The Reclaiming Memories Research Lab is an interdisciplinary team of graduate students, recent graduates, and professionals based out of The University of Texas at Austin working together to reclaim memories of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), Queer and other marginalized communities. Our research aspires to collectively restore missing and forgotten histories, as well as advocate for the historic preservation of communities, sacred spaces, and sites of significance to said communities.

Research Team

Diana M. Hernández

M.S. Candidate, Historic Preservation

Diana has taught in Texas for 10 years and has been an independent researcher on issues of language, diversity and preservation since 2014. Diana obtained an M.A. in Spanish Language, Literature and Culture from the University of Houston  and  a B.A. in Public Relations and Spanish Language, Literature and Culture from the University of Houston. In summer 2019, Diana conducted research with the National Institute for Anthropology and History in Mexico City. The initiative titled, “Sites of Memory of the Slave Route in Latin America,” focuses on the preservation of sites related to Afro-Mexican history and culture and is part of an overarching effort by UNESCO. Her work, locally and abroad, highlights the preservation of cultural landscapes related to the history of racial violence. She is currently documenting and researching the history of a Mexican/Mexican American cemetery in the Travis County area as well as additional sites in Houston as part of her master’s thesis. 

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Mitch Ford

M.S., Community and Regional Planning

A Baltimore native, Mitch Ford is a Community and Regional Planning graduate student at the University of Texas School of Architecture with an interest in historic preservation. He is interested in preserving historic sites and cultural landscapes that are particularly vulnerable to planning and development forces. The research surrounding Cementerio San José piqued his interest for its location in the Montopolis neighborhood of the East Riverside area of Southeast Austin, an area conflicted with gentrification and displacement. Mitch holds a B.A. in Geography and certification in Geographic Information Science from the University of Maryland.

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Jesús Nazario

Doctoral Student, Ethnic Studies

Jesús Nazario is a writer, photographer, and communications specialist. He received his Bachelor’s in Journalism, and International Relations and Global Studies, from the University of Texas at Austin. This summer, he is graduating with an M.A. in Latin American Studies from the same institution. Along with serving in leadership roles in student organizations, Jesús has worked as a research assistant for both the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas as well as the Texas Policy Evaluation Project. His current project includes questions of biotechnology, communal land use, and indigenous political and food sovereignty. In the Fall, Jesús will begin his PhD program in Ethnic Studies at the University of California – Berkeley. 

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Hunter Wilkes

B.S., Environmental Science

Hunter is a recent graduate from the University of Texas who enjoys graphic design and coding in his free time. As an undergraduate he worked on several research projects centered around the impacts of natural disasters and climate change, focusing on flooding and severe weather events in particular. Geographic stresses of the Colorado River on the Montopolis neighborhood and major floods in Austin during the 1930s sparked his interest in the San José research. He aims to pursue a Master’s degree in geospatial or atmospheric science after gaining more research and field experience.

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Isabelle Nance

B.S., Architecture

Isabelle is a third-year undergraduate student studying at The University of Texas at Austin’s School of Architecture. Her research interests revolve around the issues of equitable design and historic preservation. Moreover, she has experience in graphic design. Isabelle has worked on various studio projects ranging from designing communal farm stands to public memorials. Her current studio project involves research on the destructive effects that I-35 has had on East Austin. She will try to mitigate these problems by conducting an in-depth historical analysis of current gentrification and displacement trends in Austin.  As an Undergraduate Researcher with (Re)claiming Memories, Isabelle will lead graphic design efforts for several program initiatives including the Artist Talk Series and the Spring Symposium, “Ciclos: Rebirth, Migration, and Placemaking.” Isabelle is a native from Laredo, Texas. 

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Alexandra Nichole Salazar

Doctoral Student, Latino Studies

Alexandra Nichole Salazar is a Queer Chicana from the Rio Grande Valley, a PhD student in the Mexican American and Latina/o Studies program at UT Austin. She is also the host of Jotxs y Recuerdos, a podcast dedicated to archiving queer stories, histories, pictures, and spaces from the borderlands. 

