Current W&S Graduate Students

Joel R. Bius

Joel R. Bius 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.  This relationship dates to the close of the Civil War, when Confederate soldier James B. Duke returned home to North Carolina and began selling small bits of gold-leaf tobacco to Union and Confederate soldiers encamped on his farm.  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.  Joel is an active duty Lt Col in United States Air Force attending the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) as an Air Force Fellow.  Prior to coming to USM, Joel was a faculty member at the Air Command and Staff College (ACSC).   Joel is working under the direction of Dr. Louis Kyriakoudes.

Hunter R. Boyd

Hunter is a Ph.D. student focusing on American War and Society issues in the nineteenth century. Hunter received a B.A. in History from Southeastern Louisiana University in May 2008, where he also received a M.A. in History in December 2010. Hunter’s research interests include partisan conflict and the legacies of guerilla warfare in the US Civil War. His additional interests include the U.S. sectional politics and underlying Southern social/class tensions of the nineteenth century. A lifelong resident of Louisiana, Hunter currently resides in Hammond.  Hunter is working under the direction of Dr. Susannah Ural.

Allan Branstiter

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. Allan is working under the direction of Dr. Susannah Ural.

Kelly Cantrell

Cantrell received her BA and MA in history from the University of Southern Mississippi. She currently is a Ph.D. student in American history with minor fields in Latin American history and War and Society.   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.   Kelly is working is working under the direction of Dr. Andrew Haley and Dr. Kyle Zelner.

Colin M. Colbourn

Colin received his BS in History from Ball State University in 2007 with a minor in Anthropology.  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.  Colin received his MA from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2009. 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 Society for Military History’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.  Colin was recently awarded the General Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr., Memorial Dissertation Fellowship from the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation for 2012-2013.  Colin is working under the direction of Dr. Andrew Wiest.

David Conway

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.

Michael Doidge

Michael Doidge is a PhD candidate 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 C. Engle

Jason is a Ph.D. candidate specializing Modern European History with a minor concentrations in War and Society and Social History.  His dissertation, tentatively titled, “’Kamerad Schnürschuh:’ A Social History of Austria-Hungary’s ‘Second’ Army in World War I,” will seek to reveal the experience and the mentalité of Austro-Hungarian soldiers and field-grade officers that made up the empire’s motley army of teenagers and middle-aged men that fought it’s last war.  Jason is also interested in the residual effects of the Great War on Austria’s First Republic, particularly as it relates to the role of paramilitarism in Interwar politics and political movements.  He 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.  Jason has authored books reviews for Army History and H-Net as well as multiple encyclopedia articles for ABC-CLIO.  When not working on his dissertation or prepping for class, Jason enjoys spending time with his wife, Jodie, and his son, Wilhem.   He also enjoys hanging with friends, traveling, labrewing and consuming good beer, watching football, and plein air painting.  Jason is working under the direction of Dr. Andrew Wiest.

John D. Fitzmorris                                                                     

John Fitzmorris, a resident of New Orleans, is in his fifth year as a doctoral candidate in War and Society. He graduated with a B.A. from L.S.U. in 1989 in Political Science and Religious Studies, has a M.A. in Religious Studies from Loyola University, and an M.A. in History from the University of New Orleans, where 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 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.  John is working under the direction of Dr. Andrew Wiest.

Jeremy George

Jeremy is a third year PhD student studying colonial New England.  He earned his BA in History at Louisiana State University in 2006, and his MA in History at the University of New Orleans in 2008.  His MA thesis examined the early Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay colonies and their different policies and beliefs regarding land use.  His research interests include colonial America, Atlantic History, War and Society, the History of Religion.  Jeremy's dissertation will look at the Pequot War and its affect on different New England colonies.  Jeremy is working under the direction of Dr. Kyle Zelner.

Timothy C. Hemmis

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.

David Martin

David Martin is a native of Picayune, Mississippi.  He graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi with a B.A. in History with minors in Classics and Aerospace Studies.  As an undergraduate, his thesis examined the role of George Washington’s mythos on the Southern war effort during the American Civil War.  As a first-year MA student, he is currently focused on researching Thomas Jefferson’s role in Early American military development.  David is working under the direction of Dr. Kyle Zelner.

Anna Rikki Nelson

Anna Rikki is a first-year MA student and 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.  She is studying under the direction of Drs. Andrew Wiest and Heather Stur.

Tyler Rotter

Tyler is a third-year PhD student 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.  Tyler is studying under the direction of Dr. Kyle Zelner.

Samantha Taylor

Samantha Taylor is a Ph.D. in American History with minor fields in Modern European History and War and Society.  She obtained her M.A. from East Tennessee State University in Johnson City TN 2009 and has a B.S. from Lander University in Greenwood, SC 2007.  Her research interests include American History 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.  Samantha is working under the direction of Dr. Heather Stur.

Robert Thompson

Robert is a Ph.D. student from Alexandria, Virginia. He received a B.A. in History from Virginia Wesleyan College in 2006, and an M.A. in History from Wilfrid Laurier University in 2007.  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. Robert is working under the direction of Dr. Andrew Wiest and Dr. Heather Stur.