Lilly Graduate Fellows - Ninth Cohort

Nicholas Andersen is a PhD candidate in the Religion and Critical Thought program at Brown University's Department of Religious Studies. He is also a 2019-2020 Mellon Graduate Fellow in Collaborative Humanities at Brown’s Cogut Institute for the Humanities and has previously held fellowships funded by Brown’s Pembroke Center for Research and Teaching on Women and the Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts. His research and teaching interests include black religious thought, theories of empire and colonialism, and religion in the nineteenth- and twentieth-century Americas. His dissertation weaves these interests together in an exploration of the ambivalent ethics of awakening that animates US-based Ethiopianism.

Bruno Cassara received his BA in Philosophy and Comparative Literature at Fordham University in 2015. In the Fall of 2016 he will return to Fordham University's Philosophy department for a PhD. His primary research interest is the thought of Martin Heidegger and how it has shaped the phenomenological, hermeneutical, and ontological discourses in continental philosophy to this day. He is also interested in the contemporary continental philosophy of religion and the "theological turn" in French Phenomenology."

Samuel Hahn received his BA in Classics from Samford University in 2016. He is continuing his study of the Greeks and the Romans at the University of Colorado Boulder where he will be pursuing his PhD in Classical Languages and Literatures. His research interests include the collapse of the Bronze Age and early Archaic Greek poetry (e.g., Homer and Hesiod).

S. Kyle Johnson received a BA in Bible and Humanities from Houghton College in 2012, an MDiv from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in 2015, and a ThM from the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry in 2016. Kyle is continuing his studies at Boston College where he will be pursuing a PhD in Theology (Systematic). Kyle is interested in exploring the relevance of mystical and ascetic spirituality, especially that of early Christianity in the East, for a contemporary political theology. Kyle also has interest in theological accounts of racial justice and identity conflict, peace studies, the history of majority-world Christianity, and ecumenism.

Micaela Kowalski graduated summa cum laude from Mount St. Mary's University in 2016 with a BA in History and will enter the MA/PhD program in History at the University of Virginia in the fall. Micaela studies early modern European history, primarily focusing on the relationship between the Protestant and Catholic Reformations cross-regionally, as well as these movement's mutual relationship to visual art and iconography.  She is particularly interested in images of the Virgin Mary and their connection to both Protestant and Catholic ideology in the Reformation.

Sarah Neitz received an MA in Political Science from the University of Toronto in 2016, and BS in International Studies, Spanish, and Philosophy from the University of Scranton in 2012. This fall, she will begin a PhD in Sociology at the University of Notre Dame. Her Master’s research considers the role of literature in dissent under authoritarian regimes, using the civil wars of El Salvador and Nicaragua as case studies. She is interested in how the arts contribute to political change during revolutions and peacebuilding, with a regional focus in Latin America.

Emily O’Brock is a PhD student in Medieval French Literature at New York University.  She graduated from Calvin College in 2011 with a BA in French and English, and a minor in Gender Studies. After spending a year teaching English in France, Emily completed an MA in French at Indiana University in 2014. During the Fall semester of 2014, she taught Multisensory French at Calvin College. Emily is interested in ecocriticism and animal studies, specifically in the context of Medieval bestiaries. Her research explores questions concerning the boundaries between animals and humans in medieval texts and the larger theological implications of these.

Nicholas Sooy received his BA in 2016 in philosophy and peace and conflict studies at Messiah College, with minors in mathematics and psychology. He is now a PhD student in the Philosophy Department at Fordham University. Rooted in the phenomenological and psychoanalytic tradition, he focuses on issues in political philosophy, including the aesthetics of human rights, nonviolence, Eastern Orthodox political theology, the structure of ideology, and personalism. He is also interested in the paradoxes of mathematical cognition. 

Rachel van der Merwe is a PhD student studying media studies at the University of Colorado Boulder. She earned a BA in Film/Television/Radio at Biola University, where she also studied the Great Books and psychology. She received a MA in Cultural Studies, with a concentration in Media Studies from Claremont Graduate University. Her research is centered on the role of popular media, such as film and digital media, in nationalizing projects, particularly that of post-apartheid South Africa. While her master’s work explored the relationship between Hollywood and South Africa, her doctoral work at CU-Boulder will focus on the British creative industries’ impact on South African national identity in the 21st century.

Mary Elizabeth Valesano received her BA in Theatre and French from Hope College in 2015. She then spent one year working for Meadow Brook Theatre in Rochester Hills, Michigan, and is now pursuing an MFA in Costume Design at Wayne State University. She is looking forward to developing her skills as both a costume technician and designer, and enjoys studying the history of theatre and it's interaction with religion, literature, and fine art. Her research has focused on the work of Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse as costume designers for the Ballets Russes, specifically addressing the success of each artist in adapting their two-dimensional painting style to clothe active human bodies.

