Anna-BeckANNA BECK, MA, Religious Studies, Spring 2014

Bio/Research Interests: I received a BA in Philosophy and Anthropology from Sarah Lawrence College. My areas of interest include the intersections between morality and religion in individuals, institutions, and cultures.

MATTHEW BIBER, MA, Summer 2010
Jayne-BittnerJAYNE BITTNER, MA, Religious Studies, Spring 2014

Current Status: PhD Student, Study of Religion, University of California, Davis

Bio/Research Interests: I am interested in American religious history, theories of performance and ritual, material culture and religion, and women and gender as they pertain to religions in the U.S. I received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Religious Studies from the California State University, Northridge.

MATTHEW CASEY, MA, Spring 2011
Current Status: Ph.D. Student (History), University of California, Davis
Sonia CrasnowSJ CRASNOW, PhD, Religious Studies, Spring 2017

Bio/Research Interests: My research is situated at the intersection of Religious Studies and Queer Studies, and focuses specifically on LGBTQ Jews. I utilize an ethnographic methodology to investigate issues of gender, sexuality, religion and spirituality especially as expressed in the “lived religion” of LGBTQ Jews. I am currently a PhD candidate and received a B.A. (2006) in English Language Literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz and an M.Ed. (2008) in Education Studies from the University of California, San Diego.

Recent Publications/Presentations:
“On Transition: Normative Judaism and Trans Innovation,” Journal of Contemporary Religion. (Forthcoming 2017)
“Off the Record: Israel/Palestine and Queer Jewish Politics, Values, and Activism,” American Academy of Religion, November 2016
“Talking About Transition: Perspectives on Trans Jews at the Mikveh,” American Academy of Religion; November, 2015
“Critiquing Co-optation and Seeking Liberation: Queer/Trans People in Hollywood,” Eleanor Roosevelt College Gay Day – University of California, San Diego; May 2015
“Modern Mikveh: Making Space for Queer Jewish Liturgy and Ritual” Association for the Sociology of Religion, August 2014
“Blessings and Curses: negotiating identity in the forging of queer Jewishness and Jewish queerness” Association for Jewish Studies Conference, December 2013
Book Review of Jean La Fontaine’s edited work, The Devil’s Children, published in Nova Religio, Vo. 15, No. 1, pp. 132-133, August 2011
“The Western Wall: A Microcosm of Israel” WECSOR / American Academy of Religion, Western Regional Conference, March 2011

Recent Honors/Awards:
Finalist – Judaic Studies Fellowship at Virginia Polytechnic Institute (2016)
Finalist – Sexualities Project Fellowship at Northwestern University (2016)
UCR Department of Religious Studies Publication Award (2016)
UCR Department of Religious Studies Professional Support Grant (2014-16)
Mellon Advancing Intercultural Studies Award – UCR Center for Ideas & Society (2015)
Harvard Divinity School Seminar on Religion and Sexuality (2014)
Humanities Graduate Student Research Grant – UCR Center for Ideas & Society (2014)
American Academy of Religion Mentoring Program for LGBTIQ Religious Studies Scholars (2013-14)
UCR Graduate Research Mentorship Program Fellowship (2013-14)
UCR Graduate Student Summer Research Award (2013)
Masa Scholarship for study at Hebrew University (2011)
UCR Graduate Student Summer Fellowship in Jewish Studies (2010)
Chancellor’s Distinguished Fellowship Award (2009-12)

JAMES EDMONDS, MA, Spring 2012
Patrick-EmmettPATRICK EMMETT, PhD Candidate in Religious Studies

Bio/Research Interests: My dissertation is tentatively titled The Twelve Steps: A Discursive Ethic of Liberation. My interests are in religious ethics, politics, and social justice issues. I have an underlying interest in the role that religion plays in the legitimation of economic and other power structures. I currently serve as a lecturer at California State University, Bakersfield. My undergraduate alma mater is Indiana University (go Hoosiers!) and I earned my MA in Religious Studies from California State University Long Beach. (go 49′ers!)

RICHARD GREER, MA, Spring 2009
Current Status: Adjunct Professor, Chaffey College
Current Status: Youth Pastor, Valley Christian Church and Executive Director, Upland Manor
SEAN HIGGINS, MA, Spring 2008
RACHEL HOWELL, MA, Spring 2011
Current Status: Instructor, Ashford University and Advisor, Colorado Tech University
Toby-JohnsonTOBY JOHNSON, PhD, Religious Studies, Winter 2015

Dissertation Title: Living and Learning with Guru Nanak: Participation and Pedagogy in the Janam-Sakhi Narratives

Bio/Research Interests: I came to UCR with both my BA (University of Northern Iowa) and MA (Western Michigan University) in Religious Studies. During my time at UC Riverside, I was able to continue pursuing my interests in how stories condition and sustain religious traditions. This was the focus of my dissertation work on the stories told about Guru Nanak, founder of the Sikh tradition. My studies involved textual and narrative analyses, the production of new iterations, digital media presentations, and community responses to these stories. Parts of this research were funded by a grant from the Cognition, Religion, and Theology Project at Oxford University (a Templeton funded project) and by a Critical Language Scholarship from the Council of American Overseas Research Centers at the U.S. Department of State. I have presented these findings at meetings of the American Academy of Religion, the International Association for the Cognitive Science of Religion, the International Society for the Study of Narrative International Conference, and at UCR’s own Sikh Studies Conference series.

