Student Bios

Asian, African, and Middle Eastern Religion
American Religious Culture
Ethics and Society
Hebrew Bible
Historical Studies in Theology and Religion
Jewish Religious Cultures
New Testament
Person, Community, and Religious Life
Theological Studies

Asian African and Middle Eastern Religions

Aditya Chaturvedi is a doctoral student in Western and South Asian Religions. His research focuses on the genealogy of the key concepts of the Puṣṭimārga tradition. In tracing the genealogy of this concepts, he studies the relationship between Sanskrit and Brajbhasha didactic texts and everyday practices of this tradition. Aditya earned his B.A. (Honours) in History form St. Stephen’s College, Delhi and his M.A. in Historical Studies from Nalanda University, Rajgir. He also works on Hindu Tantras and South Asian Art.


Brittany Landorf is a doctoral candidate in West and South Asian Religions. Her dissertation, titled, “Training the Soul and Cultivating the Gendered Self in Moroccan Sufi Orders,” unravels the work of gender in the pedagogies and practices of spiritual training in Islamic mysticism. Interweaving textual analysis of Sufi hagiographies, treatises, and practical manuals produced by Moroccan Sufi orders in the 18th-20th centuries with ethnographic insights, she argues that different paths of spiritual training may not only hinge on distinct gender articulations but may also contribute to the production of gender scripts which Sufi disciples negotiate in their everyday lives. Her writing has appeared in The Journal of Islamic Ethics and Practical Matters. Her dissertation research has been supported by a Fulbright Student Research Grant in Morocco, a Halle Institute Grant for Global Studies, and a Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry Digital Scholars fellowship. Prior to her doctoral studies, she completed a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship Fellowship in Bursa, Turkey. She received a BA from Macalester College and an MTS in Islamic Studies from Harvard Divinity School. 


Mujahid Osman  is a doctoral student in West and South Asian Religions. Osman’s work is at intersection of Islamic studies, liberation theology, and peace and justice studies. Through ethnographic methods and textual analysis, he studies modes of religious meaning-making and ethical reimagining by Muslims on the socio-economic margins. His writing has appeared in the Journal for the Gender and Religion in Africa, Reading Religion, and Contending Modernities. Before his graduate studies, Osman was volunteering at a small progressive Muslim congregation in Cape Town, South Africa. Osman received a Master degree in International Peace Studies from the University of Notre Dame, Indiana; Bachelor of Social Science Honours degree in religious studies; and a BA in political studies and religious studies from the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

Ved Patel
My primary focus is on Hinduism, and a secondary focus on Islam. My primary area of interest is Hindu devotional movements in late medieval and early colonial India, specifically in Gujarat. Currently, I am exploring the emergence of service practices in the Swaminarayan Sampraday and Pushtimarg. My research is supported by the Religious Practices and Practical Theology concentration, and I also serve as the Religious Life Scholar for Hindu traditions at Emory. I completed my BA at the University of California, Irvine in Religion and then went on to complete two MA degrees in Religion at the University of Florida (2012) and Oxford University (2014).


Mayuri Patankar is a doctoral student in West and South Asian Religions. Patankar’s work focuses on indigenous traditions in India. Her writing has appeared in the journal Summerhill: IIAS Review and in an edited collection on anthropological histories in India. Prior to her doctoral studies, Patankar worked as a content creator, lecturer, and writing tutor at multiple educational institutions in New Delhi. Patankar received an MA in English Literature from Ambedkar University Delhi, and her M.Phil from Delhi University.

Tala Raheb
is a doctoral candidate in West and South Asian Religions (WSAR) at Emory University. Her dissertation examines how Palestinian Americans interact with Christian Zionism at the intersection of American religion and politics. Her writing has appeared in Exchange Journal of Contemporary Christianities in Context and International Bulletin of Mission Research. She has also presented her work at local and international conferences such as AAR, World Christianity Conference at Princeton Theological Seminary, and Christian Academic Forum for Citizenship in the Arab World. In addition to her work in WSAR, Tala is pursuing a concentration in World Christianity. Tala received her BA from St. Olaf College, and her MTS from Candler School of Theology. 

Prakesh Raju I'm from Bangalore, India. My academic journey started unassumingly with the completion of my Masters in English Literature, Gender Studies and Cultural Studies at St. Joseph’s University, Bangalore. Following this, I taught English in prominent colleges in Bangalore for eight years. Since I didn’t have an academic background in Sociology/Anthropology and History, I decided to take up a course (my second Masters) in Modern Indian Studies at the Centre of Modern Indian Studies (CeMIS), University of Goettingen, Germany. I wrote my dissertation on mostly Dalit and poor Christian thirunangais (third gender) in Chennai, India. I examined their sense of Christian identity and explored the spaces of home, community and church as articulated by them and delineated the textures of their beliefs and dreams in the face of immense structural violence.

My doctoral research focuses on how the Tamil Dalit Pentecostals in Bangalore understand the political in a Hindu majoritarian state and explores the hidden politics of Tamil Dalit Pentecostals in the contexts of nationhood, violence against the community, and urbanisation.

