Graduate Students

Tejpaul BainiwalTEJPAUL BAINIWAL, PhD Student in Religious Studies

Bio/Research Interests: I have a strong passion for early Sikh American history and have been doing independent research on Gadri Babey and Sikhs in America during the early 1900s. I am a lead researcher for Stockton Gurdwara (California Historical Landmark) and working with the National Park Service to designate the Stockton Gurdwara as a National Historic Landmark. In 2016, I joined the inaugural Board of Directors for Asian Pacific Islander Americans in Historic Preservation (APIAHiP).

Academic Degrees:
B.S. Criminal Justice – Humphreys University – Summa Cum Laude

John CibottiJOHN CIBOTTI, PhD Student in Religious Studies

Bio/Research Interests: My current research interest applied Western notions of social movements and male psychology to Punjabi Sikhs. My Master’s thesis applied Weber's concept of charisma to Sikh leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale.

Academic Degrees:
M.A Religious Studies – Florida International University
B.A Economics – Florida International University

Danielle DempseyDANIELLE DEMPSEY, PhD Student in Religious Studies

Bio/Research Interests: My research interests focus primarily on the intersection of religion and Queer Theory/Gender and Sexuality Studies, especially within Christianity.  I received a BA in Religious Studies and Spanish Language from UCR in 2011.  I also have an MA in Theology from Loyola Marymount University, where I focused on Moral Theology and Sexual Ethics within Roman Catholicism.  I am currently studying the intellectual history of Christian thought on sex and sexuality, and the ways in which it affects contemporary teachings thereof within Christianity.  My focus is primarily on the Catholic Church’s teachings on Queer expression and sexuality.

Recent presentations/publications:
“Queer Expression and Human Dignity: A Framework for Reimagining Catholic Sexual Ethics in Light of Religious and Cultural Pluralism,” American Academy of Religion Western Regional Meeting, April, 2016

“Envisioning Queer Culture: Toward a Theological Framework for Reimagining Sexuality and Sexual Orientation,” Masters Thesis, Loyola Marymount University, 2014

JOSHUA EARLS, PhD Student in Religious Studies
Hashanah El-YacoubiHASSANAH EL-YACOUBI, PhD Student in Religious Studies

Bio/Research Interests: Hassanah El-Yacoubi is a doctoral student in Religious Studies at the University of California, Riverside. She focuses on women in Islam, specifically on the role identity and body politics play in reversing the narrative on American Muslim women. Her research revolves around emerging Muslim subjectivities cultivated by millennials through the global phenomenon of Islamic fashion, which has altered the ways in which Muslim identity is performed and perceived. She is also a leading fashion and lifestyle blogger where she is dedicated to creating cross-cultural and inter-religious understanding through fashion, and was ranked as a top modest fashion influencer by The Huffington Post. Hassanah was awarded the Mellon Advancing Intercultural Studies Fellowship in Religious Identity by the Center for Ideas and Society at UC Riverside for Spring 2018.

Recent presentations and panel participation:
“Crafting an American Muslim Identity,” Women’s Islamic Initiative for Spirituality and Equality (WISE UP) Summit. Washington, D.C., October 25, 2017.

“Faith and Fashion” Modest Fashion Conference at Princeton University, NJ. November 2016.

El-Yacoubi, H. (2017). “Modesty, Veiling, and Fashion,” In Daisy Khan (Ed.), Wise Up: Knowledge Ends Extremism (pp. 69). Tucson, AZ: Ghost River Images.

El-Yacoubi, H. (2016, January 11). D&G is Doing More Than Just Releasing a Hijab and Abaya Collection. The Huffington Post -


Jeremy-GuidaJEREMY GUIDA, PhD Candidate in Religious Studies

Bio/Research Interests: My interest in religion is rooted in my evangelical, pentecostal upbringing. Although I’m no longer evangelical or pentecostal, this upbringing contributed to my interest in the academic study of religion during my undergraduate career. I have since earned a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Redlands in Religious Studies with an emphasis in English and an M.T.S. degree from Harvard Divinity School. Most recently I have become interested in the interdisciplinary field of religion and film. My research is on spirituality in ’70s counter-culture and cult cinema.