I extended my work to address the presentation of religion in popular media by working with faculty from the Comparative Literature and Media and Cultural Studies departments, as well. These projects have brought me into conversation with some of the artists, writers, and publishers who create these works, thus expanding my research engagements to involve discussions of production as much as reception. I have been fortunate to make presentations of this research at the Popular Culture Association national conference, the Science Fiction Research Association conference, and even the Comic Arts Conference, which is part of San Diego’s Comic-Con International.
ERIKA LICON, MA, Spring 2010
Current Status: Curandera, Realize YOUR Bliss, Inc.
RACHEL MEEKER, MA, Spring 2010
Current Status: Residential Advisor, Covenant House California
Current Status: Ph.D. Student (History of Religions), University of Chicago
HAROLD MORALES, Ph.D., Summer 2012, MA, Fall 2009
Current Status: Assistant professor, Morgan State University
Daniel-PschaidaDANIEL AZIM PSCHAIDA, PhD, Summer 2015

Dissertation Title: The New Generation’s Islam: Young Adult Muslim Americans on Faith, Citizenship, Identity, Gender, and Pluralism

Current Status: Lecturer, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff

Bio/Research Interests: Daniel Pschaida's dissertation looks at how young adult Muslim Americans articulate and deploy their religious identities to define relationships between faith and citizenship, the relationship between genders, and relationships with religious and ethnic difference both among Muslims and peoples of other faiths. When not reading, writing, or at a conference, you can find him on a basketball court, soccer field, hiking, or out eating the best cuisine Riverside has to offer.

Personal Website:

ERIN ROUTON, MA, Spring 2013
Current Status: Ph.D. Student (Cultural Anthropology), Cornell University
Sean-SaganSEAN SAGAN, PhD, Religious Studies, Spring 2017

Bio/Research Interests: I am a fourth year doctoral candidate and have just begun research for my dissertation. My studies focus on the generation, distribution and use of religious tracts and new media by evangelical groups and new religious movements. I also have a wide array of supporting interests which include religious themes in television drama, the place of popular secularism in religious discourse and the intersections between politics and religion. I hold a BA in Political Science from California State University, Long Beach and a MA in Religious Studies from University of California, Riverside.

Recent Presentations:
“Morality, Privilege and Audience Participation in Breaking Bad” Southwest-Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Conference, Albuquerque, NM. February 22, 2014. (accepted).
”Encountering Popular Secularism in Religious Studies Classrooms: Identifying Problems and Solutions.” WECSOR/American Academy of Religion, Western Regional Meeting. Tempe, AZ, March 9-11, 2013.
”In the Gutter: Dirt, Purity and Ritual in Jack Chick Gospel Tracts.” 20th Annual Comic Arts Conference/Comic-Con. San Diego, CA. July 12-15, 2012.

Recent Awards/Fellowships:
CHASS Continuing Fellowship, 2012 – 2013

LUKE SCHMIDT, MA, Spring 2009
Current Status: Assistant to the Director of Core Curriculum and Core Administrative Coordinator, Scripps Colleg
Ryan-SmithRYAN SMITH, MA, Religious Studies, Spring 2014

Bio/Research Interests: I am interested in American religious ethics; Protestant Christian movements and ecology; and contemporary Christian theology and literature. I hold a BA in History and Religious Studies from the University of California, Riverside.
Allison SolsoALLISON SOLSO, PhD, Religious Studies, Winter 2015

Dissertation Title: Beyond Memento Mori: Understanding American Religions Through Roadside Shrines

Current Status: Faculty Member, Department of Humanities and Religious Studies, Sacramento State University

Bio/Research Interests:I have bachelor’s degrees in American History and Religious Studies from the University of Wisconsin and a Master’s degree in Religions of North American from Claremont Graduate University. My research interests include American religious history, material culture of religion, embodied religious experience and memory studies. I have also done work in ethnography and Native American studies. Generally, my interests are eclectic and I enjoy employing interdisciplinary methods in my studies. My writing has been featured in the Journal of Religion and Popular Culture and Harvard’s Pluralism Project.
HANNAH TENPAS, MA, Spring 2010
Current Status: Assistant Program Manager, Transitions Mental Health Association
Current Status: Co-Founder, New Why