Biographies of Current Graduate Students

Masters Students

David Conway (MA, U.S. History) BA, History, 2012 Union University. David is a native of College Station, Texas. His primary research interest is in colonial New England and the colonists who went back to England during the English Civil War. His wider interests include the study of War and Society in colonial New England and how English conflicts affected migration to and from New England.

David Martin (MA, U.S. History) BA, History, 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.

Olivia Moore (MA, U.S. History) BA, History and Politics, University of Exeter (UK). Olivia is an international student from Plymouth, England. Her undergraduate thesis focused on the experiences of women in the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement, exploring how their personal accounts challenge our understanding of civil rights history. She is currently looking at the contributions made by white activists in the local area. Olivia’s interest in civil rights history began after interviewing local activist, Raylawni Branch, during her study abroad placement at Southern Miss in 2012.

Anna Rikki Nelson (MA, Modern European History) BA, History, cum laude from the Honors College, 2013 University of Southern Mississippi. Anna Rikki is a native of Hazlehurst, Mississippi. Her interests include Modern British History and Masculinity during the Cold War. Her thesis focuses on how and why gender and sexuality became trans-Atlantic during the Cold War, using print and film media, specifically the James Bond series and Playboy magazine. In her free time, Anna Rikki is an avid runner and lover of everything Bruce Springsteen.


PhD Students

Joel R. Bius (PhD, U.S. History) MA, Military Operational Art & Science, 2009 Air Command and Staff College; MA, Military Studies (Civil War), 2004 American Military University; BA Business Administration, 1996 Valdosta State University. Joel is a third-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, 2008 Southeastern Louisiana University. Hunter is focusing on American War and Society issues in the nineteenth century. Hunter’s 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, History, 2012 The University of Southern Mississippi; BA, History, 2010 Minnesota State University-Moorhead. Allan is a second year PhD student at the University of Southern Mississippi working under the supervision of Dr. Susannah Ural. He is currently examining how local people negotiated the complexities of postwar life and politics in their attempt to “win the peace” after the Civil War. Particularly interested in Mississippi's Freedmen’s Bureau agents, veterans, occupying soldiers, former bondsmen, scalawags, and carpetbaggers, Allan's research asks how actions at the local and personal influenced the nation that emerged from Reconstruction. For kicks, Allan also studies popular performances in America (especially wrestling) as a manifestation of working-class culture and ideology, and the application of digital technologies in historical research. In his free time, Allan enjoys exploring Mississippi, watching local indie wrestling, hanging out at Southern Fried Comics, and eating everything the Gulf South has to offer. Allan was a recipient of the 2013 Wayde Benson Fellowship and is a veteran of the Iraq War.

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 Southern Miss, 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. Dennis’s research interests center on the intersections of imperial history and social history, specifically regime change in the colonial era. 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 on 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. He is an avid reader of eighteenth-century English novels.

Lynn Cowles (PhD, U.S. History) MA, History, 2012 University of New Orleans; BA History, 2010 East Texas Baptist University. Lynn is a third-year PhD student, pursuing her degree in the field of US History, with minor fields in Race & Ethnicity, and Gender. Her research interests include women of the late 19th and early 20th century, and how they negotiated the shifts in American society that occurred after the Civil War. Her Master’s thesis, titled “‘They was Things Past Tellin’: Sexuality and the Discourse of Formerly Enslaved Women,” explores the efforts of African American women to regain their femininity by relating their experiences to the interviewers of the Louisiana Writers’ Project. Her doctoral dissertation will explore how African American women taught their children to negotiate the threat of violence in Jim Crow South.

Michael Doidge (PhD, U.S. History) Michael is currently researching his dissertation “An Army Worth Fighting For: Doctrinal, Strategic, and Bureaucratic Transformation in the U.S. Army from 1946 to 1963.” The work argues that the Army’s post-World War II relationship to national security policy was the primary driving force behind the sweeping transformations it underwent during the early Cold War. A 2008 fellow at the West Point Summer Seminar in Military History, Michael was also awarded travel grants to the Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy Presidential Libraries, a George Marshall/Baruch Fellowship from the George Marshall Foundation, The Harry J. Carman Fellowship, and the U.S. Army Center of Military History Dissertation Fellowship. In addition to working on his dissertation, Michael co-edited, with Professor Andrew Wiest, Triumph Revisited: Historians Battle for the Vietnam War, which examines the current state of Vietnam War historiography. Michael is currently an historian for the U.S. Army’s Combat Studies Institute of the Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Michael is working under the direction of Dr. Andrew Wiest.

Jason Engle (PhD, Modern European History) MA, Norwich University. Jason is specializing in Modern European History 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-facism. Jason received his master’s degree in Military History from Norwich University (Northfield, Vermont) in 2008 and his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Union College (Barbourville, Kentucky) 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 Iraq, Atrocities, 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 kids, 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 and 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, 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 made the USM Study Abroad trip to Vietnam in 2009. He wrote 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 Deparment. 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 University of New Orleans; BA, History, 2008 Louisiana State University. Jeremy is a 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.

Kevin Grubbs (PhD, U.S. History) BA, History, University of Texas-Arlington; MA, University of Southern Mississippi. Kevin is a first-year PhD student focusing on American History, as well as examining Latin American as a minor area of concentration.  His dissertation explores the relationship between the Gulf South and the Caribbean as promoted by sailors and stevedores on trading ships during the nineteenth century.  Other interests include class and power in the American South during the Early Republic.

