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Student Research

The Albert Gnaegi Center for Health Care Ethics at Saint Louis University attracts students from throughout the nation and the world.

Our students complete research in diverse fields including the philosophy of medicine, sexual and reproductive ethics, death and dying, professionalism, public health ethics, neuroethics, and Catholic health care.

Lauren Baker

Ph.D. candidate

B.A. in Philosophy from Saint Louis University

Research interests: Philosophy of medicine, medical humanities, queer bioethics, pediatric ethics, moral suffering, public health ethics

Jordan Bauer

Ph.D. student (Joint Theology/Health Care Ethics)

BA in Philosophy/Catholic Studies - University of St. Thomas (St. Paul)
BSN in Nursing - College of St. Scholastica
MS in Bioethics - University of Mary

Research Interests: virtue ethics, beatitude, end of life issues, Christian anthropology, common good, theological formation of healthcare, phenomenology of healthcare

Kathrine Bendtsen

Ph.D. candidate

B.A. in International Business and Marketing from Niels Brock Copenhagen Business College 

B.S. in Biology from New Jersey City University
M.A. in Health Care Ethics from St. Joseph's University
Post-graduate certificate in health administration from St. Joseph's University

Research interests: Reproductive and Sexual health ethics, Nursing ethics, Public health ethics, Geriatric ethics/End-of-life/Death & Dying.

Amanda Berg

Teaching Assistant & Ph.D. student (Joint Theology/Health Care Ethics)

M.T.S. from Loyola University Maryland
B.A. in Classics (ancient Greek) from the  University of Virginia

Research interests: Ancient medicine and suffering

Andre Chavez

SLU Diversity fellow & Ph.D. student (Joint Philosophy and Bioethics)

B.A. in Philosophy and Medical Humanities, Baylor University


Research interests: Phenomenology of illness, virtue ethics, metaphysics of health and illness, clinical reasoning, models of clinical care, philosophical anthropology, embodiment, and pathocentric epistemic injustice

Jacquelyn Cutts

Graduate Assistant & Ph.D. student 

B.A. in Religious and Theological Studies & Philosophy, Salve Regina University

Research interests: Catholic biomedical ethics, clinical ethics, disability and impairment, Thomistic theology, death and dying, organizational ethics

Samuel Deters

Graduate Assistant & Ph.D. student 

B.A. in Theology & Philosophy - Quincy University
M.A. in Theology - Aquinas Institute of Theology

Research interests: Clinical Ethics, End-of-Life Care, Pain and Suffering, Virtue Ethics, Catholic Social Teaching.

Kirsten Antonacci Dempsey

Ph.D. candidate

M.A. in Theological Ethics from Saint Louis University 

B.A. in Theology and Finance from Benedictine College

Research interests: Goods of aging, geriatric care,  economics / business and medicine, catholic bioethics,  moral theology, end of life care / decision making, clinical ethics

Valerie De Wandel

Graduate assistant & J.D./Ph.D. student

B.S. in Political Science - Berry College

Research interests: Artificial Reproduction, Law and Bioethics, Clinical Ethics

Andrea Eidsvik 

Ph.D. candidate

MSc in Medical Humanities from King’s College - University of London
B.A. from Quest University Canada

Research interests: Clinical ethics, metaethics, hermeneutics, phenomenology narratives medical law,  end of life

Marissa Espinoza

Graduate assistant & & Ph.D. student 

M.A. in Philosophy from the University of Oklahoma
B.A. in Philosophy from Azusa Pacific University

Research interests: Virtue ethics, feminist ethics, medical humanities 

Marty Fitzgerald 

Graduate/teaching assistant & Ph.D. student

B.S. in Philosophy and Chemical Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute

M.A. in Philosophy from Duquesne University

Research interests:  Biophilosophy, animal ethics, utilitarian ethics, Uexküllian phenomenology

Phil Fung

Ph.D. candidate

B.A. in Biochemistry and Policy Studies from Rice University
M.D. from University of Texas Southwestern Medical School

Research interests: Philosophy of medicine, medical ethics education, virtue ethics, clinical ethics and end-of-life care

Cynthia Gonzalez

Graduate Assistant & Ph.D. student (Joint Philosophy and Bioethics)


