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Leadership Fellows Researchers Support


William R. Keaton Jr. Professor of English
Director, Curb Center for Art, Enterprise & Public Policy

Jay Clayton has been the director of the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise, and Public Policy since 2012. Under his direction the center’s mission has focused on public policy research on the arts and on fostering creativity across disciplines.

Professor Clayton is the author or 3 books and written more than 35 articles, with his published scholarship ranging from Romantic poetry and the Victorian novel to contemporary American literature, film and digital media, science and literature, and medicine, health, and society.

As Curb’s Director, his oversight of all center activities ensures that the center is engaging in work to fulfill its guiding mission.

Assistant Professor of Sociology
Associate Director, Curb Center for Art, Enterprise & Public Policy

Alexandre Frenette joined the center in 2018 as its Associate Director and leads all Arts & Public Policy work for Curb.

His research explores intersecting interests in work and occupations, culture, education, and social inequality to study how artists launch and sustain careers in cultural and creative industries. His published work has touched on the rewards and challenges of a record industry career, internships in arts-related fields, creative placemaking, and the role academia plays in preparing arts and design students for sustainable careers after graduation.

In addition to his teaching and associate director responsibilities, Professor Frenette partners with the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP) at Indiana University to examine arts graduates outcome data, which has culminated in a series of SNAAP reports and data briefs.

Assistant Director, Curb Center for Art, Enterprise & Public Policy

Wilna Julmiste Taylor is an experienced arts administrator who joined the center in 2019 as its Assistant Director, focusing on the Creative Campus initiative.

Ms. Taylor oversees all aspects of the Curb Scholars Program in Creative Enterprise and Public Leadership, which provides selected undergraduate students with year-long programming designed to foster broad creative competencies through the integration of entrepreneurship and public engagement on campus and beyond.

She also leads the Creative Campus Initiative, which seeks to support faculty, students, staff and members of the Nashville community through opportunities to engage in creative practice. This includes bringing artists, entrepreneurs, and emerging creatives on campus, working with Metro Arts on the Racial Equity and Arts Leadership (REAL) program, and supporting innovative projects and collaborations through the center’s Creative Catalyst awards.

In addition to her role as an arts administrator, Ms. Taylor (ACG’ 13) is also a writer and actor. She is interested in the relationships between social justice and the arts and highlighting her Haitian heritage. Her work has been produced at venues such as the Manhattan Repertory Theatre, the National Black Theater Festival, New York International Fringe Festival, and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland. Ms. Taylor has also been published in the 25th-anniversary volume of the Caribbean Writer where she was noted as an “emerging Haitian-American voice”.

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Curb Research Fellow

Director, Music Cognition Lab
Assistant Professor, Department of Otolaryngology

Dr. Gordon is the Principal Investigator for two NIH and one NSF grants, including the prestigious NIH Director’s New Innovator Award. She  and a career development award, and co-founded the Program for Music, Mind & Science at Vanderbilt. The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has designated the Program for Music, Mind and Society at Vanderbilt as a 2018 National Endowment for the Arts Research Lab for its focus on the arts, health and socio-emotional well-being in families of children with and without autism spectrum disorder.

She is also the director of the Music Cognition Lab, which has offices and research observation space at the center. The lab is focused on the relationship between music, language, and social development. Lab members come from diverse areas across campus, including neuroscience, psychology, education, audiology, speech-language pathology, medicine, music, and engineering.  They employ a variety of behavioral and physiological methods, including electroencephalography, eye-tracking, speech analysis, neuroimaging, genetics, behavioral coding, and various standardized and experimental assessment measures in their work.

Curb Research Fellow
Assistant Professor, Department of Otolaryngology

Director, Music Cognition Lab

Dr. Lense joined the Curb Center as a research fellow in 2016. She completed her clinical internship and postdoctoral training at the Marcus Autism Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Emory University School of Medicine.

