Meet the SAEL Doctoral Teaching Fellows
I am a third year PhD student in the Political Science department. My regional interests lie, broadly, in Europe. More specifically European integration in the form of the European Union, particularly the European Parliament (EP). In particular I am interested in the growth of the EP’s institutional competencies and its relationship to the European electorate. Each nation in the European Union is allotted a number of seats in the European Parliament. My formative years were spent in Charlotte, and from there I attended Furman University, in Greenville South Carolina, where I earned a BA in Political Science. After graduation I spent several years working the 9-5 before I was drawn back to academia. When I am not preoccupied by my academic work I like to read, run, cook, and spend time with my wife. As for reading, my guilty pleasure since high school has been science fiction and fantasy, with occasional forays into historical fiction.
Cynthia Bateman is a PhD Candidate in the Department of English, specializing in American Literature, and a Graduate Certificate in Women’s and Gender Studies. She holds degrees in rhetoric and composition (MA) and philosophy with a minor in creative writing (BA) from Southern Illinois University. Cynthia also holds a degree in nursing and worked for over ten years as a Registered Professional Nurse, specializing in critical care oncology and bone marrow transplantation, prior to attending the University of South Carolina. Her dissertation project combines her interests in trauma studies, animal studies, and critical posthumanism as she works to develop a postanthropocentric theory of trauma. She is also conducting research for a performance studies project titled, “Performing (Canine) Soldier.” This grant-supported project investigates the intersection of public memory, gender narratives, and contemporary commendation trends regarding military working dogs and handlers. In addition to her academic work, Cynthia is drafting her first novel. Nightlytes: The Education of Arlind Ruel is the first book in a new series of speculative fiction novels that follow the galactic adventures of protagonist, Arlind Ruel, and her dog Brahki.
Marie Bevins is a Florida native. She holds both a BA in sociology and a BS psychology from the University of Central Florida (UCF) in Orlando. Marie is a first year graduate student in the department of sociology at the University of South Carolina. At UCF’s Aging and Technology Lab, Marie carried out a variety of experiments about stress and its effect on cognitive resources. Much of this research involved stress reduction in virtual reality environments. These early research efforts first sparked Marie’s interest in health as an area for professional study.
For over two years. Marie worked at UCF’s Institute for Social and Behavioral Research, where her interest in sociological research methodology arose. Marie was actively involved in collecting data for numerous research projects, ranging from food access for a specific social group, to nicotine consumption, to Adderall use as study aide by college students. Marie’s independent projects have varied from aggressive driving to the differences of reported willingness to discriminate in the context of different disabilities.Her interests are centered on the sociology of health, specifically how sociodemographic characteristics relate to health throughout the life course; how variables like socioeconomic status, location, education, environment, gender, and living circumstances relate to access to health care and overall well-being. Marie also has interests in quantitative methodology, demographics, and longitudinal research methods. Marie is thrilled to be continuing her education and professional development here in Columbia, South Carolina. In her spare time Marie enjoys musical theater, baking, reading, and taking walks with her miniature poodle Bertram, who very much favors a Holstein cow.
Natalie Castaneda grew up in Corpus Christi, TX and is excited to begin her first year as a PhD student in Sociology with an emphasis in Social Psychology at the University of South Carolina. She received her BA with a double major in Psychology and Sociology from Texas A&M University Corpus Christi (2010) and her MA in Sociology from The University of Houston (2013). Natalie’s Master’s thesis was entitled “Gender and Minority Representation in Academy Award Winning Films.” She conducted a content analysis on the Academy Award winning films for the years 2000-2012, totaling 35. Shr analyzed character interactions as a way of determining to what extent interpersonal relationships, caring roles, and sexual and romantic interests are used to develop male and female and racial/ethnic minority characters utilizing theories such as symbolic annihilation and social identity theory. In the interim (2014-2015) Natalie worked in the nonprofit sector in Houston, TX. Natalie’s main research interests are greatly focused on Social Psychology as well as gender and racial/ethnic inequality. Natalie’s past original research has included gender and minority representation in films, rape and sexual assault, body image, eating disorders, and social isolation. In her free time Natalie absolutely loves to play soccer. She has played since she was a child and is always ready for a pickup game. Additionally, she loves dogs, especially her Labrador Retriever who loves soccer and taking naps just as much as Natalie. As a byproduct of a lifetime of playing soccer Natalie has grown to love running, weightlifting, and other athletic pursuits. She also loves coffee, movies, musicals, singing along to musicals, comedy, books, science fiction, and fantasy.
