4 UC Berkeley faculty receive Guggenheim Fellowship

Photo of Christopher J. Chang, Raúl Coronado, Ken Light, Debarati Sanyal
Out of the 184 Guggenheim Fellowship recipients this year, four were UC Berkeley faculty. These campus recipients include Raúl Coronado, Ken Light, Debarati Sanyal and Chris Chang.

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Although he felt the odds were difficult, as he made progress into his second book, UC Berkeley associate professor of ethnic studies Raúl Coronado thought it was the perfect time to apply for a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Guggenheim Fellowships are given to individuals who demonstrate the capacity for productive scholarship for artists, writers, scholars and scientists, according to the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Four UC Berkeley faculty out of the 184 recipients received the fellowship this year, including Coronado, professor of photojournalism Ken Light, professor of French Debarati Sanyal, and professor of chemistry and molecular and cell biology Chris Chang.

Coronado said his research focuses on the history of the Latinx self during the late 18th to late 19th centuries. He added that he detected different assumptions about what it means to be an individual and found Latinx communities had a robust language for the self and community.

“It’s incredible to be honored in this way, to be recognized for the contributions I’ve made to the humanities, to Latinx studies, to ethnic studies,” Coronado said.

With this opportunity, Coronado will have time to focus on his personal aspirations and take time off from teaching and administrative work, according to Coronado.

Similar to Coronado, Sanyal said the fellowship will allow her to take leave next year to work on her book, “Arts of the Border: Voices of Displacement at the Edges of Europe.” Her research and instruction covers cultural representations of border, migration and refugees from French-speaking areas, according to Sanyal.

“I’m honored that the project is recognized and supported by the fellowship,” Sanyal said in an email.

Nicholas Paige, campus department chair of French, said he is “thrilled” that Sanyal was selected as a fellow.

Paige added that the book Sanyal is working on challenges common stereotypes refugees face by looking to an array of artistic practices.

“Sanyal’s award means that something like a third of French’s active faculty have attained this honor, so as chair of the Department of French I’m particularly happy!” Paige said in an email.

Chang’s research into the area of metals in medicine granted him the fellowship. He noted that he wants to exploit metal nutrient vulnerabilities in diseases such as cancer, obesity and neurodegeneration to develop new therapies.

Support from the foundation’s grant will provide flexibility to pursue “high-risk, high-reward research,” according to Chang.

Light said he applied for the fellowship to further his work on a documentary photography project focusing on understanding swing states and their communities after the 2020 presidential election.

Additionally, through the “generous” financial support, Light will be able to travel extensively and pay for materials he needs, which will help him move the project along, according to Light.

“It’s exciting to see the other fellows from the university and to know that Berkeley has a history of diverse faculty receiving the Guggenheim,” Light said.

Shylie Ati is an academics and administration reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @shylieati.