Dr. Lense leads the Music, Social Engagement, and Development (M-SED) workgroup at the Vanderbilt Music Cognition Lab.  Her research and clinical work focuses on infants, children, and adults with or at-risk for developmental disabilities, with a particular emphasis on autism spectrum disorder and Williams syndrome.  Her lab explores  the development of rhythmic entertainment in the first years of life, relationships between rhythm and social communication/engagement, musical engagement experiences in individuals with and without developmental disorders, and relationships between music and sensory processing.

In addition, Dr. Lense serves as the Principal Investigator for National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) grant where her group is exploring how infants and young children respond to the ways parents sing or talk to them. In particular, they will consider infants who are at a higher risk of developing autism because they have an older sibling on the spectrum.

Gillian Gualtieri, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr. Gillian Gualtieri works closely with Dr. Alexandre Frenette on arts and public policy research as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Curb. A sociologist, Dr. Gualtieri’s research is situated at the intersection of culture, creative work, art, organizations, and inequality. Currently, she is working on projects in two elite and everyday sites of creative work, cultural production, and consumption–American fine dining and genre fiction (especially romantic fiction).

2020-2021 Curb Creative Writing Fellow

Chris Ketchum is a poet from northern Idaho. He is a third-year MFA candidate at Vanderbilt University, where he has served as a poetry editor for Nashville Review. His poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Five Points, New Ohio Review, Tar River Poetry, and elsewhere. He has also taught English in Las Vegas public schools, interned in Slovakia at a contemporary arts space, and served as an editorial intern for Rock and Ice magazine.

While he is at Curb, Mr. Ketchum will assist Ms. Taylor with all Curb Scholar programming, lead the Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center Survivors Writing Workshop series, and work on his own creative enterprises.

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Darwin Baluran

Sociology Ph.D. Candidate

Mr. Baluran is a Ph.D. student in the department of Sociology. His research interests are in Demography, Medical Sociology, Law and Society, and Race/Ethnicity. He is part of a research team led by Professor Dan Cornfield and Professor Alexandre Frenette that examines inter-organizational variations in local art agency (LAA) policies and practices for encouraging diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in arts policymaking, and the contextual and organizational determinants of these LAA DEI policies and practices.

Meagan Rainock

Sociology Ph.D. Candidate

Meagan Rainock is a PhD student in the sociology department. Her research interests encompass medical sociology, criminology, race/ethnicity, and social change. She is part of a research team led by Professor Dan Cornfield and Professor Alexandre Frenette, examining the impact of community context on the efficacy of arts agencies’ organizational practices towards facilitating diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in arts policy-making.

Research and Policy

Dr. Robinson spent two years conducting research with Dr. Jennifer Novak-Leonard for the center’s National Endowment for the Arts Research Lab: The Arts, Creativity, Cognition and Learning grant.

Megan has also worked closely with Professor Alexandre Frenette as a statistical consultant and analyst for briefs and academic articles drawing on the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP), a repeated cross-sectional survey of nearly 200,000 arts graduates.

As an independent scholar, Megan studies the relationship between creative city economic development policy and residential segregation by both race and occupation.

Rachel Zadjel

Sociology Ph.D. Candidate

Ms. Zajdel is a Ph.D. student in Sociology. Her research interests include social demography, medical sociology, race/ethnicity, and immigrant health. She is part of a research team led by Professor Dan Cornfield and Professor Alexandre Frenette that examines variations in local arts agencies’ policies and practices for encouraging diversity, equity, and inclusion in arts policy-making.

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Administrative Manager

Ms. Kane oversees all administrative tasks related to Curb’s mission, provides project management expertise to Public Policy Scholars and Creative Catalyst awardees, and works with the local community to curate Curb’s annual fine art exhibitions.

After earning her BS in Design from Drexel University Ms. Kane worked in the Philadelphia, Miami, and Los Angeles creative communities before moving to Nashville. She is an graphic artist, writer, and painter who enjoys working with creatives of all ages to explore how making art is changing in the digital age.

Program Coordinator

Christine Farwell graduated with a BM in Music Business at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. She assists Wilna Taylor with all aspects of the Curb Scholars programming, is responsible for all  event and project-related purchasing, and serves as the center’s Social Media coordinator.

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