. He hopes to use the fellowship funds next year in spring or summer.

Meyer also has received a travel grant from the Huntington Library, with which he will get to “buy my plane ticket to Europe” and spend a month there. While abroad, equipment for his research will be funded by a SSRC International Dissertation Research Fellowship. In addition, he has the 2021 RSA-Samuel H. Kress Fellowship in Renaissance Art History from the Renaissance Society of America. Then there is the Fulbright Fellowship that he had to turn down in order to take the fellowship of the Center for Advanced Study of Visual Arts.

As soon as he became a graduate student, Meyer started talking to other graduate students about funding that they had received or taking note of things that the Cotsen Institute would publish about students getting awards. “I ended up running a list of fellowships that I could apply for as a pre-doctoral student, for my postdoctoral research, for fieldwork specific research, etc. Then I would also spend time on and look at fellowships there. But most of it was word of mouth, and I put it all into a database I created.”

He pointed out that “one of the helpful things about the graduate programs at UCLA is that you have to write a dissertation prospectus about what you are going to do for your dissertation and how you are going to do it. That is basically a longer version of what you need for your fellowship applications. So, it really prepares you to have those materials in advance.”

Tori SchmittTori Schmitt, a PhD Candidate in art history, is a member of the Architecture Laboratory and, in addition, works closely with Meredith Cohen, associate professor of art history, who is also a core faculty member of the Cotsen Institute. Schmitt is the recipient of the newly-endowed Diane C. Brouillete Graduate Fellowship in Art History, which provides help to fund tuition, travel costs, and research awards for PhD students of French medieval art and architecture. According to Schmitt, the fellowship is intended to fund travel while in France for dissertation research, which she has not been able to do yet. It will eventually allow her to spend several months abroad traveling to sites and archives throughout France, hopefully beginning in the fall.

Syon Vasquez, graduate student in archaeology and member of the Archaeology and Andean Labs has started his graduate education with a multi-year Wadsworth International Fellowship from the Wenner-Gren Foundation for anthropological research. Vasquez, Syon Vasquezwho is from Belize, pointed out that the fellowship was needed to help address “the funding problem that international students often face, with about $15,000 additional costs per year.” The annual fellowship is for $17,500 and is renewable for up to two additional years upon successful completion of each preceding year’s study/training. “Before even getting accepted into the Cotsen program, I went on a wild search for funding sources. I looked in every nook and cranny of every funding agency before I even graduated,” Vasquez explained.

“Fortunately, I did my undergraduate work at the University of South Florida where my advisor was Chip Stanish, former Director of the Cotsen Institute. He suggested I come to the Cotsen to say hello to everyone, ask about the program, and see whether or not it would work for me. After the visit, it seemed like a very good match, but I had to attack the funding issues,” he added.

The Wadsworth International Fellowship is intended to provide support for students undertaking study leading to a PhD at universities where they can receive international-level training in anthropology. The fellowship is available only to students from countries where anthropology is underrepresented and where there are limited resources to send students overseas for training. The Wadsworth program’s main goal is to expand and strengthen international ties and enhance anthropological infrastructure in these countries.

To learn how to support our research and education in archaeology and conservation, or for more information, please contact Michelle Jacobson at

Published on September 1, 2021.