In 2017, UCI Phi Beta Kappa (UCI PBK) launched the Visiting Scholars Program to offer students the opportunity to spend time with some of America’s most distinguished academics and field experts. The goal of the Visiting Scholars Program is to contribute to and enrich the intellectual culture at UC Irvine by fostering engagement between Visiting Scholars and UC Irvine students and faculty. 

This year’s Visiting Scholar is Natalia Molina, Distinguished Professor and Dean’s Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California. 

About Professor Molina

Professor Molina specializes in the areas of history, Latinx studies, immigration, gender, foodways, and public health. Her research explores the interconnected histories of race, place, gender, culture, and citizenship. She is the author of the award-winning books How Race Is Made in America: Immigration, Citizenship and the Historical Power of Racial Scripts and Fit to Be Citizens?: Public Health and Race in Los Angeles, 1879-1940.

Her most recent book, A Place at the Nayarit: How a Mexican Restaurant Nourished a Community, chronicles the lives of immigrant workers—including Professor Molina’s grandmother—who became placemakers, nurturing and feeding their communities at restaurants that served as urban anchors.

Professor Molina’s many honors and accolades include being named a 2020 MacArthur Fellow, being named 2023-24 James Beard Award Finalist, and receiving the 2020-21 Huntington Library Research Fellowship.

2024 UCI PBK Visiting Scholar Events

On April 16 and 17, 2024, Professor Molina will be at UC Irvine to host several Visiting Scholar events. Learn more and RSVP below:

Tell Your Story

  • About: In this public talk, Professor Molina will pass on essential professional writing strategies that she and others in her field have used to tell the real-life stories of influential people that have been under-represented in history. Following the talk, Professor Molina will answer questions from attendees and sign copies of her most recent work, A Place at the Nayarit: How a Mexican Restaurant Nourished a Community. 
  • Date and Time: April 16th from 5:00 pm-7:00 pm
  • Location: UCI Humanities Gateway Room 1030
  • RSVP for Tell Your Story

Education Kitchen with Professor Molina and Executive Chef Jessica VanRoo

  • About: In this special tasting event, Executive Chef Jessica VanRoo and UC Irvine PBK student volunteers will help prepare dishes inspired by Professor Molina’s book A Place at the Nayarit: How a Mexican Restaurant Nourished a Community. Attendees will get the chance to enjoy authentic Mexican cuisine steeped in culture and history, while engaging in meaningful conversations with Professor Molina.
  • Date and Time: April 17th, 2024 from 12:00 pm-1:30 pm 
  • Location: UCI Susan Samueli Integrative Health Institute (SSIHI)
  • RSVP for Education Kitchen

We hope you will join us for this year’s upcoming Visiting Scholar events. Interested in past events? Learn more about previous years’ Visiting Scholars.