Shiva Sai Ram Urella is a doctoral student in West and South Asian Religions. His current doctoral project at Emory focuses on the Oggu Katha tradition and the oral-performing community- Ogguvandlu of Telangana. His research aims to explore the contemporary forms of the tradition to offer an insight into the tradition’s conception of narrative (katha) as a performative expression of a shared oral memory of the community. This project will subsequently explore the tradition’s presence and reception in ritual, “secular,” and political spaces and theorize the entangled forms of caste and regional identity in Telangana. Shiva received an Integrated Masters’ degree in Political Science from University of Hyderabad, India.

Taha Firdous Shah. I hail from the city of Srinagar, located in the picturesque Kashmir Valley on the northern side of the Indian subcontinent. Throughout my formative years, I was exposed to the tumultuous landscape of my homeland, shaped by ongoing political unrest. I did my schooling in Srinagar until my senior secondary school. In pursuit of my academic growth, I moved to New Delhi to pursue a bachelor’s in English literature and History from St. Stephen’s College. Thereafter, I went to the University of Cambridge to pursue an MPhil in Modern South Asian Studies. My research interests thrive at the convergence of Islamic Studies, Anthropology and Peace Studies. With Kashmir as my focal point, I aim to explore the significate of batini (inner) peace and justice, especially in the face of the denial of zahiri (outer) forms of justice. Sufism will be at the core of my research.

Ghazals and qawwalis hold a special place in my heart. You will often find me engrossed in hour-long videos, seeking the profound tafseer (interpretation) of these enchanting compositions. Furthermore, my enthusiasm has led me to actively participate in numerous ghazal goi competitions, nourishing my connection with this timeless art form. On my more laid-back days, I like travelling and enjoying warm sunlight and greenery.

Azadeh Vantanpour My research interest focuses on the Yārsān religious group in Iranian Kurdistan. My current research is on the correlations and connections between Yārsān’s sacred music, sacred food, sacred texts, materiality, and religious beliefs and their effects on healing and public well-being.  I am also interested in the concept of Madness in Sufism and the appropriation of healing as a resistance movement and a path to liberation among marginalized religious groups.

I hold three master degrees in Iranian Culture and Languages from Shiraz University in Iran, Folk Studies, and Religious Studies from Western Kentucky University.  


Eric Daniel Villalobos is a first year PhD student studying South Asian religious traditions, with a particular focus on Jainism. His research uses ethnographic and historical methodologies to examine the so-called “semi-renunciant” yati monastic lineages within mūrtipūjaka Śvetāmbara Jainism in North India. This project takes him through the history of Indian monasticism, astrology, mantra-śāstra, and the colonial encounter with South Asian indigenous medical systems. He received his BA in Religious Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an MA in South Asian Area Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London.


Riza Yildirim My primary research interest is Alevi doctrines and praxis of Islam (broadly defined) across Islamic world with special reference to Turkey, Iran, and the Balkans. I approach to the phenomenon of “Alevi Islam” within an interdisciplinary perspective, attempting to understand  it within a combined vision of popular Shi’ism, Sufism, and Islamic orthodoxy (versus heterodoxy) discourse on the one hand, and in comparison with mystic, messianic traditions in sister religious traditions with special stress on Jewish messianism, on the other. In order to better assess the intellectual infrastructure and learning tools of Alevi traditions, I am particularly interested in Oral Tradition and collective memory studies. In my previous scholarly career, I have already studied the history of Alevi and Bektashi people in the Ottoman lands. My first dissertation obtained from Bilkent University focused on the emergence of the Qizilbash identity in the course of the Otoman-Safavid imperial confrontation. In Emory University, I am further digging into religious aspects of the Alevi identity. In the meantime, I am expanding my research towards other Alevi groups such as several popular Shi’ite communities (ostensibly Twelver), Ismailis, Ahl-i Haqq, Nusayri Alevis or Alawites, and Bektashis in the Islamic world. I hope to develop a conceptual framework to understand and study these non-orthodox versions of Islam, which I provisionally call “the other Islam”, the other in a sense that the literature on Islam, both modern Western and classical Islamic, pay dramatically disproportional attention when compared to their demographic and practical prevalence among Islamic masses.

American Religious Culture



Courtney Ariel Bowden (she/her) is a songwriter, writer, and storyteller. She graduated from the University of California at Santa Barbara with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature, and Vanderbilt University with a Master of Divinity and certificates in Religion, Arts & Culture, and the Carpenter Program in Religion, Gender & Sexuality. She is currently a doctoral fellow at Emory University in the Graduate Division of Religion, American Religious Cultures. 

She has written articles that appear on, The Tennessean, CNN, and Harper's Bazaar. Her research interests center around Black women’s spiritual and religious lineages. 

She identifies as an artist-scholar who shows up learning & unlearning in community.

Danny Ballon-Garst
 is a doctoral student in American Religious Cultures. He studies American religious history with a focus on the history of race, religion, and sexuality i; religion and politics; and the history of queer religious activism. His dissertation research excavates the history of black and Latinx queer religious activism in the modern, post-Stonewall gay rights movement, uncovering the role LGBTQ people of faith played in responding to the AIDS crisis, deindustrialization, mass incarceration, and the War on Drugs, as well as their role in international gay rights advocacy in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. Danny is a Centennial Scholars Fellow at Emory and an HTI Scholar with the Hispanic Theological Institute. He is also a graduate researcher for a project on the history of anti-black racism in the U.S. organized jointly by Boston University and the National Archives, as well as a graduate researcher on Emory University's Committee on Naming Honors. Prior to matriculating at Emory, Danny received an MTS from Harvard Divinity School and a BA and JD from the University of Southern California. He practiced prisoners' rights law at the ACLU of Southern California and class action litigation in private practice. 

