Laidlaw Scholars Leadership & Research Program

Since Fall 2021, Barnard College has been incredibly proud to partner with the Laidlaw Foundation to provide first-year students and sophomores with opportunities to develop as leaders and scholars. The Laidlaw Scholars Leadership & Research Program is designed to develop a new generation of leaders committed to evidence-based truths and ethical leadership. Scholars advance and drive change around the world through creative, collaborative, and interdisciplinary practice, alongside rigorous academic research. The initiative is supported by Beyond Barnard and the Athena Center.

Read more about the program below! Questions can be directed to

A Distinctive Community of Leaders and Scholars

The Laidlaw Leadership & Research Program at Barnard College presents students with distinctive opportunities to develop meaningful relationships with faculty at Barnard and Columbia, and to bring their research into the world through a Leadership in Action project.

Students may apply in their First Year or Sophomore Year at Barnard (learn more about eligibility and policies here). They identify a faculty mentor and conduct six weeks of supervised research on a topic of their choosing during their first summer in the program. Research mentors must be full-time faculty members with one of the following titles: assistant professor, associate professor, or professor. They must be employed at Barnard during the Summer 2024. Adjunct faculty, unfortunately, are ineligible. Your recommender, however, may be anyone (faculty, managers, etc.) who can speak to your strengths as a Laidlaw candidate. 

During that summer, they live together on campus and have access to dedicated leadership development programming. Scholars present the outcomes of their research at the Barnard Laidlaw Scholars Symposium in September.

In their second summer, Laidlaw Scholars complete a Leadership in Action project that challenges them to bring their research and leadership skills into the world. In these funded six-week experiences, students take ownership of a project which demonstrably makes the world a better place. Learning through service, Scholars test their leadership skills, expand their understanding of what it means to be a global citizen, and challenge themselves to grow.

Throughout the program, Scholars have access to Leadership programming developed by the Athena Center and Beyond Barnard. And they have access to the extraordinary global network of Laidlaw Scholars. Questions about the program or interested in applying? Email!

Meet the 2024 Laidlaw Scholars

Alice Bai '26

Alice (she/her) is a rising junior from Hong Kong, majoring in History with a minor in Education Studies. In her Laidlaw research, she hopes to explore the formation of Chinese Cuban diasporic communities in Havana. Her academic interests include migration and diaspora, gender and sexuality, colonial legacies, and pedagogy.


Zala Bhan '27

Zala (she/her) is a first-year from Short Hills, NJ double majoring in Mathematics and Economics at Barnard. She is keenly interested in the economic impact of displacement and how forced migrations disrupt cultural heritage, traditional livelihoods, and the fabric of communities. She is passionate about the preservation of culture, language, and stories. As a Laidlaw Scholar, Zala, an ethnic Kashmiri, will be focusing on the case of her community’s exodus from Kashmir. Her research will delve into whether a framework can be created in the wake of a community's forced displacement such that the principles of truth and reconciliation offer a transformative pathway toward healing, accountability, and a lasting return to their homeland.


Spencer Davimos '26

Spencer (she/her) is a sophomore at Barnard pursuing a major in English and a minor in Education Studies. For her Laidlaw research project, Spencer will be exploring the challenges marginalized students face in transferring from community college to a 4-year university through an oral history project.


Sabrina Gulotty '27

Sabrina (she/her) is from Taiwan and upstate New York. She is hoping to major in Political Science and Philosophy. With Laidlaw, Sabrina hopes to research the evolution of cosmetics marketing in response to third wave feminism, through the lens of feminist political theory. 


Hannah Holness '26

Hannah Holness (she/her) is a sophomore majoring in English and Africana Studies from Woodbridge, New Jersey. Taking pride in her Jamaican, Dominican, Filipino, and Chinese heritage, her research will examine how Black multiethnic identity impacts discourse on Black representation and the Black struggle within the African diaspora while also creating a nuanced and expansive conversation on the multiethnic experience. 


Gabrielle Hrung '26

Gabrielle Hrung (she/her) is studying Comparative Literature (English and German) and Ethnomusicology. Being Chinese-American and having lived in both the United States and Switzerland, she is passionate about making connections across cultural and linguistic borders. Her research interests include the historic overlap between literature and music, the archive as a site of cultural memory, and the challenges of archiving interdisciplinary performances. 


​​​​​​​Isabel Iino '26

Isabel Iino (she/her), a sophomore at Barnard College majoring in American Studies, is interested in diasporic movements and popular culture studies. With Laidlaw, she will study how practices and representations of vodou, a syncretic religion that emerged in the Caribbean, affected the politics and literature from the Harlem Renaissance. 


