Former Senior Staff
Whittney Barth, Assistant Director
Whittney Barth has assistant director of the Pluralism Project at Harvard University since 2011. In that capacity, she manages student research and oversees the development of the Project’s programming and online resources, including the 2012 transition of On Common Ground: World Religions in America from a CD-ROM to an online format. In 2015, she guest curated an issue of the Journal of Inter-Religious Studies and contributed an article exploring the role of place-making in local interfaith efforts. She is co-author of a chapter on the use of the case method in religious studies, which will appear in a forthcoming volume on teaching inter-religious encounters. She earned a master of divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School and a B.A. in American studies and comparative religion from Miami University (Oxford, OH).
Grove Harris, Managing Director
Grove’s responsibilities included organizational capacity and development, research, outreach, public presentations, administration, and financial management. She oversaw the work of our Affiliates. Particular areas of interest are Teachers’ Resources, Statistics, and the Directory. Her research and writing has included the section on Paganism for the CD-Rom On Common Ground: World Religions In America. She earned her B.A. in women’s studies, business, and religion from the University of Massachusetts (1992). Her Master of Divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School (1996) incorporated studies of organizational development and business management into the study of religion and ethics. She joined the Pluralism Project in 1994.
Erin Loeb, Research Coordinator
Erin graduated from Harvard Divinity School with a Master of Theological Studies degree where she primarily focused on the intersection of religious experience, art, and visual culture. Originally from Los Angeles, she received her BA from the University of California, Berkeley with a double major in English and Art History (2004). Erin has been working with the Pluralism Project for two years on various projects including Religious Diversity News and profiling organizations that work at the intersection of arts and activism. She is especially interested in how visual art, song, and dance help to create religious and cultural identity in contemporary faith communities. She will continue these projects moving forward, as well as coordinating Project research and events.
Kathryn Lohre, Assistant Director
Kathryn began her work with the Pluralism Project as a student researcher on the Women’s Networks initiative in 2000. Her own research for the Project has been focused on women’s interfaith organizing, which formed the basis for our 2007 Radcliffe Seminar on “Women’s Interfaith Initiatives After 9/11.” As assistant director, Kathryn managed 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. Kathryn received her BA in psychology, religion, and women’s studies from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota (1999) and her Master of Divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School (2003). She is currently serving on the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches, and is the President Elect of the National Council of Churches USA.
Deonnie Moodie, Research Coordinator
Deonnie graduated from Harvard Divinity School with a Master of Divinity degree and a focus on Hinduism. Originally from Naperville, Illinois she earned a B.A. from Hope College where she majored in both international studies and German, with a minor in religion. While at Hope, she studied in Austria, Germany and India. She has since spent a collective six months in India. Deonnie has been working with the Pluralism Project for three years on various projects including Religious Diversity News, World Religions in Boston, and the StoryCorps project (in conjunction with NPR and the Library of Congress). She has also conducted research on Hinduism in the United States and coordinated numerous events and conferences hosted by the Pluralism Project as well as staff research.
Alan G. Wagner, Webmaster
Alan is currently a Ph.D. student in the Committee on the Study of Religion at Harvard, focusing on Chinese Buddhism. He received his B.A. in philosophy from Pomona College (1992), and his master of theological studies from Harvard Divinity School (1998). Alan has been working for the Pluralism Project for since 1998, and over the years has implemented a complete site redesign, several searchable databases, an online research submission process, and many other interactive features. He is also the webmaster of the Harvard Buddhist Community and Lowell House, and does freelance web development as well. Alan eschews the use of web design software, preferring to write all his code by hand.
Former Research Associates
Justin Davis is a second year Master of Theological Studies candidate at Harvard Divinity School. He studies the intersection between religion, magic, and medicine, with a particular emphasis on medieval Celtic and Scandinavian folk traditions, as well as early modern American literary and scientific history. With a background in the sociology and history of religion, Justin has worked on many exciting projects, including a research project which examined Millennial responses to the Emerging Church movement, as well as working to combat antisemitism with the Center for Judaic, Holocaust, and Peace studies at Appalachian State University. Always keeping an eye on technology, Justin has also helped to produce a local television show and weekly podcasts that center on the intersection of culture, faith, and art. Justin is excited to join the team at the Pluralism Project, as he believes that the only way to grow and learn from others is through meaningful engagement and dialogue.
Saadia Ahmad is completing her M.A. in Conflict Resolution at UMass Boston, with a concentration on religious conflict and interfaith peacebuilding. She is a 2014 graduate of Providence College, where she began her work in interfaith dialogue and peacebuilding as a Muslim at a Catholic institution. Since then, she has been studying, practicing, and writing about the ways that religious diversity can be engaged with more positively and productively in a world often torn apart by religion. She has worked with organizations such as Kids4Peace, the Interfaith Youth Initiative, and Project Common Bond of Tuesday’s Children. Her Master’s thesis is investigating and analyzing how Muslim leaders in America react and respond to Islamic-claimed terrorism. Upon completing her Master’s degree, Saadia hopes to continue her involvement with interfaith issues and relations between Muslims and non-Muslims, as well as extend her conflict resolution education and experiences to other fields.
Yasmine Flodin-Ali is a rising second year Masters of Theological Studies candidate at Harvard Divinity School. She studies contemporary Muslim American communities and is particularly interested in race, gender, conversion, and Abrahamic interfaith relations. She also has a growing interest in evangelical Christian responses to demographic shifts. Yasmine is very excited to be working with the Pluralism Project because she strongly believes that studying religious micro-communities is the key to understanding the larger story of religion in the United States. She is also passionate about translating the work of academia into the public sphere. This past year she co-created a conference at Harvard Divinity School entitled Beyond Bans, Beyond Walls, which brought together prominent academics and practitioners to examine and re-imagine gender and Islam in theory and practice.
Deborah Frempong completed her Master of Theological Studies degree in Religion, Politics and Ethics at Harvard Divinity School in May 2017. Her studies are at the intersections of the state, gender and religion, particularly in West Africa. She is also interested in literature and film, and their potential to engage all these topics across the spectrum of what is considered private or public, and religious or secular. Debbie’s interest in how migrants fit into the religious and political landscape of United States is what draws her to the Pluralism Project, and she hopes to learn more about their work, challenges and engagements with others.
Jon-Paul Lapeña is a second year Master of Theological Studies candidate at Harvard Divinity School focusing on the New Testament and Early Christian Origins. During his time in obtaining a religious studies degree from San Diego State University, he co-founded the Religious Explorations Club whose mission was to help students comprehend the nature of religious diversity that exists in the community, part in which involved engaging with new religious movements. He is passionate about bridging communities of different religions together and hopes to contribute and gain tools from his experience with the Religious Pluralism Project to help move the cause forward.
Gilana Levavi, a rising senior at Rutgers University, is a religion and philosophy double major. Her passion for pluralism manifests through her academic study of world religions, and her work to foster dynamic interfaith and intra-faith communities on campus. She is co-president of Rutgers Shalom/Salaam, a Muslim and Jewish-focused student organization that facilitates dialogue and service while building a religiously and culturally diverse community. As vice-president of pluralism and education on the Rutgers Hillel student board, Gilana plans learning opportunities that foster interaction between students of a variety of Jewish identities, and she coordinates the Hillel community’s involvement in interfaith programming. Gilana also pursues an interest in mental health stigma through assisting a psychology professor in research on public attitudes toward mental illness, and through her founding and leadership of the Project to Promote Mental Health Dialogue at Rutgers Hillel.
Katherine (Kassie) Maxeiner graduated this spring with a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School, where she focused on issues of religious difference in democracies with particular attention to Islam and education in the USA. Her interest in religious diversity and pluralism began on the streets of New York City and was honed in the rolling prairie of Minnesota, where she attended Carleton College and worked on a project with Somali Muslim and white Christian high school youth. At HDS, she worked with the Religious Literacy Project on a long-term project that aims to map how religion is taught in US public high schools. As the summer begins, she is looking forward to learning the particularities of the Boston religious landscape and seeing how pluralism and engagement occur on the ground and outside of the theories of the ivory tower.
Lucy Soucek is a rising Senior at Colby College majoring in Religious Studies and Theater and Dance. She has completed multiple projects involving interfaith exploration through the Compagna-Sennett Fellowship program, including a project studying the history and influence of Sikhism in Vancouver, B.C., and a study focusing on the strong and influential interfaith community in Fresno, California. She published an article in Change Magazine about the importance of interfaith understanding at educational institutions such as Colby College, and contributed to several chapters of Sikhism: A Quick Reference. As an intern for the Pluralism Project, she is thrilled to learn more about how to foster productive interfaith communities across America, and to expand knowledge, understanding, and appreciation for all religions.
Rosie Busiakiewicz is from London, England, and received her joint Bachelor’s Degree in art history and theology from the University of Cambridge in 2014. During her time she focused on religious art and architecture, and wrote about the design and curation of the Jewish Museum Berlin for her undergraduate thesis. She then moved to the Courtauld Institute of Art to continue her art historical studies, gaining an MA in the history of photography. She has been with The Pluralism Project since December, where she is responsible for updating and re-cataloging the vast archive of photographic slides. She combines this with her work as a teaching fellow at Harvard Art Museums, where she leads lessons for local teenagers, while studying for her Ed.M in art education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Maggie Krueger is a Master of Theological Studies candidate at Harvard Divinity School with focus in religion, ethics and politics. Sh obtained her undergraduate degree in journalism from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio in 2014, where she developed an interest in religion reporting, international relations and social justice. Maggie also has a passion for traveling, studying and working in such diverse places as Tel Aviv, Israel, Leipzig, Germany and New Delhi, India. A Chicagoland native, she looks forward to exploring Boston, understanding the breadth of religious pluralism around her and learning more about food justice and agricultural politics in her free time.
MK is a Master of Theological Studies candidate at Harvard Divinity School where she focuses on Theravada Buddhist literature and practice in South and Southeast Asia. After completing a BA in Religion at Smith College, she bicycled across the USA to raise money for affordable housing, taught at a rural primary school near Varanasi, India, and managed environmental field stations in Bhutan, Australia and New Zealand for The School for Field Studies. Drawn back to the academic world, MK completed an MA in International Relations & Religion at Boston University in 2014, where she pursued research on religious diversity in Burma/Myanmar and the relationships between Burmese Buddhist ritual practice and the formation of political communities. MK plans to continue to prepare for doctoral work in Buddhist Studies by grappling with exciting challenges at HDS and The Pluralism Project.
Maggie Krueger, Research Associate
MK Long, Research Associate
Cody Musselman, Research Associate
Cody is a Master of Theological Studies candidate at Harvard Divinity School, focusing on American religious history, with a special interest in the American interFaith movement, American Civil Religion, the American Civil War 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. In the future Cody aims to pursue doctoral study in religion.
