Our Team

Michael Patrick Lynch

Michael P. Lynch


Michael P. Lynch is a writer and professor of philosophy at the University of Connecticut, where he directs the Humanities Institute. His work concerns truth, democracy, public discourse and the ethics of technology. Lynch is the author or editor of seven books, including, The Internet of Us: Knowing More and Understanding Less in the Age of Big Data, In Praise of Reason: Why Rationality Matters for DemocracyTruth as One and Many and the New York Times Sunday Book Review Editor’s pick, True to Life. The recipient of the Medal for Research Excellence from the University of Connecticut’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and grants from the Bogliasco Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities, he is currently the PI of Humility & Conviction in Public Life, a $7 million project aimed at understanding and encouraging meaningful public discourse funded by the John Templeton Foundation and UConn. A frequent contributor to the New York Times “The Stone” weblog, Lynch’s work has been profiled in The New Yorker, The Washington Post and Wired (among others). He speaks regularly to both academic and non-academic audiences, and has appeared at such venues at TED, Chautauqua, and South by Southwest. He is currently working on a book about arrogance in politics.


Alexis L. Boylan

Director of Academic Affairs

Alexis L. Boylan is the director of academic affairs of the University of Connecticut Humanities Institute (UCHI) and a professor with a joint appointment in the Art and Art History Department and the Africana Studies Institute. She is the author of Visual Culture (MIT Press, 2020), Ashcan Art, Whiteness, and the Unspectacular Man (Bloomsbury Academic, 2017), co-author of Furious Feminisms: Alternate Routes on Mad Max: Fury Road (University of Minnesota, 2020), editor of Thomas Kinkade, The Artist in the Mall (Duke University Press, 2017), and editor of the forthcoming Ellen Emmet Rand: Gender, Art, and Business (Bloomsbury Academic, 2020). She has published in American Art, Archives of American Art Journal, Boston Review, Journal of Curatorial Studies, and Public Books.

Her next book focuses on the art created for the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York City and how art and science antagonize and inspire cultural dialogues about truth and knowledge.

Yohei Igarashi

Yohei Igarashi

Associate Director; Coordinator of Digital Humanities and Media Studies

Yohei Igarashi is an associate professor of English. He is the author of The Connected Condition: Romanticism and the Dream of Communication (2019). His articles have appeared in New Literary History, Romantic Circles, and Studies in Romanticism, the last receiving the Keats-Shelley Association of America annual essay prize in 2015. His current projects are on topics including the datafication of literary works and the history of the relation between high school and collegiate literary studies.

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Nasya Al-Saidy

Administrative Manager and Financial Officer

Nasya Al-Saidy is an environmental economist and manages the programs and finances for the Humanities Institute. She received her Master’s Degree in Economics from the University of Connecticut, specializing in Environmental Economics and Microeconomic Theory. While at the University of Massachusetts Boston, Nasya explored the cost-effectiveness of phytoremediation to reduce brownfield pollution in Boston’s low-income urban areas. She also worked with the Mauricio Gastón Institute to apply economic theory to public policy in the Boston area, with a focus on issues vital to the Latino community. Her current work seeks to develop and improve upon the game theoretic models used within the emissions permit market.

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Mary Volpe

Administrative Program Support

Mary Volpe is the administrative program support at UCHI. She has a master’s degree in higher education administration and a bachelor's degree in Hospitality and Tourism. In addition to her work at UCHI, Mary also teaches a First-year experience course at UConn.

Elizabeth Della Zazzera

Head of Communications

Elizabeth Della Zazzera is assistant professor in residence in the History department. A historian of modern Europe, she received her Ph.D. in history from the University of Pennsylvania in 2016. Her scholarship focuses on how ideas move on the ground—how their method of transmission and dissemination affects the ideas themselves—with a particular emphasis on the intellectual history of material texts and urban environments in revolutionary and post-revolutionary France. Her current book project explores the role of the periodical press, the theatre, and literary sociability in the bataille romantique: the conflict between romantics and classicists. She is also working on a project about the relationship between new urban technologies and ideas in pre-Haussmann Paris, and one about the cultural origins of the French invasion of Algiers. Her article, “Translating Revolutionary Time: French Republican Almanacs in the United States” was awarded the 2015 Book History essay prize.

Headshot of Nimra Asif

Nimra Asif

Graduate Assistant

Nimra Asif is a Ph.D. student at University of Connecticut in the Department of Philosophy. Her research interests include philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, and philosophy of science. Her current research focuses on minimal forms of theory of mind in non-human animals and infants and the evolutionary relationship between language and theory of mind. Her secondary interests include political epistemology and the role of science in public policy.

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Eric Berg

Graduate Assistant

Eric Berg is a Ph.D. candidate in the Philosophy Department at the University of Connecticut. He received his BA from the University of Minnesota and a Masters degree from the University of Chicago, both of which had research focused on philosophy of language, formal logic, and the history of analytic philosophy. Eric's current research focuses on the intersection between philosophy of technology and the internet, philosophy of language, and social-political philosophy. His Ph.D. project is on the philosophical processes involved with online-radicalization and extremism, with a special focus on how propaganda has adapted to online environments and communicative norms. Eric also has research interests in Africana philosophy, the philosophy and aesthetics of punk-rock and related sub-cultures, and the history and theory of radical political ideologies—especially anarchism and labor movements.

Affiliate Fellows

Sosis, Richard

Richard Sosis

James Barnett Professor of Humanistic Anthropology

Richard Sosis is the James Barnett Professor of Humanistic Anthropology at the University of Connecticut. He is a faculty member in the Department of Anthropology and affiliated with the UConn Humanities Institute and Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life. The central theme of his past and current research is human sociality. His work explores the relationship between religion, trust, and intra-group cooperation, with particular interests in ritual, magic, morality, and the dynamics of religious systems. To explore these issues, he has conducted fieldwork with remote cooperative fishers in the Federated States of Micronesia and with various communities throughout Israel.  He is cofounder and coeditor of the interdisciplinary journal Religion, Brain & Behavior, which publishes research on the bio-cultural study of religion.

The James Barnett Professorship in Humanistic Anthropology was endowed in 2006 by Professor Dennison Nash for the purpose of supporting “a nationally recognized researcher, scholar, and teacher” who “will have made significant contributions to the field of anthropology.”

Advisory Board

Anke Finger; Literatures, Cultures, and Languages
Sean Frederick Forbes; English
Ellen Litman; English
Tom Scheinfeldt; Digital Media and Design
Nancy Shoemaker; History
Dimitris Xygalatas; Anthropology