The Sexualities Project at Northwestern (SPAN) holds an international competition for two-year post-doctoral fellowships in social scientific approaches to sexuality studies. Fellows are affiliated with both the Gender & Sexuality Studies Program and a department at Northwestern. Fellows pursue a program of independent scholarship under the guidance of a faculty mentor and teach two undergraduate courses each year. They also assist in the organization of on-campus educational activities such as an annual workshop. The application process can be found here.

Postdocs by year: 2020-22 | 2018-202016-18 | 2014-16 | 2011-13

2020-22 Postdoctoral Fellows

Ray Noll (Ph.D., Political Science and Anthropology, University of Chicago)
SPAN Postdoctoral Fellow, 2020-22

Ray Noll will receive her Ph.D. in Political Science and Anthropology from the University of Chicago in 2020. Her research and teaching interests include criminality, punishment, political transgression, race, gender, and sexuality. Ray’s dissertation is an ethnographic exploration of the Cook County Jail (CCJ), which is based on nearly a decade of preliminary fieldwork conducted with those incarcerated in Chicago, Illinois. The dissertation puts ethnographic data with those formerly incarcerated at CCJ in conversation with political theory and attends to broader shifts in techniques of policing and punishment within contemporary discourses of freedom, belonging, political participation, and resistance. Ray’s writing has appeared in edited collections such as The War on Sex and Diverse Unfreedoms: The Afterlives and Transformations of Post-Transatlantic Bondages.



Renee Shelby (Ph.D., History and Sociology, Georgia Institute of Technology)
SPAN Postdoctoral Fellow, 2020-22

Renee Shelby recently received her Ph.D. in History and Sociology from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Her research focuses on the politics of technology, inequalities around gender and sexuality, gender violence, activism and surveillance, and social theory.
Her first book project, Designing Justice: Sexual Violence, Technology, and Citizen-Activism, examines the social and legal consequences of new technologies used to prevent, investigate, and prosecute sexual assault.

Drawing on activist and inventor narratives, police administrative data, and media coverage, Renee charts a shift in the dominant response to sexual violence: from a legal to a techno-legal response. Her findings contribute new perspectives on the role of seemingly progressive technologies in policing survivors, upholding carceral logics, and coproducing gendered and racialized knowledge about sexuality and sexual violence. By bringing the Science and Technology Studies framework of coproduction, her project advances analyses of the anti-sexual violence movement by shifting the focus off protest-based, or disruptive collective action, to the epistemic dimensions and organizational forms of counterpublic knowledge. Renee reveals how technology remains a battleground for activists and the state officials to narrate and materialize competing conceptions of sexual consent, vulnerability, and justice, but also one that produces contentious knowledge among activists. Renee has ongoing interests in the politics of technology, knowledge production, law and inequality, whiteness, and critical race theory.

Renee’s work has been funded by the ACLS/Carnegie Mellon Foundation. Her research has appeared in Feminist Media Studies, Theoretical Criminology, Engaging Science and Technology Studies, and Criminal Justice Studies, among others. 

2018-20 Postdoctoral Fellows

Scott De Orio (Ph.D., History and Women’s Studies, University of Michigan)
SPAN Postdoctoral Fellow, 2018-20
Scott De Orio received his Ph.D. in History and Women’s Studies from the University of Michigan in 2017.  His research focuses on the intersection of the LGBTQ history and the history of the carceral state.  His first book project, “Punishing Queer Sexuality in the Age of LGBT Rights,” examines the changing ways in which the branch of the carceral state concerned with controlling sex crimes has targeted LGBTQ subjects in the U.S. since World War II.  His second project is a transatlantic study of the regulation of child sexuality from the Enlightenment to the present.  Scott’s writing has appeared in the Journal of the History of Sexuality, in the edited collection The War on Sex, and on the blog NOTCHES: (re)marks on the history of sexuality.
Courses at NU

  • Winter 2019: GSS 321/HIST 321: Sex Offenses
  • Spring 2019: GSS 321/HIST 392: Consent: Sexual Agency in Historical Context


Tony Silva (Ph.D., Sociology, University of Oregon)
Span Postdoctoral Fellow, 2018-20
Tony Silva’s research and teaching interests include inequality, gender, sexuality, rural sociology, qualitative and quantitative methods, public health, and race/ethnicity. Through qualitative interviews and secondary data analysis of nationally representative surveys, his research examines how social contexts and intersecting social locations affect how individuals identify and express their sexuality and gender. In particular he is interested in “mismatches” between identities and behaviors, and ways in which social contexts and inequalities shape this discordance. His published papers appear in Social Forces, Sociological Perspectives, Sexuality Research and Social Policy, Gender & Society, and Sexualities. His teaching experience includes Introduction to Research Methods, Quantitative Methods in Sociology, Social Inequality, Introduction to Sociology, “Sociology of Heterosexuality, Whiteness, and Masculinity,” Masculinities, and Sexuality and Society.​
Courses at NU