Abhishek Raman, Research Associate
A native of New Delhi, India, Abhishek is a Master of Divinity candidate with a focus on Hinduism at Harvard Divinity School. After graduating from Clark University with a double major in Government & International Relations and Sociology, Abhishek initially worked at Harvard’s Pluralism Project on the Case Study Initiative before moving to Chicago to work at Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC). In 2013, Abhishek was selected by the World Economic Forum as a Global Shaper, a group of leaders under the age of 30 charged with catalyzing positive social change in their respective communities. He is a Resident at Harvard’s Center for the Study of World Religions, serves as a Young Professional Ambassador of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, and regularly consults with political organizations and candidates on developing faith-based partnerships. Abhishek is the quintessential political news junkie and spends his free time rooting for the Boston Red Sox and the New England Patriots.
Brendan Randall, Senior Research Associate
Rachel Foran, Resarch Associate
Rachel is a first-year Master of Theological Studies candidate at Harvard Divinity School, focusing on religion and the social sciences. She graduated in 2012 with a BA in religion from Carleton College where she spent two years conducting ethnographic fieldwork among Somali Muslim immigrants in rural Minnesota, examining the role of embodied and discursive religiosity in the self-formation of high school girls within that community. Rachel also spent a summer interning with the Interfaith Youth Core’s Campus Partnerships program and another summer volunteering in Bethlehem, Palestine. Besides all things related to religious studies, she also loves traveling, running, NPR podcasts, and ice cream.
Usra Ghazi, Research Associate
Usra is a Master of Theological Studies candidate at Harvard Divinity School with a focus on religion, ethics, and politics. She completed her BA in religion and social justice at DePaul University and was previously on staff at Interfaith Youth Core in Chicago where she supported interfaith efforts at colleges and universities across the United States. Prior to that, she spent two years in Amman, Jordan teaching English and working with Islamica Magazine and the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre. In addition to research, she served as a contributor and editor of “The 500 Most Influential Muslims,” a resource co-published with Georgetown University’s Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding. In addition to her work at the Project this year, Usra is a Junior Fellow at the Center for the Study of World Religions.
Sehrish Khan, Research Associate
Sarah is a Master of Theological Studies candidate at Harvard Divinity School, specializing in Islamic studies, and women, gender, sexuality in religion. Her main areas of academic studies are interfaith dialogue, religious pluralism, religious tolerance, and ethics. She obtained a double BA from George Mason University in English and religious studies. During her senior year at GMU, she presented research at the George Mason University Research Symposium on spiritually egalitarian interpretations of Eve and Adam. In the future, she hopes to obtain a PhD in religious pluralism and master both Arabic and Hebrew.
Karen Terry, Research Associate
Karen is a Master of Theological Studies candidate in Religion, Ethics, and Politics at Harvard Divinity School. Her areas of interest include representation and religious identity, pluralism in the United States, and interfaith dialogue. She is a graduate of Haverford College where she earned a BA in religion and a minor in the history of art. Before moving to Cambridge, Karen worked at the Association for Jewish Studies in New York City and volunteered for Groundswell, a multi-faith social action movement housed at Auburn Seminary.
Danish Zaidi, Research Associate
Danish earned a BA from Georgetown University and is currently pursuing a Masters of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School. His research interests include the evolutionary patterns of Judaism and Islam in America, post-Freudian theology, and the politics of faith-based community organizing. While at Georgetown, Danish rowed for Georgetown Lightweight Crew, tutored for DC Reads, and served on student government and as a resident advisor for three years. He also emceed Rangila, Georgetown’s annual South Asian dance show. In the coming semesters and in his involvement with the Pluralism Project, Danish hopes to further explore the way religion influences and is influenced by America.
Amrita Dani, Research Intern
Amrita Dani is a senior at Harvard College. She is concentrating in Literature, with a focus on Arabic and Francophone literature of the Middle East and North Africa. She spent last summer as a research fellow in Cambridge, UK working on an independent research project studying English Romantic poetry. During the academic year, Amrita is involved with the Phillips Brooks House Association program, BRYE, through which she volunteers as an ESL enrichment teacher in Dorchester for children of recent immigrants, as well as an on-campus peer counseling group focusing on issues of gender, identity, and relationships. She also sings with the Harvard Radcliffe Collegium Musicum, a mixed chamber choir that performs master works and a cappella repertoire on campus.
Sarah Khan, Research Intern
Chris Alburger, Research Associate
Chris Alburger is a Master of Divinity candidate at Harvard Divinity School, on the ordination track to become a Unitarian Universalist minister. As a Spiritual Activist Fellow with the Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry from 2011 to 2012, Chris lobbied for the Human Right to Water and advocated for immigration reform. Since its inception in 2011, Chris has also been a contributing writer for the Humanist Community Project and seeks to encourage conversation among interfaith, Humanist, and Unitarian Universalist movements. In June 2012, Chris participated in the Building an Interfaith Leadership Seminar. This academic year, Chris will be working on content updates to On Common Ground: World Religions in America.
Paul Escobar, Research Associate
Paul Escobar, a graduate in the Rhetoric, French, and Religious Studies departments at UC Berkeley, is now a Master of Theological Studies candidate specializing in Philosophy of Religion at Harvard Divinity School. His main areas of academic interest and work are the intersections of cognitive neuroscience, religious experience and belief, and religion in the public sphere. Paul approaches these topics in a decidedly pragmatic (of the William James variety) philosophical perspective. After finishing at HDS, Paul intends to pursue another Master degree in Cognitive Neuroscience. As a Research Associate with the Pluralism Project, Paul will be updating the Religious Diversity Newsfeed and offering content and editing support for On Common Ground: World Religions in America.
Sara Lytle, Research Associate
Sara Lytle is a senior at Harvard College, concentrating in the Comparative Study of Religion with a secondary field in Psychology. She focuses on Buddhism and Religions in America/the Modern West and is currently writing her senior thesis on how Buddhist approaches to end of life care impact hospice caregivers in Malaysia and California. She has done work on interfaith interaction and immigration, the role of religion in identity and meaning making, and, most recently, on the role between religion and mental, physical, and emotional well-being. On campus, she is involved in mental health advocacy, theater, and the Harvard radio. She is also a teacher with Harvard STAGE, through which she teaches elementary school students theater and performing arts. At the Pluralism Project, Sara will be working on multimedia and photography updates for On Common Ground: World Religions in America.
Melissa Nozell, Research Associate
Melissa is a Master of Theological Studies candidate at Harvard Divinity School, focusing on Islamic Studies. After graduating from Colgate University in May 2010 with a BA in Religion and South Asian Studies, she served as the Summer Intern at the Pluralism Project, followed by a year teaching in Abu Dhabi. This past summer, as a recipient of the Greeley International Internship fellowship, she worked at the Jordanian Interfaith Coexistence Research Center (JICRC) in Amman, where her research and outreach emphasized Arab Christian-Muslim relations and faith-based diplomacy. Her academic interests include understanding the ways in which and extent to which religious traditions affect culture and identity on a local and international scale. In her second year as a Research Associate at the Pluralism Project, Melissa offers administrative and research support to Dr. Diana Eck while contributing to various endeavors at the Project.
Brendan Randall, Senior Research Associate
April Winebrenner-Palo, Research Associate
April Winebrenner-Palo completed her BA in Religion from Hamline University in Saint Paul, Minnesota in 2011. She is now pursuing her Masters in Theological Studies at Harvard Divinity School. While her academic background is in Celtic and Norse comparative mythology, most of her professional work focuses on multireligious community organizing. She has held leadership roles in interfaith campus and community projects, youth leadership development, and service work, including campaigns on labor rights, climate change, and refugee resettlement. As a Research Associate, April will be collecting fieldwork and working on content updates for On Common Ground: World Religions in America.
Jaisy Joseph, Research Associate
Jaisy Joseph is a Master of Divinity student at Harvard Divinity School. Her main areas of academic interest are the history and theology of pre-colonial Christianities, particularly those that developed outside of direct Roman influence (Syriac, Coptic, and Greek). Jaisy is interested in how the migration of Eastern Christianities enriches and challenges notions of Christianity in the United States. She authored The Struggle for Identity Among Syro-Malabar Catholics, a text presently used in Sunday School classrooms to teach the emerging second generation of Syro-Malabar Catholics about their history. At the Pluralism Project, Jaisy has authored Needing Space, a case study that elaborates upon the engagement between Eastern and Roman Catholic Christianities in Greater Boston for our Case Study Initiative and our World Religions in Greater Boston resource.
Melissa Nozell, Research Associate
Joshua Whitson, Research Associate
Joshua Whitson is a second year Master of Theological Studies candidate at Harvard Divinity School, focusing on East Asian Religious Studies. He received his BA in Religion with minors in Asian Studies, Diversity Studies, and Sociology from Baldwin-Wallace College. His academic work focuses on Chinese Buddhism and Daoism, and specifically the ways in which those religions have changed in the American context. As a Research Associate at the Pluralism Project, Josh will engage in research, writing, and tasks related to the technical support for the On Common Ground 2.0 project.
April Winebrenner-Palo, Research Associate
Alex Hernández-Siegel, Community Associate
Alex attended American University in Washington, DC and Millersville University of Pennsylvania for his BA in Cultural Anthropology. He holds a Master of Arts degree from Dartmouth College in Cultural Anthropology/Public Policy. His research interests include interfaith and intercultural dialogue, religious and cultural diversity in urban communities, immigration, and Latinos in higher education. His career has been in higher education, serving as Assistant Dean of Student Life in the Office of Pluralism and Leadership (OPAL) at Dartmouth College as an academic advisor, and a guest lecturer in the Departments of Religion and Sociology. He is engaged in Mennonite service programs and organizations in the United States.
Kristen Arn, Research Intern
Kristen Arn is a junior at Harvard College. Her academic areas of interests include the study of comparative religions and social psychology. Kristen is involved in the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School, where she coordinates events to bring international political and social leaders into conversation with Harvard undergraduates. She also dedicates much of her time to the Crimson Key Society, a social service organization that organizes campus wide events and participates in community outreach to Cambridge middle schools.
Isabel Hebert, Research Intern
Isabel Hebert is a sophomore at Harvard College. Her main academic interests include the study of comparative religion and ethics. Isabel worked with PeacePlayers International (PPI), where she assisted with grant requests in PPI’s Washington, DC office and helped to organize their efforts to assist children in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. At the Pluralism Project, Isabel will help manage the distribution of educational resources, contribute to the planning of Pluralism Project events, and assist with other administrative tasks.
Alex Hernández-Siegel, Community Associate
Whittney Barth, Research Associate
Abbas Jaffer, Research Associate
Abbas Jaffer is a second year Master of Theological Studies student at Harvard Divinity School, focusing on Islamic Studies. He received his BA in Global Political Economy with a minor in Sociology from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. His academic work focuses on gender in South Asian Muslim communities, and ideas of masculinity in particular. At the Pluralism Project, Abbas will research issues of gender and leadership in the American Muslim community for the Case Study Initiative.
Jaisy Joseph, Research Associate; Field Education Placement
Shenila Khoja-Moolji, Research Associate
Shenila Khoja-Moolji graduated from Harvard Divinity School in 2010 with a Master of Theological Studies degree focused on Islamic Studies and gender. She is currently pursuing a Master in International Educational Development at Teacher’s College, Columbia University. Shenila also serves as the Communications Coordinator for His Highness the Aga Khan Ismaili Council for North Eastern United States. Her academic research interests include women’s development and the role of education in promoting social justice. At the Pluralism Project, Shenila is examining the emerging Muslim chaplaincy, and in particular female Muslim chaplains’ contribution to the development of civil society.