Allyson Katz ‘26

Originally from Philadelphia, Allyson (she/her) is a sophomore majoring in Urban Studies with a concentration in Environment and Sustainability. In her Laidlaw research, Allyson hopes to explore waste as a social justice issue by investigating how waste produced by urban universities contributes to the system of “sacrifice zones.”


Anushka Khetawat '26

Anushka (she/her) is an international student from India, studying Economics and Political Science. Her love for Delhi and its street food has led her research to be centered around how street food vendors in Delhi can formalize their businesses to integrate into the formal economy and contribute to local economic development. She looks forward to growing as a leader through her research. 


Isadora Li ‘26

Isa (she/her) is from Edina, Minnesota majoring in Political Science on the pre-med track. She’s excited to join the Laidlaw Scholars program to explore the intersection of policy and public health by researching barriers to health services in the AAPI population of older adults in New York City. 


Emily Lu '26

Emily (she/her) is a sophomore at Barnard studying Political Science with a minor in Educational Studies. She is originally from Bridgewater, New Jersey and spent some of her summers in Taiwan. Through the Laidlaw program, Emily is interested in exploring Indigenous language learning programs in Taiwan with a specific emphasis on multicultural education and education policies. She is passionate about combining her interests in educational reform, language revival programs, and love for Taiwan into a research project. 


Eden Martin '26

Eden is a sociology major and feminist/intersectional science and technology studies (F/ISTS) minor from Binghamton, New York. Their interests are queerness and the body. They’ll study the social effects of COVID-19 minimization on high-risk populations, paralleling it with experiences during the peak of the AIDS crisis.


Madeleine Martin '27

Madeleine Martin (she/her) is a first-year majoring in Urban Studies with a specialization in Economics from Minneapolis, Minnesota. She is interested in the intersection of public policy, economics, and justice, specifically within equitable urban development. Her research as a Laidlaw scholar will focus on a quantitative and spatial analysis of Morningside Heights and housing inequity.


Sophia Medzoyan '27

Sophia Medzoyan (she/her) is a first-year student intending to major in Human Rights and Gender Studies. Her interests lie at the intersection of gender and refugee rights. This summer, she will be researching the long-term implications of the 2023 Artsakh crisis on Artsakhi refugee women in terms of integration and reproductive justice.


Smiti Modhurima '26

Smiti (she/her) is a student from Dhaka, Bangladesh studying Philosophy and Economics. She is very interested in research in development economics, particularly on issues pertaining to women in South Asia. In her Laidlaw research project, Smiti hopes to research the access to menstrual health products in the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh.


Jezlyn Montas '26

Jezlyn Montas (she/her) is a sophomore majoring in Psychology and Women's Studies. She is passionate about understanding forms of oppression and tools for liberation through an intersectional lens. At Laidlaw, Jezlyn aims to investigate how an ongoing legacy of epistemic violence affects how Black female slam poets experience being heard on stage. She is also excited to highlight performance strategies that Black Women employ to assert their powerful voices.


Estella Moster '27

Estella (she/her) is a Barnard student in the class of 2027. She is a prospective political science major and is passionate about social justice, environmentalism, and gender studies. Her proposed project aims to use a focus group to determine a possible correlation between internalized misogyny and consumerism. 


Mira Nayak '27

Mira (she/her) is a first-year from Lexington, Massachusetts majoring in sociology, and she is interested in creating solutions to health inequities. For her Laidlaw research project she will be exploring the dialogue between Black birthing patients and their doctors, specifically looking at how to use dialogue as a tool to improve birth experiences for Black women. 


Jennifer Quisi '26

Jennifer (she/her) is a sophomore majoring in Economics and Education. Her research investigates the effectiveness of reading programs in NYC elementary schools. Jennifer was raised in NYC and has thus learned about the disparities in funding and education across boroughs. She intends to utilize her research to advocate for educational reform. 


Emily Shami Sher '26

Emily (she/her) is a computer science and sociology student. She is particularly interested in studying the intersection of these subjects, and is looking forward to spending her summers researching how surveillance technologies affect various communities throughout NYC.


Reese Taylor '27

Reese Taylor (she/her) is an intended philosophy major with a focus on human rights or race and ethnicity studies on a pre-law track. At the LaidLaw Institute, she aims to initiate research into the historical and contemporary impact of "self-help" rhetoric on Black communities, aspiring to unveil persistent oppression and advocate for meaningful change.


Nina Thakur '27

Nina (she/her) (Barnard ‘27) is studying Political Science and Visual Arts. She plans to compare the art of first wave feminism to second wave feminism. This research should reveal how mediums of artwork impact their ability to reach and influence the people as a whole, making art activism more effective. 


Kirsten Trevino '26

Kirsten (she/her) is a sophomore at Barnard majoring in Sociology and Human Rights. Her interests in identity and sexuality through a sociological perspective have led her to research the coming-of-age experience and identity formation practices of white lesbian elders in Detroit through interview data collected by her mentor Professor Moore.


Noel Ullom '27

Noel Ullom (she/her) is planning to major in Political Science and Theatre. Noel's research centers around contrasting philosophies on free will, and how these ideas have influenced social movements and policy-making regarding the LGBTQ+ community in Italy.


Meet the 2023 Laidlaw Scholars

Shehar Bano '26

Hi everyone, I am Shehar Bano , an international student from Pakistan. I intend to major in Political Science and Economics, with Laidlaw I intend to explore the reasons of the lack of women doctors in medical fields in Pakistan.

Adrienne Chacón '26

Hi! I'm Adrienne Chacón, class of 26, from Long Island, New York. In my first year at Barnard I took classes on urban studies, which I've taken as my intended major. I also found an interest in environmental justice and public health which was stoked by the research of Dr. Ami Zota, my Laidlaw research mentor, on health inequities facing women of color. My research this summer will focus on how discrimination against natural hair affects health practices and hygiene. I hope my time in the Laidlaw program and the knowledge I collect on public health will inform a career working for nonprofits. On campus, I am a part of the Athena Center Student Advisory Board, which trains Barnard students on leadership, planning skills, and building community — qualities I will use in the Laidlaw program and beyond.

Nazira Davroni '25

I am a student of the class of 2025 studying Anthropology and Human Rights. My hometowns are Chicago and Samarkand, Uzbekistan. My research interests include exploring the intersection of culture, identity, and transnational politics, especially in Central Asian communities. A deeper understanding of these topics is valuable for effective policy-making. As a Laidlaw Scholar, I am excited to build my leadership skills and gain hands-on research experience to make an impact on my community and beyond.

Madelyn Elizondo '25

Madelyn is a sophomore at Barnard majoring in American Studies with an interdisciplinary concentration on race and ethnicity (ICORE). Originally from San Antonio, Texas, she draws from the vibrant Tejano culture of her hometown that sparked her passion for cultural studies. Her academic interests include colonial history, along with social and archival theory. They are primarily interested in examining the construction of social difference and the institutions that enforce it, such as enslavement and the carceral system. In her research she seeks to draw from abolitionist theory to generate liberatory change in the United States criminal justice system.

Jasmine Gates '25

Jasmine '25 is from Santa Cruz, California and pursuing a combined major of Medical Anthropology and Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies at Barnard. Her interests in public health and reproductive justice have led her to research on the changes in US maternal mortality rates after the Supreme Court ruling of Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, which took away the constitutional right to abortion.

Avigail Greenberg '25

Hailing from South Florida, Avigail Greenberg is a sophomore at Barnard studying political science and environmental science. She hopes to merge the two in her Laidlaw research. Avigail aims to focus her project on how renewable energy can affect and benefit populations in developing countries. In her free time, Avigail enjoys hiking, running, swimming, and traveling. She looks forward to growing as a leader through her research.

Parisa Harvey '26

I am a sophomore from Seattle, WA studying History on a pre-law track. My research interests lie at the intersection of human rights, migration, and environmental justice. I am also passionate about language and writing. My research for Laidlaw is a historical case study of legal protection gaps for climate-displaced people, specifically targeted legislation and U.S. refugee provisions in the mid-late 20th century. In my free time, I enjoy reading and hiking.

Adam Johnson '25

Adam Johnson is a sophomore majoring in American Studies. Their hometown is Allegany, New York, where they enjoy spending time with their dog. Adam's research primarily focuses on the field of gender and sexuality studies. They are interested in exploring methods of oral history and archiving, and aspire to a career in public history. In their free time they enjoy crossword puzzles, appropriately priced coffee, and digital art.

Avery Lambert '25

Avery Lambert is a sophomore from Dallas, Texas, majoring in Medieval and Renaissance Studies and minoring in Political Science and Classics. She's primarily interested in the religious and legal history of the Middle Ages; this summer, she'll research the role of religious orders in the political developments of 1260s England. For her second summer, Avery plans to spend time living in a monastic community. She hopes to explore the ways in which these religious groups can practically engage with their local communities in a modern context. On campus, Avery is involved with Greek life and several student publications, and in her free time is an avid runner and marathoner!