  • Winter 2019: GSS 331/SOC 376: Masculinities
  • Spring 2019: GSS 232/SOC 232: Sexuality and Society

2016-18 Postdoctoral Fellows

Abram J. Lewis Abram J. Lewis (Ph.D., American Studies, University of Minnesota)
SPAN Postdoctoral Fellow, 2016-18
Abram J. (AJ) Lewis completed his PhD in American Studies at the University of Minnesota and was a Visiting Assistant Professor in Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies at Grinnell College. AJ’s research and teaching interests include queer and feminist theory, LGBT history, trans studies, postsecular studies, women of color feminisms, and the new ontologies. His project, “The Falling Dream: Unreason and Enchantment in the Gay Liberation Movement,” examines queer activist challenges to secularism and reason at the end of the social movement era. He is interested in how experiments with madness, spells, psychic powers, psychedelics, and otherworldly forces helped expand possibilities for thinking and acting during the early onset of neoliberalism. AJ’s writing has appeared in Radical History Review, The Journal of the History of Sexuality, and The Scholar & Feminist Online. AJ is also the recipient of the 2016 Gregory Sprague Prize from the American Historical Association’s Committee on LGBT History.
Courses at NU
                Fall 2017: GSS 332 Gender, Sexuality, and Disability

  • Winter 2018: GSS 321/HIST 300 Race, Sexuality & The Politics of Protest, 1968-Present
  • Winter 2017: GSS 390 Queer Feelings; Gender, Sexuality, and the Politics of Affect
  • Spring 2017: GSS 321/HIST 300 Race and Sexuality in the US, 1940-Present
Mitali Thakor Mitali Thakor (Ph.D., History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology & Society [HASTS], Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
SPAN Postdoctoral Fellow, 2016-18
Wesleyan University
Mitali Thakor completed her PhD in 2016 from MIT’s Program in History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology & Society (HASTS). Her dissertation research covers the design and use of new digital techniques to locate child pornography online, from 3D avatars to image recognition software. Mitali’s ethnographic fieldwork in the Netherlands, Thailand, and the U.S. explores partnerships and tensions between international police, border control, computer scientists, UN bureaucrats, and activists as they develop algorithmic solutions to cases of exploitation and trafficking.Mitali is broadly interested in feminist STS, queer studies of punishment, digital anthropology, critical race studies on borders and migration, and public discourses around technology, software design, sex work, sexual exploitation, and civic empowerment. She holds a B.A. in Feminist Studies and Anthropology from Stanford and has previously worked in Thailand and the Philippines. Mitali works for East Coast Solidarity Summer, an educational program for radical South Asian American youth, and also organizes on issues of sexual violence and prison abolition. You can read more about her work at and follow her @mitalithakor.
Courses at NU

  • Fall 2017: GSS 363/ANTH 390 Queer Robotics: Cyborgs in Science Fiction & Anthropology
  • Spring 2018: GSS 353/ANTH 390 Sex & Surveillance
  • Winter 2017: GSS 363/ANTH 390 Queer Robotics: Cyborgs & Fantasy in Postcolonial Sci-Fi and Anthropology
  • Spring 2017: GSS 341/ANTH 390 Borders: Sex, Race, & Techniques of Border Control

2014-16 Postdoctoral Fellows

Kai M. Green Kai M. Green (Ph.D., English/ American Studies and Ethnicity, University of Southern California)
SPAN Postdoctoral Fellow, 2014-16
Williams College
Kai M. Green is a writer, scholar, poet, filmmaker, abolitionist, feminist and whatever else it takes to make a new and more just world. For the past six years, he lived in Los Angeles building locally with Black LGBT communities, while also working to complete his dissertation, “Into the Darkness: A Black Queer (Re)Membering of Los Angeles in a Time of Crises.” Kai completed his graduate work at The University of Southern California in the Department of American Studies and Ethnicity. He also received graduate certificates in Gender Studies and Visual Anthropology. Kai is invested in developing models of healthy and loving Black masculinities. Through writing and organizing Kai has become a strong, visible voice in the Black Trans community and in the LGBT community generally. As a leader, teacher, and scholar, he is committed to raising consciousness around self-care, self-love, sexual health, emotional health, sexual and state violence, healthy masculinities, and Black feminism. He believes that writing and story telling are revolutionary acts, especially for those who are often erased by heteronormative and Eurocentric histories. His goal is not simply to be a voice for the people; his goal is to always be making space and room for others to share their own truths and find their own voices.
Courses at NU