Zachary Ugolnik, Research Associate
Zachary Ugolnik graduated from Harvard Divinity School with a Master of Theological Studies where he focused on Eastern Christian Studies. He received his BA from Syracuse University in Religion and International Relations, and minored in Photojournalism. Zachary is interested in engaging Eastern Christianity in comparative analysis and dialogue with other traditions, especially through the exploration of visual culture. At the Pluralism Project, Zachary researched Eastern Orthodox Christianity for World Religions in Greater Boston. He currently provides research and administrative support for Dr. Diana Eck.
Lina Verchery, Research Associate
Lina Verchery received a Master of Divinity degree in Buddhist Studies from Harvard Divinity School in 2010. Lina makes films that explore religious issues, having most recently written and directed La Trappe/The Trap , a bilingual documentary about Buddhist monks and Acadian lobster fishermen on Cape Breton island. “La Trappe” won “Best French-Canadian Short Film” at the Festival International du Cinéma Francophone en Acadie (FICFA) in 2008. Lina is currently working on a number of projects that combine her academic work in Religious Studies with her passion for filmmaking, including an entry on film and religion for a forthcoming Religious Studies textbook and several film projects. At the Pluralism Project, Lina is exploring the use of documentary film as a tool for enhancing the Case Study method.
PJ Andrews, World Religions in Greater Boston Research Associate
PJ is a candidate in the Master of Education program at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education where he studies healthy learning environments with a focus on the role of background (spirituality, race and culture) and context (family, school and community). Before his arrival at Harvard, he served the Bahá’í Faith at its World Center in Haifa, Israel. Originally from Newton, Massachusetts, PJ received his BA from Tufts University with a major in American Studies. At the Pluralism Project, PJ researches the Bahá’í Faith for World Religions in Greater Boston.
Vaughn Booker, Case Study Research Associate
Vaughn is a Master of Divinity student at Harvard Divinity School focusing on religion in America and African American religious history. He graduated from Dartmouth College with an AB in Religion. Vaughn is interested in the presentation and popular reception of theological discourse in political movements. At the Pluralism Project, Vaughn focuses on researching and developing theological case studies that concern interreligious conflict.
Josh Daneshforooz, Film Initiative Research Associate
Josh is currently pursuing a Master of Theological Studies at Harvard Divinity School, where he focuses in comparative theology. Originally from Las Vegas, he received a BA in Philosophy, with minors in Communication Studies and English, from Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California. During his first year at Harvard, Josh researched the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries, and the Boston branch of Soka Gakkai International. Josh is now writing an interfaith relations curriculum for implementation in local churches. At the Pluralism Project, Josh is working with film as a medium for advancing pluralism.
Kate DeConinck, Senior Research Associate
Kate received her BA from Connecticut College in 2008 with a double major in Religious Studies and English. She is currently a Master of Theological Studies student at Harvard Divinity School, focusing on Religion, Ethics and Politics. Kate’s interests lie in the intersection of religion and culture, particularly as related to issues of religious accommodation, religion and the media, and sacred space. At the Pluralism Project, Kate manages staff email and assists with Project events and research.
Polly Hamlen, Senior Research Associate
Polly has been active for many years in ecumenical and interfaith dialogue, as a lay leader within the United Church of Christ. She currently serves as Vice-President of the Board of Directors for Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries, and as Chair of the Commission for Ecumenism for the Massachusetts Conference, United Church of Christ. In 2004, she received a Masters in Ecumenical Studies from the University of Geneva for studies at the Bossey Ecumenical Institute. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Religion from Carleton College, in Minnesota, and a Masters of Divinity degree from the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA. Her areas of interest include the history of the ecumenical movement, the history of interpretation of the Gospel of John, Jewish-Christian relations, and Boston’s religious history. At the Pluralism Project, Polly conducts research on Christianity for World Religions in Boston, and assists with the Case Study Initiative.
Sarah Harcourt, Senior Research Associate
Sarah is a Master of Theological Studies student at Harvard Divinity School focusing on religious studies and education. She graduated from Transylvania University, a small liberal arts college in Lexington, Kentucky, with a degree in Elementary Education and Religion. Sarah is interested in religion as a category of cultural relevance in students’ lives as well as Hindu and Christian religious practices in the United States. At the Pluralism Project, Sarah focuses on the Case Study Initiative and assists with other administrative tasks.
Katie Merriman, Senior Research Associate
Katie is a Master of Theological Studies student at Harvard Divinity School with a focus on Islamic Studies. She received her BA from Vassar College, with a major in Religion and a minor in Arabic, and studied in Morocco and Egypt. Katie’s academic interests include Muslim identity construction, cultural forms of religious life, and religious orthodoxy in Islam. At the Pluralism Project, Katie will conduct research on other multi-religious societies, provide research assistance to the Director, and will pursue projects on Islam in America.
Kimberly Richards, Senior Research Associate
Kimberly received her Master of Theological Studies degree from Harvard Divinity School in 2009 and her BA in Religious Studies and Political Science from Connecticut College in 2007. She is interested in the role of religion in public life and coverage of religion in the media. As a senior research associate at the Project, she works primarily on Religious Diversity News.
Lina Verchery, Student Film Affiliate
Roger Baumann, Research Associate
Roger is a Master of Theological Studies student at Harvard Divinity School, specializing in Religion, Ethics and Politics. Originally from Waterloo, Ontario, he received his BA from the University of Waterloo in Religious Studies. His interests include issues of multiculturalism and religious pluralism, particularly with respect to Muslim communities in North America. At the Pluralism Project, he is focusing on case studies of Boston’s Islamic community.
Tiffany Curtis, Research Associate
Tiffany is a Master of Divinity student at Harvard Divinity School. Originally from California, she graduated from Chapman University in 2007 with a BA in Peace Studies, emphasizing in Latin American Studies. During the past year, she has lived in Costa Rica, Spain, and Los Angeles, working in the labor movement and in environmental and peace activism. She is pursuing ordination in the Disciples of Christ denomination, and is particularly interested in interfaith dialogue, community organizing, peace-building, and initiatives for social change. Tiffany will be assisting with the Boston Workshop project this year, and will provide support for the premiere and distribution of Fremont, USA.
Kate DeConinck, Research Associate
Sarah Harcourt, Research Associate
Thomas Leenders, Research Associate
Thomas is a recent graduate from Harvard Divinity School (hence the levitating mortarboard), where he earned a Masters of Theological Studies degree with a focus on Religion, Politics and Ethics. Prior to coming to Harvard, Thomas gained an MA in philosophy from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia and a BA from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, where he double-majored in religious studies and philosophy. His academic interests lie broadly in rights theory, wherein he champions a modified capabilities approach as a vindication of religious pluralism, other human rights and the rights of animals. He is particularly curious about the nitty-gritty of how we ought justly to mediate between competing interests of various stakeholders and right-bearers. With the Pluralism Project, Thomas will be focusing on the case study initiative.
Katie Merriman, Research Associate
Babak Mostaghimi, Research Associate
Babak is a Master of Public Policy student at Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He received his BA from Johns Hopkins University with a double major in International Relations and Economics. At Johns Hopkins, Babak chaired Coming Together 2: A National Gathering of College and University Multi-Faith Councils and was president of the Johns Hopkins Bahá’í Club. Prior to Harvard, Babak was a Teach for America Corps Member in the Mississippi Delta where he taught 5th grade. At the Pluralism Project, he is focusing on student-led interfaith initiatives in the US and will assist with the World Religions in Boston project.
Iram Nadroo, Research Associate
Iram is a Master of Theological Studies student at Harvard Divinity School with a focus in Islamic Studies. Born in India, Iram grew up in New York City. She received her BA in Religion and Classics, and a BS in Evolutionary Biology and Ecology from the University of Rochester. Iram is interested in classical Sufi thought, artistic expressions of Muslim piety, and the way in which various Muslim groups negotiate issues of identity. With the Pluralism project, Iram is working on a case study that explores a controversy at a New York mosque.
Kimberly Richards, Senior Research Associate
Derek Shepard, Research Associate
Derek is a Master of Divinity student at Harvard Divinity School, with a focus on Buddhism. He received a BA in Political Science from Washington State University. Before coming to the Pluralism Project, he served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ratchaburi, Thailand working in the education sector. Derek’s interests in Buddhism are primarily with the practice of meditation, Buddhist social movements, and the role of ritual in the Theravada tradition. At the Pluralism Project he will be working on Religious Diversity News and developing international portraits of pluralism.
Rodney Yeoh, Interfaith Curriculum Consultant
Rodney received his Masters of Theological Studies degree from HDS in 2007 where he concentrated on issues related to Islam and the West. During that time, his work at the Pluralism Project was on international multi-religious contexts. Currently, Rodney is the Coordinator of Social Justice Education programming at Beaver Country Day School, a private high school in Chestnut Hill, Boston. He also is serving as the Interfaith Curriculum Consultant to the Pluralism Project, developing and teaching a class on World Religions using the Project’s resources and networks. As part of this work, he will reach out to high school students to develop an awareness of and involvement with interfaith work.
Sabrina Zearott, Research Associate
Sabrina received her BA in social anthropology from Harvard College in 2009. Her interests lie in interfaith dialogue and education as well as the integration of religions and cultures into US society. At the Pluralism Project, Sabrina will be responsible for updating the website and assisting with the redesign of the World Religions in Boston site interface.
Emilia Bachrach, Research Associate
Emilia is a Master of Theological Studies student at Harvard Divinity School focusing on religion in South Asia. As an undergraduate at Smith College, she studied abroad in India. She has returned to India subsequently to study Hindu-Vaishnava devotional traditions in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. Emilia’s intellectual interests include ritual and performance theory, women’s ritual practice, and Hindu devotional poetry and performance. At the Pluralism Project Emilia will be supporting the Jain Summer Studies Program, acting as a liaison between the Jain community and the academy.
Geoff Barstow, Research Associate
Geoff is a Master of Theological Studies student at Harvard Divinity School, focusing on Tibetan Buddhism. Raised in Texas, he received a B.A. in Buddhist studies from Hampshire College. Prior to his arrival at Harvard, he studied for several years at a Tibetan Monastery in Nepal. Geoff’s interests in Buddhism vary widely, but he has developed a particular affection for recent Tibetan religious history. At the Pluralism Project, Geoff’s work includes researching Buddhism and writing international portraits.
Will Ellis, Research Associate
Will graduated with a B.A. from Kenyon College, where he majored in Philosophy and minored in Religious Studies. He also spent a year abroad studying different forms of Buddhism in Japan. After graduation, Will lived in Thailand for almost two years, teaching in the English Department of Chiang Mai University and pursuing his interest in Buddhism. Upon returning to the U.S., he began to work as a grant writer and development associate for Thanks-Giving Square, a non-profit organization in Dallas, Texas dedicated to programs of interfaith education and cooperation. At the Pluralism Project, Will will assist with general research, focusing especially on the case studies initiative and Buddhism in Boston.
