Antoinette Burton is a historian of 19th and 20th century Britain and its empire, with a speciality in colonial India and an ongoing interest in Australasia and Africa. She’s written on topics ranging from feminism and colonialism to the relationship of empire to the nation and the world. Women, gender and sexuality have always been central to her research, much of which has been concerned with the role of Indian women in the imperial and postcolonial imagination. She’s edited collections about politics, mobility, postcolonialism and empire and have frequently collaborated with Tony Ballantyne.
At Illinois she teaches courses on modern British history and imperialism, gender and colonialism, autobiography and the archive, approaches and methods and world history. She is currently working on a comprehensive study of empire on the ground in the 19th century.
Her most recent publications are Empires and the Reach of the Global (Harvard 2012) with Tony Ballantyne, The First Anglo-Afghan Wars: A Reader (Duke, 2014), An Illinois Sampler: Teaching and Research on the Prairie (Illinois, 2014) with Mary-Ann Winkelmes and Kyle Mays, and Ten Books That Shaped the British Empire: Creating an Imperial Commons (Duke, 2014) with Isabel Hofmeyr.
Nancy Castro began her appointment as IPRH Associate Director in spring 2012. She is also an Affiliated Assistant Professor in the Department of English. Dr. Castro came to IPRH from the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Institutional Advancement, where she was an Associate Director of Foundation Relations, aiding faculty and campus units with their private foundation grant-making and stewardship.
Dr. Castro came to Urbana-Champaign in the fall of 2001. She earned her B.A. in Comparative Literature from Brown University and received a Ph.D. in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia University, from which she also holds M.A. and M.Phil. degrees. She has since served as an Assistant Professor of English, specializing in Caribbean and U.S. Literatures, at Baruch College, CUNY (1998-1999), and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2001-2009). She has published on the subject of the Caribbean novel and, in 2002-2003, was a fellow of the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities.
Dr. Castro has also worked in the consumer magazine industry in New York City. Prior to her arrival at Illinois, she was the Managing Editor of Worth Magazine, a finance and lifestyle magazine with a circulation of more than 500,000. She has also held editorial positions at Details Magazine at Condé Nast, and at Time Out New York.
Assistant Director for Education and Outreach
Alaina Pincus earned her B.A. in English and Creative Writing from the University of Arizona and completed her M.A. and Ph.D in 18th-century British literature, with an emphasis in Jewish Studies and Gender and Women’s Studies, at the University of Illinois. There, she also developed and edited the public scholarship community ABOPublic: Interative Forum for Women in the Arts, 1640-1830 (2014-2017) in affiliation with the ABO, the official journal of the Aphra Behn Society. While working with IPRH, she maintains an active scholarly interest in the field of 18th-century studies.
Prior to joining IPRH, Dr. Pincus served in the Office of the Provost from 2016-2019 as the Project Manager for the Grand Challenge Learning Initiative, an interdisciplinary and experiential general education program. Concurrently, she also served as the Project Manager for the General Education Assembly on Learning Outcomes, which seeks to develop student learning outcomes for Illinois’ general education curriculum.
Client Relations and Special Projects Coordinator
Jennifer is the Client Relations and Special Projects Coordinator for IPRH. She brings over five years of event management experience and is happy to assist in planning your next event at the Levis Faculty Center. She is a graduate of Millikin University with a B.A. in Communication and a minor in English Writing.
Jason B.P. Mierek
Director of Operations, Humanities Without Walls
Jason joined IPRH in May 2014 as the Visiting Project Manager for the Humanities Without Walls consortium. He comes to IPRH from the Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he served as Office Manager. He has been with the University of Illinois for fifteen years; before managing the office of Landscape Architecture, he provided staff and student support in the College of Fine and Applied Arts Undergraduate Academic Affairs Office and the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) Office of International Programs. He also taught world and Asian religions, in face-to-face and online contexts, at Parkland College from 2003–2013. Previously, he worked in various aspects of publishing, first as the Direct Sales Coordinator for the American office of Lonely Planet Publications, and later as Production Coordinator for Publication Services, Inc.
Jason received his B.A. in religion and bio-social studies from Illinois Wesleyan University and earned his M.A. in Buddhist studies from The Naropa Institute. When he isn’t working with IPRH, he may be found reading books printed on paper, gardening, brewing beer, composing audio and visual collages, rolling 20-sided dice around a gaming table, singing with his band, hanging out with his family, and doing other things that terrify him.
Odyssey Project Advisor and Student Experience Coordinator
Valerie O’Brien joined IPRH as Odyssey Project Advisor and Student Experience Coordinator in 2019, after having taught with the Odyssey Project in 2018. She earned B.A.s in English and Creative Writing and an M.A. in English from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she is currently completing her Ph.D. in English literature. Her research focuses on twentieth- and twenty-first-century fiction and autobiography, and she has published on literary representations of neurodiversity.
Valerie has taught classes in literature, composition, and gender and women’s studies at the University of Illinois and received the 2018 Campus Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. She currently teaches English at the University of Illinois Laboratory High School, as well as collaboratively teaching HUM 111 for the Odyssey Project.
Valerie enjoys participating in community outreach and activism, and in recent years has volunteered as an English language tutor and mentored local high school activists. She also serves as blog editor for the International Auto/Biography Association’s Student and New Scholar Network.
Training in Digital Methods for Humanists Project Manager
Carolyn A. Randolph joined IPRH as Project Manager for the Training in Digital Methods for Humanists Program in spring 2018.
Dr. Randolph earned a B.A. in English and a B.A. in Communication and Culture from Indiana University and received her Ph.D. in Communications and Media Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has served as an Instructor in the College of Media at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, teaching courses in Sex and Gender in Popular Media and Popular Culture (2008-2015). She also facilitated faculty development workshops for Urbana School District #116, specializing in critical media literacy and culturally competent classroom practices (2015-2018). She has published on the subject of mediated representations of HIV-positive black women in traditional and digital media.
Dr. Randolph presently is the founder and principal investigator for the Champaign County Racial Justice Data Portal, a digital database that interrogates racial inequities in the local criminal justice system. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center and is a former member of the Champaign County Racial Justice Task Force (2015-2017).
IPRH Office Support Specialist
Stephanie Uebelhoer joined IPRH staff in August 2001 and currently holds the position of Office Support Specialist. She is a graduate of Illinois State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in English.
Business Operations and Grants Manager
Jenna Zieman joined IPRH as a Grants Specialist in April, 2017. She has worked in research administration for approximately 8 years, at both Northwestern University and the University of Illinois. Jenna holds a BS from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an MSW and MSI from the University of Michigan.
Our Advancement Officer is Tony Pomonis (English ’02). Tony expanded the local chain of MerryAnn’s Diners from one location to four, and he offers his own experience as proof that a humanities degree equips you with the skills needed for career success. You can reach out to him as well (217-300- 3470 or firstname.lastname@example.org). Tony will be traveling the country regularly and may be in your neighborhood soon!