Current Student Bios
Tazeen Ali is a PhD candidate in the Texts and Traditions track, focusing on the relationship between the discursive constructions of gender and sexuality in the exegetical and jurisprudential traditions of Islam under the supervision of Dr. Kecia Ali. She is interested in the historical transformations of Islamic law from the pre-modern to modern eras and the resultant politics of women’s bodies and social engagement, with a focus on the impact of modernity on religious identity, particularly in the context of South Asia, as well as in Muslim minority communities in North America and Europe. She earned her MA in Islamic Studies at Washington University in St. Louis and her BA in Biology and Religious Studies at Lehigh University.
Benjamin Austin is a first-year doctoral student in the religious thought track. He holds a B.A. in International Relations and Religion from Boston University and an M. Phil. in Intercultural Theology & Interreligious Studies from Trinity College Dublin. As a master’s student he focused on theories of religion and violence, especially the work of René Girard, Walter Benjamin, and Giorgio Agamben. More recently, he has been interested in placing such political-theological critiques of state violence and structural injustice in conversation with perspectives from the field of media theory in order to consider the foundational power relations and theological assumptions represented by life on the internet. Along these lines, Ben is eager to devote future work to drawing out the political, theological, and interpersonal implications of the emerging fields of object-oriented ontology and speculative realism.
Benae Beamon is a doctoral student in the Graduate Division of Religious Studies in the Religion and Society track. She earned her B.A. in religion from Colgate University and her M.A.R. from Yale Divinity School, concentrating in ethics. Her focus is black queer ethics, folding Black Church ethnography and philosophical hermeneutics into sexual ethics discourse. Using social history to uncover Black moral and social thought surrounding sexuality and building primarily on womanist ethics, queer theory, and black theology and literature, her focus explores the experience and reality of black queers as the world responds to them and as they respond to the world. More broadly, she also has interests in Jewish thought, existentialism, and phenomenology, as they relate to queerness.
Amina Chaudary is a doctoral student focusing on historical and contemporary trends of Islam in America with guidance from Stephen Prothero. She has researched identity of American Muslims as hyphenated individuals and is exploring the American religious landscape over the past few decades as it intersects with Islam. She is also a fellow at the Institute for the Study of Muslim Societies and Civilizations. She holds an MA from Harvard University’s Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations Program in History and Culture of the Islamic World and an MA from Columbia University with a focus on South Asian and Middle Eastern studies. She has worked on and researched the Muslim world engagement project and the study of Islam in America at various capacities for over 10 years, including work for high ranking global thought leaders like Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner of Human Rights. Amina founded, and currently serves as the Editor in Chief of The Islamic Monthly, an award winning magazine that focuses on intelligent discussion pertinent to the Muslim world. She established an influential leader series for the magazine where she’s interviewed prominent global thinkers on the clash of civilizations and Muslim engagement. Among her interviews are Samuel Huntington, Bernard Lewis, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Secretary Madeleine Albright and Noam Chomsky.
Jordan Conley is a Ph.D candidate at the Graduate Division of Religious Studies working in the Texts and Traditions track, specializing in Ancient Christianity (Origins to Late Empire). In 2009, she graduated with a BA in Religion and Classics from the University of Puget Sound, and in 2014, she earned an MTS from Harvard Divinity School with a focus on New Testament and Early Christianity. Her current research interests include ancient and late antique discourses of affliction, practices of incubation, pilgrimage to healing sites, and the social function of monasteries, with attention to the themes of agency, instrumentality, and performance. Moreover, she studies healing practices and narratives as informed by physical structures and material culture and hence is interested in the intersection between texts and archaeology.
Theresa is a doctoral candidate in the GDRS focusing on political theory and political theology under the guidance of Dr. Michael Zank. Her dissertation focuses on the role of political form in Carl Schmitt’s Weimar era Catholic writings. Her area of research broadly includes Church-state relations, sovereignty, dictatorship, theology and legal theory, freedom, order and authority through the lenses of both modernist and anti-modernist movements and thinkers. In addition to her dissertation, she is currently working on a project examining the theoretical foundations of blasphemy as a civil offense in modern Europe. She holds a B.A. in theology and political science from Georgetown University (2006) and a MTS from Harvard Divinity School (2008). Theresa currently serves as the graduate student assistant for the Program in Scripture and the Arts at BU and previously worked at the Elie Wiesel Center for Judaic Studies at BU. She is also the head of the Freedom Trail program at King’s Chapel in downtown Boston, which is open year round seven days a week and aims to help educate the public on the complexities of early American civil and religious heritage.
