UMN IDFs Exemplifying and Enriching CBI’s Interdisciplinary Mission

The University of Minnesota-wide Interdisciplinary Doctoral Fellowship (IDFs) Program is a tremendous resource for furthering interdisciplinary engagement in doctoral research at the university. It provides $25,000 doctoral fellowships to ABD students to partner with one of the University of Minnesota’s 250 plus research centers for a year, while the center contributes an additional $2,500, to support the student’s professional development, usually used as funds to travel to national or international conferences to present their work. It is highly competitive as a Ph.D. granting department or program and the center both need to back a student’s application and can have internal competitive/merit processes prior to backing an applicant. In short, only quality applications tend to go in, and of those, only roughly 20 to 25 percent receive an IDF.

John Kendall CBI IDF Fellow
John W. Kendall, CBI IDF Fellow.

Over the past several years CBI has worked very closely with applicants, has benefited from terrific applicants, and rather than one-fifth or one-fourth of our backed applicants receiving an IDF, CBI-sponsored applicants have a 75 percent success rate!

We are thrilled to announce that this strong streak continues as a terrific ABD student in UMN’s Geography, Environment, and Society, John Kendall, was recently awarded an IDF for academic 2021-2022. He will have office space at CBI, and we look forward to working him in the coming year. HSTM Assistant Professor and CBI Affiliated Historian Honghong Tinn, CBI Archivist and Curator Amanda Wick, and I will be advising him on his research and the use of our collections.


Kendall is researching environment and culture in computer modeling, artificial intelligence, and machine learning applications in hydraulic fracturing in Texas’ Permian Basin. His dissertation involves research on political economy, user innovation, IT services, and cloud, and as such, is particularly aligned with Tinn’s and my complementary expertise in these areas.

Last year, I worked with and advised our IDF UMN Sociology’s Devika Narayan on her dissertation on changing labor dynamics in Indian IT services in the face of transitions to automation, artificial intelligence, and cloud computing. For a country that was rapidly growing a labor force and middle class in IT services, India faces potentially peaking and declines in the IT labor workforce as more and more is done by machines and “intelligent” systems. Narayan has presented her research at conferences around the world and she won a highly prestigious Best Student Paper Award in the ASA Section of Communication, IT, and Media, at the American Sociology Association’s Annual Conference.

Narayan has continued our past IDFs amazing record on the job front. She was offered both a postdoc at the Saïd School of Business/Management Studies at Oxford and a tenure track faculty position at Notre Dame University. She is accepting both as she will travel to the UK for a year for the postdoc and defer joining the faculty of Notre Dame University on campus in South Bend until the following year. CBI’s IDF the year prior to Narayan winning an award, Paul Nary of UMN’s Carlson School of Management, was hired straight out of his Ph.D. to join the faculty of Wharton School of Management at the University of Pennsylvania.

Jeffrey R. Yost


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