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School of Humanities

Biographies of Current Graduate Students

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M.A. Students

 Headshot PlaceholderAmanda Abulawi (M.S., War and Society) BA, 2017, University of Southern Mississippi, is from Poplarville, Mississippi. Amanda’s past research has focused on the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War. Amanda also worked at the McCain Archives in historical manuscripts and special collections, as an undergraduate and again while working on her graduate degree. After completion of the program, Amanda aspires to work in an archive or museum.


Regina CoffeyRegina Coffey (MA, European History) BA, History, minor in German, magna cum laude, 2016 University of Southern Mississippi. Regina comes from Mandeville, Louisiana. Her undergraduate thesis focused on resistance in the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps, and she is interested in continuing to study resistance organizations in World War II.


Ariel CredeurAriel Credeur (MA, U.S. History) BA History, BA Religious Studies, minor in German, magna cum laude 2012, University of Missouri. Ariel graduated from the University of Missouri with majors in History and Religious Studies, and a minor in German. Her Honors thesis in History examined women’s legal agency in seventeenth-century New England. During and following her undergraduate career, Ariel fulfilled roles in various professional fields, including public radio and healthcare. A Hattiesburg resident since 2015, she looks forward to graduate studies at USM and has a particular research interest in war and society in early America, and the impact of conflict on women and families of colonial New England.


Michael HowellMichael Howell (MA, History) MA English, 2011, BA Classics, 2001, BA English, 1997. Michael is a Hattiesburg native and an honors graduate of Southern Miss and Ole Miss Universities. While a graduate student at Southern Miss, he was the recipient of the James Sims Award for his paper, Prometheus Rebound: Shelley and the Language of the Dead. A life-long student of history, he’s currently interested in studying Medieval History with particular emphasis on the lasting cultural and political impact of the Norman Conquest on the English-speaking world.


Brennan KuehlBrennan Kuehl (MA, War and Society) BA History, 2016, University of Southern Mississippi. Brennan graduated with honors from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2017 with a BA in history and a minor in English. He was awarded the John E. Wallace award for outstanding history major for the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Park Campus in 2017. He is interested in the differential treat among European and Japanese POWs held in the United States during World War II.


Taylor LewisTaylor Lewis (MA, War and Society) McNair Scholar, BA, History, 2018 Grand Valley State University. Taylor Lewis is a first year MA student from Edwardsburg, Michigan. He is primarily interested in counterinsurgency warfare and how the United States conducted counterinsurgency operations in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. In addition to traditional written research, he has explored counterinsurgency warfare through oral history interviews. He is also interested in the cross-cultural interactions between American soldiers and their native allies in the field. Through his research, Taylor has covered additional topics such as the American Civil War, the Second World War, the School of the Americas, and the Hundred Years’ War.


Justin MajorJustin Major (MA, War and Society) BA History and Film and Media Arts, magna cum laude, 2017 Louisiana State University. Justin won the McCormick Prize for the best undergraduate paper in military history at the 2018 Missouri Valley History Conference. He plans to focus his study on the Vietnam War particularly the history of ARVN and of US combat operations from 1965-68.


Claude MappClaude McWilliams Mapp, Jr. (MA, US History) BA, History, cum laude, 2015, Samford University, MS, Education, 2016 Samford University. Clay is a native of Greenwood, Mississippi, and is a first year MA student. His undergraduate thesis focused on the clash of Nationalism and Regionalism in Alsace-Lorraine. He is currently interested in the society and politics of the American South. Clay is also a member of the Phi Alpha Theta, Epsilon Rho Chapter from Samford University. In his free time, he enjoys reading, painting miniatures and wargaming.


Amy MyersAmy Myers (MA, U.S. History) BA History (Social Studies Licensure), 2016, The University of Southern Mississippi. A native of Mississippi, Amy graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi with Highest Honors with a BA in History (Social Studies Licensure). She was awarded the John E. Gonzales Award for Most Outstanding Senior and the Most Outstanding Student Teacher Award in 2017 and represented the College of Arts and Letters and the History Department as an Ambassador for the 2015-2016 year. In addition to acquiring an MA in U.S. History, as well as a Public History Certificate, she is interested in studying topics and events that ultimately led to the Civil War.


Kurt RassKurt Rass (MA, War and Society) BA, History, minor in Political Science, 2018 Mississippi College, is from Flowood, Mississippi. He has spent the past four summers working on a research project at the Mississippi Department of Transportation in Jackson, Mississippi, which chronicles the 100-year history of the department and discusses the role that department played in industrializing the state. Kurt is interested in studying Germany during the First World War and the role that the nation’s unification played in starting the war.


