Catherine Medalia Johannet Memorial Prizes in Comparative Literature & Society

These prizes were created by family and friends in memory of Catherine Medalia Johannet, a Medicine, Literature and Society major, CC’15, consistent with Catherine’s interest in literature and its use in effecting change in society. 

Read Catherine Medalia Johannet’s thesis Moving Beyond the Disability Memoir: A Critical Study of Judith Scott’s Fiber Art, advised by Sayantani Dasgupta (Narrative Medicine/CSER/ICLS).

One to two prizes will be awarded annually to a Comparative Literature & Society or Medical Humanities major who has written a distinguished senior thesis that demonstrates the highest academic rigor, creativity and engagement with ethical questions. The winner will be chosen by a faculty committee consisting of the Director of Undergraduate Studies, the Director of the Medical Humanities major and two other faculty members associated with ICLS.

There is also a Catherine Medalia Johannet Summer Intern Fellowship awarded annually to a CLS or MedHum major. The fellowship supports volunteering at organizations that offer summer internships or work opportunities relevant to the fields of literature or medical humanities.

Read the reflections from the 2017-2021 recipients here.

With your support, the Catherine Medalia Johannet prize will continue to make an impact on student work in comparative literature and society for years to come. Please consider making a donation at this link:

The Catherine Medalia Johannet Senior Thesis Prize Winners:


Runnie Exuma, Comparative Literature and Society, GS’23
The Black Captive Mater(nal) at the End of the World. 

Ruby Mendelsund, Medical Humanities, CC’23
Constructions and Reconstructions of Silence in the Oralist Movement and the d/Deaf World. 

Diogene Artiles
Heterotopian Desires: Space in the Photography of Alvin Baltrop and Alair Gomes

Grace Manes
The Evolution of the DSM: An Analysis of Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, & Schizoaffective Disorder Through the Manual & Patient Memoirs

Simone Advaney
Choice,” Constraint, Competency, and Consent: An Examination of Permanent Contraception among the Puerto Rican Community and its Coverage in Academic Literature

Gabriel Garon
Needling the Body Politic and the Politics of the Body: Reimagining Care in the Lincoln Detox

Naazanene Vatan
“Literary Conceptions of an Epistemic Genre: Narrative and Agency in 18th- and 19th-century Obstetric Case Histories”

Emma Kenny-Pessia
“Not a Genetic Panopticon, but a Genetic Highway: Using a Deleuzian Framework to Illuminate the Paradox of Freedom and Control in the Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Testing Sector”

Grace Alford-Hamburg
“#Criminal: Trump, Macron, and the Discourse of Deportability”

Josue Chavez
“Translation Aesthetics: Making Legible the Home-yet-to-come as an Instance of the Event Before the Multiplication of Labor”

Alexandra White 
“Crisis, Place, Health, and Narrative in Oral Histories of Hurricane Katrina and the Chernobyl Disaster”

Catherine Medalia Johannet Summer Intern Fellowship winners:

The Institute for Comparative Literature and Society awards the Catherine Medalia Johannet Summer Fellowship annually to a CLS or MedHum major to support internships or volunteer work relevant to the field of literature and/or medical humanities.

David Hong (CC’24) is working on the expanding Friendly Calls to Seniors (FCS) project, part of the Columbia Student Service Corps, that pairs students with seniors in the community who live alone. Founded at the outset of the pandemic, FSC volunteers regularly call older adults with underlying psychiatric conditions and develop longitudinal relationships with them. The calls provide social support and opportunities to identify and refer health concerns to care providers, thereby addressing both the medical and social needs this group faces, particularly during the pandemic.

Davey Liu (GS’24) is working with the Columbia University contingent of a multi-university study funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse and the NIH’s Heal Initiative. Davey will be investigating HIV-related stigma within the healthcare system and its effect on HIV prevention. He will use data collected from over 3,000 medical providers nationwide to study physicians’ practicing patterns when encountering patients with HIV to provide a constructive understanding of the role of disease-related stigma in creating healthcare barriers for patients from underserved populations.

Michel Ge (GS’23) was awarded the summer intern fellowship for his work with Singapore Unbound, a small literary arts organization that seeks to promote underrepresented Asian and Asian American voices. He will be assisting by organizing events, hosting competitions, and helping with the Gaudy Boy press.

Mia Xing (CC’23) was awarded the summer intern fellowship with Restless Books, an independent publisher that addresses how the movement of literature connects to the mobilities of people in the US and around the world. By publishing linguistically and thematically diverse books and bringing them to various communities and into the carceral system, Restless Books makes space for foreign and immigrant voices and strengthens the American democracy. Mia’s role as an intern will include reading and providing critical evaluations of manuscripts in English and original languages (French, Mandarin, Spanish, and Japanese) for publication consideration; translating interviews and other promotional material; and liaising with public libraries to organize free, public writing workshops. She will be using her translation and literary skills to diversify voices and strengthen communities.

Nora Kushner Salitan (CC’21) was awarded the summer intern fellowship for her service as a research assistant at The Global Health Justice and Governance Program (GHJG), a university-wide initiative housed at the Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health at Columbia University. There she assists in an ongoing, multi-country study of donor-funded programming on sexual and gender-based violence (GBV) that seeks to answer why these programs have not produced greater results and to identify good emerging practices. The research evidence will generate policy recommendations regarding how to implement essential GBV services within emergency preparedness and future epidemics; recommend funding strategies to ensure critical funding in these under-funded areas does not further diminish in crises; and identify and promote funding practices that reinforce effective GBV responses during emergency responses.

Alondra Aguilar (CC’21) worked with GlobeMed’s GROW internship in partnership with Gulu Women’s Economic Development and Globalization (GWED-G). GlobeMed is a national organization that aims to find grass root health organizations throughout the world to partner with and support through fundraising, education, and awareness. The Columbia University chapter of GlobeMed is partnered with GWED-G in Gulu, Uganda, which was founded by women in the community to combat the immense cultural, economic, social and health effects of the war in Northern Uganda.

2018 (Inaugural Year)
Daniella Apodaca (CC’20) received the first Catherine Medalia Johannet summer intern fellowship for her work with the New Mexico Immigrant Law Center (NMILC). NMILC works directly to address social inequality and injustice issues by providing legal services, advocacy, and education for low-income immigrants at risk of deportation. As an intern, one of her primary duties involved providing support at the Cibola County Detention Center, which houses the greatest percentage of asylum seekers of any detention center in the US and is the only one to hold transgender immigrants. The primary communicator to French-speaking individuals, she provided critical legal information to French and Spanish-speaking immigrants and asylum-seekers through presentations, individual consultations, weekly workshops, and also helped client fill out citizenship applications, renew residency cards, and renew their DACA.

 The Heyman Center for the Humanities, Room B-101
74 Morningside Drive
New York, NY, 10027
  (212) 854-4541
  (212) 854-3099