Senior Staff

Diana L. Eck

Professor of Comparative Religion and Indian Studies, Faculty of Arts and Sciences
Director, The Pluralism Project



Full-size Photo

Articles and Talks

Curriculum Vitæ [PDF]

Elinor J. Pierce

Research Director

Elinor began working for the Pluralism Project as a student field researcher in San Francisco; she was a section editor for the CD-ROM On Common Ground: World Religions in America and co-editor of World Religions in Boston: A Guide to Communities and Resources. She has been involved in "Religious Diversity News" since its inception in 1997. She developed the Women’s Networks Initiative, and was a content advisor for Acting on Faith: Women’s New Religious Activism in America. Elinor co-produced and co-directed the documentary film Fremont, U.S.A., together with Rachel Antell. She completed her B.A. in anthropology and international studies, with a core in religious studies, from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota (1988); she earned her Master of Theological Studies degree from the Harvard Divinity School (1996). Elinor currently leads the case study initiative.

Whittney Barth

Assistant Director

Whittney began her work with the Pluralism Project as a research associate for our Religious Diversity News in 2010 and continues to work on projects related to the interfaith infrastructure of the United States. In addition to studying religious pluralism academically, she has worked with several interfaith organizations including the Interfaith Youth Core, the Chautauqua Institution, and the Harvard Interfaith Collaborative. As assistant director, Whittney manages student research, manages our summer research programs, provides administrative and financial oversight, and participates in a number of local and national initiatives, conferences, and events on behalf of the Project. Whittney received her BA in comparative religion and American studies with a minor in political science from Miami University (Oxford, Ohio) in 2008. She earned a Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School (2011) where she completed a thesis project exploring the possibilities of integrating interfaith engagement and ecological awareness in response to the growing sense of "placelessness" in modern life.

Ryan R. Overbey


Ryan received his Ph.D. in the Study of Religion from Harvard University in 2010 and his A.B. in Classics & Sanskrit and Religious Studies from Brown University in 2001. He has served as a web assistant and web developer for the Pluralism Project since 2006, and as a Postdoctoral Fellow in 2010–2011. In addition to updating the content for the Pluralism Project website, he has undertaken a major rewrite of the site’s underlying architecture, and developed the infrastructure for the new edition of World Religions in Greater Boston.

Senior Research Associates

Brendan Randall

Senior Research Associate

Brendan Randall is a recovering lawyer and teacher who currently is studying religion, law and education as a doctoral candidate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE). He is interested in how schools can prepare students to live in a religiously diverse democratic society, and his research focuses on civic education for pluralism. Brendan also has a Master of Education from HGSE in school leadership and a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School in religion, ethics, and politics. Before returning to graduate school, Brendan taught history, applied ethics and comparative religion at the Emma Willard School, an independent, all-girls boarding school in Troy, NY.

Summer Interns

Halah Ahmad

Halah is an undergraduate at Harvard College studying government and Near Eastern languages and civilizations. Her interests involve understanding the dynamics of pluralism and segregation in her hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She has been involved in a variety of interfaith and cultural groups in Milwaukee, and now seeks to study cultural and religious groups to explore the place for pluralism and how common ground is established between various identity and value systems.

Sarah Bowers

Sarah is a senior at the University of Utah focusing on international studies, cross-cultural inquiry, and history. She has previously done research in Rome, Italy studying the roles of the Pantheon in the cultural identity of modern day Roman citizens. After her time in Italy, she organized the 14th annual International Inquiry Conference and worked for the international education office, both at Brigham Young University. In addition to her passion for living religions, Sarah loves watching and analyzing film, writing, and gardening.

Brian Cropper

Brian studies comparative religion as a Master of Theological Studies candidate at Harvard Divinity School. Brian recently graduated from Occidental College, where he earned a BA in religious studies with an emphasis in diplomacy and world affairs. He is interested in how understandings of religious diversity can be shared at the local and international levels. To that end, Brian is interested in both contemporary lived religion and ancient history. Outside of class, Brian enjoys traveling, getting lost in YouTube, and riding around Boston on his bike.

Gigi Gonzales

Gigi is a rising senior pursuing a degree in religious studies and history with a minor in dance at Connecticut College. Her academic interests include syncretism and religion in the public sphere. This past spring, Gigi spent the semester in Samoa where she studied globalization and social change with the School for International Studies. During her time at the University of the South Pacific, she presented her research on the recently developed secular dispositions amongst Christian youth groups in Samoa. At Connecticut College, Gigi is president of the Asian Student Association and Hip Hop Club. Gigi also has a strong affinity for surfing, skateboarding, and tacos.

Mike Friedman

Mike is a Wexner Graduate Fellow and doctoral student in the Department of Theology at Georgetown University, where he focuses on interreligious dialogue through parallel studies of Judaism and Buddhism. Previously, Mike completed his BA in religious studies and Near Eastern languages and civilizations at Yale University before earning a Master of Theological Studies in Buddhist studies from Harvard Divinity School. Mike also served as a Woods Teaching Fellow at The Lawrenceville School, where he taught courses on world religions and ethics and became committed to the importance of promoting religious literacy. In his time off, Mike loves to play board games, go hiking, and lead service-learning trips.