Christopher HayesCHRISTOPHER HAYES, PhD Candidate in Religious Studies

Richard HowickRICHARD HOWICK, PhD Student in Religious Studies

Bio/Research Interests: I have been the West Coast Director for St. Joseph Radio and host for Orange County Catholic Radio (the weekly talk show for the Diocese of Orange), and involved in religious radio programming and public speaking. I previously served in education as an Instructor, a Campus Minister, a Dean, and as Principal. My academic love, however, has been early Church history, and at UCR I am privileged to continue my studies focused on the societal trends toward conversion especially just prior to the Fourth Century.

Academic Degrees:
Bachelor of Arts, Majors in Religious Studies and Political Science, 1987, Cal State University Long Beach
Master of Divinity, 1993, SFTS at the Graduate Theological Union
Master of Educational Administration, 2006, Grand Canyon University

Cori-KnightCORINNE KNIGHT, PhD Candidate in Religious Studies

Bio/Research Interests: While my general focus is on American religious history, my research passion is in the intersection of religion and popular culture. My dissertation examines the concept of the American Monomyth and its evolution, using a webcomic as a case study in monomythic transition. I also work as teaching assistant for the University Writing Program here at UC Riverside and as an editor for the Center for Insurance Studies at CSU Fullerton.

I received an MA in Religious Studies from UC Riverside, an MA in English from CSU Fullerton, and a double-major BA in English and Religious Studies from CSU Fullerton.

In addition to my research and teaching, I am the manager for and play the bagpipes in the University of California Riverside Pipe Band.

Recent Presentations:
“Seeking Balance: Gender, Doctrine, & Culture in the Faith and Fiction of Baldwin and Atwood” WECSOR / American Academy of Religion, Western Regional Meeting. Tempe, AZ, March 7-9, 2014 (accepted).
“Created Entities, Created Stories: The History and Reality of ‘Girl Genius’s’ Jägermonsters” 20th Annual Comic Arts Conference/Comic-Con. San Diego, CA. July 12-15, 2012.

Shou-KuoSHOU-JEN KUO, PhD Candidate in Religious Studies

Bio/Research Interest: My research area encompasses immigrant religions in Los Angeles, Chinese religion/Buddhism, and American religious spatiality. The Los Angeles region provides an excellent ethnographic field for me to study the religio-cultural practices of distinctive Asian religions in the context of American multiculturalism. I am particularly interested in the spatial embodiment and ritual performance of Chinese religiosity within the immigrant communities in the United States. My secondary research interest focuses on the methodological development in current Chinese religious studies scholarship, especially in its subarea of Buddhist studies.

M.A. Sociology, California State University, Los Angeles
M.A. City and Regional Planning (MCRP): Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey
B.A. Political Science, major in Public Administration: Tunghai University – Taichung, Taiwan

Elizabeth MillerELIZABETH MILLER, Masters in Arts of Religious Studies

Bio/Research Interests: My research interests is Eastern Religions, specifically Tibetan Buddhism.

Academic Degrees:
Multiple Subject Teaching Credential, 2006, University of Redlands
B.A. Religious Studies, 2003, UC Riverside

Katie PhillipsKATHRYN PHILLIPS, PhD Student in Religious Studies

Bio/Research Interests: I focus on the early Christian church; my interests are the roles of women in early Christianity as well as the interactions between Christianity and the Roman Empire, including martyrdom and persecution. I have a BA from UC Riverside in history with a focus in ancient and medieval history.

Jessica-RehmanJESSICA LEE REHMAN, PhD Candidate in Religious Studies

Bio/Research Interests: I earned a Master’s degree in Religious Studies with an emphasis in Islamic Studies at Cal State Long Beach. My Master’s thesis synthesized a theoretical model that frames rape as religious terrorism and genocide, with a demonstrative case study of the 1971 war between East and West Pakistan. Currently, as a Ph.D. Student, my research areas include Islam and gender in South Asia, religious violence, rape, genocide, transnationalism, and globalization. I have presented at multiple conferences providing research on Yemeni women’s activism and Islamism, comparative female imagery in Muslim and Jewish texts, female freedom fighters in Bangladesh, and transnational Islamic charitable societies. My current ethnographic research project explores conceptions of masculine identities in South Asian Diasporas, with a specific focus on cultural memory and intergenerational difference.