Mariah Furness, Research Associate
Mariah is a Master of Divinity Student at Harvard Divinity School, and is a candidate for ordination in the United Methodist Church. Originally from Owatonna, Minnesota, she eared a B.A. from the University of Minnesota (2003) with majors in Journalism, Spanish and Political Science. Before coming to Harvard, she worked for the Council for Worker Education in Queens, New York and as the Cultural Liaison for Columbia Heights Public Schools in Minnesota. Her research interests include diaspora and migration studies as well as helping Christian religious leaders learn to talk about pluralism within their congregations and in their greater communities. At the Pluralism Project, Mariah will contribute to the case studies and women’s initiatives.
Kendra Goodson, Research Associate
Kendra is a Master of Divinity student at Harvard Divinity School focusing on Christianity. Kendra grew up in North Carolina where she also attended Wake Forest University, where she earned a B.A. in Biology and Religion (2007). While at Wake Forest, she conducted a summer of research in Italy focusing on the art produced by medieval monasticism and also had the opportunity to travel to India and work with the Missionaries of Charity (Mother Teresa’s group) in hospices throughout Calcutta. This experience, and her work with the Interfaith Council at Wake Forest, made religious pluralism a personal and important issue to Kendra. At the Pluralism Project, Kendra will provide assistance with staff email and World Religions in Boston.
Nathaniel Katz, Research Associate
Nathaniel Katz is a Master of Divinity student at Harvard Divinity School. Nathaniel is originally from New Jersey and received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern California School of International Relations in 2002. Prior to his studies at HDS, Nathaniel spent three years on the staff of Southern California Public Radio, which operates 89.3 KPCC-FM, Southern California’s only 24-hour public radio news and information service. He hopes to pursue a ministry of interfaith conflict resolution and post-conflict reconciliation. At the Pluralism Project, Nathaniel will contribute to the case studies initiative and provide assistance with press outreach.
Erin Loeb, Research Associate
Chris Morales, Research Associate
Chris is a Master of Theological Studies student at Harvard Divinity School focusing on ethics and public policy. He received a B.A. in Religious Studies from California State University, Long Beach. Besides studying the diverse religious communities of Los Angeles, he was employed by the Department of Health and Human Services, where he conducted ethnographic research on localized sexual trends related to the spread of HIV. His current research interests include cultural analysis and cosmopolitan ethics. At the Pluralism Project, Chris works on Religious Diversity News and will contribute to the case studies initiative.
Kimberly Richards, Research Associate
Derek Shepard, Research Associate
Sabrina Zearott, Research Associate
Cemelli de Aztlan, Research Associate
Cemelli hails from El Paso, Texas and received her B.A. in religious studies and English at Concordia University in Austin, Texas. As a Master of Divinity student at Harvard Divinity School, Cemell hopes to continue her passion for social justice along the U.S. and Mexico Border. At the Pluralism Project she will be updating our resources on both Christianity and Native Peoples, as well as providing administrative support.
Geoff Barstow, Research Associate
Caitlin Yoshiko Buysse, Research Associate
Caitlin is a first year Master of Theological Studies student at Harvard Divinity School concentrating on Islamic Studies. She recently completed a B.A. in religion at Northwestern University, and will spend the next academic year in Sri Lanka as a Fulbright scholar. Her academic interests include Muslim-American converts, Malcolm X, the Progressive Muslim movement, and spiritual autobiographies. She will serve as the Islam point person for the Pluralism Project.
Chris Byrnes, Research Associate
Chris is a Master of Theological Studies student focusing on religious pluralism and Islam. For the past few years Chris has been doing interfaith dialogue work and continues to cultivate this passion through the Dialogue Forum – an organization that explores new models for dialogue and encourages the use of both conventional and unconventional mediums. He has a B.A. in both physics and religion from Denison University (2004). At the Pluralism Project Chris is working on Religious Diversity News and serves as the point person for the Sikh community.
Anjuli Dhindhwal, Research Associate
Anjuli Dhindhwal is a Master of Divinity student at Harvard Divinity School. She has recently finished her Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Columbia University. Prior to that she completed a B.A. at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Her primary focus with the Pluralism Project is on new expressions of arts and activism, specifically that of second and third generation South Asian-Americans. She is also our Hinduism point person.
Kate Dugan, Research Associate
Kate is in her second year of the Master of Theological Studies program at Harvard Divinity School, where she is studying ethics. Originally from South Dakota, Kate graduated with majors in peace studies and theology from the College of St. Benedict. Before coming to Harvard Divinity School, Kate worked with women’s affordable housing groups in North Carolina. She also worked in economic development and marketing for a small wine region in Oregon and Washington. Kate’s work at the Pluralism Project focuses on Women’s Networks and she assists with Religious Diversity News.
Rahim Kanani, Research Associate
Originally from Vancouver, Canada, Rahim completed his B.A. in philosophy with a focus on ethics at the University of Western Ontario (2006). As a summer intern in 2006, Rahim researched various initiatives that law enforcement agencies have enacted to educate their officers regarding religious diversity. He also participated in The Young Global Leaders Summit on the Future of U.S.-Muslim Relations in New York. Currently, Rahim provides technology consulting to the Pluralism Project and is a Research Associate under the National Security and Human Rights Program at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.
Erin Loeb, Research Associate
Deonnie Moodie, Research Associate
Chris Morales, Research Associate
Christina Pei-Fang Shu, Research Associate
Christina is a first year Master of Divinity student at Harvard Divinity School where she hopes to explore her interests in interreligious dialogue, particularly between Christian and Buddhist communities. Originally from San Diego, California, she received a B.A. in religious studies from Stanford University. While attending Stanford she spent a year abroad in Kyoto and Oxford, as well as completing a senior honors thesis on Buddhist-Christian dialogue. At the Pluralism Project she will be focusing on American Buddhist communities and networks.
Emily Ronald, Research Associate
Emily is in the second year of her program towards a Mater of Theological Studies degree at Harvard Divinity School, concentrating on the intersection of religion, ethics, and narrative. She has worked as a volunteer, a costume stitcher, a Dean’s assistant, a janitor, and a milliner, as well as at several other occupations, before becoming a Research Associate. At the Pluralism Project she researches new forms of interfaith cooperation and dialogue, besides managing staff email.
Laine Walters, Research Associate
Laine is a second year Master of Theological Studies student who studies American society and Christianity, but more specifically the types of public and private decisions we make about resources and relationships (also known as ethics). This is her second year working as a research associate for the Pluralism Project where she has pondered how to bridge the seeming divide between local government and immigrant faith communities. She currently works on Religious Diversity News and enjoys her weekly eagle’s-eye-view of how religion in America is challenged and supported by various faith traditions. She also greatly enjoys conversations with her co-workers.
Aaron White, Research Associate
Aaron is a third year Master of Divinity student at Harvard Divinity School. His area of academic interest is comparative religious ethics, with a focus on performance and narrative. He is preparing for future graduate study in religious ethics as well as ordination in the Unitarian Universalist church. With the Pluralism Project this year, Aaron will be assisting with content updates for various religious traditions and providing administrative support.
Rodney Yeoh, Research Associate
James Young, Jr., Research Associate
James is a second year Master of Divinity student at Harvard Divinity School with an interest in American religious cultures and the New Testament. Originally from Epsom, New Hampshire, he received his B.A. from Dartmouth College in 2005 where he double majored in religion and economics. James served as an intern with the Pluralism Project during the summer of 2004, when he conducted research on atheism and non-religious philosophies and also performed a variety of office tasks. James currently provides support services to the Managing Director.
Former Summer Interns and Fellows
Emma Bass, Summer Research Intern
Emma Bass is a religious studies and international relations student at Mount Allison University. She is interested in the study of contemporary Buddhist practice in North America. This past year she traveled to the Bay Area to conduct interviews with Buddhist centers and scholars in order to gain a deeper understanding of the many forms of practice. She turned these interviews into a podcast series, Broadcasting Buddhism, which explores key themes and questions that arise when researching Buddhist practice in North America. Outside of the classroom Emma is the Managing Editor of a student-run arts and culture magazine, Zettel Magazine.
Mahek Bhojani, Summer Research Intern
A Sugar Land, TX native, Mahek is a graduate of New York University where she obtained her BA in economics and Middle Eastern and Islamic studies. During her time at NYU, she studied abroad in London and Abu Dhabi and volunteered with organizations including the Institute of Ismaili Studies. Mahek is passionate about exploring the intersection between religion and law and plans to pursue a JD in international law. Outside of academics, Mahek enjoys travelling, playing basketball, and is an epicure at heart.
Shannon Boley, Summer Research Intern
Shannon Boley is majoring in religious studies at Hamilton College. She focuses on religious diversity in America, and on India’s religious landscape: specifically the East/West encounter. She is also interested in the intersection of gender and religion. Her previous research experience includes studying how religious spaces in Utica, NY have changed over time based on the arrival of immigrant and refugee populations and looking at how distinct, ethnic traditions have shaped some of Utica’s Catholic churches. In the fall, she will be in India researching the concept of inter-religious cooperation in India’s NGOs and plans to study Catholicism in Rome, Italy the following spring. In her free time, Shannon enjoys painting and writing poetry.
Faezeh Fathizadeh, Summer Research Intern
Faezeh is a senior at the University of California, Riverside where she is pursuing a degree in religious studies. Her interests involve understanding the dynamics of pluralism and syncretism in intra-religious dialogue. She has previously done research on the intersection between the impact of media on identity formation and the role of communal spaces for Muslim students on college campuses. Her interests include contemporary ethnographies of minority religious populations in the U.S. and abroad, and Islamic biblical hermeneutics. Faezeh serves as the president of the religious studies undergraduate club and has organized an interfaith panel to increase multi-religious understanding and pluralism on her college campus. Last summer, Faezeh attended Karamah’s Law and leadership program in D.C. where she learned about Islamic law, empowerment and civic engagement. In addition to her passion for studying various religious traditions, Faezeh loves painting, learning Semitic languages and advocating for social justice issues.
Julia Hintlian, Summer Research Intern
Julia Hintlian is an undergraduate majoring in religious studies at the University of Pennsylvania. She is very interested in languages, speaking French, conversational Armenian and Turkish, and currently studying Arabic and Irish Gaelic. Additionally, she has spent a great deal of time observing and cultivating an interest in the various ways that people throughout the world connect with and participate in their religious traditions. She has interned with the Lumbini International Research Institute in Lumbini, Nepal (the birthplace of the Buddha), the Armenian Monuments Awareness Project in Yerevan, Armenia, the alNahda Islamic Women’s Center in Rabat, Morocco, and she has also volunteered and studied in Turkey and in France. In the future, Julia hopes to study and understand how religious tradition and practice affects systems of law around the world.