Andy SimsAndy Sims (MS, War and Society) BA, History, 2016 University of Southern Mississippi. Andy is a M.S. student. He graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2016 with a Bachelor’s Degree in History. During his time at USM, he received the Junior College Transfer Achievement, Middleburg Family, Dale Center for War & Society, and Center for International Education Scholarships and became a member of Phi Alpha Theta, the History Honors Society.

Andy is interested in studying topics related to the major conflicts of the 20th century and hopes to focus on the efforts of World War I veterans to gain similar benefits to those given to World War II veterans in his MA thesis. In his spare time he is an avid wargamer and has spent the last 20 years studying Tomiki-ryu Aikido.

PhD Students

Allan BranstiterAllan Branstiter (PhD, U.S. History) MA, History, 2012 The University of Southern Mississippi; BA, History, 2010 Minnesota State University-Moorhead. Under the direction of Susannah J. Ural, Allan is currently writing his dissertation “He Who Merits the Palm: California Volunteers and the Civil War,” an examination of how Californians who served in the Union Army reconciled their experiences as veterans and western settlers and constructed a distinctly western memory of the war's place in American history. His dissertation research also explores how the California Volunteers used their social status as veterans to oppose the burgeoning Gilded-Age order, racial equality, political centralization, Native American sovereignty, and Chinese immigration. Allan is a past recipient of the Colonel W. Wayde Benson Fellowship, as well as the Southern Miss History Department Phi Alpha Theta Graduate History Student Award. In 2016, Allan also won the American Historical Association’s Summer Blogger Award. He currently resides in Lawrence, Kansas, with his wife Callie, an Undergraduate Engagement Librarian at the University of Kansas. He is also a veteran of the US Army, having served in Iraq as a Counter-mine/Counter-IED Specialist from 2004 to 2005.


Sean BuckelewSean Buckelew (PhD, U.S. History 1867-Present) MA, History, 2015 San Diego State University; BA, Theater, University of Southern Mississippi. Sean's research interests include popular culture and sporting culture in late twentieth-century America as well as left-wing theater movements in interwar America. He is studying under the direction of Dr. Andrew P. Haley. Sean is currently working on preliminary research into race and gender dynamics in southern professional wrestling. Sean is also interested in museum design. His previous experience includes participation in the design of the 2014 Sunshine and Superheroes exhibition for the Oakland Museum of California.


Dennis Cowles

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 during eras of regime change. Other interests include colonial Latin America, comparative colonial history, ethnohistory, and the Atlantic world. Dennis worked for several years as an adjunct instructor of history in New Orleans and in the Boston area. He also has nearly 20 years' experience working in museums and non-profit organizations, including running a planetarium and working at the Paul Revere House. Dennis is an amateur astronomer and an avid reader of eighteenth-century English novels. His dissertation project, “Neither Subjects nor Rebels: Responses to Imperial Centralization in Salem and Ipswich, 1660 – 1715,” is directed by Dr. Kyle F. Zelner.


Michael DoidgeMichael 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.” Dr. Andrew Wiest advises his dissertation. 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. Heather Stur.


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


Shane HandShane 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. He is advised by Dr. Andrew P. Haley.


Jonathan HartonJonathan Harton (PhD, Early American History) MA, Military History, 2012 University of North Georgia; BA, History, 2009 University of Georgia. Jonathan is a second 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 combining historical archaeology and documentary history could augment narrative creation and local memory for northwest Georgia’s U.S. Civil War history. His current research focus examines the martial culture of southeastern militias during the mid to late 18th century. Jonathan investigates how colonial warfare affected militiamen’s agrarian communities and how the South’s agricultural environment shaped militia behavior. Jonathan is working under the direction of Dr. Kyle F. Zelner.


Hayley HasikHayley Michael Hasik (PhD, U.S. History) MA, Public History, 2017, Stephen F. Austin State University; BS, History and English with a minor in Astronomy, 2014, Texas A&M University-Commerce. Hayley is a second year PhD student at USM whose interests include 20th century U.S. history with an emphasis on war and memory, World War II, the Vietnam War, and veterans' experiences. Hayley’s current research focuses on examining the legacy of the “Helicopter War” in Vietnam. Her project seeks to uncover how and why helicopters became such an integral part of Vietnam War history and memory. Hayley has extensive oral history experience and co-founded the East Texas War and Memory Project in 2012. Her previous scholarly research focused on the American POW experience during WWII and the Vietnam helicopter experience using the life history of a Warrant Officer as a case study. Hayley has presented at numerous academic conferences and has published several articles in the Sound Historian and War, Literature, and the Arts. Hayley is also a recipient of the 2019 Russell Weigley Travel Grant from the Society for Military History.


