Miller Center

Miller Center National Fellowship

Beginning in the 2017-2018 academic year, the National Fellowship Program, a longstanding initiative of the Miller Center, will fall under the leadership of the Jefferson Scholars Foundation at U.Va.. The Jefferson Scholars Foundation, created in 1980, currently offers the premier graduate fellowship and undergraduate scholarship at the University. To learn more about the National Fellows Program, including how to apply, click here.

Meet The Fellows

Ariel David Adesnik - History, Oxford University

Project: The Rebirth of American Democracy Promotion: Carter and Reagan in Central America

Adesnik photo

Fellowship year: 2005

Mentor: Melvyn Leffler, University of Virginia

David Adesnik is Policy Director at the Foreign Policy Initiative.

He focuses on defense and strategy issues. Previously, Adesnik was a visiting fellow at the Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies at the American Enterprise Institute. For two years, he served as deputy director for Joint Data Support at the U.S. Department of Defense, where he focused on the modeling and simulation of irregular warfare and counterinsurgency. Adesnik also spent several years as research staff member at the Institute for Defense Analyses. In that capacity, he spent several months in Baghdad as an operations research and systems analyst for Multinational Corps–Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2008, he was part of the foreign policy and national security staff for John McCain’s presidential campaign. 

Adesnik's academic interests include the impact of rhetoric on foreign policy, democracy promotion, and Latin America. He received his Ph.D. and Masters of Philosophy from Oxford University, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar. His dissertation focused on the Reagan administration’s approach to democracy promotion. David received a bachelor’s degree in history from Yale University. He has been the recipient of fellowships from the Council on Foreign Relations, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Harvard University, and the University of Virginia. His work has been published in Foreign Policy, The Weekly Standard, The National Review, The Washington Free Beacon, The Washington Quarterly, Forbes.com, FoxNews.com and The Daily Caller. David has served as a commentator on several cable television networks and radio programs.

Selected Recent Publications

"The Logic of American Exceptionalism.The Journal of International Security Affairs, no. 26 (Spring/Summer 2014).

"Rand Paul Sees No Threat From Terrorist Safe Havens In Iraq.Forbes, June 20, 2014.

"O’s Counterterrorism Fund.National Review Online, June 4, 2014.


Adam Goodman - History, University of Pennsylvania

Project: “Mexican Migrants and the Rise of the Deportation Regime, 1942-2012”

Goodman photo

Adam Goodman is a Provost’s Postdoctoral Scholar in the Humanities at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Beginning fall 2016, he will be an Assistant Professor of History and Latin American and Latino Studies at the University of Illinois, Chicago. Goodman is a scholar of migration interested in the interconnected histories of people throughout the Americas and received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. His current book project explores the rise of the deportation regime and the expulsion of Mexicans from the United States since the 1940s. He has published articles, essays, and reviews in academic venues such as the Journal of American Ethnic History and popular outlets such as The Nation and The Washington Post.

Goodman's dissertation examined the history of the deportation of Mexicans from the United States since 1942. The project took a transnational approach, using Spanish- and English-language archival sources and oral histories from Mexico and the US to explore the political, institutional, and social history of deportation over the last seventy years. Ultimately, he argued, the history of deportation challenges the US’s identity as a nation that has welcomed immigrants, in turn calling for a reassessment of how immigration policy and the immigrant experience are understood. Goodman's work was supported by a Fulbright-García Robles fellowship, an NEH Summer Seminar on rethinking international migration, and the Immigration and Ethnic History Society's George E. Pozzetta Dissertation Award. In 2014 the University of Pennsylvania named him a Dean’s Scholar, the highest honor the School of Arts & Sciences can bestow upon a student. 

Selected Recent Publications

Nation of Migrants, Historians of Migration.Journal of American Ethnic History 34, no. 4 (Summer 2015): 7-16.

"A Nation of Migrants." Dissent Magazine, October 8, 2015.

International Migration to the United States: From the Colonial Period to Our Times.” In Dictionnaire des migrations internationales, ed. Gildas Simon. Paris: Armand Colin, 2015. (French)

"The Next Mexican Revolution?" Al Jazeera America (November 20, 2014)


Evan D. McCormick - Corcoran Department of History, University of Virginia

Project: "Between Revolution and Repression: U.S. Foreign Policy and Latin American Democracy, 1980-1989"

McCormick photo

Evan D. McCormick is a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

He joined the CPH in August 2015. Evan's research focuses on the history of U.S.-Latin American relations during the Cold War, with a focus on the intersection of U.S. development policies, Latin American democracy, and human rights. Evan is currently expanding his research and writing interests in presidential and public history through involvement in the CPH's Collective Memory Project, an oral history program that focuses on specific aspects of the administration of George W. Bush.