Eric Dorman is a Ph.D. student in the religion and science track working with Dr. Wesley Wildman. He received his B.A in religious studies from the University of Florida in 2007 and his M.A. in Asian and comparative studies from the California Institute of Integral Studies in 2009. With an academic background in South Asian religious and philosophical traditions, he aims to expand the contemporary science and religion discourse to incorporate a more developed non-Western angle. His research interests include the intersection of Hinduism and science, yoga, yoga in America, medical yoga, and the history of science. Currently he is working on his dissertation, which looks at modern American medical yoga practice, embodiment, and the scientific study of religious experience.
Rebecca Esterson is a Ph.D candidate at the Graduate Division of Religious Studies working in the Texts and Traditions track. She earned her Masters of Theological Studies in 2002 from Harvard Divinity School with a focus in world religions, and also studied at Hebrew University in Jerusalem as a visiting graduate student in 2000-01. After receiving her masters degree, she worked at Harvard’s Center for the Study of World Religions for 9 years where she was able to further develop her interest in comparative studies and interfaith learning. Her doctoral work will compare Jewish and Christian commentaries on the Hebrew Bible with a historical focus on the 18th century. Rebecca is also Scholar-in-Training at the Swedenborgian House of Studies in Berkeley, CA, where she will join the faculty upon completion of her PhD.
Ada Focer is a Ph.D. candidate in Religion and Society. She has a particular interest in religion and social change and on the history of mission and globalization. She has completed the field work for her dissertation–interviews with 125 people who as new college or seminary graduates participated in Frontier Internship in Mission, a mainline Protestant program, for two years at some time between 1960 and 1974. Participants were so excited about the project they organized two conferences earlier this year to discuss the results! The dissertation should be completed in 2011. A fantastic book full of amazing stories is expected to follow!
Kira Ganga Kieffer
Kira is a PhD candidate in the Religion and Society track, studying under the direction of Prof. Nancy Ammerman. Kira is interested in American religious life, with a particular focus on evangelical Christianity. Her past work has included ethnographic field research in Pentecostal churches in Rhode Island, where she analyzed sermon content and its effects on the lives of church members. Kira utilizes sociological and historical methods, and her future research will examine the role of fundamentalist theology in the daily lives of adherents as well as its influence on American society, culture, and history. Kira graduated Magna Cum Laude with honors from Brown University in 2008, where she studied religion and history.
Chris Halloran is a doctoral candidate in the Religion & Science track. Through the Lindamood Fellowship, he works with Drs. Patrick McNamara and Wesley Wildman studying the neurobiology of religious cognition, focusing on the role of brain dopamine in the comprehension of religious concepts and theory of mind. His interests include the formulation of a science-driven metaphysical and epistemological pragmatist theory of religion and the intersection of science with religious and “non-religious” (cf. Humanist) communities in 21st century American politics, education, and media. He received his B.S. in Biology and Religious Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, accompanied by research in the Department of Neuropharmacology of the Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies. He went on to Harvard Divinity School, receiving his M.T.S. with a focus on philosophy of religion, the philosophy and history of science, and pragmatism. Before coming to Boston, Chris taught at Miami-Dade College and at its Honors College.
Andrew M. Henry
Andrew M. Henry is a Ph.D candidate in the Graduate Division of Religious Studies specializing in Ancient Christianity (Origins to Late Empire) under Dr. David Frankfurter. Andrew’s research focuses on the popular and domestic religious activity of the eastern Mediterranean with a particular interest in the material evidence of these practices such as ritual space, magico-religious artifact assemblages, and apotropaic objects. Stemming from these interests, Andrew studies theoretical issues pertaining to the limitations and abilities of archaeology to interpret questions on domestic religious activity in Late Antiquity. A graduate from Messiah College, Andrew attended the University of Pennsylvania’s Post-Baccalaureate Program in Classical Languages and worked as a collections assistant at the U.Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology before coming to BU.
