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Catching Up With the Class of 2002

Catching Up With the Class of 2002
The first group of “Emerging Scholars” gives us an update on life since their magazine debut in January 2002 in what was then Black Issues In Higher Education.

Dr. Danielle Allen
Education: M.Phil. and Ph.D., Classics, University of Cambridge; M.A. and Ph.D., Government, Harvard University; B.A., Classics, Princeton University
Update: “Since January 2002, my most significant intellectual and professional developments are my publication of Talking to Strangers: Anxieties of Citizenship Since Brown v. Board of Education (2004); my service as dean of the Division of Humanities at the University of Chicago (2004-2007); my appointment as UPS Professor of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J.; and my service on several remarkable and exciting boards, in particular: Amherst College, the Pulitzer Prizes, JSTOR, the University of Chicago Charter School and the Black Metropolis Research Consortium.”

Dr. Jill Bargonetti-Chavarria
Education: Ph.D., M.S., Molecular Biology, New York University; B.A., Biology (cum laude), State University of New York at Purchase
Update: Now a full professor with tenure in the biological sciences department at Hunter College, Bargonetti-Chavarria and her colleagues at Hunter’s Center for the Study of Gene Structure and Function are currently working to determine if tumor promotion in humans results by inhibition of p53 production. In December of 2004, Working Mother magazine profiled Bargonetti-Chavarria as one of the nation’s “Stellar Moms,” and in May of 2005 both NYU and SUNY Purchase gave her distinguished alumna awards. In 2007, she was awarded a “Power Woman” award from New York Moves magazine. The molecular biologist adds, “My children are growing up to be really nice people, and my family had a great summer vacation in Hawaii!”

Dr. Joan Coker
Education: M.D., Medical College of Ohio; B.S., Biology, Tuskegee University
Update: Coker, an ear, nose and throat doctor, says the past five years have been a whirlwind experience. She left Martin Luther King Hospital in 2003 to pursue a private practice opportunity in Chicago. “There, I learned a lot about the business of medicine,” Coker says. In 2007, Coker decided to move back to her hometown of Wilmington, Del., to open her very own otolaryngology practice. “As of October 1, 2007, I have owned and operated my own business here at home. The response and support of the community, family and friends has been tremendous. It is so good to be back at home!”

Dr. Jonathan David Farley
Education: D.Phil., Mathematics, University of Oxford; A.B., Mathematics (summa cum laude), Harvard University
Update: In 2003, Farley solved a math equation that had remained unsolved since it was posed by renowned MIT mathematics Professor Richard Stanley in 1981. Seed Magazine named him one of “15 people who have shaped the global conversation about science in 2005.” Proteus published his monograph, “Toward a Mathematical Theory of Counterterrorism,” in December. Farley’s company,, has consulted for the hit TV shows “Numb3rs” and “Medium” as well as the movie “Flatland” starring Martin Sheen. He is now at the California Institute of Technology as a visiting professor of mathematics.

Dr. Juan Gilbert
Education: Ph.D., M.S., Computer Science, University of Cincinnati; B.S., Applied Science, Miami University of Ohio
Update: “In 2006, I was named the T-SYS Distinguished Associate Professor in the Computer Science and Software Engineering Department at Auburn University where I direct the Human Centered Computing Lab.
“I also invented Applications Quest, to address race-conscious admissions policies. I later formed Applications Quest, LLC as well. Applications Quest is gaining ground and publicity in admissions (The owners of Diverse’s parent company, Cox, Matthews and Associates, each have a ownership interest in Applications Quest). Also, during this time, my research lab has grown to 23 students, of which 15 are African-American and one is Hispanic. Of the 15 African-Americans in my research lab, 13 of them are Ph.D. students, which represents about 6 percent of the nation’s African-American computer science Ph.D. students!
“Finally, my wife and I expanded our family with the addition of our two sons in 2003 and 2007.”

