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Graduate Student Profiles

The Department of History can offer up to six years of funding for qualified Ph.D. students as graduate assistants (research and teaching) and as pre-doctoral teaching fellows.

The graduate program in history is nationally-ranked, featuring Ph.D. programs in Medieval Europe, U.S. History, and Early Modern Europe. The department also offers M.A. programs in these fields, along with Byzantine, late antique, modern Europe, and world history. Students with only a B.A. may apply to the joint M.A./Ph.D. track.

Our students have distinguished themselves by gaining valuable teaching experience, presenting papers at national and international conferences, publishing articles and essays, winning grants, and writing excellent dissertations in their fields. These accomplishments have enabled many of our students to land teaching jobs in colleges and universities as well as to take positions in a variety of academic and professional settings.

Graduate Students

richard allington

Richard Allington, Ph.D. Candidate

Richard Allington’s dissertation is on crusading piety in Rome and the Papal States from 1187-1291. This work examines the intersection of spiritual warfare on behalf of the crusades with 13th century popular piety and the growth of the political power of the Papal States. He makes use of narrative histories and hagiographical and liturgical sources as well as relevant material culture.

amy boland

Amy Boland, Ph.D. Candidate

Amy Boland focuses on religious history in medieval Iberia. She is writing her dissertation on Dominican missionary work and intellectual activity in the thirteenth century. In 2013, Boland was awarded a grant from the Matthews Fund For International Travel to conduct dissertation research in Madrid.

dorian brown

Dorian Brown, Ph.D. Candidate

Dorian Brown holds a B.A. in History from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana and a M.A. in History from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. His area of interests include 20th century US and African-American History with an emphasis on culture studies. He currently teaches History at St. Louis Community College at Forest Park.

Joel Cerimele

Tyler Brown, Ph.D. Student

Tyler Brown specializes in Byzantine studies. He has presented research papers at the National Conference of Undergraduate Research in both 2017 and 2018. He is a National Merit Commended Scholar, and a Kansas Honor Scholar. He is a multi-year medalist in the National Junior Classical League National Latin Exam. He received his BA in History at John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Arkansas.

nathan caldwell

Nathan Caldwell, Ph.D. Candidate

Nathan Caldwell is enrolled in the M.A./Ph.D. program and teaches American history at St. Francis Borgia Regional High School. His research includes British North American cultures, particularly the moral frameworks that shaped life in the decades prior to the American Revolution.


Joel Cerimele, Ph.D. Student

Joel Cerimele studies the impact of religious and philosophical ideas within wider cultures, especially apocalyptic and reform movements such as the Franciscan Joachimites. He has interests in the medieval worldview's creative inheritance of late antique philosophy, religious thought and culture, and early science.

samantha cloud

Samantha Cloud, Ph.D. Candidate

Samantha Cloud’s primary interests involve economic exchange and material culture in medieval history. For her dissertation, she is examining the French Angevin period in Sicily in the late 13th century, looking particularly at how the change in crusading landscape may have affected commercial and cultural enterprises within the kingdom of Sicily.

brian david

Brian David, Ph.D. Student

Brian David studies information networks and knowledge transmission from medieval to early modern periods across cultural borders. His research focuses on historical figures and how legends surrounding them grew and spread throughout Renaissance Italy. David has received the Caleb B. Smith award for master's thesis of the year.

cho-cheng feng

Cho-Chien Feng, Ph.D. Candidate

Cho-Chien Feng examines Loyalist political ideas within specific cultural contexts of colonial and revolutionary America. He has presented his works in several academic conferences and is an experienced lecturer. He has been awarded governmental scholarships from the Ministry of Education of the Republic of China (Taiwan).

ben halliburton

Benjamin Halliburton, Ph.D. Candidate

Ben Halliburton studies Italy, the Holy Roman Empire, aristocratic culture, crusades, and the Latin East. He explores crusading, piety, and kinship in the activities and identity of medieval nobility. Halliburton published in "Papacy, Crusade, and Christian-Muslim Relations" and edited "Crusading in Art, Thought and Will" with Matthew Parker and Anne Romine.

emily henry

Emily Henry, Ph.D. Student

Emily Henry is enrolled in the combined M.A./Ph.D. program in medieval history. Her research interests include the 12th and 13th century queenship in Spain and England, the development of the royal image, and the role of dynasty in politics. In 2015, she had the opportunity to study abroad at Wycliffe Hall at the University of Oxford.


Idolina Hernandez, Ph.D. Candidate

Idolina Hernandez studies early America and the early Republic. Her dissertation, "Exiled Abroad: Refugees in the Making of Early America," considers the impact of migrating waves of refugee groups to British American colonies and the early Republic in the 18th century. She has received the 1818 Travel Grant and the Elsesser Urban History Research Award.

samuel klee

Samuel Klee, Ph.D. Candidate

Samuel Klee is an M.A./Ph.D. student studying American history with an emphasis on cultural and intellectual history in the twentieth century. He is particularly interested in postwar conservative movements, lived religion, and questions of epistemology.

nicole koopman

Nicole Koopman, Ph.D. Candidate

Nicole is an M.A./Ph.D. student in medieval history with an emphasis on religious and intellectual history during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. She is particularly interested in the Mendicants, inquisition, and interfaith relations.

margaret mary lagarde

Margaret Mary Lagarde, Ph.D. Student

Margaret Mary Lagarde is an M.A./Ph.D. student in medieval European history.  She studies early universities, particularly the University of Paris; papacy; medieval canonization; manuscript studies; and 12th and 13th century intellectual and religious history. She works in the university’s Vatican Film Library, where she catalogs medieval and early modern manuscripts.

nick lewis

Nicholas Lewis, Ph.D. Candidate

Nicholas studies early modern history with a focus on the Reformation and the changes it created in the lives of common worshippers. He is a member of Phi Alpha Theta (PAT), a national history honor society, and has submitted papers at regional Phi Alpha Theta conferences.

phillop mazero

Phillip Mazero, Ph.D. Candidate

Phillip Mazero studies medieval aristocratic culture, Byzantine eunuchs, and Byzantine administrative developments during the Macedonian Dynasty. His dissertation, "Frontier Politics: Veneto-Byzantine Relations, Imperial Hegemony, and Civic Identity, 697-1126," explores Venice development within imperial frontier policy contexts.

brian merlo

Brian Merlo, Ph.D. Student

Born in Australia, Brian Merlo formerly taught high school English and literature. He worked in corporate events before moving to St. Louis and being accepted into the medieval history program in 2015. Since then, MErlo has attained his M.A., defending a paper on “Pope John X and the End of the Formosan Dispute.” He currently researches early 10th-century Rome.

thomas morin

Thomas Morin, Ph.D. Student

Tom Morin is an M.A./Ph.D. student focusing on crusader states. He studies legal history, institutional development, and cross-cultural interactions between Latins, Byzantines, Muslims, Syriac Christians and Jews. Morin works in the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. He is a former U.S. Army officer.

robert olsen

Robert Olsen, Ph.D. Candidate

Robert Olsen focuses on Byzantine-Arab political and ideological interactions. His dissertation, "The Queen of Cities Besieged: The Arab Campaigns against Constantinople, 668-718," aims to untangle contradicting narrativeson the Arab drive to capture Constantinople under the Umayyad dynasty. Olsen has an article on "Liber Gomorrhianus" currently under review.

matthew parker

Matthew Parker, Ph.D. 2018

Matthew Parker studies commercial networks, intercultural encounters, and the crusades. His dissertation, "Sinking Pisa: The Decline of a Commercial Empire in the Thirteenth Century," takes a holistic view of the 13th-century economic and political decline of Pisa. He has conducted research in Pisa and Florence and published in Viator and the Mediterranean Historical Review.

beth petitjean

Beth Petitjean, Ph.D. Candidate

Beth Petitjean focuses on Early Modern and Medieval Europe. Her research interests include Italy, the history of medicine, and Mediterranean studies. Her dissertation, "The Baths and the Medici: Taking the Waters in Grand Ducal Tuscany, 1537-1743," reconstructs and analyzes thermal baths as significant features of early modern scientific, medical, and court cultures.

alaric powell

Alaric Powell, Ph.D. Student

Alaric Powell studies crusader states in the 12th and 13th centuries, specifically the socio-political relationships fostered between the various sects of Eastern and Western Christians and the indigenous Muslims within them. Powell also researches attempts at ecumenical dialogue between Latin, Eastern, and Oriental Churches across the High Middle Ages. Their preferred pronouns are they/them.

eric sears

Eric Sears, Ph.D. Candidate

Eric Sears studies the role of culture in the history of economic ideas. His dissertation, "The Political Economy of Crisis, 1848-1860: Money, Banking, and the Atlantic Origins of America's Panicked Decade," examines the role of 1850s trans-Atlantic finance in the agrarian origins of the Old Northwest Republican Party and the Panic of 1857.

rebekah sheldon

Rebekah Sheldon, Ph.D. Candidate

Rebekah Sheldon studies missions and reform preaching, attitudes towards sexuality and violence, ideas of honor or heroism, and the development of Christian monogamy during the early middle ages. She also studies parallel issues in medieval Islamic societies. Her dissertation focuses on two Byzantine penitentials and their relationship with western penitentials.

andrew smith

Andrew Smith, Ph.D. Student

Andrew Smith studies medieval history in the M.A./Ph.D. program, focusing on intersections of religion, politics, and culture in the Iberian Peninsula. Smith participated in the Centro di Conservazione Archeologica, helping to excavate a second-century villa near Rome. He holds a Presidential Fellowship and earned the 2018 the Phi Alpha Theta A. F. Zimmerman Scholarship.

meg smith

Meg Smith, Ph.D. Candidate

Meg Smith researches Gaelic Ireland in the middle ages and early modern period. She focuses on questions of identity, cultural exchange, and sources of authority. Her dissertation, '"Mere Irish"? The Lordship of the Mac Carthaigh Riabhach, 1366-1649,' examines strategies of negotiation and mechanisms of identity construction in a late medieval Irish lordship in the borderlands between Anglo-Irish and Gaelic Ireland.

george summers

George Summers, Ph.D. Student

George Summers is an M.A./Ph.D. student with interests in Italy and the Crusades from the 11th to the 13th centuries, with additional focuses in east-west ecclesial relations and papal, monastic, and ecclesiastical history in the Mediterranean World. He currently holds a research assistantship and has received the Warren H. Carroll Award for his senior thesis on Guibert of Nogent’s Gesta Dei per Francos.


Dru Swadener, Ph.D. Candidate

Dru Swadener studies the intersection of religion, economy, and culture in the early modern Mediterranean, particularly the development financial networks and commercial exchange across religious and cultural lines. Her dissertation traces strategies employed by 16th-century Florentine and Genoese merchant-bankers.

kathleen walkowiak

Kathleen Walkowiak, Ph.D. Candidate

Katie Walkowiak is currently working on her dissertation, a study of the 12th-century revival of the Roman Senate in the context of contemporary legal development and reform which aims to reevaluate the nature and significance of the communal movement in Rome. She was recently awarded an NEH Fellowship and has begun her second year as a teaching assistant.

ben wand

Benjamin Wand, Ph.D. Student

Benjamin Wand studies medieval history focusing on Germany. His master’s thesis analyzed a medieval German bishop and his views on warfare and violence. Wand has presented papers at three conferences, most recently at the 53rd International Congress on Medieval Studies. His interests include studying the role of violence, conflict, and power in medieval Germany, specifically ecclesiastical and lay reactions to them.

thompson wells

Thompson Wells, Ph.D. Student

Thompson Wells studies Byzantine political, cultural and diplomatic history. He has written on topics such as Byzantine palace architecture, Roman triumphal columns, dynastic lineage and legitimacy, and royal saints’ cults and later Byzantine intellectual life. More recently, he studies the role saints’ cults played in dynastic legitimacy and court ritual, specifically under the Macedonian emperors.

brian for web

Bryan Winston, Ph.D. Candidate

Bryan Winston's dissertation, "Mexican Corridors: Migration and Community Formation in the Central United States, 1900-1950," examines Mexican mobility, cultural adaptation, and transnational organizing in the Lower Midwest in the 20th century. His research has been funded by several organizations, and he is an active member of the Western History Association, holding a position on the Grad Student Caucus Executive Board.