Marthe Hesselmans is a doctoral student in the Religion and Society track, concentrating on the role of religion in reconciliation processes. For her dissertation research she looks at how national identities are being shaped and reshaped within communities of faith in response to vast social change. Specifically, she is interested in churches in transition in South Africa. Her main focus is on how predominantly white reformed church congregations look back at the end of apartheid and to what extent their faith helps or hamper racial reconciliation. Before coming to Boston, Marthe has been involved in various peace building projects. She worked with youth from conflict areas in the Middle East and the Caucasus on non-violent social action, as well as on dealing with ethnic and religious diversity in Europe, particularly the Netherlands (her home country). She did two Masters in Humanitarian Action and Political History, in which she explored the application of informal conflict resolution techniques in international and domestic conflict situations. For her first thesis she spent a semester in Lebanon and the West Bank to study local mediation practices.
Brian P. Jenkin
Brian P. Jenkin is a doctoral student studying Science, Philosophy, and Religion at Boston University. A committed interdisciplinarian, Brian’s research interests are broad, but fall generally within American philosophy (esp. Pragmatism), philosophy of mind, and philosophy of religion. With a prior background in International Relations and Religion, he is also interested in how conceptual issues of science and religion play out in the practical sphere. His current research involves a contemporary reconstruction of John Dewey’s philosophy of religion utilizing core concepts and principles of ecological psychology and related developments in enactive cognitive science. Brian is an editorial assistant and book reviews coordinator for the Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature, and Culture.
Johnathan joins the GDRS as a PhD student in the Religious Thought-Philosophy of Religion track. His main research interests are in philosophy of religion, post-Holocaust thought, and modern Jewish thought. Johnathan earned his B.A. in philosophy from the University of California at Berkeley and completed his M.A. in philosophy at Boston University. As a graduate student in the philosophy department at BU, on top of his coursework in philosophy Johnathan devoted much of his time to pursuing coursework and research in philosophy of religion, Holocaust studies, and modern Jewish thought. Along with pursuing his interests in contemporary moral and political philosophy, Johnathan wrote seminar papers on Spinoza’s critique of religion, Elie Wiesel’s fiction, Holocaust historiography, and on accounts of evil from Kant and Hegel to Levinas, Fackenheim, and in recent publications in philosophy. In doctoral work, Johnathan hopes to continue to pursue his interests in probing the responses (and non-responses) to the Holocaust by philosophers, theologians, writers, and historians.
Lauren Kerby is a Ph.D. candidate in Religion and Society. Her dissertation studies Christian tourism in Washington, D.C., and its role in constructing Christian American identity. Her other research interests include religious literacy, religion in the public schools, American evangelicalism, religious material culture, and religion and American law. She is also interested in practical approaches to religious tolerance and pluralism, and in 2013 was a fellow at the Balkan Summer School on Religion and Public Life. Lauren earned her B.A. in Religious Studies with a minor in Classics from Colgate University in 2011 and her M.A. in Religious Studies from Boston University in 2014. She has previously been a teaching fellow and a lecturer for the BU Department of Religion and will work as a writing fellow in the BU Core Curriculum in 2014-2015.
Ryan B. Knowles is a Ph.D. student in the Graduate Division of Religious Studies studying Ancient Christianity (Origins to Late Empire) with a particular focus on exorcism under Prof. David Frankfurter. His research blends close readings of textual sources from the gospels through late ancient hagiography with careful attention to the role that theory and methodology play in crafting the questions that historians ask of these sources. The construction of the category of ‘ritual’ and the role of the body in its production have been of particular interest, especially as related to magical and exorcistic practices. Despite the chronological boundaries of his area of study, Ryan has also assisted in coursework on popular culture in the early medieval and early modern period, early modern alchemy, the development of modern science, and an introduction to “Eastern” religions. He is a 2009 graduate of Yale Divinity School, and is an avid chef, butcher, and homebrewer.