Christina Désert is a doctoral students in American Religious Cultures. Désert’s work focuses on African heritage religions, particularly Haitian Vodou, with special attention to women’s kinship, the archive and the poetics, and the natural world. Her writing has appeared in ConSpiracies: Breathing Together the Breath of Life, Harvard Divinity School’s Religious and Spiritual Life’s online journal. She has presented her work at the American Academy of Religion, KOSANBA, the Haitian Studies Association, and the Caribbean Studies Association. Désert received a BA in psychology and French from College of Saint Benedict, her MSW from Baylor University, and her MDIV from Harvard Divinity School.

Marcelitte Failla is a Black and biracial educator, researcher, and scholar of African heritage religions in the United States and throughout the African diaspora.  Through a Black feminist lens, her work explores how religons such as Yoruba Ifa, Haitian Vodou, and Hoodoo of the American South are used for collective healing and social justice.  Marcelitte's dissertation ivestigates Black withcraft and how practitioners employ its spiritual technology for manifestation, healing, and protection from anti-Blackness.

As a practiioner of both Ifa and Hoodoo and a self-identified Black witch, Marcelitte often holds ceremonial space in academic and community settings.  Marcelitte has published an article enttile "Black Femmes, Black Gods:  Magic as Justice" in the Journal of Religion and Culture at Concordia University and an article on Black women and tarot for the journal Liturgy.  Both can be found at her website 

Adam McDuffie
is a doctoral student in American Religious Cultures. He earned his BA in Religious Studies, with a concentration in Religion and Public Engagement, from Wake Forest University (2015), and his Master of Divinity from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University (2018). Adam’s research focuses on the interactions of religion and its publics, with a particular focus on the unique religious significance of soldiers and soldier bodies in American Civil Religion. Drawing on insights from the study of religion, history, and memory, he seeks to understand how the national identity mediated by American Civil Religion shapes American perceptions of soldiers and American foreign policy itself, as well as how the ideal of the American soldier differs from the reality of soldier experience.

Ethics and Society

Silas W. Allard is a doctoral candidate in ethics and society. He also has appointments as a visiting assistant professor of practice at Emory University School of Law, a senior fellow at Emory’s Center for the Study of Law and Religion, and as the managing editor of the Journal of Law and Religion. Allard’s work focuses on migration and belonging, with special attention to the role law and religion play in forming inclusive and exclusive communities. He is a co-editor of the book Christianity and the Law of Migration (Routledge, 2022). His writing has appeared in journals such as Refuge and Political Theology, and in edited collections on vulnerability, global law, international law, and migration. Prior to his doctoral studies, Allard served as Managing Director of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion and as a law clerk to Chief Judge Donald C. Pogue at the United States Court of International Trade. Allard received his juris doctor and master of theological studies from Emory, and a bachelor’s degree in religious studies from the University of Missouri.


Kevin Lazarus is a doctoral student in Ethics and Society. Lazarus’s work focuses on the intersections of theology, disability studies and bioethics to explore the role of religion in shaping conceptions of normativity and disability, particularly in medical contexts. Lazarus is a provisional deacon in the Alabama-West Florida conference of the United Methodist Church. Prior to his doctoral studies, Lazarus worked as a hospital chaplain through a residency in Clinical Pastoral Education at Northside Hospital Atlanta. Lazarus received a BA in Spanish and a BA in Psychology from Auburn University and an MDiv from Emory's Candler School of Theology.

Ella Myer is a doctoral student in Ethics and Society as well as the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies certificate program. Myer’s work focuses on the intersection of religion, memory studies, and philosophy of history. Her writing has appeared in the Journal of the History of Ideas Blog. Prior to her doctoral studies, Myer worked as an intercultural education coordinator in Lithuania for four years. She has been a sought-after guest speaker and workshop facilitator in both university and community settings. Myer received an MDiv from Princeton Theological Seminary. 

Shari Mackinson
 is a doctoral candidate in Ethics and Society. Her dissertation, titled “Inclusive Blackness: A Postcolonial Framework for Black Well-Being” maintains that “black” serves as a meaningful identity category for people historically called black while also expanding it to represent an ethical category that orients the black liberation traditions. She utilizes the postcolonial concept of hybridity to reconceptualize black American identity as dynamic, in-process, and more inclusive of marginal black identities. 

Her writing has appeared in the Journal of Law and Religion. She has also presented at the annual meetings of the Society of Christian Ethics and American Academy of Religion. She is currently the James T. Laney Dissertation Fellow with the James Weldon Johnson Institute for the Study of Race and Religion. Prior to her doctoral studies, Shari worked as a social worker for the Gwinnett County Department of Family and Children Services. She is also an ordained Baptist minister.

