Kristen Brown, English
Kristen Brown is a doctoral candidate in the English Department at the University of South Carolina, where her primary field of study is late nineteenth-century American Literature. Her dissertation, “A Return to Turtle Island: Eco-cosmopolitics in American Indian Literature, 1880-1920” explores how American Indian authors at the turn of the twentieth century created their own forms of expression through a blend of literacies, based on both languages and landscapes. She hopes her research can contribute to an interrogation of the colonial discourse that continues to direct many federal policies in Indian Country, where questions of sovereignty and jurisdiction continue to complicate issues of environmental justice. She has presented her work at a variety of conferences, including the last two biennial meetings hosted by the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment. Most recently, she shared her work at The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists conference. A recent recipient of the Richey Teaching Award, she has designed and taught Capstone courses and a section of American Literature at the University of South Carolina. Before attending USC, Kristen earned her M.A. in English from Gannon University, where she taught courses in composition and literature as an adjunct instructor. She is immensely grateful for the opportunity to turn full attention to her dissertation.
Stephanie Gray, History
Stephanie Gray is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of History, where she focuses on twentieth-century U.S. cultural history and the development of the national historic preservation movement. Her dissertation, "Restoring America: Historic Preservation and the New Deal," examines the federally-funded restoration of historic landmarks during the Depression years, an overlooked facet of the New Deal's cultural agenda. Before arriving at USC, Stephanie earned a B.A. in History from Mount Holyoke College and an M.A. in Public History from the University of South Carolina. While at USC, Stephanie has taught U.S. History since 1865 and the Practice of Public History. She has received the History Department's Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Darrick Hart Award for her contributions to the field of Public History. Prior to receiving the Bilinski Fellowship, Stephanie was a Presidential Fellow and received a SPARC Grant from the Office of the Vice President for Research to conduct research for her dissertation. Outside of USC, Stephanie is involved in preservation consulting projects in the capital city and is a reading tutor for the Midlands Reading Consortium. She is extremely grateful for the support of the Bilinski Fellowship, which makes possible the completion of her dissertation.
Amber Lee, English
Amber Lee is a PhD candidate in Rhetoric and Composition. She received her BA in English from Clemson University and her MFA in Creative Writing (Fiction) from Emerson College in Boston. Her dissertation problematizes traditional conceptions of rhetorical memory and reframes memory as a nonlinear, generative force. While at USC, Amber has taught English 101, 102, and themed courses. Additionally, this past year she served as Assistant Director of the First-Year English program, in which she edited the custom English 102 textbook, The Carolina Rhetoric. She is an active member of RSA@USC, and was previously secretary, vice president, and president of the organization. Her wider interests include the ethics of temporality, narrative dissonance, and public engagement with history. Amber is very grateful for the generous support of the Russell J. and Dorothy S. Bilinski Dissertation Fellowship program.
Joshua Lundy, English
Joshua Lundy is a Ph.D. candidate in English at the University of South Carolina focusing on 19th and early 20th century U.S. Literature and Culture. Broadly, his research interests cluster around the different ways in which various strains of post-humanist thought help us to reframe and rethink representations of labor, industry, and capitalist social relations in an array of cultural forms. Prior to attending South Carolina, Josh received a B.A. in English from the University of Maryland and an M.A. – also in English – from the University of Mississippi. He has presented papers on a variety of topics at several literary conferences, including ALA, SCMLA, and the Marxist Reading Group Conference, and was a past recipient of the Joel Meyerson Fellowship in American Literature. Over the course of his academic career, he has had the opportunity to teach courses in Composition, Rhetoric, U.S. Popular Fiction, and British Literature. Josh is indebted to the Bilinski Foundation for providing resources that will be extremely helpful in ensuring the successful completion of his dissertation.
Samuel Nielson, Geography
Samuel P. Nielson is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Geography, focusing on immigrant integration in Europe. His interest in the subject derived in part from previous volunteer work with an international non-governmental organization in Belgium and France. At the University of South Carolina, Sam has served on the Graduate School’s Committee for Professional Development and the Presidential Fellows Advisory Council. He was awarded a Presidential Fellowship in a successful effort to recruit him into the doctoral program in Geography and this past June received a short-term Donald J. Puchula Graduate Fellowship in International Affairs from the Walker Institute. Sam has taught introductory world regional geography courses (both in person and online), an introductory human geography course, and also a course on the “Geography of Europe.” His efforts resulted in his receiving the Geography Department’s Graduate Instructor Award. Prior to beginning his Ph.D., Sam practiced law full-time for six years and received multiple honors, including recognition as a “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers Magazine and as one of California’s “Top 40 Attorneys Under 40” by The National Advocates. He earned a J.D. from the University of Iowa College of Law and a B.S. in geography from Brigham Young University. Sam is extremely grateful for the generous support provided by the Russell J. and Dorothy S. Bilinski Dissertation Fellowship.