Hye Jin Lee
Hye Jin Lee is a Ph.D. student in the Graduate Division of Religious Studies with Dr. Dana Robert as an advisor. He is interested in World Christianity focusing on the evangelical mission works of the Holiness traditions. In particular, he hopes to study the relationship between the American Holiness movement and the Asian Holiness movement from the global perspective. He is also an ordained pastor in Korean Evangelical Holiness Church.
Hyungkyu Lee is a PhD candidate in Religion and Society specializing in Social Ethics. He received a BA in sociology from Yonsei University (Korea), a MTS with a certificate of Black Church Studies (Advisors: Dr. Alton Pollard III and Dr.Robert Franklin) from Emory University, and a STM in Christian Ethics from BU STH. Lee recently served as a teaching and research assistant for Dr.Chai-sik Chung, the Walter Muelder Social Ethics Professor. He was a recipient of James F. Harvey Fellowship at Emory and 2009 Korean Methodist Study Abroad Fellowship. His dissertation examines the relationship between religion and economics in relation to labor ethics under the supervision of professor John Hart. Lee’s current research interests include Church and Economic life, Christian environmental ethics, and Boston Personalism.
Jenn Lindsay is an anthropologist and PhD student in the Religion and Society track in the GDRS. She holds a Master of Divinity (’11) in Interfaith Relations and Ecumenics from Union Theological Seminary in New York City, where she was co-chair of the Interfaith Caucus and the Minister of Fun. At BU, Jenn pursues the question of how religion affects personal relationships, particularly interreligious relationships, and how ideals of pluralism translate into social action. Her research has been based in Italy and Indonesia–studying personal relationships between people of different religions, particularly between Muslims and Catholics–and in Peru, where she studied how local spiritualities and Catholicism shape people’s interactions with the environment. In Italy she conducts ethnographic research in a number of ecumenical and interfaith organizations, profiling the individuals who work there and the collectives they have forged. Her documentary film projects on secular humanist Jews, Muslim headscarves in Indonesia, ecumenical eco-activism, and the role of religion in the Occupy Wall Street movement have screened at film festivals, conferences, and in plenty of classrooms! At BU, Jenn is the Coordinator of the Social Science and Religion Network which was started by her advisor Nancy Ammerman. Jenn hails from San Diego, CA, raised by a religiously eclectic family whose members draw from progressive Jewish, Christian Scientist, Presbyterian, Unitarian Universalist, Hindu and secular humanist traditions. For a decade prior to attending Union Theological Seminary, Jenn worked in the film and music industries as a composer, film editor, performer and documentary filmmaker. Jenn focused on playwriting at Stanford University (’01) and on arts management at the Yale University School of Drama (’05).
Steve Lloyd is a PhD student in the Graduate Division of Religious Studies. Before arriving at BU, Steve earned a BA at Loyola University Maryland, where he double majored in history and theology. He then earned a MAR at Yale Divinity School, where he studied the history of Christian Missions. Steve’s main area of focus is the history of Christianity in Africa. Broadly speaking, he is fascinated by the history of the meeting of “global” and “local,” and the implications that this contact has for the symbols, rituals, and narratives of a given community. Steve is also interested in the connection between Christianity and the construction of race and ethnicity, particularly in the context of South Africa. He is a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and is committed to ecumenical dialog and missions. Steve’s wife Emily is an Episcopal priest, and they live in Stonington, Connecticut.
Paul Matthews is a Ph.D. student on the track of religious thought specializing in 20th century German theology and philosophy, especially Tillich and Heidegger. As an M.A. student in systematic and philosophical theology at the Graduate Theological Union, Paul focused specifically on Tillich’s conception of meaning and its relationship to Tillich’s, and Heidegger’s, conception of being. Additionally, Paul enjoys exploring the relationship between religion and culture, particularly between U.S. Christian fundamentalism and modernity. For the past two years, Paul has been serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer, teaching English as a foreign language at a small secondary school in western Ukraine.