Wesley Hazzard Wesley Hazzard (PhD, US History) MLitt, Battlefield and Conflict Archeology, 2012 University of Glasgow, Scotland; BA, History, 2011 University of South Florida-St. Petersburg. His MLitt thesis examined Prisoner of War camps during World War II.  At Southern Miss Wes’s research interests are in U.S. imperialism in the Caribbean and Latin America during the twentieth century, and his current research analyzes the memory and legacy of the 1965 U.S. Intervention in the Dominican Republic.  Other areas of interest include U.S. occupations in the Caribbean during World War I, and U.S.-Latin American foreign policy. Wesley is working under the direction of Heather M. Stur.


Melissa (“Missy”) Janczewski JonesMelissa (“Missy”) Janczewski Jones (PhD, U.S. History) MSS, History and Political Science, Mississippi College; BS, History and Paralegal Studies, Mississippi College. Since the fall of 2015, Missy has served as Visiting Instructor in the Department of History and Political Science at Mississippi College.  Between 2014 and 2018, she served as the editor of Mississippi History Now, an online publication of the Mississippi Historical Society.

Missy’s area of historical focus includes Reconstruction and Historical Memory.  Missy’s research on the Clinton Riot of 1875 has captured both local and national attention.  In 2015, Missy worked with the City of Clinton, local churches, and the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation in hosting several public events to bring attention and awareness to this tragic event on its 140th anniversary.   In September of 2015, her article, "Thawing Frozen History: The Clinton Riot of 1875" was published by the Mississippi Historical Society.

In 2016, Missy was named the Distinguished Alumna of the Year by her colleagues at MC.  She is a faculty co-sponsor of the MC History Club and is a member of the Civil Rights Education Committee of the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, the Mississippi Historical Society, the Mississippi College Faculty Council, the Archives and History Commission of the Mississippi Conference of the United Methodist Church, and the Mississippi Council for the Social Studies. Her work has been highlighted by Mississippi Public Broadcasting, Teaching for Change, the Jackson Free Press, the Clarion-Ledger, the Clinton Courier, and the Mississippi College Collegian.


Hayden McDanielHayden 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 took her comprehensive fields 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 agriculture, politics, economics, and southern identity.  She is also interested in environmental history, 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 dissertation, conducted under the direction of Dr. Max Grivno, focuses on the development of the southern peanut industry during the twentieth century, tracing its growth from a minor, local subsistence commodity to an agribusiness contributing to mass consumption.


John J. MortimerJohn J. Mortimer (PhD, U.S. History) MA, History, 2013 Indiana University of Pennsylvania; BA, European History, 2010 Framingham State College. John Mortimer is a third-year PhD student with research interests that focus on contemporary U.S. diplomacy.  More specifically, he examines energy security and civil-military relations during the last decades of the Cold War. He is working under the direction of Dr. Heather Marie Stur. John’s current research includes analyzing the geopolitical consequences of American energy policy post-1973 and the use of said policy as an element of hybrid warfare. Additional interests include drone and green military technology and the role these applications have in creating a more mobile and energy independent expeditionary force. Other areas of interest are the use of green technology in counterinsurgency operations and the manner in which unconventional warfare manipulates regional perspectives.

In the summer of 2015, John attended the West Point Summer Seminar in Military History. As part of the seminar, John took part in workshop pedagogy sessions and presented his research on drone use in contemporary warfare. He also toured Harpers Ferry, South Mountain, Antietam battlefield, and participated in the Gettysburg Staff Ride. John has published several encyclopedia articles, some of which will appear in Cyber Warfare: A Reference Book (2017). John was the recipient of the Lamar Powell History Graduate Scholarship for 2016-2017. Other interests include: contemporary foreign relations in a transatlantic context, war and society, technology.


Olivia MooreOlivia Moore (PhD, U.S History) MA, History, University of Southern Mississippi; BA, History and Politics, University of Exeter (UK). Olivia is an international student from Plymouth, England. Her MA thesis explored the unlikely activism of three white southerners in the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement. Working under the direction of Dr. Kevin Greene, Olivia will look more closely at Hattiesburg’s white community: particularly how different groups were engaged with and responded to the struggle for racial equality. With an emphasis on U.S. History, she plans to complete minor fields in the history of race and ethnicity, and gender history. Olivia has other experience in interviewing for the Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage, and recently curated the exhibit displayed at McCain Library and Archives titled, Mississippi Bicentennial: Celebrating the State’s 200thAnniversary. She is also working toward the Graduate Certificate in Public History. Olivia’s interest in civil rights history originally began after interviewing local activist, Raylawni Branch, during her study abroad placement at USM in 2012.


