The CLS cohort hiring initiative is part of a university commitment to support our diverse student body, faculty, and staff. (See Montana State University’s Diversity & Inclusion Framework and Strategic Plan: Choosing Promise.) We know that representation of a variety of backgrounds and perspectives is critical to a rich and vibrant scholarly community that supports our students’ learning and upholds our land grant mission. 

The College of Letters and Science is thrilled to announce that the following six faculty members have joined us as the first multidisciplinary cohort of faculty in the College:

Maira A. Areguin is a doctoral candidate in the joint Psychology and Women and Gender Studies program at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She is an interdisciplinary researcher concerned with understanding marginalized groups' experiences in different organizational contexts. In her research, she works to increase psychological understanding of some of the more complex experiences of farmworkers and other low-wage workers in our society. She hopes this work, along with her teaching and service, will improve their lives and working situations. 

Israel Borokini is a postdoctoral scholar and Smith Conservation Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley. His current research focuses on the biogeographical and eco-evolutionary processes that generate and maintain plant diversity to inform conservation decisions. He combines modeling approaches with traditional ecological and ethnobotanical knowledge to elucidate how evolutionary relationships, biotic interactions, and trait-habitat associations drive community assemblages across various ecosystem types. He completed his Ph.D. from the University of Nevada, Reno focusing on landscape genetics, species distribution modeling, and soil seed bank effects in vegetative communities that harbor federally threatened plants in the Great Basin Desert. He has published over 60 scientific papers on phylogeography, invasive species, biodiversity conservation, and ethnobotany.

Micah Chang is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History and Philosophy at Montana State University. His research focuses on race, agriculture, and the environment in the Northern Great Plains and the American West. His current research focuses on Japanese Americans during WW2 and their role in agricultural labor in Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana. As a native Montanan, he brings lived experience that will speak to our first-generation, rural Montana student body. Micah is a natural collaborator, interested in multidisciplinary work, and has organized conferences combining humanities and extension to discuss Montana's food systems. He has prepared successful grant applications for the Doig Center to explore the possibility of establishing a plant humanities center in collaboration with the National Forest Service to document the history of an early Black mining community in Montana.

Xin Han is a Ph.D. candidate at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA), University of Pittsburgh, with concentrations in comparative politics, political economy, and public administration. Her research interests include interdisciplinary development studies, urban and rural communities, digital politics, and collaborative governance, emphasizing state-society engagement shaping community-based governance, development, and service delivery. Xin is an American Political Science Association (APSA) Asia Fellow, a Public Administration Theory Fellow, and a Harvard SEED Fellow for Social Innovation. She has presented her work at numerous conferences, including the APSA and Midwest Political Science Association (MPSA) Annual Conferences, the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) Annual Conference, the Public Choice Society Conference, and the Conference of "The Great Mediation: Perspectives on Politics and New Media" at the University of Chicago. She also has invitations to revise and resubmit her papers to several prestigious journals, such as the Public Administration Review and the International Journal of Public Administration.

Allechar Serrano López is currently a preceptor in mathematics at Harvard University. She completed her Ph.D. in mathematics at the University of Utah in August 2021, and her research focuses on arithmetic statistics. She organizes an American Institute of Mathematics research community called "Rethinking Number Theory," which allows number theorists from different institutions to collaborate on research projects. She is also a project leader of Michigan Research Experiences for Graduates, providing mentoring and networking opportunities for early career faculty.

Vijaya Tamla Rai is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. His research agenda aims to improve wellness in underserved communities by amplifying the voices of vulnerable people through empirical research. His research advances the sociology of homelessness by examining racial gaps in homelessness in U.S. communities. In addition, he has collaborated with scholars from other disciplines, including social work, social psychology, public health, and community education, to study underserved communities such as unhoused people, students of color, older adults with experience of childhood adversity, and refugee parents.