10 PhD Students Named 2023-24 Prize Teaching Fellows

2023-24 Prize Teaching Fellows

Ten PhD students from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) have been named Prize Teaching Fellows for the 2023-2024 academic year: Camille Angelo (Religious Studies), Carissa Chan (Microbiology), Grayson Hoy (Chemistry), Nghiem Huynh (Economics), Kimberly Lifton (Medieval Studies), Benjamin Schafer (History), Jillian Stallman (Economics), Audrey Tjahjadi (Anthropology), Alexa Williams (Chemistry), and Novak Yang (Immunobiology). 

The Graduate School has awarded the teaching prizes annually since 2000. Recipients are nominated by their undergraduate students and the faculty members they assist while serving as Teaching Fellows.

"Doctoral education is more than just a journey from knowledge acquisition to knowledge creation," said Lynn Cooley, Dean of the Graduate School. "It is fundamentally about equipping scholars with the ability to share their insights broadly—to impact society positively through education. Reviewing the nominations, I am profoundly impressed by the innovative and engaging ways in which our teaching fellows have made complex ideas accessible and exciting to their students."

Biographies of the winners are included below.

Camille Leon Angelo (Religious Studies)

Camille Leon Angelo is a sixth-year PhD student in the Department of Religious Studies in the subfields of Eastern Mediterranean and West Asian Religions and Ancient Christianity. Her work examines materiality, sexuality, and space in late antiquity through new materialist, feminist, and queer lenses. She is a field archaeologist and has excavated in the eastern Mediterranean and the Caucasus. Her current research primarily engages archaeological, papyrological, and epigraphic evidence, related to late antique Egypt. Her past projects have analyzed the archaeological remains of several early Christian sites in the eastern Mediterranean and North Africa, most notably Dura-Europos, to elucidate sensory experiences in late antiquity.

Carissa Chan (Microbiology)

Carissa Chan is a fifth-year PhD candidate in Microbiology. Her research investigates how bacterial pathogens adapt to infection-relevant stresses, thus promoting survival inside mammalian host cells and disease. She has served as a teaching fellow for Physiological Systems for the past three years, including two as head teaching fellow. Each year, Carissa is inspired by the dedication and level of engagement from students in the class as they cover fascinating topics about the human body from fundamental cellular physiology to complex interactions between organ systems. Working with undergraduate and graduate students in Physiological Systems and sharing her excitement for science with them has been one of the highlights of her time at Yale.

Grayson Hoy (Chemistry)

Grayson Hoy is a first-year PhD student in the Chemistry Department. His research focuses on using super-resolution infrared microscopy to study metabolism in living cells to better understand metabolic dysregulation. Before Yale, he attended William & Mary, where he learned how transformative professors and mentors can be from a student’s perspective. Inspired by his undergraduate researcher professor, Dr. Kristin Wustholz, and other teachers throughout his life, Grayson aims to create a supportive learning environment where students feel empowered and excited by chemistry. 

Nghiem Huynh (Economics)

Nghiem Huynh is a doctoral candidate in Economics at Yale University, graduating in May 2024. His research evaluates the effects of government policies on regional and gender inequality. Nghiem holds a BA in Economics and Mathematics from New York University Abu Dhabi.

Kimberly Lifton (Medieval Studies)

Kimberly Lifton is a PhD candidate in the Medieval Studies program. She studies how Burgundy, England, and France's relationships with the Ottoman Empire materialized in manuscripts during the fifteenth century. Her research has been supported by the Fulbright, FLAS, and the Dhira Mahoney Fellowship. In the classroom, she works to develop compassionate pedagogy for neurodiverse students. 

Benjamin Schafer (History)

Benjamin Schafer is a PhD candidate in American History. He studies urban and social history in the late-twentieth-century United States.  His dissertation, “Life and Death in Rust,” is a study of poverty and inequality in post-industrial Buffalo, NY, his hometown, from the late 1970s to the early 2000s. Prior to Yale, Ben received an AB, magna cum laude with highest honors; Phi Beta Kappa, in History with a secondary in African American Studies from Harvard College, where he was awarded the Thomas T. Hoopes Senior Thesis Prize, the David Herbert Donald Prize in American History, and the Rev. Peter J. Gomes Prize in Religion and Ethnicity. He also holds an MPhil in Economic and Social History from Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge. He works as a research assistant for Professors Elizabeth Hinton and Vanessa Ogle and has previously worked as a researcher for Professor Fredrik Logevall (Harvard) and the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation. He has been a teaching fellow for Professor David Engerman (Fall 2023, The Origins of U.S. Global Power) and Professor Marco Ramos (Spring 2023, The History of Drugs in America).

Jillian Stallman (Economics)

Jillian Stallman is a PhD student in the Economics Department interested broadly in the intersection of economic development, environmental economics, and political economy. She's writing her dissertation about cooperation over freshwater resources in developing countries using a combination of economic theory, surveys and administrative data, and remote-sensing measurements. Jillian spent her undergraduate years at Williams College, where she worked most semesters as a teaching assistant to her peers in courses ranging from macroeconomic development to multivariable calculus to introductory Chinese. After graduating, she spent several years travelling in, among other places, China, Chile and Senegal, operating under the belief that she would have a difficult time ultimately doing research about places and people she hadn't lived around for a good while.

Audrey Tjahjadi (Anthropology)

Audrey Tjahjadi is a third-year PhD student in the Department of Anthropology focusing on human evolutionary genetics. She is interested in how local environments have shaped the evolution of diet-related adaptations in Southeast Asian and Oceanic populations, particularly in genes involved in fatty acid metabolism. Outside of research, Audrey is also involved in science communication and outreach through Yale graduate student organizations. 

Alexa Kim Williams (Chemistry)

Alexa Williams is a PhD student in Materials Chemistry. She completed her BS in Chemistry in 2021 at Montclair State University in New Jersey. At Yale, her research explores the fundamental reactivity of H-terminated silicon nanoparticles and aims to inform broader studies on silicon-based hybrid materials for CO2 reduction. This work is part of the CHASE solar fuels hub.

Xuan (Novak) Yang (Immunobiology)

Novak Yang is a third-year PhD candidate in Dr. Lieping Chen’s laboratory at the Department of Immunobiology. He received his BS in Biology and MS in Cancer Biology and Translational Oncology degrees at Emory University, and was the first to accomplish this in a “3+1” timeline at Emory. Prior to joining Yale, Novak was trained by Dr. Haian Fu and Dr. Andrey Ivanov at the Department of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology, Emory University School of Medicine, with a primary focus on cancer-associated protein-protein interactions and high-throughput drug discovery. He has multiple first-author and co-author publications, and is the recipient of American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET) Travel Award and Program Committee Blue Ribbon Pick, and Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening (SLAS) Tony B. Academic Travel Award. Novak was recruited to Yale Immunobiology in 2021 as a Gruber Science Fellow. His research focuses on the discovery of actionable targets in the tumor microenvironment that drive the resistance to current immunotherapies, and pre-clinical development of innovative therapeutic strategies that normalize anti-tumor immunity for cancer patients.