April J. Mayes focuses her research on the Dominican Republic and teaches courses in Colonial Latin American history, Afro-Latin American history, women's and gender studies, and Africana studies. A graduate of Pomona College, Mayes was awarded a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship she used to examine Protestant women's social justice movements in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala and Ecuador. Afterwards, she attended the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor where she earned a Ph.D. in history (2003), with an emphasis in the Spanish-speaking Caribbean, gender, ethnicity and race in the Americas, comparative post-emancipation studies and anthro/history. While at the University of Michigan, Mayes received the Dean's Mellon Award and a Rockefeller Grant to pursue research at the Dominican Studies Institute at City College (CUNY) in New York City. During her tenure at Pomona College, Mayes received a Fulbright Research-Teaching Fellowship (2009-2010) for research in the Dominican Republic and raised over $30,000 from the Public Affairs Section of the United States Embassy to support major scholarly initiatives in the Dominican Republic, including the first Transnational Hispaniola Conference and the symposium, Intercambiando Historias: Género y Política en la República Dominicana.
Mayes is the author of the book, The Mulatto Republic: Class, Race, and National Identity in the Dominican Republic (University Press of Florida) and has published various articles in women's and gender history: "Why Dominican Feminism Moved to the Right: Class, Colour and Women's Activism in the Dominican Republic, 1880s-1940s," Gender & History; "Tolerating Sex: Prostitution, Gender, and Governance in the Dominican Republic, 1880s-1924," Health and Medicine in the Caribbean: Historical Perspectives; and with Stephanie Román, " 'A Patriarchal Right of Passage': An Exploration of Gendered Migration Histories and the Erasure of Women," Al-Raida, Journal of the Institute for Women’s Studies in the Arab World. She is currently finishing a two-volume collection of archival materials related to the history of Dominican Feminism, Cien Años de Feminismos Dominicanos, 1861-1965, in collaboration with Prof. Ginetta Candelario (Smith College) and Prof. Elizabeth Manley (Xavier University). Her current project is a textbook, Women, Feminism, and Politics in Latin America, under consideration at Rutgers University Press.
In addition to her publications, Mayes is a an active leader in Dominican studies. As co-chair of the Haiti-Dominican Republic section of the Latin American Studies Association, Mayes, in collaboration with Prof. Kiran Jayaram, increased section membership and the section's visibility through social media. She has reviewed numerous articles for publication in Gender & History, Public Art Dialogue, Journal of Women's History, The Americas, Journal of Women’s History, Iberoamericana, The Black Scholar, Latin American Perspectives, New West Indian Guide, Handbook of Latin American Studies, Duke University Press, Rutgers University Press, University of Alabama Press, and the University Press of Florida. Mayes is one of the co-founders of the Transnational Hispaniola collective, an intellectual initiative that serves to promote social scientific research in Haiti and in the Dominican Republic as well as cross-national dialogue and intellectual exchange.