Shari received a BS, Chemistry from Howard University, MPH & MSW from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and an MDiv from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University.

Janelle Moore
 is a doctoral student in Ethics and Society. Moore’s work focuses on practices of community development, homemaking, and care in the context of refugee resettlement. Her writing has appeared in the Center for Migration Studies Essays. Prior to her doctoral studies, Moore served as the Program Manager for Community Engagement for the refugee resettlement agency, Inspiritus, and the Senior Administrative Coordinator for ACPE: The Standard for Spiritual Care & Education. Moore received her BA in religious studies from Rhodes College and her MDiv from Candler School of Theology.

Mary Ann Robertson 
is a doctoral candidate in the Ethics and Society course of study. Their dissertation, tentatively titled, “Defiant Memory: Confronting Slavery and Historical Violence at an American University,” explores the relationship between slavery and its afterlives and higher education in the United States. The project engages critical history, political theology, and ethics to unpack various practices of institutional remembrance—truth-telling committees, buildings and memorials, and the designation of burial grounds—and seeks to build upon an ethical framework of “dangerous memory” that centers relationship and radical transformation.

In addition to their dissertation work and teaching, Mary Ann is an editorial associate at Southern Spaces, a digital, open-access journal published by the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship. Prior to their doctoral studies, Mary Ann received their BA in Religious Studies and American Politics from the University of Virginia, and their M.Div from Union Theological Seminary in New York.

Hebrew Bible

Evan Bassett
 is a Ph.D. candidate in Hebrew Bible. Bassett’s research focuses on the social functions of prayers and psalms in ancient Israelite religion and early Judaism, drawing primarily on literary theory, rhetorical theory, and comparative approaches to religions of the ancient Near East. Bassett’s dissertation, preliminarily titled, “Models of the Suffering Self in Biblical Psalms of Thanksgiving,” moves beyond earlier, form-critical approaches to psalmic genres to provide a fresh assessment of the rhetoric and social functionality of thanksgiving psalmody in ancient Israelite religion. In addition to his doctoral studies at Emory, Bassett is also Upper School Religion Teacher and Chair of the Religion Department at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School in Atlanta, GA, where he teaches courses in biblical studies, religion, and philosophy.


Asia Lerner-Gay is a doctoral student of Hebrew Bible. Her research interests include theological interpretations of scripture, iconographic study, comparative analysis, and gender critical readings of scripture. Asia is also active in her ecclesial life, with connections to Pentecostal and Presbyterian worshipping communities. She received an M. Div. from Candler School of Theology (2022), and a B.A. in Biblical Studies from Southeastern University (2018). 

Caitlin Joy Hubler
is a doctoral student in Hebrew Bible. Her work engages conceptions of divinity within the Hebrew Bible and ancient Near East using historical and philosophical lenses. Caitlin’s writing has appeared in Journal for the Study of Old Testament as well as The Biblical Mind, Mockingbird Magazine, and the Project on Lived Theology. She has presented in both national and regional meetings of the Society of Biblical Literature in program units ranging from Philology in Hebrew Studies to Religion in America. Prior to her doctoral studies, Caitlin taught high-school introductory Greek and worked as Editorial Assistant at the Society of Biblical Literature. Hubler received a B.S. in Religious Studies from the University of Virginia and an M. Div. from Columbia Theological Seminary.

Rosy Kandathil is a doctoral candidate in Hebrew Bible. Her dissertation, titled “Seriously Funny: Comedy and Violence in the Narrative Traditions of Esther,” is a comparative literary investigation of humor and violence in the Hebrew and Greek versions of Esther. Drawing on postcolonial and feminist approaches, her project argues that these literary dynamics provide a witness to an ethical and political discourse on the use of violence, the notion of “holy war” in the history of the Israelite people, and a struggle to define Jewish identity among multi-generational geographically dispersed diaspora communities. Her writing has appeared in the Michigan Journal of Gender and Law and Tjurunga Australasian Benedictine Review. Prior to her doctoral studies, she worked as a trial attorney in the Criminal Defense Division of the Legal Aid Society in New York City. Rosy Kandathil received her B.A. from Bryn Mawr College, her J.D. from Temple University Beasley School of Law, and her M.A. and Th.M. in Sacred Scripture from Saint John’s School of Theology and Seminary. 


Hyun Woo Kim is a doctoral candidate at Emory University. He specializes in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. Hyun Woo focuses his research on the textual formation of the Bible in light of the ancient Near East’s visual cultural milieu. His dissertation project explores ways in which the visual scheme of the Achaemenid-Persian empire had a signification on the textual (re-)formation of post-exilic Hebrew poetry. His writing has appeared in the Dead Sea Discoveries, T&T Clark’s Texts@Contexts Series, and Political Theology Network. Hyun Woo received a S.T.M. from Yale Divinity School, an M.Div. from Emory, and a B.A. from Yonsei University (South Korea). As a provisional elder of the United Methodist Church, Hyun Woo is also passionate about the communities in faith. He embodies a pastoral concern for biblical literacy, ecumenism, intercultural vision, and emancipatory ministries of the church.