  • Spring 2016: Gender & Sexuality Studies 382: “Theorizing Blackness: Freedom Dreams, Afro-Futures, & Visionary Fictions” (cross-listed with African American Studies)
  • Spring 2016: Gender & Sexuality Studies 480: “Theorizing Black Genders & Sexualities: Black Queer Studies” (cross-listed with African American Studies)
  • Winter 2015: African American Studies 225: “Queer in the City” (cross-listed with Gender & Sexuality Studies)
  • Spring 2015: Gender & Sexuality Studies 382: “Gender, Sexuality and Race: Black Queer Looks” (cross-listed with African American Studies)
Aaron Norton Aaron Norton (Ph.D., Psychology, University of California, Davis)
SPAN Postdoctoral Fellow, 2014-16
Northwestern University
Aaron Norton recently completed his PhD in Psychology from UC Davis, where he was also a Graduate Fellow for the Center for Science and Innovation Studies and the Program in Science & Technology Studies. Aaron’s research interests include feminist-STS approaches to the study of gender and sexuality, attitudes toward LGBT people, and the biopolitics of HIV-risk categorization and prevention. For example, his dissertation traces the science, ethics and politics of male circumcision’s emergence as an HIV-risk category and prevention strategy. He has published articles in BioSocieties, Women’s Studies Quarterly, Sex Roles, Sexuality Research & Social Policy, and from a prior life, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. Aaron is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor in Gender & Sexuality Studies and Sociology at Northwestern.
Courses at NU

  • Fall 2015: “Sexuality, Biomedicine & HIV” co-listed as Gender & Sexuality Studies 332 & Sociology 376
  • Winter 2016: “Sexuality, Biomedicine & HIV” co-listed as Gender & Sexuality Studies 332 & Sociology 376
  • Spring 2016: “Sexuality, Science, and LGBT Rights” co-listed as Gender & Sexuality Studies 332 & Sociology 376
  • Winter 2015: “Sexuality and HIV/AIDS,” co-listed as Gender & Sexuality Studies 332 and Sociology 376
  • Spring 2015: “Sexuality, the Social Sciences, and LGBT Rights,” co-listed as Gender & Sexuality Studies 321 and Sociology 376

2011-13 Postdoctoral Fellows

Kirsten Leng Kirsten Leng (Ph.D., History/ Women’s Studies, University of Michigan)
SPAN Postdoctoral Fellow, 2011-13
University of Massachusetts — Amherst
Kirsten Leng’s dissertation examined the role sexual science played in German and British feminists’ sexual politics from 1880-1914. Her work documents how feminists’ engagement with sexual science enabled them to both advance demands for sexual reform and contribute to the creation of sexual knowledge. However, her work also illuminates how sexual science limited the aims and reach of feminist sexual politics. While at Northwestern, she is beginning a new project that examines the transformation of German and British feminist sexual politics and sexual science from 1914 to 1939 in the face of generational shifts, legal changes to women’s status, technological and scientific innovations, and exceptional political events such as war, revolution, democratization, fascism, and mass emigration. In 2013-2014, Dr. Leng was an ACLS New Faculty Fellow with the Department of History and Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Columbia University. Currently, Kirsten is an Assistant Professor at University of Massachusetts — Amherst in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.  She recently published a book entitled Sexual Politics and Feminist Science: Women Sexologists in Germany, 1900–1933.
Courses at NU

  • Winter 2012: History 300-33: “Sex and European Feminism, ca. 1800-1918”
  • Spring 2012: Gender & Sexuality Studies 321-20: “Sexual Science and Subjective Politics, ca. 1880-2011”
  • Winter 2013: Gender & Sexuality Studies 321-20: “Sexual Science and Subjective Politics, ca. 1880-2011”
  • Spring 2013: History: “The Sexual History of WWI”
Evren Savci Evren Savci (Ph.D, Sociology/ Gender Studies, University of Southern California)
SPAN Postdoctoral Fellow, 2011-13
Yale University
Evren Savci’s dissertation project was a multi-sited, multi-method analysis of contemporary urban queer subcultures and politics in Turkey, and what these sites reveal about the mechanisms of abjection of the modern westernizing Nation-State, especially the roles played by processes of sexualization, racialization, secularization, criminalization and gendering of citizen subjects within the context of national aspirations for “civilization.” Currently, Dr. Savci is studying practices of Islamic matrimony, cousin marriage, and polygamy that were outlawed or strongly discouraged by the new Republic, yet are still practiced today, to examine what these “failures” tell us about Westernization. Dr. Savci is currently an Assistant Professor in the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Department at Yale University.
Courses at NU

  • Winter 2012: Gender & Sexuality Studies 390 / Religious Studies 359: “Gender, Sexuality and Islam”
  • Spring 2012: Sociology 376: “Global Cultures and Societies”
  • Winter 2013: Gender & Sexuality Studies 390 / Religious Studies 359: “Gender, Sexuality and Islam”
  • Spring 2013: Sociology 376: “Global Cultures and Societies”

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