Steven-QuachSTEVEN QUACH, PhD Student in Religious Studies

Bio/Research Interests: I am interested in research on Buddhist traditions and their interaction with secular ideologies or fields, like cognitive psychology and neuroscience. My Master’s comprehensive exams in Religious Studies at UC Riverside focused on Phenomenology, as well as the historical development of Chan/Zen Buddhism in China during the Sui and Tang dynasties, and the rhetoric with which its monastic literature expressed "enlightenment." I graduated with a MA degree in Religious Studies from UCR in 2015 and a Bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies from San Diego State University in 2013.

Cristina-RosettiCRISTINA ROSETTI, PhD Candidate in Religious Studies

Bio/Research Interests: Cristina Rosetti is a doctoral candidate in the department of Religious Studies at the University of California, Riverside. She completed her B.A. in Liberal Studies at California State University, Fullerton and her M.A. in Religious Studies at the UC Riverside. Her research focuses on the intersection of Mormonism and Spiritualism, with particular attention to alternative forms of Mormon religious practice. Her dissertation uses historical and ethnographic methodologies to investigate the extent to which members of Mormon groups were involved in nineteenth-century Spiritualism and how this involvement manifests in the present. She has presented her research at regional meetings of the American Academy of Religion and nationally at the Mormon History Association’s annual conference. In 2017, Cristina was awarded the Mormon Studies Fellowship at the University of Utah’s Tanner Humanities Center.

Ali SamjiALI SAMJI, PhD Student in Religious Studies

Bio/Research Interests: Ali's research focuses on the confluence of the Hindu and Islāmic traditions in their pre-modern South Asian context (Sitz im Leben). Moreover, his research addresses the complex problem of defining religio-cultural interchange. At present, he is examining the methods employed by the itinerant vernacular bards (pīrs) in promulgating the Ismāʿīlī form of Shīʿī Islām in the subcontinent and the means by which the mission (daʿwa) acclimated itself to the Indian religious, social, cultural, and literary environment of its time.

Recent Academic Presentations:
“Indo-Ismāʿīlī Cosmogony,” Inaugural Khōjā Studies Conference, Le Centre dʾÉtudes de lʾInde et de lʾAsie du Sud (CEIAS), École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS)

Forthcoming Academic Publication:
Book Chapter: “Indo-Ismāʿīlī Cosmogony: A Text-Critical Study” (Ohio University Press)

Academic Degrees:
M.A. in Religion, University of Hawaiʿi at Mānoa (Research Field: South Asian Religions)
B.A. in Religious Studies, California State University, Northridge (Research Field: Islām)

Adam TysonADAM TYSON, PhD Student in Religious Studies

Bio/Research Interests: My graduate work dealt with early Islamic intellectual history and formative figures in the history of Sufism; specifically, I focused on concepts of esoteric knowledge and mysticism in the philosophical trends of late-ancient and medieval Islam. I am interested in the history of mystical traditions, but also in social theories of mystical experience in addition to examining the role of language, ontology and praxis in lived religion.

"The Mystical Debate: Constructivism and the Resurgence of Perennialism." Intermountain West Journal of Religious Studies 4, no. 1 (2012).

Academic Degrees:
B.A. Religious Studies - Lawrence University
M.A. International Studies in Comparative Religion - University of Washington

Contact: atyso001@ucr.redu
Nathan-WomackNATHAN WOMACK, PhD Candidate in Religious Studies

Bio/Research Interests: My name is Nathan Womack and I'm a PhD candidate in religious studies.  I earned a master of biblical studies degree from The King's University in Southlake, TX and an MA in religious studies from UC Riverside.  My research interests include contemporary evangelical and charismatic Christianity, American religion, history of Christianity, economics and religion, and historical anthropology of religion.