Charlotte Isaac, Summer Research Intern
Charlotte Isaac is a rising senior at Queens College studying anthropology and Arabic with a focus on the role of language in conflict resolution. At the same time, she works with the Center for Ethnic, Racial, and Religious Understanding and the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York to plan interfaith programming that aims to build camaraderie between college students of different faiths. In addition, Charlotte will begin her new role as Ibrahim Student Leadership and Dialogue in the Middle East project fellow this May with a trip to several countries in the Middle East including Israel, Oman, and Saudi Arabia.
Tyler Jankauskas, Summer Intern
Tyler Jankauskas is a Harvard undergraduate concentrating in Social Studies with a focus in Continental Philosophy and Transformative Politics. Outside of his studies Tyler is involved in prison tutoring and tutoring in civics, as well as comedy writing with Harvard’s Satire V.
Zuki Ragde, Summer Research Intern
Zuki Ragde is a rising senior at Carleton College in Northfield, MN. She is majoring in religion, and is particularly passionate about the intersection of religion, politics, and gender. In the past, Zuki has curated an exhibit about the experiences of Somali Muslim students in Minnesota and conducted research on the family structures of fundamentalist Evangelical communities. She hopes to pursue doctoral study in religion after graduating. This summer Zuki will be conducting research for the Pluralism Project in the Greater Boston area.
Avi Rothfeld, Summer Research Intern
Avi is a rising senior at New York University studying history and religious studies. He has been involved in NYU’s Jewish community and various interfaith initiatives on campus. This past year he served as Co-President of Bridges, a student-led Muslim-Jewish dialogue group. With Bridges, he has taken part in three interfaith service trips, working in disaster-stricken areas in the Midwest. He was also an intern for Global Spiritual Life at NYU, an office that creates spaces for multifaith and spiritual encounters on campus. Before attending NYU, Avi spent a year in Jerusalem studying in a yeshiva. He is interested in exploring the roles and the limitations of interfaith dialogue in an increasingly diverse American religious landscape.
Anna Lee White, Summer Research Intern
Anna Lee White is a recent graduate from Mount Holyoke College, where she double majored in anthropology and South Asian studies with a certificate in Buddhist studies. She has previously studied in India and Nepal and conducted research on education’s role in preserving the cultural and religious traditions of Tibetan refugees. Anna Lee is excited to learn more about religious pluralism in her home state of New Hampshire. Next year she will be studying Hindi for nine months at the American Institute of Indian Studies in Jaipur, India, and she hopes to study South Asian religions during graduate school in the future.
Halah Ahmad, Summer Research Intern
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, Summer Research Intern
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, Summer Research Intern
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, Summer Research Intern
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, Summer Research Intern
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, Summer Research Intern
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, Summer Research Intern
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, Summer Research Intern
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, Summer Research Associate
Zuzu Myers, Summer Research Intern
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.
Yusra Syed, Summer Research Intern
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, Summer Research Intern
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, Summer Research Intern
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, Summer Research Intern
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.
Huda Alawa, Summer Research Intern
Huda Alawa is a junior at Mount Holyoke College, where she is majoring in Anthropology and minoring in Religion and Psychology. She is very passionate about understanding the extent to which religion influences the identity of American youth (specifically Muslim youth), as well as how much of an impact culture has in shaping religion. In the past, Huda has conducted research on the understanding of hijab and how hijab influences the self-definition of American-born Muslim college students. When not in academic conversation with others, Huda can be found photographing nature and people. This summer, Huda will be conducting research for the Pluralism Project in Western Massachusetts.
Laila Alawa, Summer Research Intern
Laila Alawa is a graduate of Wellesley College where she received her bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in education studies and currently works as a psychology research associate at Princeton University. During her time at Wellesley, she conducted and presented on a breakthrough social psychology study examining the gendered stereotypical perceptions of science careers. Through her current position, she is conducting a study on Muslim American perceptions of belonging and community within the greater American diaspora. She plans to pursue a master’s degree in public policy. Alawa is currently the fundraising chair and social media advisor of MSA National, as well as the head of the alumni committee for the Muslim Public Affairs Council Young Leaders. In her free time, she designs, creates and sells naturally inspired jewelry. Laila will be conducting research for the Pluralism Project in New York City.
Erin Cahill, Summer Research Intern
Erin completed her undergraduate studies at Creighton University in 2012 and is currently a graduate student in the Ohio State University’s MA/PhD program in English. She specializes in Rhetoric, Composition, and Literacy, with a minor in Folklore. Her research areas lie at the intersections between ethnography, literacy (particularly concerning vernacular religious beliefs and practices), and multimodal composition (especially graphic narrative). She is curious to learn about how different faith communities engage with the visual design of their worship space. Last summer Erin was a teaching assistant with the Making Invisible Histories Visible Program in Omaha, Nebraska, a two-week history camp in which students about to enter high school research the history of Omaha’s African-American community. This summer she will be conducting research for the Pluralism Project in Columbus, Ohio.
Caitlin Casey, Summer Research Intern
Caitlin Casey is a member of the College Class of 2016 at Georgetown University. She plans to major in Philosophy and English with a potential minor in Theology or Art History. During the academic year, Caitlin is involved with Prison Outreach, a program through the Center for Social Justice at Georgetown that offers GED Tutoring to inmates at the Arlington County Jail. Caitlin is a tutor for Georgetown’s Writing Center and frequently travels with the club tennis team to tournaments throughout the country. Caitlin’s interest in pluralism stems from her fascination with Buddhist and Hindu religious traditions and artwork. She actively pursues her interest in Southeast Asia by participating in BUMS, Georgetown’s Buddhist meditation group, and is planning to attend a Buddhist retreat in upstate New York at the beginning of the summer. Caitlin will be conducting research for the Pluralism Project this summer in Nashville, Tennessee.
Alanna Copenhaver, Summer Research Intern
Alanna Copenhaver is a Master of Divinity candidate at Yale Divinity School and on the ordination track with the United Church of Christ (UCC). Her academic interests include multifaith dialogue, conflict transformation, and ethics. Prior to attending divinity school, Alanna worked in Washington, D.C. She interned at Search for Common Ground, an international conflict resolution non-profit, where she helped to organize monthly educational forums for policymakers and experts in the field. She also was the Development Manager for the School for Ethics and Global Leadership, a residential program for high school juniors. Alanna graduated from Haverford College and majored in Political Science with a concentration in Peace and Conflict Studies.
Amrita Dani, Summer Research Intern
Amrita Dani is a senior at Harvard College (graduating in May 2013). She is concentrating in Literature, with a language citation in Arabic. During the academic year, Amrita is involved with the Phillips Brooks House Association program, BRYE, through which she volunteers as an ESL enrichment teacher in Dorchester for children of recent immigrants, as well as an on-campus peer counseling group focusing on issues of gender, identity, and relationships. She also sings with the Harvard Radcliffe Collegium Musicum, a mixed chamber choir that performs master works and a cappella repertoire on campus. After graduation, Amrita will be pursuing a masters in education policy at the University of Cambridge, looking particularly at how arts education can be used to engage with difference in the classroom. This summer Amrita will be conducting research for the Pluralism Project in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Jordan Denari, Summer Research Intern
Jordan Denari recently graduated from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, where she studied Muslim-Christian relations and served as the president of the Interfaith Student Council. Having studied abroad in the country that bears her name, she will return to Amman, Jordan in the fall on a Fulbright research grant. Her research interests include the media’s impact on Americans’ perceptions of Islam; the ability of personal interaction and dialogue to break down commonly held stereotypes; and the way in which exposure to religious diversity strengthens the religious identities of American young people. During the summer of 2013, Jordan will be working as a research intern, conducting research for the Pluralism Project in Washington, D.C.
Sana Farooqui, Summer Research Intern
Sana is an incoming sophomore at the University of Maryland, Honors College. She is majoring in government and political science, with an interest in human rights. She graduated from an Islamic high school based in Maryland. During the academic year, Sana contributes to various campus newsletters, and is a member of the Jewish-Muslim Alliance. She also spent a summer in India teaching at a literacy center for underprivileged girls. This summer Sana will be conducting research for the Pluralism Project in Metro-Washington, D.C.
Kayla Jackson, Summer Research Intern
Kayla Jackson is a rising senior Religion major and French minor at Carleton College in Northfield, MN. Her academic focus lies in the intersection of Islam, politics, and development, on a local and international scale. Kayla is also interested in mystical poetry and art as expressions of religious experiences. In the winter of 2012, Kayla spent three months studying abroad in Mali, where she pursued research on French language, Islam, women, health, and modernity, and became interested in real-world applications of cultural research. During the summer of 2012, Kayla worked at a community center in Brooklyn, NY, the Arab-American Association of New York, where she advocated for immigration reform and youth education. This upcoming academic year, Kayla plans to pursue a senior thesis on Islam and violence, combining her interests in politics and mystical poetry perhaps through a research project on Islamic jihadi art.
Sampada Kapoor, Summer Research Intern
Sampada is an international relations major senior at the University of Mississippi specializing in East Asia and the Middle East. She is part of the Croft Institute, an interdisciplinary program where she studies global politics, history, languages, religion, and international relations. Sampada has founded and supervises the Emerging Leaders program, a sophomore year enrichment program providing leadership skills, faculty connections, diversity workshops, and increased academic performances. She also works with the International Student Organization and Pride Network, an equal rights group, to promote pluralism on her campus. Currently studying Intensive Arabic and Japanese, she hopes to eventually master the two and work in the Foreign Service. This summer Sampada will be conducting research for the Pluralism Project in Jackson, Mississippi.
Sarah Khan, Summer Research Intern
Dandan Liu, Summer Research Intern
Dandan Liu graduated from Rice University with a BA in English Literature in 2013. During her senior year, she founded Rice’s first Interfaith Week which aimed to spread awareness about the diversity of worldviews on campus. This included organizing twenty-seven interfaith events which highlighted doubt as much as belief, differences as much as similarities. Afterwards, she helped establish the Boniuk Council, a cohort of eight students who will lead future interfaith programming at Rice. Before entering graduate school to study cultural anthropology and comparative religion, she will take a gap year to live in monasteries and spiritual communities of different religions and cultures. This summer Dandan will be conducting research for the Pluralism Project in Houston, Texas.
Vanessa Navarro, Summer Research Intern
Vanessa Navarro is a recent graduate from Florida State University’s Ethnomusicology Master’s program in Tallahassee. Before studying at FSU, she received her B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Florida in Gainesville. Vanessa’s thesis work focused on the function of music in orisha worshipping traditions, specifically on the use of music to facilitate spirit possession. She worked with Santeria, Lukumi, and Yoruba practitioners in Miami and Tallahassee. Beyond the study of music and religious ritual, she also interested in ethnographic documentary filmmaking, folklore studies, and cultural advocacy. She is thrilled to begin her work with the Pluralism Project in Miami, Florida this summer.
Jessie Post, Summer Research Intern
Jessie is a Master of Theological Studies candidate at Harvard Divinity School. Her areas of focus include religion in literature and material culture, religious pluralism in the United States, and the interfaith movement. Prior to Harvard, she worked with Seeds of Peace, a non-profit organization that runs a conflict resolution summer camp for teens from the Middle East and South Asia. Jessie graduated from Haverford College with a BA in Religion in 2009.