Ian MacGillivray is a doctoral candidate in Hebrew Bible. His dissertation, titled “The Production of a Prophet: Connecting Character and Composition in the Book of Jeremiah,” explores the complex status of Jeremiah as a prophetic character in the biblical text. Integrating recent research on scribal culture and the composition of Jeremiah with the philosophical work of Gilles Deleuze on language and literature, the project shows how the figure of Jeremiah is produced by diverse literary and sociohistorical forces that have shaped the text and its reception. Ian received his BA in philosophy from Harvard University, and his MAR from Yale Divinity School. 


Eric D. McDonnell, Jr., is a doctoral student in Hebrew Bible. His work focuses on literary theories and the book of Psalms. His writing has appeared in Hebrew Studies, Antiguo Oriente, and the Review of Biblical Literature.

McDonnell is ordained to a vocation of teaching by First Baptist Church of Decatur, and is active in public theological education. He received a BA in English at the University of Akron in 2016 and a MA in Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary in 2018.

Timothy McNinch is a doctoral candidate in Hebrew Bible. His dissertation, titled “Icon of Aniconism: Multiple Ark Ideologies in 1 Samuel 4–6,” traces the complex composition history of the so-called “Ark Narrative.” Bringing together critical methods, literary approaches, and the findings of recent archaeological excavations, the project explores the contributions of successive generations of authors, who each reshaped this story according to the political and religious needs of their own communities. Timothy’s writing has appeared in Vetus Testamentum and Bible and Critical Theory, and he is an editor and regular contributor to the “Politics of Scripture” blog at the Political Theology Network. Timothy is the creator and co-host of the popular preaching podcast, “First Reading” ( and curates a biblical languages YouTube channel with over 20,000 subscribers ( Timothy received his BA from Kalamazoo College and his MDiv from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

Chelsea Mak
is a doctoral candidate in Hebrew Bible. Her dissertation, titled “‘Therefore the Land Mourns:’ The Ecological Body in 8th Century Israelite Religion,” explores how the religious ecology of Israelite religion is revealed in the mutually constitutive relationship between the body and land as found in text and material culture. Attending to a multiplicity of narratives in dialectical encounter, those of the land and the prophetic texts of Hosea, Amos, and Micah, the project further illuminates the stakes of Israelite religious practices as situated within the political economy of the 8th century BCE. Chelsea’s writing has appeared in the edited volume, Theodicy and Hope in the Book of the Twelve and on the Politics of Scripture, a blog that is a part of the Political Theology Network and of which she is series editor. She is also pursuing a concentration in Religious Practices and Practical Theology. Chelsea received her BA in Christian Studies from Ambrose University and her MA in Biblical and Theological Studies from Ambrose Seminary.  

Forrest Martin is an incoming doctoral student in Hebrew Bible. He is coming from an MA program in Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures at the University of Washington, where he also received his BA in Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies. He's interested broadly in the ancient Near East, but his more focused interests relate to Egyptian influences on and interconnections with the Hebrew Bible and other Levantine texts. He has lived in Seattle for the last eleven years, and is a Pacific Northwesterner to his core. He loves backpacking and hiking, playing board games, as well as writing, playing, and listening to music.

Michelle Navarrete  I'm coming from the suburbs of Chicago, IL! I just graduated with my Master's in Old Testament Exegesis. My academic interests include lament, liturgy, exile, marginality, structural sin, mujerista evangélica interpretation, and the poetic and prophetic of the Hebrew Bible that embodies all of those things. Some of my favorite activities involve exploring the city with friends, playing my violin, and reading a good fiction book. Excited to get to know new people and a new place! "


Mark Preston Stone is a doctoral student in Hebrew Bible. Stone’s work focuses on theodicy, ancient sexualities, and the literary development of Hebrew narratives. His writing has appeared in the Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, the Review of Biblical Literature, and an edited volume on holiness in the Wesleyan tradition. He has presented at the Society of Biblical Literature. Prior to his doctoral studies, Stone worked as an adjunct instructor at Seattle Pacific University, and as an executive research assistant for Decisive Data. Stone received a B.A. in Theology and an M.A. in Christian Scripture, both from Seattle Pacific University.

Rachel Erin Stuart is a doctoral candidate in Hebrew Bible. Her dissertation, titled “Semantic Gender in the Book of Ezekiel: A Cognitive-Linguistic Analysis of Social Gender,” explores the relationship between grammatical gender and social gender roles in Ezekiel. Drawing on the work of scholars such as Lera Boroditsky, the dissertation argues that attention to the grammatical details of a passage provides a source of information regarding implicit beliefs about and experiences of human and divine gender in key sections of the book, including chapters 1, 16, and 37. Her writing has appeared in the Journal for Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies, and her conference presentations include "Whom Shall They Know?: An Analysis of Divine Self-Expression in the Phrase Ani Yhwh," presented at SBL/AAR in 2020. Stuart is an ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church. She received her Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary in 2017, and her undergraduate degrees from the University of Rochester in 2014 (B.S., Physics; B.A., Music, Religion).