B.A. in Philosophy and Literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz


Research interests: Aristotle, Virtue Ethics, Aesthetics, Business Ethics, Clinical Ethics, Public Philosophy

Boaz Goss

Ph.D. candidate

B.A. in Philosophy from Azusa Pacific University

Research interests: Medical humanities, platonic/scholastic metaphysics, Nietzsche/Girard, biopolitics

Julie Gunby

SLU Presidential Fellow & Ph.D. student (Joint Philosophy and Bioethics)

MSN in Nurse Midwifery - Emory University
BSN in Nursing - Emory University
MTS in Theological Studies - Duke Divinity School
BA in Philosophy & German - University of Georgia

Research Interests: Virtue ethics, virtue epistemology, phenomenology, clinical decision making, perinatal care

Natalie Hardy

Graduate/teaching assistant

B.A. in Philosophy and Neuroscience - Augustana College

Research interests: Empathy, compassion, meaning-making in patients with terminal diagnoses, health care in under-served populations (prisoners, poverty-stricken/economically challenged individuals, etc.)

 Jacob Harrison

Ph.D. candidate

B.A. in Biology from Carroll College 
M.A. in Theology from Aquinas Institute of Theology

Research interests: Catholic health care, clinical ethics, catholic moral theology, sexual and reproductive ethics, virtue ethics

Lexi Hucker, JD

Graduate/teaching assistant

B.A. in Philosophy from Saint Louis University
B.A. in Gender Studies from Saint Louis University
J.D. with a Concentration in Health Law from Saint Louis University

Research interests: Legal Epidemiology, Law and Bioethics, Addiction ethics 

Hillary King

Graduate assistant

B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Washington
M.A. in Philosophy from Ohio University

Research interests: Informed consent, organ donation, reproductive ethics, and clinical ethics

Dakotah Kinsella

Graduate assistant

B.A. Philosophy, Neuroscience, Pre-Medicine Augustana College                                                                                                              M.A. in Philosophy from University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Research interests: Neuroethics, research ethics with vulnerable populations, clinical decision making, reproductive ethics, feminist bioethics, narrative medicine and racial health disparity

Jordan Mason

Graduate assistant & Ph.D. student (Joint Theology/Health Care Ethics)

M.Div. from McAfee School of Theology
B.A. from Belmont University

Research interests:  Philosophy and ethics of technology, the role of clinical ethicists, sacramental theology and embodiment, and phenomenology

Tomi Ogungbenle

SLU Diversity fellow & Ph.D. student

M.A. in Healthcare Ethics, University of Louisville
B.A. in Medical Humanities, Baylor University

Research interests:  Philosophy of Technology, Disability Ethics and Race

Chris Ostertag

Ph.D. candidate

B.A. in Philosophy and english from Rockhurst University
M.A. in Philosophy from Texas A&M University

Research interests: Thomistic metaphysics, catholic moral tradition, ethical theory and reproductive ethics

Ben Parviz

Graduate assistant & Ph.D. student (Joint Philosophy and Bioethics)

B.A. Theology - Concordia University Chicago (2010)
M.A. Theological Studies - Saint Louis University (2013)
M.A. Philosophy - University Missouri Saint Louis (2021)

Research interests: historical philosophy, political and legal philosophy, the good life, philosophical anthropology

Elizabeth Rhodes

Graduate assistant & Ph.D. student (Joint Philosophy and Bioethics)

M.A. in Applied Philosophy and Ethics at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte 
B.A. in Philosophy at Appalachian State University 

Research interests: Queer Phenomenology, Philosophy of Psychiatry, Friedrich Nietzsche, Research Compliance and Healthcare Ethics Consulting

Paul Riffon

Ph.D. candidate

B.A. in Philosophy and Theology from Wheeling Jesuit University
M.A. in Theology from the University of Dayton

Research interests: Catholic spirituality, Catholic ethics, death and dying, rural health, and transhumanism

Sarosh Saleem

Graduate Assistant 

MBBS - Medicine-Fatima Jinnah Medical University - Lahore, Pakistan
MBE - Bioethics-Aga Khan University - Karachi, Pakistan
Fellowship - Pediatric Bioethics - Children's Mercy - Kansas City, MO

