MMUF cohort 2022

Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship

The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program (MMUF) was founded partly to rectify the problem of underrepresentation in academia. Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, headquartered in New York City, the Washington University Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program celebrates the life of the mind by funding original undergraduate research in the humanities and social sciences, with an emphasis on projects pertaining to identity, social justice, and diversity.

The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program encourages talented students to develop their academic interests to the fullest, obtain PhDs, and pursue careers in higher education. Washington University joins 46 other colleges and universities as well as the 39 member institutions of the United Negro College Fund in this effort. The program is open to students who show a demonstrated commitment to increasing cross-racial and ethnic understanding, who are American citizens or permanent residents, and who are majoring in one of the listed fields.

MMUF is part of the Higher Learning program of the Mellon Foundation and reflects one of its three grantmaking priorities:

Elevating the knowledge that informs more complete and accurate narratives of the human experience and lays the foundation for more just and equitable futures. Higher Learning makes grants with the objective of amplifying perspectives and contributions that have been marginalized within the conventional scholarly record, and that promote the realization of a more socially just world. We call this objective multivocality, and this commitment is at the core of MMUF.

Student applicants to MMUF will be evaluated on the basis of their prior coursework, their plans for a major, and their potential to bring historically marginalized or underrepresented perspectives to the academy, including by producing scholarly research that reflects and satisfies the above-stated goal of the Higher Learning program.

Some research themes and rubrics that may satisfy this goal include, but are not limited to, the following: historical and contemporary treatments of race, racialization, and racial formation; intersectional experience and analysis; gender and sexuality; Indigenous history and culture; questions about diaspora; coloniality and decolonization; the carceral state; migration and immigration; urban inequalities; social movements and mass mobilizations; the transatlantic slave trade; settler colonial societies; and literary accounts of agency, subjectivity, and community. While it is not required that student applicants work within the above or related rubrics, preference may be given to applicants who do.

Our Roots: Benjamin E. Mays 
The fellowship namesake, Dr. Benjamin Elijah Mays, was an active opponent of segregation and an advocate of education. After attending the University of Chicago for his master's degree and doctorate, he served as dean of the Howard University School of Religion and as president of Morehouse College. He was also the first black president of the Atlanta school board.
Read more on the national Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship website.

Group shot mellon mays 24

News & Events

WashU welcomes 32nd cohort of Mellon Mays fellows

The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship program supports original undergraduate research projects in the humanities and social sciences.

Read the Story

Discover more about being a Mellon Mays Fellow

Learn about the robust student experience and opportunities that await Mellon Mays Fellows and beyond.

Explore More

Our Leadership

Faculty Director – Professor Jonathan Fenderson

Jonathan Fenderson is an Associate Professor in African & African American Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. He earned his PhD in the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts. His research and teaching interests emanate from three themes: intellectual history, social movements, and transnational links between Africa and the Diaspora. 

His first book, Building the Black Arts Movement: Hoyt Fuller and the Cultural Politics of the 1960s, is an innovative study that approaches the movement from a historical perspective.

He also serves as the Associate Editor of the Black Scholar.


Administrative Director – Dean Wilmetta Diallo

Dean Toliver-Diallo serves the College Office as a Four-year Advisor and a PreHealth Advisor. She manages the Junior year programs, including Fall Forward in the fall and Junior Jumpstart in the spring. She is the Coordinator for the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program. In January 2020, she was a participating coordinator in the MMUF January Programme in Cape Town, South Africa.

Her research interests include Francophone Africa, African Cinema, and the relationship between history and popular culture in Senegal. Toliver-Diallo is the founding director of Washington University’s African Film Festival. She also directs the Senegal Summer Program for the university every other summer.

Publication Archive