2024-25 Graduate Student Mentors (GSMs)

Luca Arens (laa2185@columbia.edu)
Graduate Student Mentor, Columbia Undergraduate Scholars Program
Facilitator, CUSP Columbia Journey Seminar

Luca Arens is a PhD candidate in Germanic Languages and Comparative Media. Before Columbia, he studied media and art history in Amsterdam and at NYU and worked for the German Center for Art History in Paris. His dissertation is titled Bad Manners, Bad Habits, Bad Taste: The Aesthetics of Social Ordering. It shows the crucial role that distinctions of taste, habits, and manners have played in the development of modern social thought—from idealist philosophy to early sociology—and it reconstructs the basic aesthetic strategies through which these distinctions and the social orders they grounded were entrenched—from negative characterization to generic hierarchization and narrative perspectivation.

At Columbia, Luca has taught several courses in the German language sequence and a self-designed course on bad habits. He has also served as a teaching assistant for “Marx, Nietzsche, Freud” with Professor Oliver Simons. In addition, Luca has worked as a research and editorial assistant for a number of academic publications on topics ranging from the promotion of Surrealism in the US to literary conclusions, Goethe’s library, and W. E. B Du Bois. For the last three years, he has been the research assistant of University Professor Gayatri Spivak. This spring, he has published an article on props and practices of recognition in the war plays of the 18 th -century writer G.E. Lessing.

In his free time, Luca likes to read fiction and criticism unrelated to his own research, visit museums and art galleries, and agonize over the German football club Borussia Mönchengladbach.


Ana DiGiovanni (amd2323@columbia.edu)
Graduate Student Mentor, Columbia Undergraduate Scholars Program
Facilitator, CUSP Columbia Journey Seminar

Ana DiGiovanni is a PhD candidate in the Psychology Department at Columbia University. Prior to coming to Columbia, Ana received her B.A. in psychology from New York University. Ana’s research is at the intersection of relationship science and affective science. Her work examines the ways we share in experiences — both good and bad — with those closest to us. Much of this work centers the role stress plays in relational processes, but she also examines how we can thrive through close relationships in times of relative calm. In much of her current work, including her dissertation work, she has focused on how co-rumination — a social emotion regulation strategy whereby two individuals perseverate on negative emotions or problems with one another — impacts affective, relational, and behavioral outcomes. In addition to examining co-rumination and general stress processes within close relationships, Ana is also interested in studying conflict in close relationships, physiological synchrony, shared laughter, long-distance relationships, and more. What unites these projects is a desire to understand how we show up for those we love, work together to regulate complex emotions, build meaningful connections, and live in ways that align with our goals. 

Much of Ana’s teaching has focused on equipping both undergraduate and graduate students with advanced statistical skills and general skills in research methods. In fact, she co-designed a course titled “The How-Tos of Research” to equip undergrad students with numerous research skills not traditionally taught in other methods or statistics courses, and to demystify the research experience. 

Outside of research and teaching, Ana enjoys working out at her favorite gym in Harlem (shoutout to Benswic), exploring the city for the best eats, and trying out new recipes with her partner.


Manuela Luengas (mml2224@columbia.edu)
Graduate Student Mentor, Columbia Undergraduate Scholars Program
Facilitator, CUSP Columbia Journey Seminar

Manuela Luengas is a PhD candidate in the Latin American and Iberian Cultures Department at Columbia University. She is currently finishing her dissertation on the role of rivers in modern and contemporary Latin America, through an analysis of visual, sound and literary objects. She is particularly interested in the way rivers have been key drivers of the region’s cultural and political history, becoming contested sites of intersection between communities, states, and more-than-human entities. Thus, her research brings together disciplines like cultural studies, environmental humanities, anthropology, and ecocriticism. Prior to coming to Columbia, she earned a B.A in Anthropology from Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Bogotá, and an M.A in Latin American Literature from Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, in Mexico City. 

In her teaching practice, Manuela strives to incorporate the interdisciplinary drive that shapes her research. In her courses at Columbia, from Elementary Spanish to advanced surveys of Latin American history, she and her students engage with materials as varied as maps, podcasts, films, performance art and poetry. One of her main goals as an educator is to facilitate the creation of critical tools –research methods, writing styles, argumentative questions– that students can use within and beyond the classroom.

Outside of her academic work, Manuela is passionate about political organizing, her two cats, watching films, walking through the city (especially during the summer), and daydreaming about the mountains near Bucaramanga, her birthplace.


Benjamin Hullet (bnh2130@columbia.edu)
Graduate Student Mentor, Columbia Undergraduate Scholars Program
Facilitator, CUSP Columbia Journey Seminar

Ben is a PhD candidate in the English and Comparative Literature department specializing in Early American literature. Prior to coming to Columbia, he received his B.A. from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities with a double major in English literature and Religious Studies, and an M.A. in English and American Literature from New York University. He is currently working on a dissertation titled Memory Traces: Indigenous Inflections in Early American Natural Histories. By focusing on empirical errors in 18th and 19th century American/Caribbean natural histories (a genre that predates current disciplinary divisions between the humanities and sciences), the dissertation demonstrates how European and US-American efforts to translate Indigenous cosmologies into Enlightenment and Romantic idioms shaped the emergence of ecology as a concept and field of study.

While at Columbia, Ben has taught both the medical humanities and climate humanities sections of University Writing. He has also been a section leader and teaching assistant for various courses in the English and Comparative Literature Department. Drawing inspiration from dialogic pedagogy, Ben seeks to create a classroom environment that affirms reciprocity as well as individual and collective experimentation. 

Outside his research and teaching, Ben frequently finds himself falling into rabbit holes related to his love of music, film/visual arts, history, and philosophy. He also embraces his amateur fascination with ethology and other life sciences. In his free time, Ben enjoys journaling, daydreaming, going on walks, trying new things, spending time with family and friends, and playing with his four cats.


Marie Hubbard (smh2264@columbia.edu)
Graduate Student Mentor, Columbia Undergraduate Scholars Program
Facilitator, CUSP Columbia Journey Seminar

Marie Hubbard is a PhD candidate in Columbia's English and Comparative Literature department and an affiliate of the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society. Specializing in postcolonial literature, Marie's research interests center on the intersecting histories of Western imperialism, African diaspora, and education. Prior to coming to Columbia for her doctorate, Marie received her BA with honors in English from Stanford University, where she also completed a major concentration in Philosophy and Literature and a minor in Education. Her senior thesis on Jamaica Kincaid's A Small Place was awarded for outstanding quality in undergraduate humanities research. Today, her dissertation focuses on the influence of American higher education in the cultural development of formerly colonized nations during the 1960s. Broadly, Marie’s scholarship is concerned with a paradox of literature’s production and circulation in society: that liberal education has historically been used to reproduce social inequality and dependence, especially in the colonial context, while at the same time it has served as a tool of liberation.

Marie has many years of experience guiding undergraduates in their own research pursuits through her work in college writing centers, including those of Stanford and the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. At Columbia, Marie has been a teaching assistant for various classes in English and Comparative Literature, including "Narrative and Human Rights" and "The Literary History of Atrocity." She has taught for several semesters in Columbia's University Writing Program, teaching "Contemporary Essays" and "Readings in Human Rights" in both Columbia College and the General Studies Program. Outside of academia, Marie is an outdoors enthusiast who enjoys cross-country road trips, camping, and hiking, especially when she's able to visit the plains and mountains of the American West. She collects decorative pins from every national park she visits, both in the US and abroad.

Columbia Undergraduate Scholars Program


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