Katrina Rost, Summer Research Intern
Katrina Rost is an undergraduate in her third year at the University of San Francisco. She is majoring in International Studies with a functional track in Peace and Conflict Studies and a regional minor in Middle Eastern Studies, along with a minor in Spanish. She has previously worked with the Student Peace Alliance Organization as well as the International Rescue Committee in Boise. In the future, she hopes to continue her studies concerning peace and conflict, feminist issues, and Middle Eastern and Latin American studies. She also hopes to master Spanish, French, and Arabic in the future. This summer Katrina will be conducting research for the Pluralism Project in Boise, Idaho.
Bishoy Sadek, Summer Research Intern
Bishoy Sadek is an Egyptian interfaith worker. He developed an interest in Interfaith dialogue after attending the US State Department sponsored Study of US Institutes SUSI) Program for Religious Pluralism at Temple University, Philadelphia during Summer 2011. Subsequently, he helped organize several inter-cultural and inter-religious programs in the Middle East, Europe and the U.S. Currently, Bishoy is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences at Cairo University, where he also the Project Manager for a startup initiative that aims to teach business and entrepreneurial studies to non-business students. After graduation, Bishoy is planning to start his own social initiative to promote Arab-Jewish dialogue.
Terry Shoemaker, Summer Research Intern
Terry Shoemaker recently completed his Master of Arts in Religious Studies at Western Kentucky University. His main areas of academic interest are in religion and the public sphere, religion and politics, religion in the American South, and examining religious communities as agential political spaces. Terry approaches these topics with an ethnographic method attempting to give voice to the perspectives of religious adherents. He has served as a religious leader, religious program specialist in the United States Navy, an ecumenical nonprofit Executive Director, and most recently initiated an interfaith movement on his university’s campus. He currently works at WKU’s Institute for Citizenship & Social Responsibility, where among other tasks, he investigates the civic relevance of interfaith cooperation. This summer Terry will be conducting research for the Pluralism Project in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
Dina Yazdani, Summer Research Intern
Dina Yazdani is a rising junior at Lewis & Clark College, and attended Occidental College for the past two years. She is majoring in International Affairs with a focus on the Middle East, and is teaching herself both Arabic and Persian. As an aspiring scholar on Middle-Eastern politics, she spent her time at Occidental leading the clubs OneVoice to end the Israeli & Palestinian Conflict and the Muslim Students Association. She also interned with the Muslim Public Affairs Council and worked on campaigns to protect civil liberties and combat Islamophobia. Dina has a special interest in the role religion plays in the Middle East, and as the child of a Shi’ite father and a Sunni Mother, is personally motivated to find a solution to end the sectarian conflicts. In her spare time she likes to blogs about politics and fence. This summer Dina will be conducting research for the Pluralism Project in Portland, Oregon.
Najira Ahmed, Summer Research Intern
Najira Ahmed is a rising senior at Wellesley College where she is pursuing a BA in Religion and a minor in Biological Sciences. Her academic interests include pluralism in South Asia and the U.S., as well as microbiology. She is an active member of the Multifaith Council at Wellesley, and was selected to attend Interfaith Youth Core’s Leadership Institute in Washington DC. Najira will be conducting fieldwork on the religious landscape of New York City.
Io Montecillo, Summer Research Intern
Io Montecillo is a fourth-year undergraduate student at The University of Texas at Austin. He is a member of the Plan II Honors in Liberal Arts Program and is also majoring in Religious Studies with a concentration in Religion in the Americas. At the University of Texas, Io has assisted in research projects on the Cristeros Rebellion and Mexican American Catholic History, and has worked as an intern at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center. This summer Io will be conducting field research on the religious landscape of Washington D.C.
Summer 2012 Research Associate
Crystal Alburger, Summer Research Associate
Liza Carens, Summer Research Intern
Liza Carens is a rising senior at Connecticut College. Her academic interests include religious theory and the constitutional rights of religious institutions. She is a selected scholar within the College’s Holleran Center for Community Action and Public Policy where she participates in local outreach initiatives. She recently orchestrated events to raise awareness around sex trafficking and the growing homeless population in Southeastern Connecticut. She is a member of N20, the college’s short form improvisational comedy troop. Liza will be conducting fieldwork on the interfaith infrastructure of Greater Boston.
Francesca Chubb-Confer, Summer Research Intern
Francesca Chubb-Confer graduated from Carleton College in June 2011 with a BA in Islamic Studies and will be attending the University of Chicago Divinity School in the fall. Her primary academic interests are in Arabic and Urdu language study, Islam and politics, immigration/diaspora studies, and religion and literature/poetry, with a particular focus on the relationship between religion, politics, and creative expression in the Middle East and South Asia. She is also an avid watcher of Bollywood films. Francesca will be conducting fieldwork on the interfaith infrastructure of the Twin Cities (Minneapolis/St.Paul) in Minnesota.
Skyler Oberst, Summer Research Intern
Skyler Oberst is a senior, pursuing dual degrees in philosophy and anthropology with an emphasis in religious studies at Eastern Washington University. After witnessing religious intolerance on campus, he founded the Compassionate Interfaith Society. Skyler was one of the North American Interfaith Network’s young scholars in 2010, and has received Student Excellence Awards for the past two years. He also was selected to attend the Interfaith Youth Core’s Leadership Institute in Washington DC, and had the distinction of speaking at the White House on interfaith leadership and student activism. Skyler will be conducting fieldwork on the interfaith infrastructure of Greater Boston.
Megan Odell-Scott, Summer Research Intern
Megan Odell-Scott will complete her Master’s in Theology and Religious Studies at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio this summer. She received her BA from Kent State University in Kent, Ohio in Political Science and minored in both Pre-Law and Religious Studies. Following her undergraduate career, Megan spent two years in the AmeriCorps*VISTA program and assisted in the development of service projects and trips, as well as community partnerships on the Kent State Campus. With an interest in religious pluralism in America, Megan’s academic education focuses on religious fundamentalism and civic religion. Her Master’s Essay, “Christianity in America: The Evolution-Creationism Debate,” examines Christian fundamentalism and the broader warfare model of religion and science in America today. Megan will be conducting fieldwork on the interfaith infrastructure of Cleveland, Ohio.
April Palo, Summer Research Intern
Allison Solso, Summer Research Intern
Allison recieved her BA in Religious Studies and American History from the University of Wisconsin and her MA is Religion from Claremont Graduate University. She is currently working on her PhD is religious studies at the University of California, Riverside. Her research areas include American religious history, with a special interest in material culture and new religious movements. She has conducted research on the religious diversity of her hometown in southern California and was involved in the Lubar Institute at the University of Wisconsin, an organization dedicated to expanding Abrahamic interfaith dialogue on campus. Allison will be conducting fieldwork on the interfaith infrastructure in San Diego, California.
Rachel Templeton, Summer Research Intern
Rachel Templeton is a rising junior at the University of Richmond in Virginia. She is currently studying International Studies with a concentration in Global Politics and Diplomacy, as well as French and History. Rachel’s research and studies have taken her from Denmark to Spain to South Africa; her work this summer will allow her to explore these international relations on a local level. Rachel will be conducting fieldwork on the interfaith infrastructure of Richmond, Virginia.
Melissa Nozell, Summer Research Intern
Nancy A. Khalil, Case Study Fellow
Nancy A. Khalil is a doctoral student in Social Anthropology at Harvard University and a Research Associate working on issues of Islam and Citizenship for the Islam in the West Program. Her previous research positions include projects with Harvard’s Transnational Studies Initiative, studying ethnic and religious identity in second generation Muslim and Hindu Americans, as well as the Harvard Muslims in Boston Survey. Prior to starting her doctoral studies at Harvard, Nancy worked for four years as a Muslim Chaplain at Wellesley College and as Advisor to the College’s Multi-faith Living and Learning Community. She attained a Master’s degree in Higher Education and Student Development from the Lynch School of Education at Boston College. While at Lynch, Nancy conducted an extensive research project on Muslim college students and Muslim student groups’ sense of identity and feelings of belonging in America. Nancy currently serves as a member of the Muslim American Society (MAS) Boston and Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center Board of Directors.
Todd LeVasseur, Case Study Fellow
Todd LeVasseur just completed his fourth year in the Religion and Nature track at the University of Florida’s Department of Religion. Todd is a Ph.D. candidate whose dissertation research investigates an emerging North American “religious agrarianism,” focusing especially on case study research of two religious communities: Koinonia Partners in Americus, Georgia; and Congregation Shearith Israel in Atlanta, Georgia. Todd received a M.Sc. from the Centre for Human Ecology in Edinburgh, Scotland and a BA in Religious Studies from the College of Charleston. He is interested in human perceptions of the environment, how these perceptions are shaped by religious belief/s and membership in religious communities, and how these perceptions influence how we interact with the environment. His summer research will look at the approved wind farm on Nantucket Sound (Cape Cod) and the various religious responses to this project.
Brendan Randall, Case Study Fellow
Originally from Minnesota, Brendan is a former lawyer and doctoral candidate studying religious diversity and education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE). He 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, New York. He currently is a co-convener of the Civic and Moral Education Student Initiative at HGSE and is interested in examining how schools can better prepare students to live in a religiously diverse democratic society.
Dawinder “Dave” Sidhu, Case Study Fellow
Dave is a civil rights attorney whose main interests include the relationship between individual rights and heightened national security concerns, constitutional law, appellate litigation, and colonial history. He has served as a law clerk to a federal judge, worked as a staff attorney in the policy arm of a federal civil rights office, and held fellowship/research posts at Stanford Law School and the Georgetown University Law Center. Dave co-authored a textbook, Civil Rights in Wartime: The Post-9/11 Sikh Experience, and has written eleven law review articles, which have appeared in the Buffalo Law Review, Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy, and the West Virginia Law Review, among others. He has drafted, on a pro bono basis, amicus briefs in several post-9/11 cases: Ashcroft v. Iqbal, al Maqaleh v. Gates, and Padilla v. Yoo. He earned a BA in philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania (2000), an MA in government from Johns Hopkins University (2003), and a JD from The George Washington University Law School (2004). Dave is a Pluralism Project Affiliate and co-founder of the Discrimination & National Security Initiative.
Alexander Levering Kern, Community Associate
Alexander Levering Kern serves as Executive Director of Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries (CMM), the Boston area’s oldest interfaith social justice network and home to the Interfaith Youth Initiative (IFYI), a peacemaking and leadership program for high school, college, and graduate students and younger religious leaders in greater Boston. He is editor of Becoming Fire: Spiritual Writing From Rising Generations. Alex also serves as Protestant Chaplain at Brandeis University. A graduate of Sidwell Friends School, Guilford College (in Religious Studies, History, and African-American Studies), Andover Newton Theological School (Master of Divinity), and the Boston Theological Institute’s certificate program in ecumenical studies, Alex is a member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) and has served Friends and the ecumenical movement at the World Council of Churches. Active in global peace and justice efforts, Alex has traveled and worked in post-earthquake Haiti, Southern Africa, the Middle East, Japan, and Honduras, and in Nigeria on a US State Department-funded delegation addressing Christian-Muslim conflict.