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Sol Thomas

M.S., Criminal Justice

Sol Thomas graduated from the University of Houston-Downtown with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish. She completed a Masters in Science in Criminal Justice and is pursuing a doctoral degree in Public Policy with a focus on education from Liberty University’s Helm School of Government. Sol spent twelve years working as a patrol officer, sexual assault investigator, and instructor at the Houston Police Department. Sol is in her first year of teaching 5th grade bilingual English Language Arts and hopes to one day work creating public policy that creates a more equitable and democratic society. Sol is founder and director of The National Latina Agenda, a grassroots civics organization organizing around social justice issues affecting the Latinx community.

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Micaela Johnson

Community Artivist

Micaela Johnson (Micky) is a proud Black and Mexican-American 19 year old female entrepreneur, Austin-based artivist, and nationally active advocate for youth voice. Since 2016, Micky has been involved with Creative Action and SAFE Alliance as an actor/activist. Stemming from her work as an artivist, Micky began working with The National Guild for Community Arts Education and helped plan the 2019 and 2020 National Young Artist Summits. She now works with the Guild partnering in Creative Youth Development. Micky has led workshops and spoken at multiple summit events, including Educators in Solidarity’s Unconferences, the Arts Education Partnership Virtual Gathering, and the LBJ Foundation’s Path to Racial Equity web series. During her return as a Changing Lives Youth Theatre Ensemble Alum, she was inspired by the research happening in her ancestry’s home neighborhood and co-wrote a poem to raise awareness regarding the gentrification issues Montopolis’ San José Cementerio could face. Some of her current projects include The UpFront Gallery, #UnmuteMePlz, and a podcast. An artivist at heart, Micky plans to further her education in communications, art, and engineering.

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Anisha Kamat

B.S., Architecture

Anisha is a fourth-year Bachelors of Architecture student at the University of Texas at Austin’s School of Architecture. Her interests lie in human-centered design, equitable design, and sustainability. She has been able to explore these topics through the various studio projects/competition work she has done ranging from urban greenhouses to post pandemic middle school designs. This past semester, she had the opportunity to extensively research accessibility of public transit and green spaces within downtown and design public housing and a subterranean train station based on Project Connect in Austin. This experience sparked her interest in community centered design, accessibility, and historic preservation within city planning and architecture. Additionally, she has a deep passion for visual communication and has done graphic design/illustration work for various student publications and organizations on campus.

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Margaret Gallagher

Master of Landscape Architecture

Margaret Gallagher is pursuing her Master of Landscape Architecture at the University of Texas at Austin. She is a former elementary school teacher with a B.A. in Environmental Science and Global Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her passion for the arts, science, community engagement, and early childhood education inspires her to create interactive work that draws attention to subtle evolutions present in the world around us and facilitate lasting connections between people and places. A California native who has lived in Arizona, Texas, and Louisiana, she is passionate about the power of design to create impactful change, specifically around issues of climate justice. This summer she is working with Marika Alvarado, a Lipan Mescalero Medicine woman and Reclaiming Memories to create a botanical field guide for Cementerio San Jose I.

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Sophia Hennessy

B.S., Communication

Sophia Hennessy is a San Antonio native who is passionate about storytelling. She received a Bachelors of Science in Communication with a minor in Business from the University of Texas at Austin this past May. She has been a research assistant for both Project SEED and the IC2 Institute where she has been able to develop her qualitative and quantitative research skills over the course of her college career. Sophia is excited to take this next step as our Communication Director where she will be able to share our stories and continue learning about the impact and history that BIPOC communities have had on society. 

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Lydia D. Cabasco

Master’s Student, Architecture

Lydia D. Cabasco is an M.Arch student. She received her BA in Multicultural Counseling from the Evergreen State College and focused on facilitating processes for healing colonial trauma using multimodal expressive arts and popular education. Prior to studying architecture, she was a Sr. Instructional Designer and Learning Experience Designer. She also has a background in community organizing and photography.

