profile picture

Benjamin S

- Research Program Mentor

PhD candidate at Yale University


20th c. American History, 20th c. British Isles, Urban History, Labor History, Social History, History of Inequality, Oral History, Local History & Community Studies, Ethnography, Anthropology, History & Politics, African American Studies, History of Gender & Sexuality


I am a PhD candidate in American History focusing on the late-20th-century transformation of the American Rust Belt, though I study all areas of 20th-century American social and political history. My own research investigates how working class communities contended with the long-term effects of deindustrialization and how the major moments of the 80s and 90s--the War on Drugs, the HIV/AIDS crisis, austerity government, urban renewal projects, etc.--affected various working communities. I started thinking about deindustrialization as an undergrad at Harvard and wrote my Cambridge MPhil dissertation on a steelworker newspaper in Pittsburgh that was in print from 1979 to 1987. I'm originally from Buffalo, NY--a rust belt city! I love baking, drinking (too much) coffee and tea, running, and rowing. I've recently gotten into the New Wave/Glam Rock/Post-Punk music scene of the 70s and 80s, but I'm also a huge fan of folk (both older and current stuff), jazz, and R&B. I'm really excited to mentor for Polygence because I never had an opportunity to do original research work in high school and love the idea of helping provide that experience to current students in a supportive and exploratory environment. So looking forward to working with and getting to know you!

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

Inside a Strike

Strikes happen all over the world, all the time, for tons of different reasons, but in many cases the only records of them appear in local newspapers and corporate records. Let's find a strike in your local area--be it a teachers union, healthcare workers, grocery store employees, whatever interests you--and write an oral history of it. Combining newspaper research with a handful of interviews of union members and community members, you'll produce a bottom-up portrait of labor organizing that also records an important piece of local history.

Teaching experience

I spent 5 years as a camp counselor for a summer civics program for rising high school seniors in Washington, DC, and loved working with my students both during and after the program. I also worked as a substitute teacher in the year between my MPhil and PhD, teaching English and History courses at my old high school!


Work experience

John F. Kennedy Library Foundation (2020 - Current)
Research Lead, Special Partnerships
Yale University, Professor Elizabeth Hinton (2020 - Current)
Research Assistant
Harvard Kennedy School, Professor Fredrik Logevall (2018 - 2019)
Research Assistant


Harvard University
BA Bachelor of Arts (2019)
Cambridge University
MPhil Master of Philosophy
Economic and Social History
Yale University
MA Master of Arts
American History
Yale University
PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate
American History

Interested in working with expert mentors like Benjamin?

Apply now