Sociologist named 2020 Mellon Emerging Faculty Leader

Author: Tess Eyrich
June 1, 2020

Victoria Reyes, an assistant professor of sociology at UC Riverside, has been named one of 10 Mellon Emerging Faculty Leaders for 2020 by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.

Established in 2015, the Mellon Emerging Faculty Leaders Awards program is supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and administered by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. It supports junior faculty whose research focuses on contemporary American history, politics, culture, and society, and who are committed to the creation of an inclusive campus community for underrepresented students and scholars.

Victoria Reyes is an assistant professor of sociology at UC Riverside. (UCR/Stan Lim)

As part of her award, Reyes will receive a $17,500 stipend as she works toward tenure, with some of the funding to be used this summer and some to be used over the course of the next academic year.

The goal, according to a statement released by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, is to give the recipients the resources to “engage in and build support for systems, networks, and affinity groups that make their fields and campuses more inclusive.”

“I wanted to apply to this award because it was for advanced assistant professors — those who passed their midpoint review — and was specifically aimed at highlighting and providing support for faculty who are dedicated to making an inclusive environment in their research, teaching, and service,” Reyes said.

“The focus on faculty’s holistic work, and including service in their assessment, is what makes this award special and so meaningful. Service to our profession, campus, and departments is often invisible labor that goes unrecognized, particularly the disproportionate amount of service and labor of women and men faculty of color.”

Reyes, who joined UCR in 2016, was trained as an economic sociologist and studies culture, borders, and empire. Her debut book, “Global Borderlands: Fantasy, Violence, and Empire in Subic Bay, Philippines,” was published last September by Stanford University Press. It recently won an Independent Publisher Book Award, or IPPY Award, and received an honorable mention for the Distinguished Book Award from the American Sociological Association's Sociology of Law section.

In it, Reyes introduces the concept of a “global borderland” — a semi-autonomous, foreign-controlled, legally ambiguous place often geared toward international exchange, such as a cruise ship, embassy, or international branch of a university campus. She homes in on one type of global borderland — an overseas military base turned special economic zone — through her work on Subic Bay, Philippines, where she lived for nine months and performed the ethnographic and archival research that formed the basis of her book. 

Reyes said she plans to use the Mellon funding to further her research on her second book project, which will look at the racialized and gendered reputations of place and their relationship with socioeconomic activity. Additionally, she’ll hire a graduate student and several undergraduate students to work with her on the research and receive mentoring throughout their time together. 

“I’m committed to both mentorship of underrepresented students and making structural changes within the profession and in the department and university,” Reyes said. 

Reyes received her doctorate in sociology from Princeton University in January 2015, was a 2016-17 postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan’s National Center for Institutional Diversity, and previously taught in Bryn Mawr College’s Department of Growth and Structure of Cities. 

Founded in 1945, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation identifies and develops leaders and institutions to meet the nation’s critical challenges. Through a variety of programs, the foundation has supported more than 27,000 fellows as part of the next generation of leaders shaping American society.