Jenya Green

MS Student, Historic Preservation

Jenya Green is pursuing her Master of Science in Historic Preservation at the University of Texas at Austin’s School of Architecture. While obtaining her B.A. in International Relations at Claremont McKenna College, she studied in Amman and Jerusalem, where she became interested in the way states use preservation to produce a sense of national identity, belonging, and shared history. She is interested in the potential of preservation as a tool to communicate the link between racist policymaking in the twentieth century and contemporary inequities.

Faculty Advisors

Dr. Tara Dudley

Graham Foundation Carter Manny Award, Writing Fellowship, 2011SRI Foundation, Research Scholarship, 2009Ford Foundation Diversity Fellowship, Dissertation Program, Honorable Mention, 2009Global Architectural History Teaching Collaborative Special Call for Lectures

Tara Dudley is currently teaching as a Lecturer for both the Interior Design History I and II courses in the School of Architecture’s Interior Design Program as well as the American Architecture topics course in the Architectural History program. She has a long-standing relationship with the School of Architecture having obtained her doctorate (Architectural History) in 2012 and her master’s degree (Historic Preservation) in 2003. Dr. Dudley has also collaborated on interdepartmental preservation work, including preparing architectural descriptions and analyses for National Register for Historic Places nominations. Her research methodology includes creative utilization of archival resources and conducting oral histories. Notably, she has applied this approach to her study of the architectural activities of New Orleans’ gens de couleur libres (free people of color); their influence on the physical growth of New Orleans; and the historical, cultural, and economic implications of their contributions to nineteenth-century American architecture. Her current research projects encompass illuminating the contributions of African American builders and architects to the American built environment, focusing on the antebellum and Reconstruction eras in Austin and Texas.
For 16 years, Dr. Dudley served as a senior architectural historian for HHM & Associates, Inc. (formerly Hardy∙Heck∙Moore, Inc.) a historic preservation and cultural resources management consulting firm located in Austin, Texas. She served as project manager and lead architectural historian on various projects involving the preparation of historic furnishings reports and interpretive planning for historic sites. Dr. Dudley has varied experience with preservation and cultural resources management projects including but not limited to conducting historic resource surveys at reconnaissance and intensive levels; preparing National Register of Historic Places nominations, historic district guidelines, preservation case alternatives; and others work involving mitigative recording and Section 106 compliance. She has conducted extensive historical archival research and contributed written portions of various types of reports. Her writing capabilities include historic contexts, property descriptions, and statements of significance. Dr. Dudley’s experience also includes creating measured drawings, photograph preparation, USGS mapping, and report formatting and compilation. She has technical expertise in the requirements of HABS/HAER Levels II and III documentation and material handling and processing. Her education and experience fully satisfy Secretary of the Interior’s Professional Qualification Standards as an Architectural Historian.

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Dr. Sarah Lopez

Page Southerland Page Fellowship in ArchitectureAffiliate of the Rapoport Center for Human Rights and JusticeAffiliate of the Lozano Long Institute of Latin American StudiesAffiliate of the American Studies DepartmentAffiliate of the Center for Mexican-American Studies

Sarah Lopez is a built environment historian, as well as a migration scholar. Lopez’ research focuses on material histories of US-Mexico migration. Her first book, The Remittance Landscape: The Spaces of Migration in Rural Mexico and Urban USA , explores the impact of migrant remittances—dollars earned in the U.S. and sent to families and communities in Mexico—on the architecture and landscape of “rural” Mexico and “urban” USA. Published by the University of Chicago Press in 2015, The Remittance Landscape won the 2017 Kostof Book Award from the Society of Architectural Historians. Her 2015 book chapter, “Putting Vista Hermosa on the Map: Migrant Boosterism in Distant Homelands,” won the 2017 Bishir Article Prize from the Vernacular Architecture Forum.