Katie Crosby is a first year Ph.D. history student. Her major fields are U.S. History after 1789, Public History, and Immigration History. She is particularly interested in how and when local museums tell histories of immigration, and what those immigration histories do to conceptions of identity within the community. She would also like to explore how immigration histories are examined and experienced in museums internationally, especially in the context of imperialism and ethnic conflict. She received a BA in Political Science with a minor in History at the University of Michigan in 2011; her focus within political science was on contemporary comparative politics globally. While at Michigan, she worked with Professor Andrei Markovits as a research assistant on a project concerning breed-specific canine rescue and its relationship to the changing discourse of empathy in the United States. During her gap year (2011-2012), Katie continued to work on the project and is currently coauthoring a book with Professor Markovits utilizing the results of their research on this project. Katie was also an intern at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum in Kalamazoo, Michigan, from September, 2011 to May, 2012. She worked on a project researching, cataloguing, and photographing the dresses in the museum’s collection.
The oldest of five children, Katie enjoys going home to Kalamazoo, Michigan to see her family. Katie is an avid reader and appreciates a wide range of works including those of William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, and Terry Pratchett, among others. She enjoys swimming, played water polo in high school and on the club team at the University of Michigan, and also runs in 5K races.
I am a long time South Carolina resident and a graduate student in the USC department of philosophy. I have an undergraduate degree in physics from Davidson College. These days I study philosophy of science in practice and particularly philosophy of measurement. My dissertation work focuses on the epistemology of health-related quality of life measures. I am also interested in science and values, ethics of scientific practice, and in bioethics and environmental ethics. When I’m not teaching or working on my dissertation, I love baking with friends, lounging with my cat (a big tortie named Malory), and watching British detective shows.
Originally from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Elizabeth completed degrees in creative writing (BS) and literature (MA) at Northern Michigan University and a degree in library and information science (MLIS) at Dominican University before coming to the University of South Carolina. Currently, she is a Ph.D candidate in English with an emphasis on 20th century American literature and film and media studies. Her specific academic interests include, among other things, rural studies; contemporary regionally-minded literature, television and film; suburbia; the ethics of representation in literature; and hipsters. Elizabeth’s critical work appears in Politics and Culture, and Bayou Magazine recently published her creative nonfiction piece, “There Is No Strategy in the Game of War.”
Outside of school, Elizabeth spends much of her time hiking, biking, and discovering new smells with her dog, Oliver. She also enjoys binge watching sub-par television and attempting to replicate Michigan pasty recipes.
Matthew Gassan (English)
I am a first year doctoral student in the Department of Political Science. I received my undergraduate degree in history and political science from Cedarville University in Ohio. A native of New Hampshire, my interest in politics was solidified when—during a pause in my undergraduate career—I had the opportunity to serve as campaign manager in 2010 for a NH state senate candidate (and later work as his assistant once he was elected). I returned to Ohio the next fall to complete my BA, and then in 2012 was a field representative for a NH gubernatorial candidate. These experiences, in addition to my college education, showed me that I had an insatiable love for politics, but that I wanted to pursue it in a more academic direction. Due to my campaign and state politics experience, I am naturally interested in campaigns, elections, representation, and public opinion. However, one of my last undergraduate classes, Constitutional Law, shifted my chief interest to the realm of law and the judicial branch. My second key area of interest is the relationship between religion and politics, and the related but distinct relationship between the institutional church and state. I wrote my undergraduate thesis on a facet of this broad, interdisciplinary topic, and I enjoy reading books on the subject and contemplating what is a healthy interaction between an individual’s religion and political engagement. My two research focuses meet in my interest in the historical context of the First Amendment, as well as historical and contemporary First Amendment jurisprudence. In my free time, I love to visit my parents in New England and my six older siblings (spread around the world) and spend time with my thirteen nieces and nephews. I have a spunky dog Bailey who is there to remind me when it’s time to take a break and go for a walk.