Rev. Kristin Stoneking, Community Associate
An ordained United Methodist minister, Rev. Kristin Stoneking serves as Campus Minister and Director at the Cal Aggie Christian Association at the University of California, Davis. She is also the founder of its Multifaith Living Community. Currently a Ph.D. student at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA focusing on faith formation of young adults in pluralistic environments, Kristin is a regular guest lecturer at Pacific School of Religion and has presented nationally and internationally on campus ministry and the Multifaith Living Community model. Originally from Kansas City, Kristin has served churches and campus ministries in Chicago, Kansas, and California. Kristin received her Master of Divinity degree from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and a BA in English from Rice University.
Margaret Clendenen, Summer Research Intern
Margaret Clendenen is a rising senior at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA, where she is double majoring in Sociology and Religious Studies.
Jonathan Cox, Summer Research Intern
Jonathan is a rising senior at Harvard College, where he concentrates in the Comparative Study of Religion with a focus on the Modern West. Originally from Knoxville, Tennessee, he has done anthropological work on mosque controversies in Greece and Boston, and is particularly interested in how American religious groups use entertainment and popular media to promote their messages.
Josh Daneshforooz, Summer Research Intern
Claire Droste, Summer Research Intern
Sohini Pillai, Summer Research Intern
Sohini is a rising sophomore at Wellesley College where she is planning on double majoring in South Asia Studies and Theater Studies. As a South Asia Studies major, Sohini plans to focus on studying religious conflict and religious pluralism in South Asia.
Abhishek Raman, Summer Research Intern
Jason Smith, Summer Research Intern
Jason Smith is a recent graduate from St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, where he double majored in Religion and Philosophy and received a Concentration in Linguistic Studies. He is particularly interested in Roman Catholic Theology and the Church’s post-Vatican II approach to interreligious dialogue. His senior project was entitled “Contemporary Catholic Theology: An Analysis of Inclusivism and Interreligious Dialogue.” His current interests include the study of Christian and Jewish communities in Boston and engagement in interreligious dialogue.
Megan Sullivan, Summer Research Intern
Megan is a rising senior at Tufts University majoring in Religion with a concentration in Women and Religion. She is also earning minors in Drama and Africa in the New World.
Julia Taylor, Summer Research Intern
Julia is a rising senior at Harvard College, concentrating in the Comparative Study of Religion with a focus on Buddhism and Christianity. A native of Waltham, MA, she is interested in studying these traditions in the American context. She hopes to consider the intersection of religion and American public life for her thesis in the fall.
Kamille Washington, Summer Research Intern
Kamille is a rising senior at Harvard College, where she is seeking a B.A. in the Comparative Study of Religion. Within the Comparative Study of Religion, she is primarily focused on the intersection between Islam and the West. Kamille is particularly interested in the way that identities engage and interact to forge new identities within religious as well as cultural contexts. A Memphis native, Kamille spends much of her time during that academic year working with Earthen Vessels, a Catholic non-profit organization based in Cambridge. She also works with the Harvard Model United Nations conferences for college and high school students.
Amy Beckhusen, Summer Research Intern
Amy is a Master of Divinity student at Harvard Divinity School, where she studies in the Program for Religion in Secondary Education. Originally from Morrisville, Pennsylvania, she earned a B.A. in Religion and Psychology at the University of Rochester (2000). Before attending HDS, she worked at The Fellowship of Reconciliation, the Women’s Peacemaker Project, and Darrow School. At the Pluralism Project she will be updating our resources on interfaith groups in Boston and looking at the overall pedagogy of the World Religions in Boston resource.
Kate Conmy, Summer Resaerch Intern
Kate is a recent graduate from Mount Holyoke College, where she earned a degree in Religion and Buddhist Studies. While at Mount Holyoke she traveled abroad to India to study Tibetan Buddhism and the Tibetan Diaspora. Her current academic interests include inter- and intra-religious dialogue for social change, and engaged Buddhism. At the Pluralism Project, Kate is researching Buddhist and interfaith activities in the Greater Boston area, as well as working on Religious Diversity News.
Alexis Gewertz, Summer Research Intern
Alexis is a Master of Theological Studies student at Harvard Divinity School where she focuses her studies on Judaism, Islam, and religion in education; she is also enrolled in the Program in Religion and Secondary Education. Raised in Chicago, she attended Colgate University in upstate New York and graduated with a degree in Philosophy and Religion and a minor in Spanish literature. At the Pluralism Project, she will be researching Jewish communities in Boston and assisting with research on Islam.
Nour Goda, Summer Research Intern
Nour is a rising senior at Connecticut College, where she is majoring in English and minoring in religious studies. At the Pluralism Project, Nour will be updating research on Islam and Christianity in Boston, partaking in site visits and mapping work.
Julia Gooding, Summer Research Intern
Julia is a rising senior at Colgate University where she is a Spanish and Asian Studies major with a focus on China and Religion. At the Pluralism Project, Julia will research and profile Buddhist and Hindu centers in the Greater Boston area.
Sarah Harcourt, Summer Research Intern
Claire-Marie Hefner, Summer Research Intern
Claire-Marie Hefner is a senior majoring in Anthropology and Southeast Asian Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She recently returned from a semester abroad at the American University in Cairo, Egypt where she was studying Arabic and Islam. At the Pluralism Project, Claire will focus her energy on expanding the Pluralism Project’s Boston Buddhism resources, and assisting with updating resources on Hinduism and Sikhism.
Katie Merriman, Summer Research Intern
Kayla Parker, Summer Research Intern
Kayla is a rising junior pursuing a double major in Religion and International Affairs at The George Washington University. This summer at The Pluralism Project she is working on updating resources on Sikhism in the “World Religions in Boston” resource, and contributing to the Islam section. She will also be working on Religious Diversity News.
Carissa Sharp, Summer Research Intern
Carissa Sharp is originally from Portland, Oregon. She received her B.A. in Psychology and Religious Studies from the University of Oregon and will start the second year of her Masters of Theological Studies at Harvard Divinity School in the fall. At the Pluralism Project, Carissa will be working on updating the information on Sikh and interfaith communities in the Boston area.
Kate Yanina DeConinck, Summer Research Intern
Kate grew up in New Hampshire and is currently a rising senior at Connecticut College, where she is double majoring in English and religious studies. During her junior year, Kate studied abroad in Rome and she is currently working on a senior honors thesis related to religion in prison. At the Pluralism Project, she will be working on the Hinduism and interfaith sections of “World Religions in Boston.”
Anjuli Dhindhwal, Summer Research Intern
Anjuli Dhindhwal is a master of theological studies student at Harvard Divinity School. She has recently finished her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Columbia University. Prior to that she completed a BA from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Her primary focus for the Pluralism Project is on new expressions of arts and activism, specifically that of second and third generation South Asian-Americans.
Rose Golder-Novick, Summer Research Intern
Rose is a rising senior at Connecticut College, where she is majoring in religious studies. For the Pluralism Project this summer, Rose will be researching the creation and impact of women’s interfaith networks after 9/11. She will also help distribute the new documentary film, Acting on Faith: Women’s New Religious Activism in America
Mohammed F. J. Harba, Summer Research Intern
A Fulbright scholar from Babylon, Iraq, Mohammed just finished his first year as a master student of comparative literature at State University of New York in Binghamton. He completed his undergraduate degree majoring in translation studies and linguistics from Al Mustansiriya University in Baghdad, Iraq, and was named best student of the 2004 class. He has worked with USAID civic training teams, and local non-governmental and religious entities in Southern Iraq. At the Pluralism Project, he will profile some religious and interfaith organizations in Southern Iraq, and translate some documents and materials from the project’s website into Arabic.
Rahim Kanani, Summer Research Intern
Rahim is spending the summer of 2006 working on online development for The Pluralism Project’s website and Dr. Eck’s ‘World Religions in Boston’ course, to include flash, multimedia, and interactive learning modules. He is also conducting research on the Chicago, Boston, and Brooklyn Police Departments with regard to sensitivity training of their officers. Rahim completed his B.A. in Philosophy at The University of Western Ontario in Canada. His career interests lay in both foreign policy and national security.
Ilyse Morgenstein, Summer Research Intern
Ilyse is a second year master of theological studies student at Harvard Divinity School. Her research focus is the contemporary use of classical literature within India’s diverse political, ethnic, and religious landscape. She received her BA in Religion and Asian Studies from Colgate University. At the Pluralism Project, Ilyse will examine various aspects of pluralism as it occurs both in America and India.
Agus Hadi Nahrowi, Summer Intern
Agus is a graduate student in the Program for Intercultural Service, Leadership and Management at the School for International Training (SIT) in Vermont. He is a fellow of the Ford Foundation-International Fellowship Program (IFP) from Indonesia. He completed his undergraduate degree (B.A.), majoring in Shariah (Islamic Law), from Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic Institute in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. At the Pluralism Project, he will profile some organizations that are concerned with religious pluralism or interfaith studies in South-East Asia, and translate some documents either from English to Indonesian or Indonesian to English.
Mickey Sanchez, Summer Research Intern
A native New Yorker, Mickey just finished his first year as a master of divinity student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary after having served the community of Flushing, Queens, for over three years as the Community Services Director for New York City Council Member John C. Liu. Mickey’s area of concentration at the Pluralism Project will be the City Hall Initiative, with a focus on developing case studies that analyze disputes that have arisen from, or are influenced by, religious diversity. He will also profile religious organizations that work with the government and civic leaders to address these sorts of issues.
Aneesa Walji, Summer Research Intern
Aneesa completed her B.A. in International Development Studies at the University of Toronto and has work experience in the field of gender and development. During her time with the Pluralism Project, she will conduct research on women’s interfaith initiatives, create international profiles and contribute to the arts and activism initiative.
Former Staff and Interns Prior to 2006
Heather E. Barclay, Web Assistant
Heather began working for the Pluralism Project as student research coordinator for affiliate Corrie Norman’s Gender, Food, and Meaning: Mapping Religious Diversity in Charlotte, NC project. As an undergraduate, Heather traveled to Italy, Germany, and Israel conducting research before completing her B.A. in religious studies and modern languages at Converse College (2003). Heather completed her master of theological studies degree at Harvard Divinity School in 2005 and will be a Ph.D. candidate in religion at the University of Toronto in the fall. Her primary responsibilities while at the Pluralism Project included updating the website and maintaining the Events Calendar and the Religious Calendar.
Hilary Bogert, Research Associate
Hilary is a first year master of theological studies student at Harvard Divinity School. Born and raised in Louisville, she graduated from Western Kentucky University where she majored in religious studies and history. At the Pluralism Project, she researches Buddhist immigrant communities in the United States and interfaith networks.
Mara Brecht, Research Associate
Originally from Jeannette, Pennsylvania and a graduate in religion from Oberlin College, Mara is a second year master of theological studies student at Harvard Divinity School. She studies the fundamental relationship between theology and philosophy and the place of that relationship in political discourse. She is editor of Religious Diversity News, and provides support services to the director.