Shane Hand (PhD, U.S. History) MA, History, & MLIS, 2011 University of Southern Mississippi; BA, History, 2009 University of Alabama. Shane’s research interests include culture, race, and literacy during the early-twentieth century. His master thesis, “Transmitting Whiteness: Librarians, Children, & Race, 1900 – 1930s,” demonstrates how New Orleans public librarians facilitated the transmission of a white racist ideology of superiority and privilege through the collecting of children’s books for young readers. His current dissertation topic, an intellectual biography of Curious George, seeks to explain how H.A. and Margret Rey adapted racialized advertisements from Germany’s colonial period for American children readers during the mid-twentieth century.

Jonathan Harton (PhD, U.S. History) MA, Military History, 2012 University of North Georgia; BA, History, 2009 University of Georgia. Jonathan is a first year PhD student interested in the various ways local communities respond to and remember armed conflict, particularly in early North America. Jonathan’s MA thesis investigated how the combination of historical archaeology and documentary history could enhance regional memory and narrative creation of U.S. Civil War events in northwest Georgia. His current research focus seeks to examine the martial culture of southeastern militias during the mid to late 18th century. 

Wes Hazzard (PhD, U.S. History) MLitt, 2012 University of Glasgow; BA, 2011 University of South Florida. Wes’s thesis examined prisoner of war camps in Germany, Britain, and the U.S. during World War II.  His research interests include U.S. imperialism at the dawn of the twentieth century, specifically the Philippine-American War.  Wes also has experience working for the Dunedin Historical Museum (Dunedin, FL) in their archives, designing and creating exhibits, as well as public outreach and fundraising.

Timothy Hemmis (PhD, Early U.S. History) Tim is a PhD 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 U.S. History) MA, Anthropology, 2005 University of Alabama. Alice is the McCain Fellow for the 2014-15 academic year. Her dissertation is tentatively entitled Fashion and Factionalism: Southern Indian Identity and the Politics of Cultural Consumption, 1521-1840. The research uses the lens of adornment to examine historically elusive aspects of Southern Indian cultures. It seeks to illuminate cultural meanings behind Southern Indian fashion from initial trade relations with Europeans to the American Trail of Tears. The aim is to understand the various ways in which imported Euroamerican goods expressed Native identities and became essential for diplomatic, political, and social discourses in early America. Ms. Ivas has also taught Invasion of America and World Civilizations II (HIS 102) for the department. She also works as a professional archaeologist in the fields of historic preservation and cultural resource management. Her research interests are Colonial America, gender, identity, material culture studies, Native culture, and the Market Revolution.

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. His research interests include connecting nineteenth-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, 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.

John J. Mortimer (PhD, U.S. History) MA, History, 2013 Indiana University of Pennsylvania; BA, European History, 2010 Framingham State College.  John is a first-year PhD student and his research interests focus on 20th century American diplomatic history since the Cold War.  Specifically, his focus is on the implementation of new military technology and the geopolitical consequences that arise as a direct result of its use.  Additional interests include green military technology and the role these applications have in creating a more mobile and energy independent expeditionary force.  John’s current research includes the use of drone technology in combat, particularly their use in counterinsurgency operations and the manner in which unconventional warfare is beginning to manipulate regional perspectives.

Tyler Rotter (PhD, Early American History) MA, History, 2010 Southern Illinois Universty-Edwardsville; PBS, Museum Studies, 2010 Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville; BA, History, 2007 University of Missouri. Tyler is a PhD candidate 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 gendered connotations, as well as 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. Tyler is studying under the direction of Dr. Kyle Zelner.

Samantha Taylor (PhD, U.S. History 1867-Present, Modern European History, and War and Society) MA, History, 2009 East Tennessee State University-Johnson City; BS, History, 2007 Lander University-Greenwood.  Samantha’s research interests include the long twentieth-century America and Europe, World War I, World War II, and the Cold War. Other interests include Cultural History, Popular Culture, and twentieth-century American Diplomatic History.  Her current dissertation topic is a comparison of post Cold War nationalism in the United States and Germany from 1989 to 1993.

Robert Thompson (PhD, U.S. History) MA, History, 2007 Wilfrid Laurier University; BA, History, 2006 Virginia Wesleyan College. Rob’s dissertation is a study of pacification in Phu Yen Province, Republic of Vietnam during the Vietnam War. To show that continuity, not change, best characterized the Vietnam War, Robert uses examples from Phu Yen to present a war in which pacification always transpired.  He has presented some of his findings at the 2012, 2013, and 2014 SMH Annual Meetings. Robert is working under the direction of Dr. Andrew Wiest and Dr. Heather Stur.

Eve Wade (PhD, U.S. History).  MA, History, 2008 Roosevelt University.  A Native of Chicago, Illinois, her major field of research is U.S. History with minors in Latin American History, and the history of race and ethnicity.  Eve’s research interests include Chattel Slavery in North and South America as well as the Caribbean, black religion, and the development of African American communities across the South in the wake of the Civil War.  In addition to the traditional study of history, she is also pursuing Graduate Certificates in both Public History and Archives and Special Collections.  Her dissertation will explore money, music, and memory in Hattiesburg’s, historically black, Mobile-Bouie community.  

Rebecca Zimmer (PhD, U.S. History), MA, History, 2009 University of North Carolina Wilmington; BS, Biology, 2002 Elon University. Becky’s MA thesis "Uncommon Valor, Common Soldier: Edward Hall Armstrong, 3rd Regiment North Carolina Troops," argued despite the fact 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 fifth-year PhD 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 tentatively titled “Temperance and Woman Suffrage: Success and Struggle in Mississippi at the Turn of the Twentieth Century,” and considers the relationship between the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union and the woman suffrage movement in Mississippi.