Mary “Jem” Jebbia

Jem is a Master of Divinity student at the University of Chicago studying religious pluralism and Islam in the United States. Jem self-identifies as a Mahayana Buddhist and serves as a member of the Spiritual Life Council at the University of Chicago, while completing her field placement in the Spiritual Life office. In the past, Jem has written for the Huffington Post, State of Formation, and the Interfaith Youth Core’s blog. After graduating, she hopes to work in the interfaith youth movement and to train young interfaith leaders. 

Annabel Lindau

Annabel is a rising junior studying religious studies and Arabic at Tufts University. Her areas of interest include the development of Islam in the United States and the community that places of worship provide for recent immigrants. In the past, Annabel has taught English to Latin American immigrants at various community centers in Massachusetts and New York. In the fall of 2014, Annabel plans to study Arabic and Islam in Amman, Jordan. Outside of the academic realm, Annabel’s interests include traveling, playing soccer and listening to music.

Lisa Mishra

Lisa is a rising senior at Illinois Wesleyan University majoring in international studies and economics. Her academic work centers around South and Southeast Asian religious traditions, with particular focus on Hindu-Muslim relations. She is a campus multi-faith ambassador and serves as the Student Senate Awareness Commissioner. Lisa is currently an Andrew Mellon Humanities Scholar and is conducting research towards the configuration of an interfaith prayer space for her campus. In her free time she can be found recording music, reading about faith and feminism, or playing tennis.

Cody Musselman

Cody is a Master of Theological Studies candidate at Harvard Divinity School, focusing on the religions of the Americas, with a special interest in American Civil Religion and material culture. She obtained a BA in religious studies from Kalamazoo College. During her time at Kalamazoo, she studied abroad in Chiang Mai, Thailand with the International Sustainable Development Studies Institute. For the past several years she has worked as an outdoor education instructor. In the future Cody aims to pursue doctoral study in religion.

Zuzu Myers

Zuzu is a recent graduate of Reed College with a BA in religion. Her areas of interest include representation of religious identity, interfaith communication, and anti-bias education as methods of peace and conflict mediation. While at Reed, she interned with the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding where she helped develop curricula for teaching about religion in the classroom.

Brad Seligmann

Brad is a Master of Arts in interreligious studies candidate with the Jesuit School of Theology in the Graduate Theological Union, focusing on dialogue between the Abrahamic traditions. He completed his BA with honors from Xavier University in philosophy, politics, and the public. Prior to moving to California, Brad was the coordinator for an interfaith service and dialogue program at the University of Michigan. He currently serves on the young leadership board for the International Council of Christians & Jews. His research interests include contemporary Jewish-Christian-Muslim relations and religious diversity in higher education.

Yusra Syed

Yusra graduated from Rutgers University with a BA in political science and Middle Eastern studies and will be attending the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London this fall to pursue an MA in Islamic studies. Her research interests include the development of Islamic education in America and Europe, religious rhetoric in political thought, and democratization. While at Rutgers, she served as a peer instructor for student research assistants at the Rutgers Aresty Research Center and wrote a senior thesis on the pathways towards Islamic scholarship in the United States. In addition to her research, Yusra worked as a coordinator for Heritage Summers at Cambridge University. She is also an avid basketball fan and loves traveling.

Lewis West

Lewis West is a graduate student at Harvard Divinity School and the managing editor of Cosmologics, the magazine of the Science, Religion, and Culture Program at HDS. His background is in South Asian studies, and his past work highlights the connections between religion, violence, and law. His current interests concern religion in the interwar period in Europe and America. Lewis has previously worked in anti-poverty activism, museum education, and journalism. He grew up outside Philadelphia.

Donald Westbrook

Donald is a PhD Candidate in American religious history at Claremont Graduate University. He holds a BA in philosophy from the University of California at Berkeley and MA in theology from Fuller Theological Seminary. At Claremont he is preparing a dissertation on the Church of Scientology based on extensive fieldwork and interviews with Scientologists in the United States and abroad. He has published on new religious movements, Mormon-Catholic relations in America, and Coptic Christianity, and has lectured on these topics in the United States, Belgium, and England. Donald is on staff at the Claremont Colleges Digital Library where he works on the team that publishes the Claremont Coptic Encyclopedia.

Jessie Wyatt

Jessie is a junior at Harvard College, pursuing a joint-concentration in social studies and religion, with a focus on the intersection of Islam and politics. She has a particular interest in Islam and United States foreign policy. Jessie spent the last 14 summers at Camp Ajawah in Minnesota as both a camper and, most recently, as the camp’s assistant director. Outside of her academic pursuits, Jessie loves to hike, canoe, travel, and read Jane Austen.