Biographies of Current Graduate Students


Masters Students

David Conway (MA, U.S. History) BA, History, 2012 Union University. David is a native of Bryan-College Station, TX. His primary research interest is in the social and economic impacts of unconventional warfare displayed in the South during the American Revolution and Civil War. Other interests are in the growth of towns near military bases during and after World War II.

Kevin Grubbs (MA, U.S. History) BA, History, University of Texas, Arlington.  He is a second year MS student with an American History major and a Latin American History minor.  His thesis explores the relationship between the yeoman farmers and the local plantation owners during the early republic in South Carolina.  This project addresses the shift from colonial society to antebellum society as it was shaped by the struggle between the classes.  Other interests include Revolutionary Caribbean Trade and Culture with an emphasis on the impact of Saint-Domingue on the United States. 

David Martin (MA, American History) BA, history, the University of Southern Mississippi.  David is a native of Picayune, Mississippi.   As an undergraduate, his thesis examined the role of George Washington’s mythos on the Southern war effort during the American Civil War.  He is currently focused on Thomas Jefferson’s role in Early American military development. 

Anna Rikki Nelson (MA, War and Society) BA, History with minor in Political Science and French, the University of Southern Mississippi.  Anna Rikki is a native of Hazlehurst, Mississippi. As an  undergraduate, she studied Playboy magazine and the anti-war movement  during the Vietnam War. She is currently focused on studying Gender and War. In her spare time, Anna Rikki enjoys baking, traveling, and  ballroom dancing. She is also an avid runner.

Christopher Temple (MA, American History) BA, History, 2012 Dalton State College.  Christopher is a native of Calhoun, GA.  His undergraduate thesis focused upon the establishment of the United States Navy and, specifically, how the decision to create a permanent naval force conflicted with the ideals of the Founding Fathers.  He is currently studying American History with a minor in European History.  Christopher's research interests include: European military tradition and its impact upon the conduct of American soldiers and leaders, particularly during the 19th century.

Sam Ward (MA, War & Society) BS, Military History, 2013 United States Air Force Academy. Sam Ward is from Auburn, AL, and was awarded the Major Ira Bong and General Richard L. Lawson Awards for outstanding cadet in Military History and Communication, respectively. In addition, he was awarded the General Richard L. Lawson Scholarship as the outstanding cadet in Communication. After his sophomore year, Sam was selected as part of a language immersion program to Aix-en-Provence, France. The next semester, he was part of a cultural immersion group to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Sam spent the fall semester of his senior year as an exchange student at the Royal Military College of Canada. As an undergraduate, he presented his research at the Colorado Springs Undergraduate Research Forum in 2012, and was a member of the USAFA chapter of Phi Alpha Theta. His current focus is the development and use of American airpower. Upon completion of his M.A., he will start training to become a pilot in the USAF.

Ruth P. White (MA, U.S. History) BA, History, BS, History, 2011 The University of Southern Mississippi.  Ruth is a native of Vicksburg, Mississippi.  She is a second year M.A. student studying United States History with a minor in War and Society.  Her current thesis topic is a comparative community study of Vicksburg and Natchez, Mississippi during the American Civil War. Her project should address the dynamic between Confederate "nationalism" and the devotion to local towns/cities.  She is also interested in antebellum life and the immediate post war experience.


Ph.D. Students

Joel R. Bius (PhD, U.S History / Minor Areas in War and Society and Social History). MA Military Studies – Civil War, 2004 American Military University; MA Military Operational Art & Science, 2009 Air Command and Staff College (ACSC); BA Business Administration, 1996 Valdosta State University.  Joel is a second year PhD student whose research interests include the military-industrial complex, war’s impact on society and the soldier, modern U.S. military culture, and the history of the American tobacco industry.  In a dissertation entitled “The Soldier and the Cigarette,” Joel’s research will describe the unique, historical, sometimes comfortable, at times controversial, relationship between the cigarette industry and the military.  He will describe how the remarkable growth in Americans’ cigarette consumption during the twentieth century was to a great extent an outgrowth of soldiering, military culture, and war.  Finally, he will trace the military’s entrenched relationship with the cigarette industry, arguing that after 1964, the Department of Defense faced formidable political, cultural, economic, and operational challenges as it initiated measures to sever the relationship between the soldier and the cigarette, culminating with the implementation of the U.S. Army’s Tobacco Cessation Program in 1986. 