Before joining SMU, Evan was a dissertation fellow at the Miller Center and an Eisenhower/Roberts Fellow of the Eisenhower Institute at Gettysburg College. He was the recipient of the University of Virginia's Albert Gallatin Graduate Research Fellowship and a junior fellow in the University of Virginia Society of Fellows. 

Evan received his Ph.D. in history from the University of Virginia in 2015.

His dissertation, “Beyond Revolution and Repression: U.S. Foreign Policy and Latin American Democracy, 1980-1989,” explored the history of U.S. efforts to promote democracy amidst Latin American civil conflicts during the Reagan years. Evan earned an M.A. in international relations from Yale University (2007) and a B.A. in international relations from Boston University (2003).  Before returning to academia, he served as a policy analyst at the Department of Homeland Security where he specialized in U.S.-Latin American security issues. His work has appeared in The Journal of Cold War Studies.

Selected Recent Publications

"Freedom Tide? Ideology, Politics, and the Origins of Democracy Promotion in U.S. Central America Policy, 1980–1984." Journal of Cold War Studies 16, no. 4 (Fall 2014)


Shannon Nix - History, University of Virginia

Project: ‘The Soul of our Foreign Policy’: Human Rights Politics, U.S. Foreign Policy, and the Struggle for Central America, 1976-1984

Nix photo

Shannon Nix’s dissertation examines a series of transnational political struggles waged on the terrain of human rights and their influence on U.S. policy toward overlapping Central American crises during the Carter and Reagan administrations.  While recognizing the importance of traditional U.S. policymakers, it draws attention to the contribution of non-governmental organizations in Washington and their transnational advocacy networks. Often staffed by former missionaries, as well as civil rights and antiwar activists, many had close ties to mainstream religious groups. Increasingly disillusioned with U.S. Cold War policy, they sought to change Washington’s policy toward nations tragically riven by intransigent inequality and civil war. Building on longstanding commitments to the Social Gospel, fused with emerging theological commitments to ecumenicism and social justice, they used human rights politics to shape both policy and the domestic political climate. More than a Cold War struggle for Central American hearts and minds, this was, quite literally, one for the “soul of American foreign policy.”


Tore Olsson - History, University of Georgia

Project: Agrarian Crossings: The American South, Mexico, and the Twentieth-Century Remaking of the Rural World

Olsson photo

Tore Olsson has been selected as the Ambrose Monell Foundation Funded Fellowship in Technology and Democracy.

Tore Olsson is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Tennessee.  Olsson's teaching and research examine the twentieth-century United States in global perspective, with an emphasis on agriculture, food, environment, rural history, and Latin America, particularly Mexico.

He is currently working on his first book, titled Remaking the Rural World: The American South and Mexico in the Twentieth Century (under contract, Princeton University Press), which weaves together the agrarian history of two places seldom discussed in common context: the American Cotton Belt and Mexico. On one hand, it illustrates how U.S. southerners and Mexicans in the first half of the twentieth century confronted similar problems in their countrysides, particularly uneven land tenure, racialized labor regimes, and plantation monoculture. More importantly, however, it reveals how cosmopolitan rural reformers in each place acknowledged their common struggle and fostered a lively transnational dialogue on questions of land, agriculture, and rural life. The book makes two primary arguments: first, it demonstrates how the American South served as the domestic laboratory for the Green Revolution, the most important Third World “development” campaign of the twentieth century. Secondly, it argues that the rural New Deal in the United States was radicalized by observations of Mexican revolutionary rhetoric and action. Rather than a comparative history, Remaking the Rural World is a history of comparisons and the way that comparison impacted policy, moved people, and remade landscapes.

Olsson’s book is based on his 2013 dissertation, which was recently the winner of the Oxford University Press USA Dissertation Prize in International History, granted by the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, and the Gilbert C. Fite Dissertation Award for best dissertation in agricultural history from the Agricultural History Society. His research for the dissertation and manuscript has been funded by the Social Science Research Council, the Miller Center, and the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, and several others.

At the University of Tennessee, Professor Olsson teaches courses on food and agriculture, U.S. foreign relations, and U.S. and Latin American social and political history.

