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Graduate Student Profiles

Saint Louis University’s Department of Theological Studies offers a Ph.D. in Christianity in Antiquity or Constructive Theology designed to be completed in five years. Admitted students are guaranteed at least four years of funding as graduate assistants (research and teaching), with the possibility of a fifth year of funding as an adjunct. The department also offers M.A. programs in these fields.

Our students gain valuable teaching experience in the program and are mentored by faculty to present papers at major conferences like the American Academy of Religion and publish articles in peer-reviewed academic journals. The accomplishments of our students have contributed to the department’s high rate of success placing graduates in tenure-track and full-time teaching jobs in colleges and universities.

Graduate Students

amanda berg

Amanda Berg, Ph.D. Candidate

Amanda Berg is interested in the development of medical care with monasticism in the third and fourth centuries. She is particularly focused on early Church teachings on suffering, and she recovers those teachings to suggest ways the current health care system might think about defining, addressing, and treating suffering in a medical setting.

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Kelly Bratkowski, Ph.D. Candidate

Kelly Bratkowski studies early 20th-century American religion, with a particular focus on the entanglements of religion and science and their influence on the cultural conceptions of suffering, illness, disease, and healing. Her dissertation explores the Boston Emmanuel Movement, which began as a collaboration between ministers and physicians, combining religion and psychology to treat what was diagnosed at the time as functional nervous disorders. Through the lens of the Emmanuel Movement, she investigates the struggle taking place in early 20th-century America over the conceptualization of mental anguish as a legitimate and medicalized form of suffering, perceived as being linked to the rapid societal changes in post-Industrial Revolution America, and healed through an innovative and therapeutic blend of religion and science.

tony crescio

Tony Crescio, Ph.D. Candidate

Tony Crescio studies moral theology and virtue ethics. He is pursuing a project of "ressourcement" to recapture a patristic understanding of virtue ethics and apply it to a modern understanding of moral formation. Crescio is also interested in the intersection of Scripture, ethics and sacramental theology.

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Michael Greve, Ph.D. Candidate

Michael Greve studies the history of biblical interpretation from the patristic period to contemporary scholarship, particularly the exegesis between Trent and Vatican II. He is especially interested in the interpretation of the Pauline corpus in Catholic theology, and in pursuing authentic ecumenical dialogue through exegetical engagement. His figures of interest would include Cornelius a Lapide, Augustine Calmet, John Owen, F. C. Bauer, Johann Mohler, Geerhardus Vos, M. J. Lagrange, Heinrich Schlier, Andre Feuillet, Rudolf Schnackenburg, and Brevard Childs among many others. 

joseph grone

Joseph Grone, Ph.D. Candidate

Joseph Grone studies patristic approaches to liturgy, sacraments and ecclesiology, as well as how these approaches relate to the developing doctrine on Jesus Christ and the Trinity. His dissertation focuses this interest upon Augustine of Hippo, as it examines his understanding of sacraments and ritual worship as the central means for forming and actualizing the church in its earthly pilgrimage.

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Clayton Killion, Ph.D. Candidate

Clayton Killion is a scholar of patristic exegesis and early Christian attitudes toward the body, adornment, and gender. He is particularly interested in the ways that the ancient Mediterranean generally—and early Christianity in particular—regulated and interpreted body, facial, and cranial hair.

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Ethan Laster, Ph.D. Candidate

Ethan Laster is a scholar of late antique Christianity, with a particular focus on asceticism, mysticism, and prayer in the Christian East. Situating his work at the intersection of historical theology and religious studies, Laster’s dissertation investigates how the material settings of the eremitical life shaped notions of embodiment and experiences of God in East Syriac monastic authors from the sixth through eighth centuries. 

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Travis Myers, Ph.D. Candidate

Travis Myers practices comparative theology as a form of interreligious learning. His research specifically engages Chinese thought and religious sources as dialogue partners for constructive Christian theology. He is interested in topics such as embodiment, ritual, spiritual formation, and virtue.

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Monica Nakawala, LSOSF Ph.D. Student

Monica Nakawala, LSOSF, studies Christian theology with a special interest in virtue ethics and a focus on contemporary social justice issues. Her research explores how virtue ethics and biblical ethics can inform responses to human trafficking and the role of the church in ending human trafficking.

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Allison Seager, Ph.D. Candidate

Allison Seager studies theological anthropology with an interest in human development, growth in virtue, and the operation of grace. She is interested in engaging with modern psychology and hopes to integrate findings from the areas of trauma psychology and attachment theory into a theological account of human development. She takes Bernard Lonergan as an important guide in this interdisciplinary work. 

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Michael Thiele, Ph.D. Student

Michael Thiele studies theological ethics via a theology of ressourcement.  His research interests include ecological ethics, medieval monasticism, Catholic social teaching, and the Franciscan Intellectual Tradition.

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Jonam Wang, Ph.D. Student

Jonam Wang was born in China, grew up in Beijing, and spent much of his adult life in the U.S. He is interested in the history of theology, with particular emphasis on early Christian theology and contemporary systematics, Trinitarian dogmatics, Chinese Christianity, cross-cultural hermeneutics and comparative theology, global Pentecostal-charismatic movements, as well as theological anthropology as it pertains to ethnic diversity. Figures who have occupied his interest lately include Irenaeus of Lyons, Cyril of Alexandria, W. E. B. Du Bois, K. H. Ting, Jürgen Moltmann, and Henri J. M. Nouwen.

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Deepan Rajaratnam, Ph.D. Candidate

A scholar of constructive theology, Deepan Rajaratnam studies the intersection of ecclesiology and pneumatology with a particular interest in the laity. Building on the foundation laid by Yves Congar and incorporating ideas from Ormand Rush, Rajaratnam’s work focuses on the sense of the faithful in relation to local church. Employing a framework of communion ecclesiology and ecclesial synodality, Rajaratnam engages ethnography to further assess the sense of the faithful within local churches. Rajaratnam was selected as the Religion & Public Life Fellow for Lived Religion in the Digital Age Project for 2019-2020. Previously, he studied at Boston College where he earned a Master of Theological Studies (M.T.S.). For more, visit


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Mitchell Stevens, Ph.D. Candidate

Mitchell Stevens studies fifth- through eighth-century theology in the eastern Roman Empire, focusing on personhood and the image of God. Translating and commenting thereon a series of homilies by Anastasius of Sinai, Stevens strives to show how this spirited, idiosyncratic monk produced a unique vision of the human person and how they relate to themselves, the world, and God.

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Josh Sturgeon, Ph.D. Candidate

Josh Sturgeon studies process theology with a special interest in philosophy of time and ecotheology. Sturgeon seeks to demonstrate the constructive potential of process ideas while engaging in critical conversation with classical theism. 


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Andrew Tucker, Ph.D. Candidate

Andrew Tucker studies Christianity in late antiquity. He primarily focuses on early Christian literature written in Syriac, with special interests in how early Christians interpreted Scripture using poetic forms, Christology, and the relationship between poetry and theology.

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Anna Williams, Ph.D. Candidate

Anna Williams studies how early Christians interpreted the Bible. Her dissertation will focus on Theodore of Mopsuestia, a key representative of the Antiochene school of exegesis. She is especially interested in the reception of his biblical exegesis in Greek, Latin, and Syriac authors during and shortly after the Christological controversies.