Research interests: Clinical Ethics in Pakistan, clinical ethics consultation across borders, developing support to mitigate moral distress in health care providers, health care ethics education in Pakistan

Sarah Sawicki

Ph.D. candidate

B.S. in Professional Writing from Taylor University
M.A. in Bioethics from Trinity International University

Research interests: Clinical ethics, mediation and consultation, psychology and mental health care ethics, and end-of-life care

Spencer  Schmid

Graduate Assistant 

B.S. in Biology, Health, and Society at The University of Michigan;
B.S. in Philosophy at The University of Michigan 

Research interests: End-of-life decision-making, the appropriate role of genetic technologies in preventative medical care, deontological approaches to public health, social contractualism and public health, and scarce resource allocation

Kathryn Sheldon

Ph.D. candidate

B.A. in Catholic Studies from Seton Hall University
M.A. in Theology from Seton Hall University

Research interests: Catholic health care, systematic theology, animal research ethics, mental health care ethics, and sexual and reproductive health ethics

Kristen Senetar

Ph.D. candidate

B.S. in Biology from Butler University 
M.A. in Bioethics from Case Western Reserve University
MSPH in Health Policy and Health Services Research from Emory University 

Research interests: Clinical ethics, pediatric ethics, Medical ethics education, law and ethics, public health and genetics

J. Peter Swindemann

Graduate assistant & Ph.D. student (Joint Theology/Health Care Ethics)

B.S. Mechanical Engineering Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis.
B.A. Theology Marian University Indianapolis.
M.A. Theology Aquinas Institute of Theology

Research interests: Christian Ethics, the Common Good, Sexual and reproductive ethics, and Thomistic Metaphysics.

Addison Tenorio

Ph.D. candidate

B. A. in Medical Humanities from Baylor University

Research interests: Advance care planning, end-of-life care, Latin American medicine, bilingual medicine/interpretation, catholic social teaching, health care reform

Andrea Thorton

Graduate assistant

M.T.S. in Theology and the Arts from Vanderbilt University
B.A. in English from Harding University

Research interests: Pain and suffering, spirituality and medicine, clinical decision making, public health, embodiment and incarnational theology

Stephanie Tillman

SLU Presidential Fellow & Ph.D. student

B. A. in Global Health and Medical Anthropology - University of Michigan
MSN in Nurse-Midwifery - Yale University School of Nursing
Clinical Medical Ethics Fellow - University of Chicago Maclean Center

Research interests: feminist and queer bioethics, consent in intimate exams, trauma-informed pelvic care, medical abolition, antiracism, sexual and reproductive ethics, moral injury, medical humanities, inter-professional education, healthcare for uninsured and underinsured communities

Kelly Turner

Graduate assistant 

B.S. in Biochemistry & Cell Biology at Rice University
M.A. in Philosophy at Georgia State University

Research interests: Christian ethics consultation, organizational ethics, ethics in long term care facilities and geriatric care

Ysabel Vandenberg

Ph.D. candidate

B.A. in Philosophy from Azusa Pacific University

Research interests: Continental philosophy, philosophy of science, gender studies and virtue ethics

Lou Vinarcsik

M.D./Ph.D. student & Graduate assistant

B.S. in Biology - Cornell University

Research interests: Feminist and queer theory/ concepts of care, anarchism and medical ethics, science and technology studies/ history of medicine, disability studies, local medical anthropology

Helen Webster

J.D./Ph.D. student

B.A. in Biology with a minor in philosophy from Davidson College

Research interests: Intersection of law and bioethics, neuroethics, clinical ethics, data and genetic privacy

Ashley Yukihiro

Graduate assistant & Ph.D. student

B.S. in Human Biology from Biola University
M.A. in Philosophy from Talbot School of Theology/ Biola University

Research interests: End of life care, geriatric care, death and dying, palliative care, patient autonomy, dignity, clinical ethics/decision making and disability studies

Alexander Zhang

Ph.D. student (Joint Philosophy and Bioethics)

M.A. Philosophy - Arizona State University

Research Interests: virtue ethics, ethics of care, applied ethics, bioethics, public health ethics, political philosophy