Graduate Students

Kate Petroff, a Doctoral Student in Philosophy, Earns Freund Prize

Kate Petroff

Spencer Caro, ’23, and Kate Petroff, a UChicago graduate student in philosophy, each have been awarded an Ernst Freund Fellowship in Law and Philosophy to develop novel interdisciplinary research projects. Caro will draw on philosophical ideas from epistemology as well as law and statistics to argue for higher standards for scoring consumers’ creditworthiness. Petroff will advocate for a clearer definition of human exploitation in hopes of closing a gap that has stymied efforts to deal with human trafficking.

The fellowship, designed to encourage advanced law and philosophy scholarship among graduate students, was established in 2016 after Professor Martha C. Nussbaum, the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics, donated a portion of the proceeds from her Kyoto Prize to the Law School and the University’s Department of Philosophy. The $5,000 award is typically given to either a law student or graduate student in philosophy, but this year the committee chose two recipients.

“We were delighted to have an unprecedented number of proposals, all of high quality, so the selection was difficult,” said Nussbaum, who was part of the selection committee, along with Brian Leiter, the Karl N. Llewellyn Professor of Jurisprudence. “Fortunately, an additional gift made it possible for us to give two prizes, and these two really stood out.”

Humanities Doctoral Student's Creative Vent Turns into Career

Isabel Lachenauer

For several summers, Isabel Lachenauer had a secret. During her doctoral program at UChicago, she wrote a novel each summer, channeling her anxious energy to a healthy place. Her creative writing became a private world to immerse herself while forgetting the pressures of her academic work.

Now the novel Lachenauer wrote during the first year of the pandemic—The Hacienda—is scheduled for publication by Berkley (Penguin/Random House) on May 3, 2022. The book received multiple bids from publishers, providing Lachenauer with ample funds and the incentive to continue her career as a novelist after she graduates with a PhD in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations (NELC) in June 2022.

How the University's First Ph.D. Graduate Strengthened Ties Between Chicago and Japan

Eiji Asada and his family in 1908. Asada family photo originally published by Mikato Asada in "The Memoirs of Dr. Asada" (1916).

In the late 1880s, a young Japanese scholar named Eiji Asada came to the Chicago area to pursue a bachelor’s degree in theology. He took a summer course from William Rainey Harper, and the two developed a friendship based on their shared interest in Semitic studies and linguistics.

When Harper became the first president of the University of Chicago, he convinced Asada to pursue graduate studies at his new university. There, Asada studied theology and linguistics, graduating as the University’s first Ph.D. recipient on June 26, 1893—a milestone for the institution, which had been founded three years earlier.

100 Years Ago, Georgiana Simpson Made History as the First Black Woman to Graduate with a Ph.D.

Third-year students Marla Anderson (right) and Dayo Adeoye pose with the bust of Georgiana Simpson in the Reynolds Club at the University of Chicago. Anderson and Adeoye created the Georgiana Simpson Organization last year to honor Simpson's pioneering legacy and foster the advancement of Black women at UChicago.

In the summer of 1907, Georgiana Rose Simpson left Washington, D.C., to pursue a bachelor’s degree at the University of Chicago. A 41-year-old high school teacher, she enrolled with the goal of furthering her interests in German language and literature.

As a pathbreaking figure, Simpson faced racism and discrimination throughout her academic career. Shortly after she arrived at the University, she was forced to live off-campus when white students objected to sharing a dorm with a Black woman.

Despite such challenges, Simpson would earn three degrees from the University of Chicago—an AB in 1911, AM in 1920, and a Ph.D. in 1921, when she was 55 years old. Simpson became the first Black woman to receive a Ph.D. in the United States on June 14, 1921, followed within weeks by two scholars at other universities who also received their degrees that month.

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