We’re pleased to introduce our new student assistants, Kiara Thompson, Murielle LeMaire, and Prajakta Gupte. They join us for our “Exploring Diverse Stories of America through Humanities Publishing” initiative, part of the Sustaining the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan (SHARP) funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Our sincere thanks to University of Florida’s African American Studies Program, Center for Latin American Studies, and Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere for partnering with us as we build a diverse future for humanities publishing.

We asked our new assistants what they hoped to learn at the University Press of Florida, why humanities publishing was important to them, and what topics in Latin American and Caribbean studies or African American studies interest them. Here’s what they said.

Kiara Thompson is a senior in UF’s African American Studies Program who plans to pursue graduate work in her field. She joins UPF’s Acquisitions department, where she’ll assist with our African American Studies books. “I’m excited to be part of this grant because this is an opportunity for not only me to gain knowledge about the publishing world, but for my community, too,” she says. “Being part of this grant will ensure I have a true understanding of what it takes to become a published author of African American scholarship.”

Some of Kiara’s research interests include the overrepresentation of minority students in American special education programs and the role of social media in mobilizing social movements. Her research on affordable housing in Suwannee County, completed through the Bob Graham Center’s Florida Civic Scholar Program, is being used by UF’s Shimberg Center and other Florida research institutions.

Murielle LeMaire is a master’s student in UF’s Latin American Studies program, where her research focuses on tropical conservation and development. Murielle will focus on Latin American and Caribbean Studies titles in our Acquisitions department. “I hope to learn a lot about how manuscripts get chosen and the results of peer reviews, as well as how the editorial boards make their decisions,” she says. “For me, as a student and upcoming scholar of Latin American Studies, it’s very important to see the support for research and books published in this area.”

As a scholar, Murielle says, “I’m particularly interested in environmental issues and their connections to indigenous rights in Latin America, as well as globally.” She hopes to travel to Ecuador to research her thesis, which focuses on relations between conservation, indigeneity, and environmental policies in Ecuador.

Prajakta Gupte is a PhD student in political science. She joins UPF’s Marketing department, where she will assist with publicity and outreach. She’s particularly interested in how new academic research enters the public consciousness. “As a doctoral student, it’s easy for me to learn about new scholarly books, but I know that the general public is not aware of these books because they’re not ‘popular,’” she says. “I want to learn more about the marketing and publicity processes that go behind making these books more accessible.”

Prajakta’s doctoral research investigates why some military businesses privatize after democratization, but others do not. “Since militaries have played significant roles in the national politics of Latin America,” she adds, “countries from this region are critical to my dissertation and research in general.”

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