Victoria Le

My name is Victoria Le, and I am a sophomore at Barnard College majoring in Economics. I am from Dallas, Texas and am interested in the intersections of economic research and healthcare. This stems from my interests in utilizing existing data to improve current systems and the impact healthcare systems can have on populations. In the future, I plan to a be leader in the intersection of the two fields as a healthcare professional and economic research contributor.

Aleena Mehta '25

Hi, my name is Aleena Mehta and I am a sophomore at Barnard College, majoring in Economics with a minor in Political Science. I grew up in Jammu and Kashmir, India, and hence have always been fascinated by the field of geopolitics. My research at the Laidlaw Foundation would revolve around extrapolating a relationship between state sovereignty and civil rights violations in the Kashmir crisis. This includes understanding the threat to the autonomy and stability of non-state actors in periods of territorial conflicts while investigating the recent socio-economic developments in the region. 

Ananya Pal '25

Ananya is a sophomore at Barnard College, majoring in Urban Studies, specializing in Environment and Sustainability, with a minor in Architecture. Ananya identifies as a third culture kid, a global citizen born in the United States who lived across India & Southeast Asia for ten years. From this experience, she has learn from diverse cultures and urban communities, which has driven her passion to define and explore the cities she had lived in through an interdisciplinary approach. Her research interests include sustainable urban planning/design, and their connections to general local or environmental policy practices across Southeast Asia. She is motivated to learn for a better future and ready to tackle any challenges coming her way.

Sana Punjani

Hi! My name is Sana Punjani, and I am a sophomore at Barnard College. I am double majoring in Women's Studies and Political Science (with a minor in Economics). I am from Centerville, Minnesota, which is a small town 30 minutes away from the Twin Cities. I am interested in researching inequity in college access between students in rural and urban neighborhoods nationwide.

Fahitza Quessa '26

Hi! My name is Fahitza Quessa. I am studying computer science and cognitive science as part of Barnard's class of 2026. I am from Boston but I was born and raised in Haiti. The research question that I would like to explore is, "How does the Black female gaze intersect and challenge traditional feminist art theory in shaping a nuanced understanding of representation and agency in contemporary art?" The reason I want to ask this question is because the intersectionality of race and gender have been traditionally overlooked in feminist art theory, resulting in a narrow and homogeneous perspective. The Black female gaze offers a unique and powerful perspective on representation and agency in contemporary art that has the potential to expand and challenge traditional feminist art theory.

Hannah Ramsey '25

Hannah Ramsey is a sophomore at Barnard College double-majoring in neuroscience and narrative medicine, with a minor in educational studies. Originally from Huntsville, Alabama, Hannah came to Barnard to pursue a course of study in the medical humanities with the intention of learning more about why the contemporary medical model of illness has been heavily relied upon by the United States' healthcare system and how it fails to capture the complexities of illness experiences, including the nuanced relationship between illness and identity. She strives to better understand how clinical outcomes can be improved, both nationally and internationally, through applying the lens of narrative medicine to healthcare, specifically as it relates to eliminating size- and weight-bias in medicine. Through illuminating ways to document patients' self-narratives and identifying size-agnostic approaches to promoting well-being in patients, Hannah hopes to advocate for a patient-centered philosophy that ensures all people can achieve optimal well-being and experience body liberation.

Eliora Riebling '26

I’m Eliora Riebling, an intended sociology major in the class of 2026, from Metuchen, NJ! As a Laidlaw Scholar I will research white supremacist trajectories. I will specifically look for a combination of social factors that shape women’s mindsets and prompt them to join organized white supremacy. I hope to identify impetuses for women’s participation in this extremism. As a leadership project I intend to contribute to counter messaging and deradicalization programs. I hope to use my findings to inform which messages are useful to the initiatives that weaken white supremacist organizations by preventing and sinking their membership. 

Aimar Rosario Ávila '25

Hello, my name is Aimar Rosario Ávila and I am from Bayamón, Puerto Rico. I am a part of the 2025 class at Barnard College pursuing a degree in Urban Studies with a concentration in Psychology and a minor in Education. My research interests aim to investigate how the categorization of social spaces can reflect an interplay of political, historic, and cognitive developments through an intersectional lens. Understanding such complexities have transformed my approach to leadership as it cultivates connections with communities on a personal level. 

Prachi Roy '25

I am a sophomore at Barnard College studying Art History. I am from India and Bangladesh, although I grew up primarily in New York City, as well as Bangkok (Thailand), and Geneva (Switzerland). I am interested in studying the clothing material, muslin, historically hand-woven in Bangladesh. I aim to connect my research with historical issues of colonialism and global textile trade with contemporary issues of labor. I hope to work with organizations in Bangladesh to explore how the preservation of traditional weaving is significant for efforts in sustainability, and women’s empowerment.

