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Featured Alumni


Milda Zilinskaite, Ph.D

Comparative Literature, 2014

Dissertation: “Witold Gombrowicz and Virgilio Piñera, the Argentine Experience”

After completing her dissertation at UC San Diego, on lives and works of two émigré writers – the Polish Witold Gombrowicz (1904-1969) and Cuban Virgilio Piñera (1912-1979) – Milda embarked on a new academic career path. Following her teaching experience in language instruction, leadership and cross-cultural communication, as a visiting lecturer at the Korea Development Institute School of Public Policy and Management and at Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences, she took a position at the Vienna University of Economics and Business, where she teaches courses on English business communication and cross-cultural competence. One of Milda’s two current lines of research has, nevertheless, been greatly influenced by her background in cultural history, ethnicity and migration, as it examines the impact of organizational climates for inclusion on the processes of acculturation undergone by highly-qualified migrants in OECD countries. Her other area of research focuses on present-day discourses of (ir)responsible leadership. 


Tatiana Sizonenko, Ph.D

Art History, Theory, and Criticism, 2013

Dissertation: "Artists as Agents in Venice, 1450-1550: The Artistic Exchange and Cultural Translation between Venice and Constantinople - The Case of Gentile Bellini"

After completing her dissertation at UC San Diego, Tatiana Sizonenko began teaching art history at several universities and colleges in San Diego, including CSU San Marcos, UC San Diego, the University of San Diego, and Grossmont College. Her upper division courses include: Early Renaissance Art, Introduction to Renaissance Art and Visual Culture, Art in 1492: A Global Survey of Art and Architecture, and Russian Art from Icon to Avant-Garde. Tatiana’s research has focused on cultural exchange in the early modern Mediterranean world, and artistic and humanist discourse in Venice. Developed from the dissertation, her current book project is a study of the central role of court artists in diplomatic exchanges between Italian citystates and the Islamic regimes. Tatiana is especially interested in the development of polyglot artistic forms in
portraiture that contributed to a politicized discourse in which Western and Moslem courts, though sharing ideas and tastes, nonetheless competed for status and recognition. Her second research project, “The Myth of Roman Imperium Outside of Italy: Constructing Rulership in the Eastern Mediterranean—Muscovy and the Crimean Khanate, 1450-1550,” is a study of the artistic ties between Venice and the Crimean Khanate and Muscovy at the beginning of the sixteenth century. Tatiana examines the works of the Venetian sculptor and architect Alevisio Novy (Alevisio Lamberti da Montagnana) for the Crimean Khan Meñli I Giray (1475-1515) and the Muscovite Tsar Ivan III (r. 1462-1505). This project was funded as part of a research seminar “From Riverbed to Seashore: Art on the Move in Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean in the Early Modern
Period,” sponsored by the Getty Foundation’s Connecting Art Histories Initiative in 2014-15.

Yuliya Ladygina

Yuliya Ladygina, Ph.D

Literature, 2013

Dissertation: “Narrating the Self in the Mass Age: Olha Kobylianska in the European Fin-de-Siècle and Its Aftermath, 1886-1936”

After completing her PhD at UC San Diego in 2013, Yuliya Ladygina took a position at Williams College, where she teaches courses on Russian and comparative literature, film, rhetorical writing, Russian language, and the 19th-century Russian intellectual history. Currently, Yuliya pursues two research projects, focusing on the intellectual history of the European fin-de-siècle, and on the state-sponsored informational warfare in contemporary Russia. Yuliya’s first project is an extension of her dissertation, which examines the literary oeuvre of Olha Kobylianska (1863-1942) – one of the most sophisticated Ukrainian prose writers. Yuliya is particularly interested in the complex evolution and dialogical nature of the multiplicity of cultural, social, and political discourses (feminism, populism, socialism, Nietzscheanism, elitism, Marxism, nationalism, and Fascism) in Kobylianska’s writings. In the spring of 2014, Yuliya will be a Research Fellow at the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute, where she will continue developing her dissertation project into a book. Yuliya’s second research project is a study of the representations of the on-going Russo-Chechen conflict in contemporary Russian films. The project stems from Yyuliya’s general interest in postcolonial studies, issues of nationalism in Eastern Europe, and Russia’s relations with its neighboring nations.

Maggie Levantovskaya

Margarita Levantovskaya, Ph.D

Literature, 2013

Dissertation: "Rootless Cosmopolitans: Literature of the Soviet-Jewish Diaspora"

After defending her dissertation in 2013, Margarita (Maggie) Levantovskaya began teaching in the department of Foreign Languages and Literatures and the Jewish Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. There she teaches courses on post-Soviet culture, Russian language, and twentieth-century Jewish literature and film. Her current research project examines representations of cultural identity and diaspora in contemporary fiction about the migration of Russian-speaking Jews in the late-twentieth century. She is particularly interested in the work of Russian, Russian-Israeli and Russian-American authors. Her project interrogates the place of Jews in the larger Russophone diaspora and highlights the ways in which ex-Soviet Jews challenge traditional conceptions of Jewish diaspora. Maggie is also conducting research on "experiments with autobiography" in the work of Russian-Jewish fiction writers and visual artists.

For more about Maggie Levantovskaya, see her website:


Elena Aronova, Ph.D

History and Science Studies, 2012

Dissertation: "Studies of Science Before “Science Studies”: The Cold War and the Politics of Science in the U.S., U.K., and U.S.S.R., 1950s-1970s"

After completing her dissertation at UC San Diego she took a position at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, where she is a Research Scholar in Department II, headed by Lorraine Daston. Her current research is divided between two projects. The first project, Cold War: the Politics of Science in the U.S., U.K., and U.S.S.R., 1950s-1970s, an extension of her dissertation research which she plans to turn into a book, shows how in the context of Cold War cultural struggle for hearts and minds, and the expansion of science into Big Science, "science studies" emerged at the very center of the cultural and political landscape of Cold War, as an apparatus for managing the Cold War anxieties and concerns. Moreover, it was a parallel phenomenon on both sides of the Iron Curtain -- distinct in their ideologies and approaches but parallel in their structural relationship to political and institutional situations. The second project, Big Science in the Archive, examines the history of world-wide data collection on the global environment in the 1950s and 1960s in the Cold War America and Soviet Union.

To find out more about Elena and her research see her website: