Skip to main content
MenuSearch & Directory

Graduate Student Profiles

The Department of History offers up to six years of funding for qualified Ph.D. students as graduate assistants (research and teaching) and as pre-doctoral teaching fellows. The Department is very pleased to welcome both American and international applicants to our programs, and funding is open to both.

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

nathan caldwell

Nathan Caldwell, Ph.D. Student, American

Nathan Caldwell is interested in how past actors framed their experience — individually and collectively — through moral language and understanding. His dissertation, under the direction of Professor Lorri Glover, focuses on the moral worlds of 18th-century North and South Carolina, particularly in the decades prior to the American Revolution. He received a B.A. inhHistory and German (2003), as well as a Master of Arts in Teaching (2004) from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. He earned a Master of Arts in History at SLU in 2019, and currently teaches at St. Francis Borgia High School in Washington, Missouri. 


Emmaleigh Calhoun, Ph.D. Student, Medieval

Emmaleigh Calhoun is an M.A./Ph.D. student in medieval European history. Under the guidance of Dr. Thomas Finan, she studies the intersection of ecclesiastical history and craftwork in 12th- and 13th-century Gaelic Ireland. She holds a B.A. in anthropology from Emory University and an M.Sc. in experimental archaeology from University College Dublin. 

william edmundson

William G. Edmundson, Ph.D. Candidate, Medieval

William Edmundson is a Ph.D. candidate in medieval history. He is most interested in the high and later middle ages, and specializes in the history of religion and religious dissent, the inquisition, and Occitan and Catalan society (daily and religious life, law, politics, economy, and culture). In his dissertation, which is being directed by Professor Damian J. Smith, he is investigating the intersection of heresy, inquisition, and politics in Occitania and the Crown of Aragon from about 1290 to 1330. William holds a B.A. and M.A. in history from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. In 2022, he was awarded the José M. Sanchez Distinguished Teaching Award by the SLU Department of History for outstanding undergraduate teaching.

Joel Cerimele

Tyler Brown, Ph.D. Candidate, Medieval and Byzantine

Tyler Brown specializes in Byzantine studies. He 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 B.A. in history at John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Arkansas.

brent gordon

Brent Gordon, SJ, Ph.D. Student, Early Modern

Brent works with Professor Charles Parker on European empires and their overseas missions during the early modern period. His research interests include the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) and on the interplay of European empires, Catholic missionary activities, and intellectual exchanges in the 16th and 17th centuries. Lately he has been exploring how spatial analysis can be employed to understand the ways in which spiritual landscapes were conceived and represented in the early modern world. Before coming to SLU, he earned a B.A. in classics and religion and a M.A. in the history of religion, both from Florida State University, with an emphasis on Sanskrit literature. He also earned a BPhil from St. John's College Seminary in Miami. Brent is a vowed religious brother in the Society of Jesus. 


chris ketcherside

Chris Ketcherside Ph.D. Student, American

Chris is a Ph.D. candidate in American history. Chris has held positions as as an adjunct professor at St. Louis Community College and Missouri University of Science and Technology. Prior to beginning his graduate studies at Saint Louis University, Chris served as a U.S. Marine. He lives with his wife, Kara, and son, Alex, in Valley Park, Missouri.

dillon knackstedt

Dillon R.F. Knackstedt, Ph.D. Student, Medieval

Dillon R.F. Knackstedt researches legal history under Steven Schoenig, S.J., with special focus on the ways it interacts with Christian theology and culture, concentrating on the 13th century, but also reaching out across the whole medieval period and beyond. Since beginning the Ph.D. program in 2021, he’s done adjacent work in the early history of judicial-legal bodies like Parlement/Parliament and on the influence of St. Bruno on the reform papacy, but always with an interest in “big picture” cultural and intellectual history. 

Before coming to St. Louis, he obtained the title magister artis historiae after studying at Western Michigan University and completing his thesis “A Kingdom of Co-Inherence: Christian Theology and the Laws of King Magnus the Lawmender of Norway, 1261-1281.” A summary of this work was published as “The Landslov: The Dynamic Traditionalism of Norwegian Law” in EPOCH. He also holds a baccalaureate degree from Ohio's Franciscan University of Steubenville, and taught history and geography at Nolan Catholic High School in Fort Worth, Texas. 

courtney knight

Courtney Knight, Ph.D. Student, Medieval

Courtney Knight studies medieval and early modern Spanish cultural, intellectual and gender history. Her research interests include popular belief, medicine and science, and cross-cultural and interfaith relations. Courtney received her B.A. from Loras College ('21), of Des Moines, Iowa, where she majored in history, Spanish and biology. 


Nicholas Lewis, Ph.D. Student, Early Modern

Nicholas Lewis studies the early modern world, especially the pre-Suppression Society of Jesus and its foreign missions with Dr. Charles Parker. He graduated with a B.A. in history from Erskine College in Due West, South Carolina, in 2013. In 2017, he received an M.A. in Hhistory from Saint Louis University. His work has been published in Itinerario: The Journal of Global and Imperial Interactions. He served as an archival researcher for the Jesuits' Slavery, History, Memory and Reconciliation project, as well as the Jesuit Conference's Indigenous Boarding School Initiative. 


Evan S. McAllister , Ph.D. Candidate, Medieval

Evan McAllister's dissertation is titled "Historical Subtexts: Liturgical Quotations in Twelfth-Century Crusade Narratives." The dissertation unites the marginalia and evidence of readership, and offers a new examination of how authors like William of Tyre remembered, borrowed, and selectively engaged elements of the Latin liturgy and the biblical past to shape the cultural memory of the 12th century. Evan works with Professor Thomas F. Madden. Prior to coming to SLU, he completed an M.A. in art history at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. His thesis examined the wall paintings found in the Hospitaller church of Abu Ghosh, Israel. While other structures and holy sites in the Levant are well documented in 12th-century pilgrimage journals, the beautifully painted plaster in the church is strangely absent. In an effort to address this lack of primary sources, his thesis examined the images present in the church within the context of their daily use in the liturgy.


David M. Olsen, Ph.D.

David is a third-year doctoral candidate of Medieval history with a concentration on the Almohad Empire (1130-1269), working with Doctors Damian J. Smith and Clair Gilbert. His dissertation, “The Almohad Economy: Change agents in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries Commercial Revolution” is in process and he expects to present in the Fall of 2025. David received his MA in history at Portland State University in 2020 in which his thesis, “The Almohad: The Rise and Fall of the Strangers” was completed under the supervision of the department chair, Doctor John Ott.  David comes to Saint Louis University after a career in General Management, Marketing, and Sales, where his experience was evenly divided between Fortune 500 companies and entrepreneurial start-ups. David received his MBA from The American Graduate school of International Management which help prepare him for the ten years managing international businesses in Latin America, Europe, and the Middle East. His interest in history, Spain, and the Maghreb began as an undergraduate (Lewis and Clark College) when he spent six months in Seville, Spain. 

Profile Pic Placeholder Image

Paul Smith, Ph.D. Student, Medieval

Paul Smith is a first-year Ph.D. student with an emphasis in medieval history. His main area of focus is medieval castles and fortifications in the British Isles, and works with Dr. Thomas Finan on this topic. Paul is a member of the Chateau Gaillard-Castle Studies Colloque, and acts as research assistant for Dr. Finan, who is English editor of the Proceedings of the Chateau Gaillard Colloque. His first article is set for publication in the 2024 volume of the Proceedings. Paul graduated from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., with a double B.A. in history and medieval and Byzantine studies.

margaret summers

Margaret Mary Summers, Ph.D. Candidate, Medieval

Margaret Mary Summers is a Ph.D. candidate in medieval history. She graduated from Christendom College of Front Royal, Virginia, with a B.A. in philosophy in 2017, and received an M.A. in medieval history, with a minor in early modern history, from Saint Louis University in 2019. Her research investigates the intersection between scholastic education and liturgy in the 12th through 14th centuries. She is currently completing her dissertation with Professor Damian J. Smith, on the religious culture of students at the medieval University of Paris. Her work has been supported by a Heckman Stipend from the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library (HMML).


Dru Swadener, Ph.D. Candidate, Early Modern

Dru Swadener researches commercial networks, actors, and agency that traverses political, cultural and religious boundaries in the early modern Mediterranean. Her dissertation, "Resilient Links: The Florentine Family Firm, Granducal Tuscany, and the Early Modern Mediterranean, 1548-1723," examines ways in which 17th-century Tuscan merchants utilized social, political and diplomatic ties to construct commercial networks that facilitated global investment. In addition to a Bachelor of Science in Accounting, Dru holds a Master of Arts in History from The University of Tulsa, in Oklahoma, where she studied medieval economic history. She is currently participating in a collaborative research project with the Ghetto Mapping Project in Florence for a forthcoming book that sheds light on the history of the economy and daily life of the Florentine Jewish Ghetto.

jamilah whiteside

Jamilah Whiteside, Ph.D. Student, American

Jamilah Whiteside is a Ph.D. student with an emphasis in American history. An educator with 24 years of teaching experience, Jamilah is an active researcher in the topics of slavery in Missouri and American feminism. Her graduate work is centered around the topic of American women and their invisible contributions to early Black studies and history


Profile Pic Placeholder Image

Kailen Kinsey, Ph.D. Candidate, Medieval

Kailen is a Ph.D. candidate with an emphasis in Medieval history.  Her research with Dr. Thomas Finan is focused on the role of queens in the complex and interconnected worlds of Irish, Viking and English royalties in the 11th century.   

Profile Pic Placeholder Image

Thomas Barrows, Ph.D. Candidate, Medieval

Tommy is a Ph.D. candidate in history with an emphasis in medieval. His research explores the ways in which Anglo-Norman lords constructed motte and bailery fortifications in northern Ireland, and how view-scapes and the landscape impacted the selection of construction sites. Barrows is a member of the Chateau Gaillard Castle Studies Colloque, and has published several articles related to the castles and fortifications on the Isle of Man and in Ireland. 

brian merlo

Brian Merlo, Ph.D. Student, Medieval

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, Medieval

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.

alaric powell

Alaric Powell, Ph.D. Student, Medieval

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.

rebekah sheldon

Rebekah Sheldon, Ph.D. Candidate, Medieval and Byzantine

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.

george summers

George Summers, Ph.D. Student, Medieval

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.