Patrick O’Brien, History
Patrick O’Brien is a Ph.D. candidate in the History Department, where his work examines loyalist women during the Revolutionary Era. He earned a B.A. in history and sociology from Providence College in 2011 and received an M.A. in history from McGill University in 2012. Before coming to Columbia in the fall of 2014, he taught social studies and coached the basketball team at Cristo Rey Brooklyn High School in New York City. Since beginning his doctoral studies, he has been the recipient of the Newport Historical Society’s Buchanan-Burnham Fellowship, the Massachusetts Historical Society’s W.B.H. Dowse Research Fellowship, and USC’s SPARC Grant. Long interested in American Revolution in Atlantic Canada, O’Brien intends his dissertation, “Unknown and Unlamented: Loyalist Women in Exile and Repatriation, 1775-1800,” to contribute to the growing literature on the loyalist diaspora by examining how women experienced and understood their own place as refugees in British Nova Scotia. He is both humbled and grateful for the generous support of Russell J. and Dorothy S. Bilinski Dissertation Fellowship.
Anna Rogers, Sociology
Anna Sheree Rogers is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Sociology. She was the first ever student in the Sociology program to graduate with Distinction when she received her B.A. in 2012. Already as an undergraduate Anna began to develop her research interests in gender and popular culture, writing her Distinction paper on sexism in the lyrics of various kinds of popular music. In 2015, Anna received her M.A. in sociology on the basis of a thesis on gender dynamics in the heavy metal subculture, focusing in particular on the changing role of, and perceptions about, women as fans and practitioners of heavy metal. Anna’s current research centers on gendered, and sometimes deviant, identity formations in various forms of popular culture, such as in music, television, and film. Her dissertation involves an examination of the dynamics of women’s self-empowerment through the development and adaptation of cultural symbols among women who are self-described 'witches'. She investigates how this role is adopted to navigate the stigma associated with a traditionally deviant status. Anna was a recipient of the Sociology Department's Graduate Teaching Award in 2017 as well as the Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award from the USC Graduate School in 2018. She has taught Introductory Sociology and Society Through the Lens in the Sociology Department. She has presented her research at various international conferences, including meetings of the American Sociological Association, the Society for the Scientific Study of Social Problems, and the Southern Sociological Society. She has also published some of her work, including a book chapter on the use of surveillance in popular culture, and is presently working on publishing results from her M.A. thesis. Anna is very grateful to have received this fellowship from the Russell J. and Dorothy S. Bilinski Dissertation Fellowship program and is looking forward to finalizing her research and hitting the academic job market!
Matthew Wagner, Political Science
Matthew Wagner is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of South Carolina. He received a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Minnesota-Morris and an M.A. in Political Science from San Diego State University. His dissertation “The Dynamics of Vote Buying: Party System Change in Developing Democracies” examines patron-client relationships and party competition in Southeast Asia. As the former recipient of a Fulbright fellowship, from 2016 to 2017 he was a visiting researcher in the Department of Southeast Asian Studies, at the University of Malaya. From 2007 to 2009 he was a Peace Corps volunteer in Southern Thailand. He has completed extensive fieldwork in Malaysia, Thailand, Mexico, Indonesia, Singapore, and the Philippines. Matthew is grateful for the generous support of the Russell J. and Dorothy S. Bilinski Dissertation Fellowship Program.
Caleb Wittum, History
Caleb Wittum is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of History at the University of South Carolina, currently completing a dissertation entitled “The Chasquis of Liberty: An Indigenous Vision of Independence, 1778-1825.” Prior to his doctoral studies, he earned his B.A. in Global Studies and History at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. His research explores a group of itinerant revolutionaries from South America and the intellectual impact they had on the ongoing debates about race, nation, and human rights in the early nineteenth-century Americas. As a graduate student at USC, Caleb has taught courses on Latin American and United States History. In addition, Caleb has presented his research at numerous academic conferences including: The Southeastern Conference of Latin American Studies, the Florida Conference of Historians, the Transatlantic Studies Association Annual Conference, and the Consortium on the Revolutionary Era. His research has previously been supported by grants and fellowships from the University of South Carolina, the Walker Institute of International and Area Studies, and the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University. Caleb is grateful for the support of the Russell J. and Dorothy S. Bilinski Dissertation Fellowship Program.
Samantha Yaussy, Anthropology
Samantha Yaussy is a Ph.D. candidate in Anthropology with an emphasis in biological anthropology. Born and raised in North Carolina, she earned a B.A. in Anthropology from Wake Forest University in 2013, an M.A. in Anthropology from the University of South Carolina (USC) in 2015, and a Certificate of Graduate Study in Applied Statistics from USC in 2016. Her dissertation research compares multiple skeletal collections dating to England’s period of industrialization, to examine the effects of socioeconomic status, demographic characteristics, and exposure to physiological stressors on health and mortality in the context of this economic transition. Samantha’s doctoral research has previously been funded by a National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant and a SPARC Graduate Research Grant. Samantha has also previously received a Rhude M. Patterson Graduate Fellowship, an Eve Cockburn Student Presentation Award, and a Discover USC Graduate Student Poster Award in recognition of her excellence in research and dedication to scholarship. She has presented portions of her research at multiple national and international conferences, including the annual meetings of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists and the Paleopathology Association. Her previous research has been published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Bioarchaeology International, and the International Journal of Paleopathology. While at USC, she has been the lead teaching assistant in the Department of Anthropology’s introductory biological anthropology course, has guest-lectured for several biological anthropology courses, and has served as the lead human osteologist for an archaeological field school in Ashland, Wisconsin. Samantha is immensely grateful for the Russell J. and Dorothy S. Bilinski Dissertation Fellowship, which will allow her to focus on writing her dissertation and earn her doctoral degree ahead of schedule.