Hunter Boyd (PhD, U.S. History) MA, History, 2010 Southeastern Louisiana University; BA, history, Southeastern Louisiana University, 2008. Hunter is focusing on American War and Society issues in the nineteenth century. Hunter’s research interests include partisan conflict and the legacies of guerilla warfare in the US Civil War. His additional interests include how party politics, demographic diversity, and underlying social/class tensions in Southern society contributed to both sectionalism and fierce inter-regional conflict during the Civil War Era.  A lifelong resident of Louisiana, Hunter currently resides in Hammond.

Allan Branstiter (PhD, U.S. History). MA, U.S. History, 2013 The University of Southern Mississippi; BA, History, 2011 Minnesota State University Moorhead. Allan is a first year PhD student from Fargo, North Dakota. His MA thesis, "Madness, Scalawagery, and Reconstruction: Dr. William M. Compton and Civil War Era Politics," employed the Mississippi State Lunatic Asylum as a lens through which to examine the fluid nature of Reconstruction politics and the role of scalawags in the state's postwar political life. In it, he traces the career of Dr. William M. Compton, a politician and asylum superintendent who identified himself at various times as an "Old Line" Whig, Democrat, local Ku Klux Klan leader, and Republican during the Civil War era. Allan's current research interests include the social history of Confederate veterans during Reconstruction and their role in the United States' westward and foreign expansion. He is particularly interested in how these individuals, at home and abroad, negotiated their role as U.S. citizens and former Confederates through their participation in the expansion of American influence.

Kelly Cantrell (PhD, U.S. History) MA. History, 2006 University of Southern Mississippi. Kelly is currently writing her dissertation “Consuming Victory: American Women and the Politics of Food Rationing During World War II.” After completing her coursework at USM, Kelly became a faculty member at East Mississippi Community College.  In her tenure there she has won the Mississippi Humanities Council Teacher Award (2009), been named a William Winter Scholar (2013), and was honored as the Golden Triangle Development Link’s Post-Secondary Educator of the Year (2013). Finally she is the director of the EMCC Honors Program and Phi Theta Kappa sponsor for the campus. 

Colin M. Colbourn (PhD, U.S. History) MA, War and Society, 2009 The University of Southern Mississippi; BS, History, 2007 Ball State University.   From 2006-2009, Colin interned with the U.S. Marine Corps History Division in Quantico, Virginia, aiding the Chief Historian as well as Reference and Historical branch historians in researching and writing official Marine Corps history.  Now ABD, Colin’s dissertation will combine social and institutional history in an analysis of the U.S. Marine Corps’ employment of public relations from the turn of the twentieth century through the Second World War.  During his time at Southern Miss, Colin has presented his research at conferences such as the SMH’s Annual Meeting, the Naval History Symposium, and the Meeting of the American Journalism Historians Association.  Other conference work included both chairing and organizing the 2009 Regional International Security and Internal Safety Conference, hosted at USM.  Colin also had the opportunity to participate in battlefield tours and studies of Italy, Sicily, Guam, Saipan, Tinian, Iwo Jima and Vietnam.

Dennis Cowles (PhD, Early American History) MA, History, 2006 University of New Orleans; BA, French, 2002 University of New Orleans. Research interests center on interactions between Latin America, the Caribbean, and the colonial mainland. His MA thesis examined the failure of the Tristán de Luna expedition to Pensacola from 1559 to 1561. Dennis worked for several years as an adjunct instructor of history in New Orleans and in the Boston area. In addition to teaching world and American history courses, he designed and taught a course of piracy in the New World. Dennis has almost 20 years' experience working in museums, including running a planetarium and working at the Paul Revere House. In his free time, Dennis enjoys reading and observational astronomy.

