Mindscapes and the Center for the Humanities at The Graduate Center, CUNY are pleased to announce the 2022 cohort of Graduate Research Assistants that will be working on public programming relating to Mindscapes, an international cultural program organized by the Wellcome Trust that aims to support a transformation in how we understand, address and talk about mental health. Combining diverse perspectives and expertise and working with local partner organizations, Mindscapes is supporting artist residencies, a documentary, exhibitions and events, and will be staging these in New York, Berlin, Tokyo and Bengaluru, with the work culminating in 2022.

The call for applicants received 32 applications from 24 subject areas, and ultimately a team of 8 graduate researchers was selected, representing 8 different disciplines: Theatre and Performance, Digital Humanities, Cognitive Neuroscience, Critical Social/Personal/Environmental Psychology, Political Science, Art History, Clinical Psychology, and Liberal Studies.

The group was assembled in December 2021, and started their collaborations with partners within the university and New York City at-large in January 2022, including the Brooklyn Museum, Isometric Studio and Urban Omnibus. They will be working on programming throughout the Spring 2022 semester, under the supervision of Rebecca Hayes Jacobs, the Wellcome Trust Mental Health Curatorial Research Fellow at The Graduate Center, CUNY.

The Graduate Research Assistants are excited to be working with the Center for the Humanities in this collaboration with Mindscapes’s partners this semester. Read more about them below.

​​Alexandra A. Rego (she/her/hers) is a first-year doctoral student in The Graduate Center’s department of Theatre and Performance. She holds an MA in English Literature from the University of St. Andrews, and an MA in Theatre and Performance Studies and Gender and Sexuality studies from the University of Chicago. Her meta-critical and interdisciplinary research considers race and migrancy through contemporary cultural productions such as dance, ephemera, and protest. Alexandra comes to Mindscapes with a passion for public scholarship and cityscapes. Her research in migrancy, decolonization, and affect drew her to the Mindscapes project and its interdisciplinary considerations of well-being.

Asma A. Neblett (she/her/hers) is a digital humanist and graduate student at The Graduate Center. She studies the cultural relationship between text and technology through her focus on sound in the Western hemisphere. She tends to offer discussions on her topic in other areas of the humanities such as Women’s Studies and philosophy. Critical thinking is essential to her work and she is interested in cultivating it for creative and meridian-related opportunities at Mindscapes this year. She loves making music playlists, collecting tech, and browsing Sephora or local bookstores when out and about. She is slowly becoming a Brooklyn Nets fan as well.

Dunni Oduyemi (she/her/hers) is a Master’s student at The Graduate Center’s Liberal Studies department with a concentration in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and holds a BA in African American Studies from Columbia University. She is generally interested in the history of Nigerian women’s involvement in anti-colonial and anti-neoliberal social movements, and the compounding effects of racism and sexism. Studying the structural barriers that prevent Nigerian women from accessing vital reproductive, family planning, and other health-related services prompted her interest in working on redefining and challenging conventional notions of health as well as in what kinds of cultural interventions best serve vulnerable populations.

Friederike Windel (she/her/hers) is a doctoral candidate in Critical Social Psychology at The Graduate Center where she asks questions about the everydayness of white supremacy and nationalism. Her motivation for this work is to ultimately work towards more accountable community building, social transformation, and more healthy and deeper relationship building. The Mindscapes project brings together her interest in public scholarship, collective transformation, and community engagement.

Helena Najm (she/her/hers) is a PhD student in Political Science at The Graduate Center. Her past work informed her interest in policy interventions that address social determinants of health, and these responses’ limited impact when marginalized communities are not involved in decisions that affect their well-being. She is particularly interested in researching questions of narrative framing, state rhetoric, contested memory, and how cultural and political power shape public life. She holds an Honours BSc with a double major in Health and Disease and Human Geography from the University of Toronto and an MA in Global Thought from Columbia University.

Jeante Jackson (he/him) is a Cognitive Neuroscience Masters student at The Graduate Center. With six years of clinical experience as a Mental Health Worker at New York Presbyterian, he wishes to bolster the mental health landscape with innovative strategies. The arts, in its many forms, have been a promising vector to yield better mental health outcomes. To that end, his current project in the Master’s program is exploring the cognitive benefits of music therapy specifically in geriatric populations with stroke, dementia, and Parkinson’s disease. Additionally, in the past he engaged in environmental justice through Helping Hands for Puerto Rico, which responds to infrastructural devastation in the wake of natural disasters. He looks forward to working with programs like Mindscapes that maximize interdisciplinary work to grow the mental health conversation both clinically and socially.

Jessica Fletcher (she/her/hers) is a doctoral candidate in the Art History PhD program at The Graduate Center, and is currently working on a dissertation about the architecture of district health centers in New York City. Reformers – many of whom were women – first established these centers in storefronts, former public baths, and converted hospitals in the Progressive Era to provide free and low-cost health care to working-class mothers and children. Following decades of local activism, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia allotted New Deal funds to build modern district health centers across the five boroughs in the late 1930s. Her academic interest in how architects and reformers shaped the urban built environment in response to pressing public health issues of the early twentieth century led her to get involved with the Mindscapes research team. She looks forward to contributing to thoughtful public programs that bring histories of mental health care in New York City to broad audiences.

Nawal Muradwij (she/her/hers) is a PhD candidate in Clinical Psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and The Graduate Center. She is a child and adolescent therapist who has worked in college counseling, foster care, and inpatient settings. Her research focuses on understanding how collective trauma impacts community mental health and how art can facilitate collective reckoning and meaning making. She was drawn to Mindscapes because of its expansive, interdisciplinary approach to studying mental health across culture through the arts.

The team is excited to develop and implement projects working at the intersection of mental health, policy and public programming in the coming months. You will be able to find updates on their progress in future Distributaries posts. They look forward to interacting with community members at CUNY and across New York City.


Keith Wilson

Keith Wilson is a British artist with a longstanding interest in the cultural status of sculpture and the extent to which it can play a part in social transformation. His practice has been balanced between curatorial ventures, such as his recent co-c...

Rebecca Hayes Jacobs

Dr. Rebecca Hayes Jacobs is the Wellcome Trust Curatorial Research Fellow at The Graduate Center, CUNY’s Center for the Humanities. She works on Wellcome’s international cultural programming on global health challenges through her position at the Cen...