Historical Studies in Theology and Religion

Alyssa Lynn Elliott
is a doctoral student in Historical Studies in Theology and Religion. Her general focus is on Christian theology in the 2nd-7th centuries in the Greek, Syriac, and Latin traditions. Elliott’s current interest is on the role of the homily in communicating theological developments to the laity, particularly in midst of controversies. Her broader research interests include Wisdom Christology and Pneumatology, themes related to creation, and the development of Trinitarian thought. Elliott is an ordained minister in the Christian Churches of the Stone-Campbell Movement. She holds a Master of Divinity with a concentration in Historical Theology from Emmanuel Christian Seminary at Milligan University and a B.A. in Biblical and Theological Studies from Manhattan Christian College.


Grayden McCashen is a doctoral candidate in Historical Studies in Theology and Religion. His dissertation, titled “Piety and Salvation in Irenaeus of Lyons,” uses Irenaeus’ theological notion of piety to elucidate the connection between belief in right doctrine and the salvation of an individual human being in Irenaeus. It then draws out further implications for Irenaeus’ theology, writing, and place in the development of Christian doctrine and identity. Grayden’s research is set to appear in Journal of Theological Studies, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, Studia Patristica, and Vigiliae Christianae. Prior to his doctoral studies, Grayden received a M.Phil. in Theology (Patristics) at the University of Oxford, B.A. in Biblical Studies from Moody Bible Institute, and A.A. from Northwest State Community College. 


Evgeniia Muzychenko (she/her) is a doctoral student in the Historical Studies program. Evgeniia focuses on the history of Evangelical missions in late colonial India, specifically, in Maharashtra. Evgeniia’s main research interests center around the history of Christianity in India, missiology, Hindu-Christian dialogue, and conversion. Evgeniia received her BA in Asian and African Studies at Saint Petersburg State University (Russia) in 2019. As a Fulbright scholar, Evgeniia completed a Master’s program in Theological Studies at Villanova University (Pennsylvania) in 2022.  

Victoria (Yun-Ching) Shen is a doctoral student in Historical Studies in Theology and Religion. Shen’s work focuses on East Asian Christian political activism since the 1950s, especially in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Her master’s thesis was East Asia Christian Identity and Political Activism-Case Study of Rev. Kao Chun-Ming

Prior to her doctoral studies, Shen worked as an admission intern and research assistant in the Candler School of Theology and volunteered as the Youth and Worship Coordinator in the Atlanta Taiwanese Presbyterian Church. Shen received the Master of Theological Studies from the Candler School of Theology, Emory University, and she received the Bachelor of Arts in International Studies & History from the University of South Carolina, Columbia. 

Jewish Religious Cultures

Keenan Wills Davis
is a doctoral candidate in Jewish Religious Cultures, with a concentration in Religious Practices and Practical Theology. His dissertation, tentatively titled “Aspiring to Autonomy,” ethnographically investigates the first-person experiences of patients undergoing Deep Brain Stimulation in the treatment of psychiatric conditions, bringing into conversation the fields of bioethics, disability studies, anthropology of ethics, and cognitive science. His writing has appeared in the American Journal of Bioethics, and he is the winner of Emory University’s 2017 David R. Blumenthal award for the best paper in Jewish Studies. Prior to his doctoral studies, he served as a Teach For America corps member and taught high school chemistry, biology, physics, and math. As an undergraduate at the University of Virginia, he studied neuroscience and Jewish Studies (Interdisciplinary), graduating with highest distinction. He completed an MA in bioethics at Emory University’s Center for Ethics, with a thesis analyzing the relationship between biotechnology and human dignity. He is also currently pursuing an MD at Emory University’s School of Medicine.

Chava Green is a doctoral candidate in Jewish Religious Cultures. Her dissertation, titled “The Hasidic Face of Feminism: A Jewish Ethics of Difference in 21st Century America,” considers the way Chabad Hasidism has developed a religious and mystical discourse of women’s empowerment as an alternative to secular feminism. Drawing on ethnographic research with Chabad women in Jewish outreach, her project looks at how these religious women seek to create a notion of traditional gender values that appeal to a liberal, secular, Jewish public.  Her writing has appeared in On Our Terms: The Undergraduate Journal of the Athena Center for Leadership Studies, Practical Matters: A Journal of Religious Practice and Practical Theology and  Chava has presented at the AJS and at a series of conferences in response to Phil Wexler’s book, Social Vision: The Lubavitcher Rebbe’s Transformative Paradigm for the World. Prior to her doctoral studies, she spent time learning in seminary in Israel and working for Chabad on Campus at Columbia University and UPenn. She received her BA in Women’s and Gender Studies from Rutgers University.

New Testament

Haley Gabrielle
is a doctoral candidate in New Testament. Her dissertation, titled, "Choosing Tradition: A South Asian Feminist Reading of the Circumcision of Timothy," offers a new reading which centers the agency of Timothy and opposes Orientalizing approaches to the study of Second Temple Judaism. Drawing on South Asian feminist theory, she constructs a framework within which Timothy may be read as choosing his circumcision as an expression of his Jewish identity within the coalitional group of the Way. Haley's writing has appeared in the journal The Bible & Critical Theory. She participates in intersectional justice organizing with groups like Voices of Color: Christians United and Asian American Justice + Innovation Lab, and she is an active lay member of an affirming church. Haley received her BA in Classics (Latin and Greek) from Kenyon College, and her Master of Arts in Religion, concentrated in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Yale Divinity School.