Jason Engle (PhD, Modern European History), MA, Norwich University.  Jason is specializing Modern European History (under the direction of Dr. Michael Neiberg) with a minor field in War and Society and Social History.  His current research interests include the Austro-Hungarian Empire during the First World War and is examining the world view or mentalité of its conscript and reserve enlistees and field-grade officers.  He is also interested in the residual effects of the Great War on First Republic politics, particularly as it relates to Austro-fascism.  Jason received his master’s degree in Military History from Norwich University (Northfield, VT) in 2008 and his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Union College (Barbourville, KY) in 1997 and worked as an application developer for Nationwide Insurance and JPMorgan Chase before deciding to pursue his doctorate.  Jason has several forthcoming encyclopedia articles including entries in America’s Heroes: Medal of Honor Recipients from the Civil War to IraqAtrocities, Massacres, and War Crimes: An Encyclopedia, and Germany at War as well as a book review for Army History.  When not reading books, writing papers, or grading, Jason enjoys traveling, spending time with his wife and son, and watching football. 

John Fitzmorris (PhD, U.S. History) MA, Religious Studies, University of New Orleans;  BA, Political Science and Religious Studies, 1989, Louisiana State University.  John is a resident of New Orleans, is in his fifth year as a doctoral candidate in War and Society.  During his M.A. in History from the University of New Orleans  he was awarded the George F. Windell Prize for Outstanding Thesis in History. The father of one daughter (Madeleine Rose), Mr. Fitzmorris was a high school and middle school teacher before returning to finish his Doctorate. He has begun work on a dissertation examining combat chaplains in the Vietnam War. He has conducted research at the U.S. Army Chaplains' Archives at Ft. Jackson, South Carolina and has made the USM Study Abroad trip to Vietnam in 2009. He has written three entries in James Willbanks’ America’s Heroes: Medal of Honor Recipients from the Civil War to Afghanistan. In both 2011 and 2012, Mr. Fitzmorris was named Outstanding Graduate Instructor by the History Department. He currently serves as President and Historian of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in New Orleans, an organization for Irish Catholic men, and is an advisor for the Girl Scouts of America.

Jeremy George (PhD, Early American History) MA, History, 2006 the University of New Orleans; BA, History, 2008 Louisiana State University.  Jeremy is a third year PhD student studying early colonial New England.  His MA thesis examined the early Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay colonies and their different policies and beliefs regarding land use.  Jeremy's dissertation will look at the Pequot War and its affect on different New England colonies. 

Timothy C. Hemmis is a Ph.D. candidate studying early American frontier history during the Revolutionary Era.  His dissertation title is “Trading Identities: National Identity and Loyalty of Backcountry Merchants in Revolutionary America, 1740-1816.”  The project argues that personal and economic relationships before and after the War for Independence forged identities that changed with new opportunities for profit   Additionally, Mr. Hemmis has presented at several academic conferences, including the Society for Military History, and has published several encyclopedia articles including one in the upcoming The Encyclopedia of War entitled “The Mohawk-Mahican War, 1624-1628.”  Furthermore, he has several book reviews pending for H-War. In addition to his research, Mr. Hemmis has taught several classes, including: World History I and II and American History I, 1600-1865. Timothy is working under the direction of Dr. Kyle Zelner.

Alice Ivas (PhD, Early American History), MA, Anthropology, The University of Alabama.  Research Interests:  The Colonial Gulf South, Gender, Cultural History, Ethnohistory, Early American Dress/Adornment. An anthropologist, archaeologist and historian, Alice has earned Bachelor and Master degrees in anthropology with minor concentrations in history and historical archaeology. While at the University of Alabama, Alice’s research explored the European and Apalachee Indian relations in the Colonial Gulf South. Specifically, her thesis “Caught in the Middle: The Apalachee of Colonial Mobile” demonstrated through archaeological and historical research that the Apalachee established a town on the eastern shore of Mobile Bay in order to trade and politically ally with the French after the collapse of Mission San Luis in 1763. Between 2004 and 2010, Alice worked as a professional archaeologist and was adjunct faculty for University of South Alabama and Spring Hill College. In 2010, Alice enrolled in USM’s PhD program for Early United States History. Her dissertation will explore themes of race, gender, politics, and consumerism among Southern Indians from 1780 to 1840.         