Mentors, Ninth Cohort of Lilly Graduate Fellows

Douglas Henry serves at Baylor University as Associate Professor of Philosophy and Associate Dean in the Honors College.  He holds a BA in religion from Oklahoma Baptist University and an MA and PhD in philosophy from Vanderbilt University.  His work has addressed such varied writers as Plato, Boethius, John Bunyan, Iris Murdoch, Walker Percy, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI and diverse topics including allegory, divine hiddenness, doubt, freedom, hope, and love.  For a number of years he has directed a summer study abroad program, Baylor in Turkey and Greece, in which his students walk the dusty plains of Troy, sail the wine-dark seas of the Aegean, stand atop the Areopagus, and marvel at Hagia Sophia. Henry also has great interest in church-related higher education, and he has co-edited three books on the subject: Faithful Learning and the Christian Scholarly Vocation (Eerdmans, 2003), Christianity and the Soul of the University: Faith as a Foundation for Intellectual Community (Baker Academic, 2005), and The Schooled Heart: Moral Formation in American Higher Education (Baylor University Press, 2007).  At present, he is working on three book projects: Plato’s Euthyphro and the Character of PietyThree Rival Versions of Education; and an as-yet untitled academic mystery novel.

Gretchen J. Van Dyke is an Associate Professor of Political Science at The University of Scranton, where she has taught International Relations and American Government since 1994. Following her undergraduate degree in Political Science at Trinity College, Washington, D.C. and three years working in the House of Representatives on Capitol Hill, Dr. Van Dyke completed both a MA and a PhD in Foreign Affairs at the University of Virginia. At UVA, she focused on the development of national security policy during the Kennedy Administration, within the broader context of broad theoretical questions about the national interest, presidential leadership, and foreign policy decision making.  Dr. Van Dyke teaches an array of electives in the subfields of International Relations and American Government. She has published journal articles and book chapters in the area of national security decision making as well as the pedagogy of International Relations, specifically the value of active and experiential learning as it relates to civic education, engagement, and citizenship. In 2011, Dr. Van Dyke completed the Ignatian Colleagues Program (ICP), an 18-month formation program in Ignatian spirituality and Jesuit education offered to senior administrators and faculty leaders by the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities. Dr. Van Dyke has served on the LFP National Network Board.

Noteworthy News

LFP Office Closed for Holiday Break

The LFP office will be closed December 20, 2021-January 4, 2022. We wish you a joyous Christmas celebration!

November LFP Update

The Current LFP Update for November 2021 is now available. Click here.

Announcing the 2022-2024 Lilly Postdoctoral Fellowship

The 2022-2024 Lilly Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Humanities and the Arts will be taking applications through January 19, 2022. To learn more about this two-year, residential postdoctoral fellowship at Valparaiso University, click here.

Announcing the winner of the 2021 LFP Book Award

We are pleased to announce that On Christian Teaching: Practicing Faith in the Classroom by David I. Smith has won the 2021 LFP Book Award. For more information and to see the five finalists, click here.

Grove City College Hosts Regional Conference

Grove City College invites participants and presenters for a regional conference entitled "Christianity and Core Texts at Global/Cultural Crossroads" April 7-9, 2022. For more information, click here.

Hope College Big Read

Hope College is hosting a Network Exchange March 6-8, 2022 to showcase their annual month-long community-wide reading program. Click here for more information.

Lilly Network of Church- Related Colleges and Universities

If you are interested in learning more about membership in the Lilly Network of Church-Related Colleges and Universities, please contact us here.

New edition of Leading Lives that Matter released

In their second edition of Leading Lives That Matter, editors Mark Schwehn and Dorothy Bass compile a wide range of texts—from ancient and contemporary literature, social commentary, and philosophy—related to questions of vital interest for those who are trying to decide what to do with their lives and what kind of human beings they hope to become. Leading Lives that Matter has been an important text in many of our fellowship and grant programs, and it contains excellent resources. Click here for more information and an excerpt.

Religion, State, and Nationalism Conference at Valparaiso University

Valparaiso University is hosting a conference on April 8, 2022 entitled Religion, State, and Nationalism Conference: Problems and Possibilities. For more information, click here.

Vatican II and Higher Education: Leading Forward

Sacred Heart University will host a regional conference on October 13-15, 2022 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Vatican II and the University's founding. For more information including a call for papers, click here.