Chantel R. Heister is a doctoral student in New Testament. Heister’s work focuses on ancient conceptions of gender, sexuality, and desire; depictions of female figures in the Hellenistic and Roman periods; and translation studies. Her writing on Jezebel’s punishment in Revelation 2:22 has been published in the journal Currents in Biblical Research, and she has presented on the same topic at the Society of Biblical Literature’s international meeting. Prior to her doctoral studies, Heister worked as an editor and journalist. She received a BA in English and Philosophy from Colorado Mesa University and a MATS from George Fox University.

Youjeong Rachel Jeon 
is a doctoral student in New Testament. Jeon’s work focuses on the themes of travel, diaspora, and exile and the literary portrayal of spaces in the New Testament with special focus on the historical-social context of first century Roman Empire, transnationalism, translation theories, and narrative criticism. Jeon is a member of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, and is also interested in how biblical interpretation functions for identity formation in bi-cultural and bi-lingual diaspora communities. Prior to her doctoral studies, Jeon served as a youth pastor in Korean immigrant churches in Massachusetts and as the program director of Peacemakers for Korea, a non-profit dedicated towards peace-building in the Korean Peninsula. Jeon received her BA in English literature from Yonsei University in South Korea, M.Div from Harvard Divinity School, and STM in New Testament from Yale Divinity School.

Gilha Lee is a Ph.D. student with a concentration in New Testament at the Graduate Division of Religion, Emory University. His primary academic interest has to do with Pauline conceptions of “reconciliation,” involving the questions “What were the Jewish traditions from which Paul drew his understanding of reconciliation in relation to Christ?” (intertextual perspective) and “How did his contemporary Greco-Roman society and culture influence his message conveyed in the form of a text?” (socio-cultural perspective). Gilha holds a B.Ec. with double majors in economics and English linguistics from Kyung Hee University, South Korea (2008), an M.Div. from Presbyterian University and Theological Seminary (PUTS) (2011), South Korea, and two Th.M. degrees, one from PUTS (2016) and the other from Candler School of Theology, Emory University (2018). He is also an ordained pastor, currently living in Decatur with his wife Ae Young and two small children.

Oliver Terngu (Terngu) I come from Nigeria, West Africa. I graduated from Pontifical Urbanian University Rome, Italy, with a Bachelor of Philosophy (B.Phil) in 2013, and a Bachelor of Sacred Theology (S.T.B) in 2018 and was ordained a Catholic priest for the diocese of Makurdi, Benue State, Nigeria on September 1, 2018. I obtained a Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) from National Teachers’ Institute (NTI), Kaduna, Nigeria in 2020 and Licentiate in Sacred Theology (S.T.L) in Biblical Studies and Languages form Boston College, USA in 2023. I have taught in high school and the pre-seminary in Makurdi Diocese, and worked at the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, Nigeria, as a chaplain and a lecturer.

Your academic interests: I am interested in the issues of poverty, social justice, race, unity, and postcolonial biblical interpretation of the parables of the historical Jesus. I intend to engage the parables of the historical Jesus in the Synoptic Gospels with a focus on Q parables that describe poverty and social justice, and their relationship to the kingdom of God within the first century Roman Palestine. I seek to explore the interpretation of these parables, and how such interpretations have hermeneutical bearing on the issues of social injustice, marginalization, poverty and postcolonial understanding of the Bible in the African context, particularly Nigeria. The fruit of my research will proffer possible considerations that would serve as panacea to issues of ideological biblical interpretation and the vicious circle of poverty in most African countries.

Your favorite activities: I love playing lawn tennis, traveling, making friends, and reading.

Person, Community, and Religious Life


Emilie Casey is a doctoral student in Person, Community, and Religious Life as well as the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies certificate program. Casey’s research uses critical theories of race, gender, and sexuality to examine histories of preaching across American print culture. More broadly she is interested in questions of materiality, capitalism, and temporality. Her writing has appeared in Feminist Theology. She is an ordained minister in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Prior to her doctoral studies, Casey served as the Director of Marquand Chapel at Yale Divinity School. She received her BM from the University of Tennessee (Knoxville) and MDiv and STM from Yale Divinity School.
Diandra M. Darby is a doctoral student in Person, Community and Religious Life. Darby’s work focuses on womanist preaching, with a special focus on the ways in which the content and construction of womanist sermons might inform the ways we teach preaching. Prior to her doctoral studies, Darby served on the ministerial staff of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church under the leadership of Dr. John R. Adolph. Darby received a Bachelor’s in General Studies from Lamar University, her M.Div. from The Interdenominational Theological Center, and a ThM from Princeton Theological Seminary.

Corwin Malcolm Davis
is a doctoral student in Person, Community, and Religious Life. Davis’ work focuses on the complex relationship of Black religious rhetoric and the psyche, inclusive of pastoral theology, queer theory, and studies in Blackness and performance. At Emory, Davis is a George W. Woodruff Fellow, a Centennial Scholars Fellow, and externally has been awarded the Louisville Institute Doctoral Fellowship for 2021-2023. Prior to his doctoral studies, Davis served as an Adjunct Professor in Religion at Belmont University and a consultant at the AME Church Publishing House, the denomination in which he is also an ordained Itinerant Elder. Davis received a BA in Religion from Belmont University, and his MDiv from Vanderbilt Divinity School.


