Meet our Staff

Jennifer Wester, PhD

Jennifer Wester, PhD (she/her)

Director of Undergraduate Research

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Dr. Jennifer Wester (she/her) is the Director of the Office of Undergraduate Research, Scholarly, and Creative Activity (URSCA), and an Associate Research Scholar in the Department of the History of Art. Appointed in 2023, Dr. Wester oversees the awarding of undergraduate research grants, the convening of the annual Macksey Symposium, and the implementation of the summer research programs for visiting undergraduates. She also leads the Mellon Humanities Collaboratory. Dr. Wester holds a Ph.D. in the History of Art from Johns Hopkins University, and a B.A., summa cum laude, in the History of Art and French from Middlebury College. Prior to joining URSCA, she was Associate Professor of Art History at Notre Dame of Maryland University, where she also served as the director of campus art galleries.  

Julie Lirot, PhD (she/her)

Assistant Director of Undergraduate Research

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Dr. Julie Lirot (she/her) first joined URSCA as the Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in 2020, and was appointed Assistant Director in 2021. She provides administrative support for all URSCA programs, including the undergraduate research awards, the Macksey Symposium, and the summer research programs for visiting students. She also mentors undergraduate researchers and liaises with the Leadership Alliance and other academic partners. Prior to joining URSCA, Dr. Lirot was a lecturer in the Modern Languages and Literatures department at Hopkins, and she previously taught at Brown University, Rhode Island College, Dartmouth College, and University of Nevada Las Vegas. Dr. Lirot holds a Ph.D. in Latin American and Caribbean Studies from the University of Arizona and is currently pursuing an MBA from the Carey Business School. 

Cara Cummings, PhD

Cara Cummings, PhD (she/her) 

Society of Fellows Postdoctoral Fellow 

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Dr. Cara Cummings (she/her) was awarded a prestigious Society of Fellows postdoctoral fellowship in the URSCA office in 2022, and has renewed the position for a second year. Dr. Cummings oversees publication of the Macksey Journal, teaches in the Humanities Collaboratory, and mentors undergraduate researchers. She also teaches philosophy at Morgan State University and Towson University. A specialist in ancient Greek philosophy and ethics, Dr. Cummings holds a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University, an M.A. from the University of Florida, and a B.A. from the University of Central Florida, all in Philosophy. 

Samanda Robinson, PhD

Samanda Robinson, PhD (she/her) 

Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow 

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Dr. Samanda Robinson (she/her) is the Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow for the 2023-2024 academic year. She began teaching in the Humanities Collaboratory in 2019, while a graduate student in the English department, and now joins the office as a full-time postdoc. Dr. Robinson is also an instructor in the Hop-In program for first-generation students, and previously worked as the FLI Initiatives Program Coordinator in the Center for Student Success. Dr. Robinson holds a Ph.D. in English from Johns Hopkins University and a B.A. in English from Fisk University, where she was a UNCF/Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow. Her research interests are African American literature, speculative fiction, Afrofuturism, science fiction, and 20th-century American literature, and she brings this expertise to her teaching. 

Jasmine Jenkins

Jasmine Jenkins (she/her) 

Administrative Coordinator 

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Jasmine Jenkins is the Administrative Coordinator for URSCA. She joined the office in 2022, after working as a Human Resources Assistant at Johns Hopkins Medicine and as an Administrative Coordinator at Morgan State University. She holds an AS degree in Business Administration from Baltimore City Community College and is currently pursuing a BS from Morgan State University. 

Contact us

General inquiries: [email protected] 

Wyman Park Building, Suite 350 
3100 Wyman Park Drive 
Baltimore, MD 21211