The IACS Hancock and DePaul Fellowships support scholars conducting cutting-edge research across different academic disciplines that contributes to Catholic thinking.

The inaugural fellows are:

Hancock Fellowship 2023

Beauty at Work: How Aesthetics Matter for Human Flourishing


Brandon Vaidyanathan, Ph.D.

Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Sociology
The Catholic University of America

Brandon Vaidyanathan, Ph.D., is the 2023 Hancock Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies at USC. He is an associate professor and chair of the Department of Sociology at The Catholic University of America in Washington D.C.

Vaidyanathan’s research examines how culture shapes human flourishing across a variety of institutional disciplines and fields including business, religion and science, and has been published widely in peer-reviewed journals. His research has been funded by grants from the John Templeton Foundation, Templeton Religion Trust and the Lilly Endowment.

He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration from St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia and HEC Montreal respectively, and a doctorate in sociology from the University of Notre Dame.

Vaidyanathan is the author of Mercenaries and Missionaries: Capitalism and Catholicism in the Global South, published in 2019 by Cornell University Press.

He was born in Qatar and lived in Oman, India, the UAE, and Canada before moving to the U.S. He lives in Maryland with his wife Claire and their six children.

Vaidyanathan’s work as part of the IACS Hancock Fellowship in 2023 includes:

  • Completing A Beautiful Quest: The Power and Peril of Aesthetics in Science, a book manuscript based on a four-country study of the role of aesthetics in science.
  • Expanding — a multimedia platform exploring the role of beauty in our lives and in our work that includes a YouTube channel and podcast.
  • Organizing interdisciplinary events in the U.S. and Italy exploring the role of beauty in a variety of disciplines

Follow Brandon Vaidyanathan on Twitter: @brvnathan

Learn more about his work


The Beauty at Work project examines how beauty shapes our personal and social lives in ways that may both contribute to and impede our flourishing.

DePaul Fellowship 2023

The Migration of Healing and the Healing of Migration

Leo Guardado, Ph.D.

A photo of IACS DePaul Fellow Leo Guardado, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Department of Theology
Fordham University

Leo Guardado, Ph.D., is the inaugural DePaul Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies at USC.

Born in El Salvador, Guardado immigrated to the U.S. with his mother when he was a child, settling in the Highland Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. He earned his bachelor’s degree in religious studies from St. Mary’s College of California, and his master’s of theological studies and a doctorate in systematic theology and peace studies from the University of Notre Dame.

Today, he is an assistant professor in the Department of Theology at Fordham University. His research focuses on theological responses to the violence of forced displacement, focusing specifically on the tradition of church sanctuary.

Guardado also conducts research on how migrant communities in New York City turn to indigenous healing practices and rituals to address personal and communal wounds.

His publications include “Sanctuary for Asylum Seekers: Revisiting the Religious Principle and Practice of Refuge in the Church” in Theological Studies, “Nonviolence: The Witness of a Church of Mercy” in Expositions, and “Just peace, just sanctuary: Immigration and Ecclesial Nonviolence” in A Just Peace Ethic, Georgetown University Press.

He is currently writing a monograph titled Church as SanctuaryReconstituting the Religious Tradition of Refuge in an Age of Forced Displacement.

Guardado’s work as part of the IACS DePaul Fellowship 2023 includes:

  • Bringing together theorists and practitioners from diverse disciplines and communities whose vision, knowledge and wisdom is required for rethinking and furthering processes of social and communal healing, as well as the church’s own transformation, in the words of Pope Francis, into a “field hospital” that places healing at its heart.


  • Investigating how the Catholic Church can integrate the knowledge of curanderismo from Latin American communities and the insights from trauma studies and movement therapies, to respond to the multidimensional violence in which the Church exists in many places in the world.

Follow Leo Guardado on Twitter: @guardadoleo

Learn more about his work


Leo Guardado, Ph.D., writes about the challenges asylum seekers face at the border, and the role faith-based humanitarian organizations serve in providing support, shelter and hope.

A photo of a tall steel wall along the border between the U.S. and Mexico