Originally from South Carolina, I spent the last ten years in New Mexico where I received an MA in Cultural Studies and a graduate certificate in Women’s Studies. I am now returning to the University of South Carolina to pursue a PhD in Literature. My work centers on the study of monsters. I ask how they are conceived in various time periods, which social groups are repeatedly cast as “monstrous”, and what is the nature of our relationship with monstrosity in the 21st century. I am intrigued by how cultural representatives of monstrosity evolve through time and how they metaphorically embody the social concerns of difference, contamination, threat, and power. I have worked on a variety of topics ranging from medieval bestiary manuscripts to 1930s horror magazine covers, from Gothic literature to gender concerns in post-humanism. Presently I am analyzing how women authors and artists fashion new versions of monsters in innovative and subversive ways to challenge stereotypes of gender and race. My work uses literary criticism as well as digital methods to analyze themes of monstrosity in literature and visual culture. Methods include textual and visual analysis, website creation, interactive databases, video software compilations, and mapping. I also study the ambivalent reception of emerging digital media in the humanities. When not obsessing over Monster Theory, I spend my free time designing websites, cooking, gardening, and marathoning Netflix original series.
Nicholas Heiserman (Sociology)
Tiffany Jones (Linguistics)
It was in a Communication and Gender course during my undergraduate at LSU in Baton Rouge, Louisiana a number of years ago that I finally found my focus, that something broke free within me as I realized that my own personal experience could be fruitfully put to use in the realm of social advocacy, and in the words of a mentor—“shift the conversation”—concerning gender and violence. While pursuing a Masters at the University of Northern Iowa, I began with a question: “What is the ‘unnamed mode’ of being bound up in masculinity that chains it irrevocably to criminality and violence?” This was a question kindled by two articles which were both critical of the masculinization of women who killed by the media. The range of my work is informed by a desire to approach this un-interrogated quality of masculinity—a quality increasingly apparent as inextricable from an insinuated inevitable engagement in socially deleterious enactments and effects—something beyond merely being a gendered practice. In writing my Masters thesis, I have been pondering the implications of what it meant to be “gendered” in late 19th century medico-legal discourse—particularly as “masculine” in relation to deviance on the part of women—not as a description of the reductions of the scientizing gaze, but rather as a gradual, inevitable materialization folded into and informed by the contours of a discernible sex. Having come home again, come back to make my home in another capital city in the South as a doctoral student with a focus in Rhetoric and Composition at the University of South Carolina, I relish the opportunity to translate some of the life lessons I’ve learned in academia, including the immeasurable value of mentorship and of granting a measure of generosity to the work of even those with whom one disagrees, into the space of the classroom and teaching pedagogy.
As a native South Carolinian, I am proud to be at the University of South Carolina in the Presidential Teaching Fellows Program interacting with undergraduate students. After high school, I attended Converse College in Spartanburg to receive a B.A. in Politics and Modern Languages (Spanish, French, Arabic, and German). During this time I had the privilege to study abroad in Barcelona, Spain, where I established an interest in studying foreign governments and institutions. After graduating from Converse, I matriculated into the Political Science PhD program at USC. My focus area broadly covers judicial politics, but I am most interested in comparative courts. I also specialize in political methodology. I am currently working on a variety of projects with faculty, other graduate students, and by myself that examine specific issues within judicial politics such as, compliance, institutional effects, and judicial decision-making. Most recently, I was the recipient of the Janet Box-Steffensmeier scholarship from the Society for Political Methodology to attend a summer program in Ann Arbor, Michigan (ICPSR).