Scott Buquor, Development Associate
Scott worked on development for the Pluralism Project, researching prospective grant opportunities. During the summer of 2004, he conducted research on The Religious Diversity of the Northern Plains: North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming. Formerly a program manager for the Center for International Health and Development, Scott is now a graduate of Harvard Divinity School. His B.A. is from Earlham College.
Aaron Costa-Ganis, Intern
Aaron spent the summer of 2004 researching the demographics, economics, and religiosity of major cities across the nation to be incorporated into our website in the fall. Aaron is a rising junior at Brandeis University studying PPE (philosophy, politics, and economics) as well as European cultural studies. For the 2004-2005 academic year, he is attending Oxford University in England to study law.
Chris Danielson, Intern
Chris’ primary research at the Pluralism Project focused on the intersection of politics and religion in America generally, and issues of religion in the 2004 Presidential Election more specifically. He worked on composing resources for the study of religion, politics, and the electorate, and tracked stories relating to religion for our Religious Diversity News. Chris received an MA in social science from the University of Chicago in 2001 and studied religion, philosophy, and anthropology as an undergraduate at Miami University in Ohio.
Brian McGrath Davis, Intern
Brian completed his master of divinity at Emmanuel School of Religion in Johnson City, Tennessee with an emphasis on Christian doctrine and the interactions between Christians and other faiths. At the Pluralism Project he worked on profiling the Hindu Center in northeast Tennesee as well as researched discrimination in the Air Force Academy, the National Meeting of Interfaith Councils at Princeton, and Christian Churches and Churches of Christ.
Sarah Dougan, Intern
Sarah was an intern for the Pluralism Project for the summer of 2003. She created profiles for Interfaith centers in Boston, updated our directory and maintained office files. ‘She graduated from Mount Holyoke College in May 2004. ‘She is originally from San Diego, CA.
Clare Giles, Research Associate
Clare is a graduate student in the Master of Theological Studies program at Harvard Divinity School where she studied religions of South Asia and religious diversity in America. She received her B.A. in religion with a minor in human services from the George Washington University (2000) and has spent time living in India. She began her research for the Pluralism Project as an Affiliate, mapping Hindu and Buddhist centers in Washington, DC. Clare researched ‘Vedanta Societies in America.’ She worked primarily on the Religious Diversity News section of the website.
Brianne Goodman, Research Associate
Brianne is a second year master of theological studies student at Harvard Divinity School, focusing on Islamic studies and counseling psychology. Originally from Los Angeles, she received her B.A. in Religion and English Creative Writing from Colgate University, and has spent time living in St. Andrews, Scotland, Pune City, India and Fes, Morocco. At the Pluralism Project, Brianne provides support services to the director.
Sabeen Hassanali, Research Associate
Sabeen is a first year student in the International Education Policy program at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. Prior to this, she was in Washington, DC, working on education policy research and programs. She has been involved for many years in youth development programs for first and second-generation Muslim youth in the US, especially in developing interactive training programs. Sabeen graduated from Dartmouth College with a B.A. in Government in 2002. Her current research interests include gender equity issues in Latin America and the Middle East. Sabeen’s work at the Pluralism Project focuses on issues of religious pluralism as they relate to civic government.
Jayme Herschkopf, Intern
Jayme researched Interfaith endeavors within the Jewish community, including Abrahamic Salons and Orthodox Jews’ views of dialogue. Her essays are online; please visit Resources by Tradition: Judaism. In addition, she helped to evaluate some Jewish related educational materials and updated the Boston Jewish center profiles on our website. A rising junior at Harvard University studying Religion and English, Jayme is also chair for education at Harvard Hillel.
Liz Janiak, Research Associate
Liz’s work for the Project included organizing our slide collection and a multitude of other support services.
Terence Keel, Research Associate
Terence wrote and edited our Religious Diversity News. Terence is a student at Harvard Divinity School. His study interests include religion, culture, and politics. Terence earned his B.A. in theology from Xavier University of Louisiana.
Jessica Lockwood, Intern
Jessica, an undergraduate at Middlebury College, worked for the Pluralism Project for the summer of 2002 providing a multitude of support services.
Mathilda McGee-Tubb, Intern
Mathilda is a rising junior at Oberlin College, where she is majoring in religion with a possible focus on Southeast Asian religions and a minor in psychology. At the Pluralism Project, she researched Sikh participation in U.S. civic life, the new Mandir and Cultural Complex in Chino Hills, California, and various happenings in the South Asian community.
Jack Pan, Research Associate
In his second year with the Pluralism Project, Jack wrote for Religious Diversity News.
Nan Prichard, Research Associate
Nan is currently a graduate student in the Masters of Theological Studies program at Harvard Divinity School. She received her BA in history from the University of Georgia and has lived and taught in Japan. She wrote for Religious Diversity News and helped coordinate outreach for secondary school teachers. She is now student teaching and writing her thesis.
Dev Purkayastha, Web Assistant
Dev graduated from Harvard College with an A.B. in computer science in 2004. While at the Pluralism Project, he assisted Alan with programming.
Wendy Robison, Staff Associate
At the Pluralism Project Wendy performed a variety of tasks including educational outreach.
Jillian Rork, Intern
An undergraduate at Dartmouth College, Jillian mapped New Hampshire and worked for the Pluralism Project during summer 2003, adding profiles and collecting news articles on New Hampshire for Religious Diversity News.
Stephanie Saldaña, Research Associate
Stephanie received her MTS from Harvard Divinity School (2004), where she studied Muslim-Christian relations. She was a recipient of the Thomas Watson Fellowship to research and write poetry in Europe and the Middle East, and has worked as a journalist in Beirut, Lebanon. In the fall of 2004, she will be traveling to Syria to study Muslim-Christian relations on a Fulbright Scholarship. Her B.A. is from Middlebury College. She writes for our Religious Diversity News.
Mauli Shah, Web Assistant
Mauli graduated in the Harvard College Class of 2003 with a concentration in computer science. In March 2002, she seized the opportunity of working at the Pluralism Project to blend her interest in different religions with learning web technologies. At the Pluralism Project, she primarily worked on putting both new and current affiliates’ work online; this included creating slide shows of photo submissions, and posting essays and other materials. She also maintained the Events Calendar and the Religious Calendar. She also created a few how-to documents for posterity (for people doing her work after she leaves). In addition, her work included various other web tasks.
Matt Shane, Research Associate
Matt worked extensively in database management and website maintenence. Matt’s persistence and meticulous attention to detail were much appreciated during his time at the Pluralism Project. Matt is a graduate of Harvard Divinity School who is currently exploring teaching opportunities in California.
Bjorn Sorenson, Photo Editor, Web Assistant and Systems Manager
Bjorn is a graduate of the Master of Theological Studies program at Harvard Divinity School where he studied world religions, science and religion, philosophical theology, and Buddhism. He recieved his B.A. in music and comparative religion from Western Michigan University in 1999. Bjorn’s current interests are in international law, human rights, and conflict resolution. At the Pluralism Project, Bjorn edited photo submissions and formatted them for Online Slide Shows, and also managed the office network of Macintosh computers.
Jessie Thisell, Intern
Jessie is entering her senior year at Barnard College where she is a religion major concentrating in religion in modern America. For the Pluralism Project, she profiled the Islamic Society of Boston Community Center and the Mosque for the Praising of Allah in Roxbury, Masjid al-Qur’an in Dorchester and the Satsang Center in Woburn. In addition, she wrote research reports on Muslim Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops and the religious sensitivity training of police officers in Chicago.
Jennifer Tomscha, Research Associate
Originally from Iowa, Jennifer is a first year MTS at Harvard Divinity School. She assists with Religious Diversity News.
Grant Upson, Intern
Grant, an undergraduate at Connecticut College, interned for the Pluralism Project in the Summer of 2001 performing a variety of tasks including writing materials for the revised version of On Common Ground: World Religions in America.
Elizabeth Varro, Research Associate
Beth received her Master of Theological Studies degree from Harvard Divinity School in June, 2002. She received a BA from St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, with majors in biology and religion. While at Harvard, she studied ethics, conflict resolution, pluralism, and science and religion. Her work at the Pluralism Project began in Septemeber 2000 with office support and the creation of the searchable Religious Diversity News archives. During the summer of 2001, she conducted affiliate research on interfaith organizations in St. Paul, MN. In 2002, her responsibilities included updating the Events Calendar and the Religious Calendar, and helping to post more information on the Affiliate pages.
Tony Watson, Field Education Associate
Tony is a second year master of divinity student at Harvard Divinity School, focusing on comparative Christian-Muslim theology and history, with an interest in pilgrimage, martyrdom, monasticism, and conceptions of the “other.” Hailing from Virginia, Tony earned a B.A. in international relations and an M.S. in information and telecommunication systems from Johns Hopkins University. Prior to coming to Harvard, he worked in numerous corporate executive roles in Asia, Europe, the Persian Gulf and the Subcontinent. He also worked as an adjunct instructor of Computer Science at WVU Tech. Tony also serves as the Program Assistant for the Islam in the West project at Harvard University. Tony’s work at the Pluralism Project is focused on our new international initiative, public policy and management, and research.
Ryan Weimer, Research Associate
Ryan received his master of theology from Harvard Divinity School in 2005, with a focus on Muslim-Christian relations. At the Pluralism Project, he researched the “National Day of Prayer” and Muslim-Christian relations. Ryan is also interested in understanding the dynamic between diverse religious communities and city government.
Tracy Wells, Research Associate
Tracy works with our Religious Diversity News, searching for articles to include and entering the international articles into the databse. In the past, she has researched interfaith organizations, which began in her first year at the project (2003) with a survey of interfaith groups in Boston, available in the online version of World Religions in Boston. Originally from Lexington, South Carolina, she earned a B.A. in English and religion from Furman University and conducted student affiliate research mapping religious diversity in South Carolina in the summer of 2003. She is currently a third year M.T.S. student at Harvard Divinity School, where she is a participant in the Program in Religion and Secondary Education.
Steve Wilkinson, Web Assistant
Steve graduated from Harvard College in 2005 with a concentration in computer science. At the Pluralism Project, he assisted Alan with web administration, set up the website search, and posted new materials from the Pluralism Projects affiliates around the world.
Meredith Wing, Intern
Meredith will soon be transferring to Barnard College with a concentration in Art History, Studio Art, and English. As someone who is half-Chinese/Catholic and half Jewish/Caucasian, she is especially interested in issues of religious and ethnic diversity and has been very active in the Anti-Defamation League’s No Place for Hate campaign. At the Pluralism Project, Meredith profiled the Andover Chinmaya Mission/Chinmaya Maruti in Boston. She wrote research reports on violence and vandalism in religious communities and on woman-led prayers in the Islamic community.
Christina Wright, Research Associate
Christina worked with our online directories and other research projects and supporting tasks. During the summer of 2004, she conducted research for the Pluralism Project on Interfaith Youth Service through her internship at the Interfaith Youth Core in Chicago. Her hometown is Marshall, Michigan. She attained a B.S. in learning and organizational change from Northwestern University and is now a second year M.Div. student at Harvard Divinity School.