Lucia Santos '25

I am a rising junior at Barnard studying history, concentrating on the history of empires and colonialism. I grew up in Seattle, Washington, where I was lucky to spend lots of time near water and appreciating good food. I am researching the history of oysters in the 19th century, specifically the labor, ecology, and culture around oysters in places like New York Harbor, the Chesapeake Bay, and the Pacific Northwest to understand how people and the environment interact through food.

Marina Senderos Garcia '26

Although I am from Mexico City, I have lived abroad for most of my life in places such as London and Sao Paulo. Now, I am part of the Class of 2026 at Barnard College in New York, and my prospective majors are economics and philosophy. I am interested in understanding abstract concepts to then investigate their concrete manifestation in every-day life, hence the interdisciplinary nature of my research and leadership. Being the granddaughter of immigrants from both the Spanish Civil War and the Cuban dictatorship, I am constantly drawn to the complexities of how people's identities, beliefs and economic realities shape their contribution to local communities. Ultimately, I am passionate about helping marginalized communities and contributing to a more egalitarian society as a whole. 

Iris Shu '25

Hello! My name is Iris Shu, and I'm part of Barnard College's class of 2025. I'm from Acton, Massachusetts—just a thirty minute drive from Boston. I'm majoring in Economic and Social History with a minor in Science and Public Policy, and I hope to combine these interests in my research in the history of science. 

Eliana Steele '26

My name is Eliana Steele and I'm from San Ramon, California. I am part of Barnard's class of 2026 and a prospective Linguistics major. I am interested in researching the indigenous languages of North America. Many of these languages are considered to be severely endangered, so I plan to study how various indigenous communities approach the process of language revitalization. Even though I plan on examining languages from across the United States, my project is largely inspired by the Chochenyo language of the Ohlone language family, as it was historically spoken around what is now the East San Francisco Bay Area, where I grew up. 

Shay Stulman '26

Shay Stulman is a first-year student intending to major in Economic and Social History with a minor in Architecture and concentration in Ethnicity and Race Studies. She was born in Shanghai, China, but lived in Orlando, Florida, prior to coming to New York. She is broadly interested in the field of labor economics from the perspectives of sustainable development and public health. She has used her experience within media outlets and the Florida State Legislature to advocate for environmental justice and equitable housing. She is passionate about music and accessibility to music education, and she plays the flute with the Columbia Wind Ensemble. She is deeply invested in building community and is currently working to build and expand a free tutoring program for Title 1 NYC elementary and middle schools.

Anusha Wanganoo '25

Anusha Wangnoo is a sophomore at Barnard College, Columbia University, studying Economics. A native of Dubai, Anusha wishes to learn research and leadership skills to start meaningful conversations on identity, exodus and change in her Kashmiri community. 

Joyce Zhou '25

Hi there, I'm Joyce Zhou, a sophomore at Barnard College majoring in education and psychology. Originally from China, I have lived and studied in four different countries. I'm excited to be a member of the Laidlaw 2023-2024 cohort, where I plan to research the cultural and linguistic biases within the U.S. high school regent exams that perpetuate inequality and disadvantage immigrant students and English language learners. As an aspiring education leader, I believe that education is a fundamental human right that can break the cycle of poverty, reduce inequality, and nurture the next generation of leaders.

We are Grateful for Laidlaw Faculty Mentors! (* denotes multiple students mentored)

Aaron Passell*

Alex Cooley

Alex Pittman*

Alexandra Watson*

Alison Vacca

Alyssa Battistoni

Ami Zota

Andrew Anastasi*

Angelo Caglioti*

Anja Benshaul-Tolonen*

Anne Higonnet

Anupama Rao

Cam Silver

Chandler Miranda

Christia Mercer*

Colin Leach

Debbie Becher*

Duygu Ula

Eduardo Moncada

Elizabeth Bernstein

Emily Mace

Emily Paine

Emily Sun

Erika Kitzmiller*

Fawziah Qadir

Jack Lewis Snyder

Jonathan Rieder

Jose Moya

Katherine Franke

Kim Hall

Kristen Sánchez Carter*

Lesley Sharp

Lola Ben-Alon

Mara Green

Maricarmen Hernandez

Martina Jasova

Matt Sandler*

Meredith Benjamin*

Michael Miller

Mignon Moore

Nara Milanich

Natalia Ortiz

Neslihan Senocak

Orlando Betancour

Paris Adkins-Jackson

Quincy Jones*

Rachel McDermott

Rajiv Sethi*

Randa Serhan

Randall Reback

Rebecca Jordan-Young

Tanya Domi

Teresa Sharpe

Timothy Vasko

Wendy Schor-Haim