In my spare time (wait, what is that?) I enjoy dancing, yoga, and running. I also volunteer in the community by helping at-risk elementary school students improve their reading skills. When possible, I travel within and outside the US to satisfy my intrigue of other cultures, food, and history. Currently I have been to 14 countries (Turkey, Tunisia, Mexico, England, France, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Jordan, Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria, Italy, and Andorra) and hope to add more to the list! I believe that learning is a life-long pursuit and I hope to impart this upon the students in my SAEL classes.
Yue Liu (Sociology)
Leah Long (Political Science)
Originally from the farming valleys of southern Vermont, I left my home state after high school to pursue a short military career as a combat engineer after graduating high school. For nearly eight years, military deployments largely kept me outside the United States—some of which have included Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. After leaving the military, I attained my B.A. in history with licensure in elementary education at Castleton State College. My previous teaching experiences have included work with teenagers in danger of dropping out of high school, substitute work at the elementary level, as well as a year spent teaching kindergarten before entering the University of South Carolina’s history graduate program. My areas of interest lies with the question of how people internalize traumatic experiences, such as war, and how these individuals make use of the traumatic memories and experiences to renegotiate and reconstruct reality. Currently, my research focuses upon the transformation of the veteran’s public image in the Antebellum South from vilified scoundrel to heroic savior, and the experience of black British Loyalists transplanted to Sierra Leone following the American Revolution. Beyond academics, my passions include science fiction, vegetarian cooking, running, and ice hockey
Sina Mansouri-Zeyni (Languages, Literature and Culture)
I am very excited to be in South Carolina and back in the “real South” after my recent stint in Arkansas where I completed my MA in English literature at the University of Tulsa and taught literature and composition at the University of Arkansas Fort Smith. I also hold an MBA with an emphasis on marketing and have held positions in advertising and marketing. I will be working toward my Ph.D. in English literature with an emphasis on contemporary American and Southern writers while at USC. I plan to intertwine my literature interests with my interest in food studies for my dissertation. Currently, I am finishing a book project, Consuming Cultures: Food as Identity, focused on food studies with a colleague, Dr. Cammie Sublette, which is under contract with the University of Arkansas Press. I have also published articles in the Journal of Intercultural Disciplines and Studies in Popular Culture and have book reviews in The Journal of American Culture.
I have loved to cook for as long as I can remember, and my interest in all things food has led me to take classes for non-professionals at the Culinary Institute of American in Hyde Park, New York to study classical French cuisine as well as courses in Italy with native Italian chefs. I can cook up a mean batch of Southern fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy with biscuits and fried okra. However, I also can talk cuisine with the French and use the term “sauce” instead of “gravy” to appear sophisticated. I have horrible vices that include lazing with a book in the sun (or even better a Cosmo magazine), eating tater tots dipped in Blue Plate mayonnaise and reading all about the Royalty of Great Britain. I also love to hike, practice yoga, create pottery, read, travel, search for new and unusual foods and tastes, and garden.
