Marcus Early Career Research Award Helps Faculty Reach Finish Line

By Matt Itelson - February 2021

In its second year, the College of Liberal & Creative Arts’ Marcus Early Career Research Award will help five faculty members complete their book and film projects that explore social justice issues in the U.S. and abroad.

The award, supported by the George and Judy Marcus Funds for Excellence in the Liberal Arts, provides a one-semester leave from 2021 – to 2022. It funds projects in research, scholarship, and creative activities. Probationary tenure-track faculty in their third, fourth or fifth year are eligible. Last year, three assistant professors won the award.

See-Won Byun

Assistant Professor of International Relations See-Won Byun will complete a book examining the differences between regions of China in its economic integration with Asia. “The Middle Kingdom’s Revival: Global Linkages on China’s Periphery” argues that China’s rise in the global economy “is largely a success story of coastal provinces.” Inland areas have been slower to develop.

“After four decades of market reform, China’s quest for global leadership depends critically on how it manages regional pressures at home as globalization moves inland,” Byun said.

Sukanya Chakrabarti

Observing the Bauls — traveling folk singers from the Bengal area of India — Sukanya Chakrabarti will explore their performance in times of violent conflict. This will allow the Theatre Studies assistant professor to finish her book “Performing Dissent: Cosmopolitan Bauls in an Age of Extremism” (Routledge).

Chakrabarti’s book views the Bauls’ performances as political, subversive, and cosmopolitan, in contrast to being considered as marginalized groups of mendicants and mystical performers. 

Marking a return to her hometown, Chakrabarti plans to conduct fieldwork in Kolkata, India, this summer. She will do her research remotely if health protocols prevent her from traveling.

Laura Green

Laura Green’s documentary “Run Jayne, Run” follows a Wisconsin nurse who decides to run for state Senate in the face of a COVID-19 surge and a bitter debate over masks.

Jayne Swiggum, 53, is a funny, plain-spoken progressive who lives on a dairy-turned-soybean farm with her husband and homebound father. Green, an assistant professor of Cinema, shot the film over the summer.

“I saw a story that cast light on the strange and tremendously costly imbrication of public health and partisan politics,” Green said.

Michael David Lukas

Creative Writing Assistant Professor Michael David Lukas’ third novel, will be a post-apocalyptic retelling of the Book of Esther. Tentatively titled “Scroll of Stars,” it recasts the biblical story as a feminist parable. In this multi-ethnic society, compassion wins over extremism and hate.

The Marcus award helps Lukas complete the final draft and submit it to publishers.

Creative Writing Professor and Chair Nona Caspers says the book will inspire readers to reflect on their own lives and modern-day culture and politics: “I have heard a section of Michael’s soon-to-be book and I agree with his agent — his best writing yet, nuanced, deep, evocative.”

Leslie Quintanilla

Assistant Professor of Women and Gender Studies Leslie Quintanilla will take her research of feminist activist art at the U.S.-Mexico border to page and screen.

In particular, she will complete a chapter of her book, “Transborder Artivist Visions: Politics of Encounter at the US///Mexico Border.” The chapter accompanies an independent documentary, “Mujer Mariposa: Voices of Womxn on the Periphery,” which features Quintanilla prominently.

Over the past 15 years, Quintanilla has shot a great deal of activist footage by the San Diego-Tijuana border. She plans to create an archive of the footage and use it in the film.

For more information about donating to the College of Liberal and Creative Arts, contact:

Amanda Todd ( She/Her/Hers )
Director of Development (Creative Arts)
College of Liberal & Creative Arts
(415) 405-3827
Bonnie Feinberg ( She/Her/Hers )
Senior Director of Development (Liberal Arts)
College of Liberal & Creative Arts
(415) 338-6363