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Graduate Students at UCLA

The following is a list of UCLA graduate students conducting research on or related to Israel.

Scott Abramson
Near Eastern Languages and Cultures
Advisors: Professor Lev Hakak (NELC) and Professor Steven Spiegel (Political Science)

Abramson’s doctoral research is primarily concerned with the history of the modern Levant, with special reference to intercommunal relations and minority experience. His dissertation specifically examines the modern history of the Maronite community in Israel, an Arabic-speaking Uniate Christian sect with ancestral ties to Lebanon. Prior to beginning his doctoral research in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at UCLA, Abramson received his MA from Brandeis University in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies.

Yael Assor
Advisors: C. Jason Throop (chair, UCLA), Sherry B. Ortner (UCLA), Akhil Gupta (UCLA), Jarrett Zigon (UVA)

Assor’s research focuses on the ongoing process of shaping Israel’s healthcare policies. Her dissertation will explore how public expectations of policymakers’ ethical conduct shape healthcare decisions in Israel’s nationalized healthcare system. Prior to pursuing her doctorate, Assor completed a BA in Psychology, Sociology, and Anthropology and an MA in Sociology and Anthropology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Sarah Johnson
Advisor: David Myers

Johnson’s research focuses on modern German-Jewish history, particularly that of the German Zionist movement both in Germany and in Palestine during the interwar period. The main emphasis of her research is on the history of German Zionist institutions, processes of community building, and migration. Prior to attending UCLA, Johnson received an MA in Modern History from the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn and a BA in History and German Studies from the University of Minnesota.

Janice Levi
Advisors: Andrew Apter, Aomar Boum, Ghislaine Lydon,  Sarah A. Stein

Levi's research examines the historical precedent behind the development of Jewish communities in Western Africa in the 20th century, with a focus on a community in present-day Ghana. Her research analyzes physical and dialogical encounters along the coast and through the interior of Western Africa. The project also examines the role of Israel in Ghana during the independence era to the present day and their response to these emerging communities. Levi has completed an MA History (UCLA), MA African Studies (Indiana University), and BA History (University of Oklahoma).

Melina Melgoza
Advisor: Rebecca Alber

Melgoza’s research seeks to develop tools to advance critical media literacy skills in K-12 classrooms. Her current research focuses on Nazi propaganda, its influence on the German population, and the trans-generational impact of the Holocaust on Israeli Jewish society. This work supports her efforts to develop curricula that can help students critically analyze relationships between media and audiences, information and power through a better understanding of the origins of the Holocaust and its continuing impacts on Israeli society. Melgoza is currently pursuing a MEd after having completed her BA in Arts and History at UCLA.

Melissa Melpignano
World Arts and Cultures/Dance
Advisor: Susan Foster

Melpignano‘s research investigates how different Israeli contemporary choreographers and choreographic bodies addresses social and political issues through performance, with a particular focus on the post-Oslo period (1995-present). Her work explores ideas of nationalism, Zionism, and militarism in contemporary performance, and choreography as an expression of the politics of livability in Israel. She received an MA in Italian Studies from the University of Lugano (Switzerland), a BA (magna cum laude), in Performance Studies from the University of Venice Ca' Foscari (Italy), and a BA(Hons) in Contemporary Dance from the University of Kent/London Contemporary Dance School (UK).

Molly Oringer
Advisor: Susan Slyomovics

Oringer’s work broadly concerns the anthropology of statehood, citizenship, and constructions of belonging. Her dissertation research focuses on the cultural, social, and historic realities of the Jewish community in Lebanon and its diaspora (including those in Israel), as well as the relation between these communities and the Lebanese state. Oringer received her MA from NYU in Near Eastern Studies and a BA in Religion from Smith College.