Caroline Mosser (Languages, Literature, and Culture)
I graduated from the University of South Carolina in May of 2014 double majoring in Political Science and Anthropology. I focused on International Relations in Political Science and Cultural Studies in Anthropology; in both fields I narrowed my focus to that of Middle Eastern studies. I am beginning my first year in the PhD program for Political Science with a primary focus on International Relations and secondary focus on Comparative Politics. I am hoping to dive deeper into Middle Eastern studies, with a particular emphasis on Iran and the increasing integration of Iran into the international community (i.e. increased trade with Europe and the U.S.). On the internal focus of Iran I am looking at exploring the relationship of Human Capital (HC) and the overall development of democratic institutions within a country, on an external focus I am seeking to understand the relationship between boosted energy trade and regional stability/security. I believe the greater Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is greatly misunderstood in contemporary American political discourse, and hope to allow for my research to clear up foundational misunderstandings that exist. Other academic related interests outside of International Relations include Primatology, Cultural Linguistics, and Environmental Conservation. In my year off from school (2014-2015) I worked as a baker, which allowed for me to pursue my secondary passion of Culinary Arts, and gain a better understanding of medium-large scale food production. I have grown up cooking, thus I have develop a deep relationship with the daily ritual that is known as cooking and eating. My approach to food is an all-encompassing, holistic understanding that seeks to view food as more than just food but as a fuel for life; I believe you very much are what you eat and thus avoid as many harmful additives to food as possible. I enjoy being outside as much as possible, whether it be working in my garden or going on hikes throughout all of South Carolina’s beautiful parks; the Congaree National Park is my home away from home. I am an avid vinyl collector with a collection of about 400 records, and love discovering new and local music. I look forward to continuing my education at USC and hope to make as positive of an impact on my students as my instructors USC made upon me.
Stephen O’Hara is a Ph.D. student in History. Originally from Winchester, VA, Stephen studies cultural history during the Cold War with an emphasis on the development of American television, science fiction programming, and technological discourse related to nuclear weapons and space flight. His dissertation ties these threads together, and is tentatively titled Televising the Future in an Uncertain Present: Science Fiction Television, the State, and Cold War Popular Culture, 1950-1970. In 2010 Stephen earned his B.A. in History from the University of Richmond, where he also minored in Journalism, and in 2012 he earned his M.A. in History from Virginia Tech, where his M.A. thesis examined historical memory and the presidency during the Civil War and Reconstruction. Stephen is published in the Journal of American History, having coauthored “Romancing the Capstone: National Trends, Local Practice, and Student Motivation in the History Curriculum,” which was featured in the journal’s March 2012 issue. Stephen’s other professional work includes conducting research for Virginia Tech’s Morrill Act 150th Anniversary museum exhibit; serving as managing editor for the inaugural issue of the Virginia Tech Undergraduate Historical Review; working as chair of Virginia Tech’s annual history graduate conference; and interning for Environmental Finance magazine, and its sister publications, in London, England during the 2009 summer.
Kimberly N. Overmier is a first year Ph.D. student in the English Department focusing on rhetoric and composition. Kim is originally from Cumming, GA, a small city north of Atlanta. She studied at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, GA where she earned her B.A. in Communications and Rhetoric in 2012. At Oglethorpe, Kim developed an interest in human rights issues, particularly genocides, and how they continue to occur despite the “never again” pledge so many nations have made. This interest led her to continue her education at Georgia State University where she taught and conducted research for two years under assistantship support. She earned her M.A. in Human Communication and Social Influence in 2014. Her master’s thesis examined how international legal obligations were interpreted and strategically used by the Clinton administration to manage their involvement in two genocidal conflicts. Kim has continued to develop her passion for learning about historical and current human rights struggles and how they are conceptualized and addressed by the international community. She is interested in how a rhetorical lens can be used to understand the ethical and legal challenges individuals, governments, and international organizations face when human rights abuses occur. She hopes to continue researching human rights issues in order to gain further understanding of how they can more successfully be resolved. Additionally, Kim enjoys learning about how people communicate, how ideas are created and transferred, and how languages function.
Kim also enjoys activities outside the academic realm. She enjoys running at the Riverfront Park, hiking in any number of national parks, and swimming wherever it is allowed. She also enjoys playing the occasional game of soccer. Reading is also one of her favorite pastimes; science fiction, fiction, historical dramas, and many more have places on her bookshelves. When not outside or with her nose in a book, Kim enjoys being in the kitchen cooking or baking something delicious for her friends and family.