Jazzy Johnson is a community educator specializing in curating and facilitating transformative liturgical and religious education experiences of learning at the intersections of Christian faith, identity, justice, and repair. Prior to Emory, Jazzy designed and directed immersive learning experiences for college students in Chicago. She graduated from Northwestern University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies and Sociology Minor and Emory University Candler School of Theology with her Master of Divinity degree, certificate in Religious Education and concentration in Justice, Peacebuilding and Conflict Transformation. Jazzy is currently a doctoral student at Emory University in the Graduate Division of Religion in the Person, Community and Religious Life course of study.

As a practitioner, Jazzy facilitates and researches B/bibliodrama, a method of embodied collective storytelling and pluralistic, interpretive, play practice . Jazzy’s research interests live within the interconnections between pedagogy, performance, play(ing), and protest in Liturgics and Religious Education, with particular attention to the relationship between Black women’s bodies and the body(ies) of the Earth.

Shanise Palmer
is a doctoral student in Person, Community, and Religious Life. Palmer’s work focuses on the rhetorical strategies and the contextual implications of Black women’s voices in the preaching moment. She is an ordained Baptist minister. Prior to her doctoral studies, Palmer served as her church’s first Pastor of Preaching, allowing her to provide oversight of its ministerial training program. Palmer received her B.S. in Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, her M.Div. from Shaw University Divinity School, and her Th.M. from Emory’s Candler School of Theology.


Jessie Washington is a doctoral candidate in Person, Community, and Religious Life. Her dissertation, entitled "For Colored Girls Who Have Attempted Suicide: A Practical Theology of Black Women's Mental Health," explores the experience of Black women suicide attempters through ethnographic methods and digital storytelling. Jessie aims to develop a theology of testimony and witness that articulates how faith communities can better support the mental health needs of Black women.

In addition to her dissertation work and teaching, Jessie provides spirituality group counseling with The Nia Project, which supports Black women who have experienced intimate partner violence and/or suicidality. Jessie is also a mentor and writing coach with Emory's Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program.

Jessie earned an AB in African and African American Studies at Harvard University and an MSW and MBA from Washington University in St. Louis. She is a recipient of the Centennial Scholars Fellowship from Emory and the Doctoral Fellowship from the Forum for Theological Exploration. 

Theological Studies

Diana (Rodriguez) Click
My research in Theological Studies draws upon women’s voices within Latino/a theologies, Christian mysticism, Global theology, and World Christianity. In my studies, I am principally concerned with how theology done in conversation with the history of Latino/a communities (esp. Puerto Rican women) contributes to fuller Christian understandings of doctrines of revelation, theological anthropologies, and pneumatologies. The passion I have for vocational work in theological education remains informed by the conviction that diverse cultural expressions of Christian theology are key sources for Christian theological epistemology. My educational background includes a B.A. in Humanities and Bible from Johnson University Florida and a M.Div. from Candler School of Theology.

Wyatt Harris is a doctoral candidate in Theological Studies. His dissertation, titled “The Doctrine of Justification and the Problem of Antiblackness” offers a constructive account of the Christian doctrine of justification in light of contemporary questions, especially those of race and antiblackness. This project analyzes recent accounts of, and debates surrounding, the Christian doctrine of justification, especially in the Lutheran tradition, and routes these through relevant concerns raised by both black theologians and radical black studies scholars, with a particular focus on Afropessimism, and argues that the doctrine must account for, and be informed by, such concerns in order to be adequately expressed and understood today. His writing has appeared in the Journal of Reformed Theology and Scriptura. Prior to his doctoral studies, he served as adjunct faculty in the Alabama Community College System’s Marion Military Institute and taught World Religions, New Testament Survey, and Old Testament Survey. Wyatt received his BA in English from The University of Mississippi and his M.Div from Beeson Divinity School, Samford University.

Le.David Thien.22
David Thien Le
is a doctoral student in Theological Studies. He is interested in constructive Christian theologies as they relate to post-supersessionism, ecclesiology, political theology, and questions of human difference. Prior to his doctoral studies, he lived and served, with his now-married wife, in Christian communities for people with differing (dis)abilities in Durham, North Carolina working in conjunction with Duke University and various non-profit organizations before moving with his wife to Atlanta. David received his M.T.S. from Duke Divinity School and his B.S. in Biochemistry from Baylor University.   

Der Lor. My family (Alice, Penny, and Judah) and I moved here from the Twin Cities, Minnesota. Broadly, I am interested in Asian American and Hmong American moral theological and philosophical issues relating to revelation, epistemology, messianism, and the American racial imagination. Toward this end, I am interested in ethnography as a resource for constructive theology and ethics. Some of my favorite activities are exploring new places to eat and play with my family, listening to and making music on acoustic guitar, and surrounding myself around a lot of trees (which Atlanta has an abundance of)! I will also never turn down a good taco place. I received my Th.M. in Systematic Theology/Ethics from Luther Seminary and M.A. Theology (Biblical Studies) from Fuller Theological Seminary.