Jonathan Morgan is a doctoral student studying Psychology and Religion. He holds a BA from North Carolina State University in Mathematics, Philosophy, and Truth and an MTS from Boston University in Psychology and Theology. His research interests range from the individual to the collective: How does personality relate to religiosity? How do collective religious practices and beliefs relate to mental health as a culture develops? How might these questions be pursued in such a way as to help people and communities flourish? As a Lindamood Fellow Jonathan is working with Drs. Wesley Wildman and Patrick McNamara on research exploring the neurological underpinnings of religious cognition.
Eva is a Ph.D student of the intersection of History of World Christianity and Religion and Society under the supervision of Dr. Dana Robert and Dr. Diana Lobel. She received her M.Div from Harvard Divinity School in 2005 and from 2006-2010 taught classes on Christianity, Buddhism, and gender and religion at the McGilvary School of Divinity at Payap University in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Her broad areas of interest include Christianity outside the West and its encounters with other religious traditions, mainly Buddhism. She is particularly interested in Christian-Buddhist interaction and dialogue by looking at missionary preparation, education and projects. Current research explores the transformation of missions in the last century in Southeast Asia, especially the burgeoning faith-based organizations, with an emphasis on the role and historical contributions of women in this process.
Scott Possiel is a Ph.D. candidate in the Graduate Division of Religious Studies studying Ancient Christianity (Origins to Late Empire) under Dr. David Frankfurter specializing in the texts and traditions of the Late Antique Mediterranean. Scott is interested in the diverse interpretation of Christianity present in Late Antiquity, leading him to study apocryphal Christian and Jewish literature, Christian interpretation of the New Testament, Ancient Christian ritual practice, Gnosticism, and magico-religious interactions with the supernatural. Scott’s research focuses on the doctrines and practices of Christian groups from the 2nd to 5th centuries with the aim of placing their origins and expressions in the context of theoretical definitions of religion and religious identity. Scott is a 2014 graduate of the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry and a 2012 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
M. I. Rey
M. I. Rey is a PhD student within the Text and Traditions track in the Graduate Division of Religious Studies program. Current research interests include examining archaeological theories on ethnogenesis in the ancient Near East, sociological approaches on intersectionality and how this impacts foreign women within the biblical narrative, and the literary construction of ethnic identity in the ancient Near East. She is also interested in the application of feminist hermeneutics and intercultural criticism. Rey holds an S.T.M. in Hebrew Bible from Boston University School of Theology (2012), an M.A. in Old Testament from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (2011), and a B.A. in Religious Studies from Virginia Commonwealth University (2009). Rey has presented papers at the New England & Eastern Canada Regional Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature (2012; 2013), and was a 2012 recipient of The American Schools of Oriental Research Heritage Fellowship at which time she excavated at Khirbet Qeiyafa in Beit Shemesh, Israel. Rey is currently a Hispanic Theological Initiative Fellow, and serves on the Journal of the American Academy of Religion Book Review Staff as a book review assistant editor.
David Rohr earned his M.Div from BU’s School of Theology in 2012 and is currently working on his PhD in “Science, Philosophy, and Religion” at BU’s Department of Religious and Theological Studies. Dave is working with Nancy Ammerman and Wesley Wildman on the Dimensions of Spirituality Project and with Wesley Wildman and Patrick McNamara on the Neuroscience and Religious Cognition Project. Broadly speaking, his research concerns the intersection of scientific and religious perspectives on human nature. More specifically, he is interested in the implications for theological anthropology of contemporary sciences of the mind like neuroscience, cognitive science, and evolutionary psychology. Dave’s long-term goal is to contribute to the development of a theological anthropology that is (1) consistent with contemporary science; (2) capable of integrating biological, neurological, and cultural influences on human life; (3) inclusive of the vast diversity of religious paths charted and explored by human beings; and (4) capable of affirming the existential and theological significance of such religious quests. When he is not reading or writing, Dave spends his free time watching movies, hiking, and laughing with his wife and best friend, Courtney.
Benjamin J. Samuels
Benjamin J. Samuels is a doctoral student in the Science, Philosophy and Religion program. He holds a BA in English Literature, a MA in Bible and Medieval Jewish Studies, and rabbinical ordination, all of which he earned at Yeshiva University. Benjamin is primarily interested in how changes in scientific understanding and awareness impact upon the development of Jewish law and theology. He has explored this interest in the context of astronomy and cosmology, as well as regarding Jewish receptions of evolutionary theory. For his doctoral research, he plans to investigate Jewish legal and theological responses to advances in medical theory and technology.