Selected Recent Publications

Remaking the Rural World: The American South and Mexico in the Twentieth Century (in progress, under contract in Princeton University Press’s “America in the World” series).

Sharecroppers and Campesinos: The American South, Mexico, and the Transnational Politics of Land Reform in the Radical 1930s.” Journal of Southern History (August 2015).


Jose Luis Ramos - History, University of Chicago

Project: The Other Revolution: Politics, Culture, and the Transformation of U.S.-Mexican Relations after the Mexican Revolution, 1919–1930

Ramos photo

Luis Ramos is Assistant Professor of Latin American History at Valparaiso University.

Ramos’s dissertation is a revisionist interpretation of 20th century United States-Mexican history. He examines the origins of a rich and unacknowledged history of collaboration that began during the 1920s, the decade after the Mexican Revolution of 1910. Due to assumptions that political and cultural conflict has determined US-Mexican history, there is no historical explanation for the remarkable improvement of US-Mexican relations after the Mexican Revolution, the persistence of Mexican sovereignty, and the increasing influence of American culture. To answer these questions, his project traces how Americans and Mexicans collaborated in the reconstruction of post-Revolutionary Mexico and US-Mexican relations in six areas traditionally examined as evidence of conflicting interests: the oil controversy, inter-American politics, the external debt, rural reconstruction, immigration, and public health. Luis argues that in the aftermath of World War I and the Mexican Revolution, a political and cultural transformation in how Americans and Mexicans understood each other encouraged mutually beneficial political arrangements that leveraged power asymmetry, sustained Mexican sovereignty, and spurred common networks of progressive reformers that connected the political and intellectual agendas of American progressivism and Mexican revolutionary nationalism. This marked an exceptional embrace of revolutionary nationalism and the beginning of a mutually beneficial relationship unlike any other in Latin America, what he calls the other revolution. His work contributes to studies of US-Mexican history and to broader debates on the relationship between international politics, culture, and nationalism.


Vanessa Walker - History, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Project: Ambivalent Allies: Advocates, Diplomats, and the Struggle for an 'American' Human Rights Policy

Walker photo

Vanessa Walker is the Joseph W. And Diane Zerbib Assistant Professor of History at Amherst College.

Walker's primary areas of interest are the history of U.S. foreign relations and the history and politics of human rights. With both of these topics, she likes to focus on the interchange between international and domestic spheres and actors. She approaches foreign relations in broad terms to engage ideology, race, gender, culture, and (of course) policy, as important forces in shaping the United States’ global interactions through out its history.  Moreover, she likes to explore how foreign entities—both governmental and non-governmental—have shaped the country domestically, influencing American ideals, identities, society, and government institutions. Her current book project, for example, brings together high-level diplomatic and political history with that of activist networks and social movements to argue for the centrality of Latin America in the development of U.S. human rights policies and debates in the Ford and Carter presidencies. At its core, the project is a study of how foreign policy is made in a democracy, situating diplomacy in a larger social and political domestic context, and it traces the deep and inextricable connections between international structures and policies, and domestic dissent and reform in the 1970s. Although her primary focus is on the United States, Walker has also done research in Latin America and the Middle East, and enjoys offering comparative and transnational courses rooted in broader global contexts, such as seminars on Cuba and the United States and the Arab-Israeli Conflict.

Walker's dissertation examined the interactions between advocacy groups and foreign diplomats in the 1970s and early 1980s, revealing the way human rights policy was conceptualized, implemented, and evaluated. Highlighting the role that Chilean and Argentine advocates played in catalyzing the emerging human rights movement in Washington, D.C., her dissertation sought to place this advocacy-diplomacy relationship in its proper international context. More broadly, Walker considered how the Ford, Carter, and Reagan administrations approached human rights as a component of the U.S. relations with Latin America. Her dissertation placed particular emphasis on the Carter administration's relations with Chile and Argentina, and reevaluated its successes and failures in the context of a larger human rights moment, and its objectives to redirect U.S. foreign policy away from Cold War containment and intervention.

Selected Recent Publications

At the End of Influence: Rethinking Human Rights and Intervention in U.S.-Latin American Relations.Journal of Contemporary History, 46, No. 1 (January 2011): 109-135.

Critically Relevant and Genuinely Critical.” In "Fifty Years of William Appleman Williams’ Tragedy of American Diplomacy: An Anniversary, a Discussion, and a Celebration,” Passport, 40, No. 2 (September 2009): 35-6.


← Return to Fellowship home