Two University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill doctoral students are among 67 nationwide to receive 2018 Mellon/American Council of Learned Societies Dissertation Completion Fellowships.

John Phillips, philosophy, and Jennifer Walker, musicology, will each receive a $30,000 stipend, in

addition to research funds and university fees, in the 2018-19 academic year to “focus their attention on completing projects that form the foundations of their scholarly careers,” according to the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS).

John Phillips

John Phillips

Phillips, Walker and the other 65 fellows were selected from more than 1,000 graduate student applicants within the humanities and social sciences.

Phillips’ research is related to why some mental activities, such as believing or hoping, can be done rationally or irrationally, but others, such as perceiving an itch or the color red, are neither rational nor irrational – they just happen. His dissertation argues that believing, unlike perceiving, is something that human beings can do in a skillful way.

Phillips, whose adviser is philosophy professor Ram Neta, said the fellowship will allow him to spend the next year focusing full-time on writing.

“This will allow me to create a thorough and polished dissertation that conveys the ideas that I’ve been developing for the last few years as effectively as possible,” Phillips said.

Walker’s research centers on the ways religion, politics and music intersected during the final decades of 19th-century France. Her dissertation argues that music was the ideal medium through which Catholicism was reintegrated into Republican identity.

“Aside from providing invaluable financial support, the ACLS and its community of fellows is well-known for its additional training, whether through interdisciplinary workshops or through its commitment to mentoring young scholars like myself as we prepare to enter the job market,” she said. “I look forward to completing my dissertation as a member of this distinguished community of fellows.”

Jennifer Walker

Jennifer Walker

Walker’s adviser is music professor Annegret Fauser, the Harold J. Glass USAF Faculty Mentor/Graduate Fellow Distinguished Term Professor within The Graduate School. The term professorship includes a corresponding fellowship, and Fauser selected Walker as the 2017-18 graduate fellow.

“The Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship is awarded through a highly competitive process, and recognizes research potential, as well as the accomplishment of the graduate student researcher,” said Steve Matson, dean of The Graduate School. “This is a remarkable honor for John and Jennifer, and continuing affirmation of Carolina’s strength in training graduate students for leadership in their academic fields.”

The ACLS, a private nonprofit federation including 74 national scholarly organizations, presents the dissertation completion fellowships through a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.