Wendy Scott is a Master’s candidate in the Graduate Division of Religious Studies program. Her focus will be in the Texts and Traditions track under the supervision of Prof. Deanna Klepper. Wendy followed an unconventional path to religious studies by first receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree in Secondary Education with a focus in Literature and Language Arts from The University of Akron. After spending a year teaching American Literature and being captivated by Puritan works, she decided to pursue a further study of Christian texts. Her research and interests are still quite broad, but they will include the study of texts that are both Biblical and non-canonical. She also hopes to pursue texts that include personal accounts including, but not limited to, the Puritans that drew her in to religious studies. She also hopes to study Biblical interpretation and how varying readings have impacted Christianity throughout its history. During her study of these texts, Wendy also hopes to research the origin and early years of Christianity, as well as explore any connections to Judaic literature and traditions.
Brandon J. Simonson is a Ph.D. student in Judaic Studies studying Hebrew Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Languages under the direction of Alejandro F. Botta. His research interests surround the corpus of legal documents from the Jewish community at Elephantine and the influence of law on life in ancient Israel, Egypt, and Mesopotamia. He received a master’s degree in Hebrew Bible from Vanderbilt University, and a bachelor’s degree in Biblical Languages, Religion, and Classics from Luther College. At Vanderbilt University, Brandon received the W. Kendrick Grobel Award for outstanding achievement in biblical studies.
Before coming to U.S, Bin Song (宋斌）spent a dozen years in Nankai University (Tianjin, China) learning and teaching philosophy, especially western philosophy and philosophy of science. He was a visiting student in the Department of Philosophy and Sociology of the University of Paris-Sorbonne (Paris IV) (Paris, France) from 2007-8, focusing upon the mechanical philosophy of Réné Descartes, and a Harvard-Yenching Visiting Fellow from 2011-3, with an interest in the religious experience implied in early Confucianism. Afterwards, he studied with Boston Confucians, Dr. Robert Neville and Dr. John Berthrong, and earned his S.T.M from the School of Theology of Boston University in 2014. As a PhD candidate in GDRS of Boston University (Track II: Religious Thought), Bin Song will be open to all the dimensions of religious study, insofar as they would all be relevant to and enhance his expertise on the Confucian-Christian dialogue, comparative theology and philosophy of religion. Bin Song believes that a deep religious commitment ought to facilitate, rather than vitiate, critical thinking towards one’s own tradition and pious learning from other traditions, vice versa. And through an active, profound and decent engagement with “a significant other”, mainly with Christianity in his case, Confucianism could adapt itself to the contemporary world, make its idiosyncratic contribution to humanity, and get to its revival in a promising and pleasing form.
Erika K. R. Stalcup
Erika Stalcup is a Ph.D. student in History of Christianity specializing in 18th century Methodist history and worship. Her areas of academic interest include historiography, hymnody, ritual studies, and the historic relationship between Methodism and Moravianism. Hirsch is an editorial assistant for Studia Liturgica, an internationally recognized journal for liturgical studies. A graduate of Yale Divinity School, she is an ordained Deacon in The United Methodist Church.
Kate Stockly-Meyerdirk is a PhD student in the Science, Philosophy, and Religion program. She holds a BA from Pacific Lutheran University in Religion and Psychology (separate majors) with a minor in Women’s and Gender Studies and an MA from the University of Washington in Comparative Religion. Her research interests are driven by a desire to develop a well-rounded religious anthropology – to understand how and why humans are homo religiosus. With this goal in mind, she investigates the ways in which the cognitive, neurological, and sociological aspects of human nature culminate in dynamic interaction to contribute to religiosity and religious experience. As a case study, Kate has explored many aspects of American religion and is currently co-authoring a book on evangelical megachurches. Kate is also interested exploring the philosophical assumptions of contemporary neuroscience and biology and the theoretical and theological implications of including scientific methods and data in conversations about religion.
