ANN ARBOR — Effective July 1, 2016, A. Oveta Fuller, associate professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Michigan Medical School, has been appointed as the director of the African Studies Center in a one-year appointment. Judith T. Irvine, Edward Sapir Collegiate Professor of Linguistic Anthropology, Department of Anthropology, is joining her to serve as ASC’s associate director for the year.

Oveta Fuller is a 2013 J. William Fulbright Faculty Fellow who lived in Zambia for nine months and a graduate of the inaugural class of the 18-month Ansbacher Women in Academic Leadership Program of the UMMS. Her research focuses on early events of virus cell interactions for Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) and on prevention of HIV/AIDS. In an interdisciplinary focus on implementation of science advances, she developed the Trusted Messenger Intervention (TMI) as a potentially low-cost highly effective approach to provide influential community leaders, specifically religious leaders, with biomedical science understanding so to mobilize their engagement with constituents for reducing the spread of and mortality from HIV/AIDS. This implementation research currently occurs in community field sites in Zambia and the USA. Professor Fuller has served as ASC associate director and co-coordinator of the ASC STEM-Africa Initiative for the past two years. An active member of the STEM-Africa Initiative since 2009, she previously served as an elected member of the ASC Executive Committee.

Judith Irvine’s research in the anthropology department focuses on language ideology, language and political economy, performance, and colonial and historical linguistics in Senegal and the Senegalese diaspora. She has recently been elected to the distinguished National Academy of Sciences for her research on language use in African social life, such as in local politics, in creating and expressing social hierarchy and in the making and destruction of social difference. Judith Irvine was a former chair of the Department of Anthropology and a member of the initial steering committee that proposed the establishment of the African Studies Center in 2007-08. She has been a longstanding member of the ASC Executive and the African Heritage Initiative Committees.

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The African Studies Center (ASC) at the University of Michigan provides strategic guidance and coordination for Africa-related education, research, and training activities on campus, and promotes opportunities for collaboration with African partners on the continent. Founded in 2008, the center serves as a conduit for the university’s many Africa initiatives in the sciences, arts, humanities, social sciences, engineering, and medicine. For more info, visit


Contact: Traci Lombre/Raquel Buckley
African Studies Center
Phone: 734.615.3027