Thomas W. Mitchell
Education: LL.M., University of Wisconsin Law School; J.D., Howard University School of Law, (cum laude); B.A., Amherst College
Update: In 2006, Mitchell was granted tenure at the University of Wisconsin Law School and is currently working on a book project entitled Beyond 40 Acres and a Mule: Race and the New Deal Farming Communities. His scholarship on Black land loss helped motivate the American Bar Association to propose that a model law be drafted to stabilize ownership of tenancy in common or “heirs’ property,” the most prevalent ownership structure for Black landowners. After the proposal was accepted this spring, the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws appointed Mitchell to draft the uniform law by 2009.
“But the most significant thing that has happened to me is that I am now married (August 2002) to Lisa Alexander who is now my colleague on the law faculty,” says Mitchell.

Dr. Nichole Pinkard
Education: Ph.D., Computer Science; M.S., Computer Science, Northwestern University; B.S., Computer Science, Stanford University
Update: Pinkard is director of research and design at the University of Chicago, Center for Urban School Improvement.

Dr. Ben Vinson III
Education: Ph.D., History, Columbia
University; B.A., History and Classics, Dartmouth College
Update: Diverse recently featured Vinson in the Nov. 1, 2007, issue as he was recently named the new director of the Center for Africana Studies at Johns Hopkins University.
“The most significant developments for me have been my marriage to Yolanda Fortenberry in 2005 and the impending birth of my daughter, who will be joining us in March.
“On the professional front, I’ve been fortunate over the past few years to teach at a variety of institutions — including large state schools and small liberal arts colleges. This panoramic view of the academy has given me a keen sensitivity to the needs of this generation’s students. Additionally, I now hold a position at Johns Hopkins that allows me to combine both my scholarly interests in the African Diaspora and Latin America with the decades-long initiative of Black Studies in the United States. I certainly could not have foreseen any of these paths years ago, but I feel tremendously fortunate for the opportunities that have come my way,” says Vinson.

Dr. Rohan Williamson
Education: Ph.D., M.A., Finance, The Ohio State University; MBA, Finance, Clark, Atlanta University; B.S., Mechanical Engineering, University of Dayton
Update: Williamson is an associate professor of finance and Holowesko Research Fellow and Area Coordinator at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University.

Dr. Cynthia E. Winston
Education: Ph.D., Psychology and
Education; M.A., Psychology, University of Michigan; B.S., Psychology, Howard University
Update: At Howard University, Winston is an assistant professor of psychology and associate director of the Center for Applied High Performance Computing in the School of Engineering, Computer Science and Architecture. She is also a principal and founder of Winston Synergy L.L.C., a research and psychology consulting firm that offers narrative personality and research design services to academic institutions, corporations, families and individuals.
She has been awarded several prestigious awards including the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Research Professor Fellowship by Brown University, the Emerging Scholar Award from the Howard University Faculty Senate and the National Science Foundation Early Career Award for the most promising early career scholars in the nation. Currently, Winston is engaged in four psychology and education research projects: the Identity and Success Life Story Project; the Personality and Narrative Identity Study; the Howard University Mathematics and Science Middle School Academic and Psychological Development Success Project, and the HBCU Science and Mathematics Teaching Study. She has received more than $2 million to support her research and training efforts.

In 2002…

Dr. Danielle Allen was an associate professor, with a joint appointment in classical languages and literatures and politics at the University of Chicago.

Dr. Jill Bargonetti-Chavarria was an associate professor at the City University of New York Graduate Center and the Hunter College biology department.

Dr. Joan Coker was the outpatient clinical director of otolaryngology at the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Sciences, Los Angeles.

Dr. Jonathan Farley was an assistant professor of math at Vanderbilt University and a Fulbright Distinguished Scholar at Oxford University.

Dr. Juan Gilbert was an assistant professor of computer science at Auburn University.

Thomas W. Mitchell was an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School.

Dr. Nichole Pinkard was an assistant professor of education at the University of Michigan.

Dr. Ben Vinson III was a post-doctoral fellow at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and an assistant professor of history at Barnard College.

Dr. Rohan Williamson was an assistant professor at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University.

Dr. Cynthia Winston was an assistant professor of psychology at Howard University.

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