Chris is a Ph.D. candidate in Religious Studies specializing in Ancient Christianity (Origins to Late Empire). His dissertation, entitled “Jewish Acts: Christ-followers and Jewishness in Acts of the Apostles,” examines the interconnections of religion, ethnicity, and civic identity in antiquity through the lens of Acts of the Apostles. In it, he argues that Acts presents Christ-following communities as a type of Jewish civic association and categorizes non-Jewish Christ-followers as uncircumcised Jewish proselytes. His current research explores the use of religion, ethnicity, and gender to negotiate identities in first and second century Judaism, Christianity, and other Greco-Roman religions. More broadly, Chris is interested in religion in public discourse, religious literacy, and the role of digital humanities in the study of religion. He has taught courses and lectured on topics ranging from religion and culture, introduction to religion, “Western” religions, “Eastern” religions, New Testament and Christian origins, Second Temple Judaism, civic identity in the Greco-Roman world, and New Testament Greek. Chris is currently the Secretary of the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) Student Advisory Board and a member of the SBL New England and Eastern Canada Region’s Executive Committee. In 2012, Chris was awarded the SBL Regional Scholar Award and the Rallis Memorial and Brennan Humanities Awards by the Center for Humanities at Boston University.
Ben Suitt is a Ph.D. candidate at the Graduate Division of Religious Studies specializing in Social Ethics in the Religion and Society track. He earned a BS in Business with minors in Religion and Studio Art in 2010 from Wake Forest University and a Masters of Theological Studies in 2012 from Emory University with a certificate of Religious Education, studying closely with Dr. Timothy Jackson. His current research interests focus upon religious engagement with political structures as well as systems of justice and their effect on society and culture. This emphasis involves a range of conversations about just-war theory, social justice, and critical theory about power. Along with other humanistic interests, he wishes to investigate the narrative created by the United States’ involvement in violent conflict and how it shapes contemporary Christian ethics with regard to participation in war, conscientious objection, and pacifism.
Kevin is a Ph.D. candidate in Religion and Society. His focus is religion in America. His interests include the historical and contemporary relationship between religion and culture, issues of religious diversity, lived moral philosophy, and the moral and religious facets of education. His dissertation Habits of the Hearth: Parenting, Religion, and the Good Life in America examines American visions of a good life as seen through the lens of what parents from Mainline Protestant, Conservative Protestant, Roman Catholic, Muslim, Hindu, and Atheist communities want for their children.
Adam Westbrook is a first-year PhD student in the Religion and Society track. Adam received his MA from the University of Denver in Religious Studies (2009) and his BA in Sociology from Ithaca College (2004). While an MA student, Adam’s research focused on religious pluralism, the democratic imperative of religious literacy, as well as the role religion can play in conflict and conflict-mediation. He has spent time studying intergroup conflicts throughout the world, has facilitated and led interreligious dialogue in the United States and Israel/Palestine, and has also worked with an NGO in Northern Ireland that attempts to reconcile Catholic and Protestant communities through joint community development projects. In addition to the aforementioned areas of research, other interests include ethics, pedagogies of religious studies, religious freedom and democracy, and bridging the academy with the broader community. Adam looks very forward to collaborating with the GDRS faculty and other graduate students in the BU community over the next several years while a PhD student.
Connor Wood is a Ph.D. student in Religion and Science. Working under Drs. Wesley Wildman and Linda Barnes, Connor researches the connection between religion, spirituality, and health, focusing on the leverage of our biological heritage using religious and spiritual practices to engender psychologically adaptive states. Entailed in this research is inquiry into models of health and sickness, including their connections with social narratives and group hierarchies. A Lindamood Fellow with the Institute for the Biocultural Study of Religion, Connor is investigating the left/right ideological spectrum in religion and serving as the editor of the Institute’s website, IBCSR.org. His professional goals include extensive engagement with the public in matters relating to religion, spirituality, and well-being.
Wensi You is a Ph.D candidate in the Religion & Science Track specializing in the intersection of religion and health. Her academic interests include the interdisciplinary study of religion and healing, medical anthropology, traditional Chinese medicine and religion, spiritual healing, and alternative medicine. She is a graduate of Minzu University(China) and Peking University(China).