John Mangipano (PhD, U.S. History) BA, History, 2008 University of New Orleans.  John is a first year student in the PhD program in American History. Research interests include connecting 19th century Gulf of Mexico to the Caribbean and the public perception of these connections. John has specific interests in the foreign artists of New Orleans, the fruit trade, Mardi Gras, the Mexican, Italian, and Central American communities in New Orleans, and European-born American politicians in The Gulf South (especially their roles in filibustering, southern expansion, and early public education).  As a direct descendant of Francisco Vargas, John is always eager to discuss the artworks that his family has made for over 100 years in New Orleans and direct you to the museums that house them.

Hayden McDaniel (PhD, U.S. History). MA, U.S. History since 1865, 2012 Auburn University; BS in English and History, 2009 Troy University. Hayden McDaniel is from Dothan, Alabama. She is pursuing a major field in U.S. History with minor fields in gender history and Latin American history. Her research interests include the American South since the New Deal, focusing on labor, intersections of labor with agriculture and the built and natural environment, and constructions of southern identity. Additional areas of research emphasize public history, oral history, and Alabama history. Her thesis, “Managing the New Deal: Administration of the Civilian Conservation Corps, 1933-1942,” challenged the notion of the CCC as a cohesive and cooperative agency by investigating bureaucracy, federal departmental cooperation, and the work of mid-level administration in the southeastern Fourth Corps Area. Her current project, under the direction of Dr. Louis Kyriakoudes, is a thematic exploration of the southern peanut industry's development from 1920-1976.

Tyler Rotter (PhD, Early American History) MA, History, 2010 Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville; PBC, Museum Studies, 2010 Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville; BA, History, 2007 University of Missouri-Columbia. Tyler is specializing in the cultural history of seventeenth-century New England with minor areas in War and Society and Latin America. His research interests include the way in which clergy used their leadership and influence to create propaganda in support of war, its reception, and how it was integrated into communities socially. Additionally, he is also interested in the religious characteristics of colonization in Latin America and how they compared to those of British North America. Tyler came to Southern Miss from Glen Carbon, Illinois. In his free time, he travels as much as possible and cheers on the greatest baseball team in the world, the St. Louis Cardinals!

Stephanie Anne Seal (PhD, Early American History)  MA, U.S. History, The University of Southern Mississippi.  Stephanie is a native of Poplarville, MS and is currently a first year PhD student studying the American Revolution and War and Society, as well as working toward a Public History Certificate.  Her MA thesis “Victims of Liberty: Virginia’s Response to Loyalists and Loyalism in Williamsburg, Virginia, 1770-1781,” examined how loyalists in Virginia’s capital were treated during the Revolution by their community and Virginia’s leading colonial newspapers, The Virginia Gazettes.  Stephanie was recently awarded a 2013 Robert M. & Annetta J. Coffelt and Robert M. Coffelt , Jr. Research Fellowship at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s Rockefeller Library in Williamsburg, Virginia to study the Virginia Gazette newspapers during the Revolutionary era.   For her dissertation, Stephanie plans to conduct a prosopographical study of the men of the Queen’s Rangers, a loyalist British Army regiment, in order to gain insight into the ideology of those willing to fight to keep George III as their ruler.  The dissertation will focus not only on the men’s pre-war relationships with their towns and communities, but will also chart what happened to the loyalists after the war was lost.

Samantha Taylor (PhD, U.S. History), MA, History, 2009 East Tennessee State University; BS, 2007 Lander University.  Samantha’s research interests include America from the Civil War to the Present, World War I, World War II, military technology as well their affect on American and European society.  Other interests include the Cold War, Cultural History, and American Diplomatic History. Samantha’s current dissertation topic is a study of post-Cold War culture in the United States and Europe.