Mark is a PhD candidate in the Department of English, specializing in rhetoric. His current interests are in style and argumentation, focusing on the way different tropes and figures open the imagination to construct an image of self as being sincere, honest, and trustworthy (or not). In particular, he is examining moments of disagreement and crisis for how the subject may become, intentionally or not, a hypocrite and how acts of hypocrisy create an affect in audiences.
Originally from the great state of Kansas, Mark grew up in a strong culture of dissensus. Kansas was “ground zero” for the culture wars of the 1990’s, which emerged out of a stark rise in conservative participation in politics and organized religion battles over public school curriculum. Mark was immersed by debates involving Flying Spaghetti monsters, mass protests over abortion, and rants over the “right and proper” way to live one sex life. Kansas was a place to experience advocacy first hand as an ethical or unethical calling to limit how different groups live their lives.
When not engaged with moments of crisis and advocacy, Mark is a proud consumer technology geek, comic book nerd, and movie enthusiast. He especially enjoys Batman franchises, Marvel franchises, and political satire of all kinds. He attempts to consume the New York Times and the Washington Post with orange juice every morning, and reads Vox.com, Nerdist News, and the Verge every night. Always looking for a good standup routine, Mark also watches the Laugh Factory and Saturday Night Live frequently.
Ryan Strickler is a first year Political Science PhD student, focusing in Public Administration and American Politics. His substantive interests include (but are not exhausted by): the nonprofit/voluntary sector and its role in American society; the devolution/privatization of public service, as well as “governance theories” of public administration; processes of social, political, and policy change; environmental policy, education policy, and other policy areas
Ryan’s interest in nonprofit organizations was initially sparked through a year with AmeriCorps, where he facilitated a service learning program for high school students in San Jose, CA. Prior to coming to USC, Ryan worked for the Lowcountry Food Bank, a Charleston-based nonprofit dedicated to feeding the hungry in coastal South Carolina. As their Resource Development Manager, he engaged in grant fundraising, capacity and needs assessment research, and nutrition policy advocacy at the state and federal level. Ryan hopes to carry forth this interest in nonprofits into academia, analyzing how these organizations impact (and perhaps could better impact) society through service and advocacy. In teaching and research, he would also like to connect “theory” to the “field,” conducting community-based research and service learning projects that positively impact public and nonprofit organizations.
In his free time, Ryan likes to stay active, be it surfing or skating, running, riding a bike, or playing soccer. He shares his home with his lovely wife, Elisa, and his beautiful black lab, Tessa. A Charleston, SC native, Ryan and his wife will visit “back home” regularly for some Southern charm and beach time (but generally not during USC football season).
Ryan received a BA in Political Science from North Carolina State University in 2005, and an MPA from the College of Charleston in 2009.
There are always more than two sides to every issue. Excited by this important revelation, I developed a paradigm of creative, critical thinking that I hope can help all, regardless of their individual opinions, to clarify and deepen their understanding of complex issues inherent in any belief system. How did I develop my concept of creative, critical thinking that could supersede binary “pro-con”, “yes-no” types of thinking? I became an attorney and participated in an adversarial legal system where there are generally only two distinct sides fighting over complex issues. I graduated from Michigan Law School and served on the Editorial Board of the Michigan Law Review, proceeded to work as an attorney at a large law firm in Minneapolis specializing in the intersection of intellectual property and antitrust/competition law. With that firm, I developed a mentor program by teaching attorneys to litigate by representing victims of domestic abuse pro bono, a project recognized by the judges of St. Paul MN for its win-win approach by teaching new lawyers their craft with the socially beneficial end of helping to protect those unable to protect themselves. In my teaching and scholarship here at South Carolina, I plan to present versions of my critical thinking models to students who will hopefully find themselves intellectually fired up and better prepared for whatever career and life path they choose in the future, in significant part, as a result of the realization that there are not many times in life where the word “always” applies. But there are always, always more than two sides to every issue. And while we are at it, let’s discuss these issues from other cultural perspectives and in languages other than English to make it even more interesting.