Lopez is currently working on two book projects. The first examines the long history of migrant incarceration in the U.S. from the docks of Ellis Island to the privately run mega-detention facilities in rural Texas. The project commenced in partnership with the Humanities Action Lab (HAL) in 2015 when with a team of students, Lopez researched Texas detention centers. Oral and spatial histories resulted in Spatial Stories of Migration and Detention, which contributed to HAL’s national-exhibit. An American Quarterly article, “From Penal to “Civil:” A Legacy of Private Prison Policy in a Landscape of Migrant Detention” builds off this research. 
The second book project tracks the development over the last fifty years of a network of Mexican stonemasons, quarry workers, homebuilders, architects, and businessmen who primarily provide services to Mexican and Mexican-American clientele in the American Southwest. A binational construction industry has emerged around the excavation, transportation, distribution, and installation of cantera stone, a type of limestone found in approximately ten states. Since at least the 1970s, Mexicans resettling in the north have been implementing ways to bring it to the US. Cantera networks and related construction practices and knowledge reposition “migrants” as drivers of a Mexican construction industry in the US that is reshaping Mexican and Mexican-American structural relationship to places.

Lopez’ teaching ranges from public history to digital humanities to scholarly methods for built environment scholars.  Broadly speaking, she teaches about U.S. cultural landscapes, the interface between migration, architecture, and cities, the use of interdisciplinary methods (including ethnography) to study space and society, and pre-modern global architectural histories. She received the 2015 Outstanding Teaching award from LLILAS, and the 2016 Outstanding Teaching Award from the School of Architecture. In 2017, Lopez was a Princeton-Mellon Fellow in Architecture, Urbanism, & the Humanities. In 2021, Lopez is a Mellon Fellow in Urban Landscape Studies at Dumbarton Oaks, Harvard.

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Dr. Betsy Frederick-Rothwell

Betsy Frederick-Rothwell is a lecturer in the School of Architecture at the University of Texas at Austin and a research fellow of the Consortium for the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine. Her research approaches the study of buildings and spaces with disciplinary tools from the history of technology and the history of medicine, examining the intersections of building environmental systems and physiological theories in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Her dissertation, Internal Economies: Airs, Bodies, and Building Technologies, 1830-1930, investigated the conditioning of architectural space as a deliberately technocratic project. It placed in historical, social, and political context newly proposed systems of building “sustainability,” namely those that associate concepts of well-being, health, and comfort with design and technology, bringing into focus not just the conditions of buildings but also the conditions and contingencies of work.

Betsy received her PhD in Architecture and her M.S. in Historic Preservation both from the University of Texas at Austin. After receiving her master of architecture from the University of California, Berkeley, Betsy worked as an archivist at the UC-Berkeley Environmental Design Archives and as a preservation specialist and project manager for the U.S. General Services Administration in San Francisco, CA. As an outcome of her work at the Environmental Design Archives, Betsy co-edited the 2009 book Design on the Edge: A Century of Teaching Architecture, 1903–2003, chronicling the history of the UC-Berkeley Department of Architecture. Betsy was a University of Texas Donald D. Harrington Master’s Fellow in 2011-2012, and her doctoral work has been supported by fellowships from The University of Texas at Austin Graduate School, PEO International, and the Consortium for History of Science, Technology, and Medicine. Betsy’s current research interests include technology’s effects on design and inhabitation, the human-rights implications of building technology, and preservation’s role in environmental movement.

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Dr. Todd Brown

2021-23 Race and Gender in the Built Environment Fellow

Trained as an architect, Dr. Todd Brown is an Environmental Psychologist whose research lies primarily at the intersection of critical [race] theory and the built environment. Working theoretically, empirically, and visually, his research explores how architecture and other physical spaces and places are produced, perceived, and evaluated as racialized and embodying other social constructs. His dissertation investigated how environmental cues—such as architectural design features and other physical properties—are used in the development of one’s sociospatial imaginary of urban space. Todd has published several scholarly works at the intersections of psychosocial perception, race, social justice, architecture, and urban design. As an interdisciplinary scholar, he has taught in various programs including psychology at Hunter College, CUNY and the Fashion Institute of Technology, SUNY;  urban studies at Queens College; and architecture at the City College of New York and Columbia University. He currently serves as the 2021-23 Race and Gender in the Built Environment Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture, where he teaches design studio workshops and seminar classes on inclusion and socioracial sustainability. Dr. Brown received his BA, MPH and MArch from the University of Illinois at Chicago and his MA, MPhil, and PhD from the CUNY Graduate Center.

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