Robert Thompson (PhD, U.S. History) MA, History, 2007 Wilfrid Laurier University; BA, History, 2006 Virginia Wesleyan College. He is from Alexandria, Virginia. Working under the supervision of Dr. Andrew Wiest, Rob is focusing on United States Army pacification efforts during the Vietnam War. His dissertation expands on his 2012 and 2013 Society for Military History conference papers on U.S. Army efforts to pacify Phu Yen Province, Republic of Vietnam. More specifically, his dissertation examines how the Hamlet Evaluation System (HES) doomed the U.S. Army’s post-Tet 1968 pacification efforts at the provincial level. He has written a number of book reviews and encyclopedia entries. Recently, he assisted Dr. Wiest with his oral history Vietnam: A View From the Front Lines. Besides the study of history, Rob enjoys spending time with his wife and son.

Ryan Tickle (PhD, U.S. History) MA, History, 2009 Cal State Fullerton; BA, History, 2005 Nebraska. Ryan was born and raised in Nebraska where he earned his B.A. in history in 2005.   He then fled the cold and snowy Great Plains for the sunshine of the West Coast.  Under the guidance of Dr. Benjamin Cawthra, his thesis analyzed African-American protests against the human rights abuses perpetrated by Belgian King Leopold II in the Congo Free State.  His research interests coalesce around African-American politics and culture during the turn of the twentieth century.  He is particularly interested in the transnational role played by world’s fairs and Southern industrial expositions in creating a new, post-slavery identity for African Americans.  In his spare time, he enjoys home brewing, cooking, and running 5ks (because of the cooking).  His recent publications include reviews of Yuya Kiuchi's Struggles for Equal Voice and Rebecca Sharpless’s Cooking in Other Women's Kitchens in The Journal of American Culture and the Southern Quarterly.

Eve Wade (PhD, U.S. History). MA, History, 2008 Roosevelt University.  A native of Chicago, Illinois, Eve attended nearby Northern Illinois University where, in 1995, she earned a BA in Communications and a minor in French.  Her research interests include the use of African and African American religion as a form of resistance, the importance of Gender, particularly women of color, in the development of culture, and the environmental effects of the African Diaspora.  Additional interests are oral history and slavery and resistance in Latin America.       

Lynn Wartberg (PhD, U.S. History) MA, History, 2012 University of New Orleans; BA History, 2010 East Texas Baptist University. Lynn’s Research interests include American Chattel Slavery, Gender (especially the sexual exploitation of enslaved women), Religion (and the influence of the Second Great Awakening on the US South), the 18th and 19th Centuries, and the Use of 20th Century Ex-Slave Interviews as Primary Source Materials. She is finalizing her Master’s Thesis, titled “‘They was Things Past Tellin’: Sexuality and the Discourse of Formerly Enslaved Women,” which explores the efforts of African American women to regain their femininity by relating their experiences to the interviewers of the Louisiana Writers’ Project. 

Rebecca Zimmer (PhD, U.S. History), MA, History, 2009 University of North Carolina; BS, Biology, 2002 Elon University.  Rebecca’s MA thesis "Uncommon Valor, Common Soldier: Edward Hall Armstrong, 3rd Regiment North Carolina Troops," argued that despite the fact that Armstrong was from a wealthy family, and his appointment as the captain of Company G, 3rd N.C.T., Armstrong was representative of the common Confederate soldier.  Becky spent the summers of 2008 and 2010 at the George Tyler Moore Center for the Study of the Civil War as their George M. Nethken Fellow.  This permitted her the opportunity to work on the seminars "Gettysburg: Retreat and Pursuit" and "Siege of Petersburg," the latter of which was presented in conjunction with Pamplin Park.  During the 2009 - 2010 academic year, Becky was an adjunct lecturer at the University of North Carolina, Pembroke.  She is currently a fourth year Ph.D. student, and Teaching Assistant.  Her research interests include the American Civil War and the South in the latter half of the nineteenth century.  Her dissertation is on Mississippi during the Gilded Age.