Aderian K. PartainAderian K. Partain (PhD, History) MA, War and Society, 2018 University of Southern Mississippi; BA, History, summa cum laude, 2016 Mississippi State University. Aderian is a native of Sebastopol, Mississippi and a first year PhD student at USM. His major interests lie in the history of naval warfare. Aderian’s MA thesis research, under the direction of Dr. Susannah Ural, explored the officer partnerships between the Union Navy and Army during combined riverine operations in the Western Theater of the American Civil War. He plans to further his research of inland waterway naval operations into the Vietnam War under the direction of Dr. Andrew Wiest.


Lindsey R. PetersonLindsey R. Peterson (PhD, U.S. History) MA, History, 2015 The University of South Dakota; BA, History and Political Science, 2013 Buena Vista University. Lindsey is a third year PhD student at the University of Southern Mississippi working under the supervision of Dr. Susannah J. Ural. Her dissertation examines how Union veterans and their families in the trans-Mississippi West commemorated the American Civil War. Examining the Grand Army of the Republic, Woman’s Relief Corps, Daughters of Union Veterans, and Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic, Lindsey’s research analyzes how gendered and regional Civil War memory developed in areas that served as frontiers during the war rather than battle fronts. Lindsey is the recipient of the 2017–2018 Dale Center Graduate Fellowship, 2017–2018 Lamar Powell History Graduate Fellowship, 2017 USM Phi Alpha Theta Award, 2017 Kathanne W. Greene Graduate Paper Award, 2015 Margaret Boone Dale Fellowship, and 2015 Russell F. Weigley Graduate Student Travel Grant Award from The Society for Military History. Her article, “’Iowa Excelled Them All’: Iowa Local Ladies’ Aid Societies Relief on the Civil War Frontier, 1861–1865” appeared in the September 2016 issue of The Middle West Review.

Headshot PlaceholderRebecca Rotter (PhD; ABD) She was the George M. Nethken Fellow at the George Tyler Moore Center for the Study of the Civil War in 2008 and 2010. 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. Her research interests include the South in the latter half of the nineteenth century and the American Civil War. Her dissertation, under the supervision of Dr. Bo Morgan, 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.


Tyler RotterTyler Rotter (PhD, Early American History) MA, History, 2010 Southern Illinois University-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, how this promotion differed from the religious language utilized by New England’s civil and military leaders, and how the overall conception of religiously prescribed warfare evolved as New England became increasingly integrated into the larger British Atlantic and played an greater role in imperial conflicts with other European states. 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 was awarded the department’s McCain Fellowship for 2015-2016 and also currently serves as an editor for H-War. Tyler is studying under the direction of Dr. Kyle F. Zelner.


James SkinnerJames Skinner (PhD, History) graduated with a B.S. in Mass Communication from William Carey University in 2011.  He worked in television production for five years before receiving his M.A. in History from William Carey University in 2017.  During his master's program, Skinner had the opportunity to travel to Turkey and Israel, and extensively studied the time period of the early Islamic empires, as well as the formation of the modern state of Turkey. He completed a master’s thesis titled "Terror and the American Dream:  A Biography of Civil Rights Martyr Vernon Dahmer Sr."  His primary focus of research has been the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi and is currently working on a dissertation examining the state's healthcare system from the 1970's to the present day. 

Lucas SomersLucas Somers, (Ph.D., U.S. History) MA, History, 2015 Western Kentucky University; BA, History, 2013 Western Kentucky University. Lucas is a second-year PhD at the University of Southern Mississippi focusing on the era of the American Civil War and Reconstruction. His previous graduate research focused on scrutinizing significant aspects of Abraham Lincoln’s personal worldview by analyzing the president’s reported dreams, visions, and ‘night terrors.’ Working under the supervision of Dr. Susannah J. Ural, Lucas is interested in examining ways communities in the South dealt with the trauma and suffering of the Civil War. A current project looks at a violent disturbance that occurred in downtown Franklin, Tennessee in July 1867 between former Confederates and a local Union League chapter on the eve of the first statewide election in which former enslaved men could vote. Lucas is working on a major field in U.S. History while perusing minor fields in War and Society, and race and ethnicity. He is also currently in the Graduate Certificate Program for Public History at USM. Lucas received the Colonel W. Wayde Benson Fellowship for the 2016-217 academic year, which allowed him conduct preliminary research for a dissertation project.


Gabrielle WalkerGabrielle Walker (PhD, US History) MA, History, 2009 University of New Orleans; BA, History, 2005 Judson College (Marion, Alabama). Gabrielle is a fourth year PhD student whose major research interest is in post-Reconstruction Southern women. Her MA thesis focused on the New Orleans Christian Woman’s Exchange to point out the existing dichotomies between women working to survive and high society matrons working to provide charity for “reduced gentlewomen” and the poor. Gabrielle’s current research examines the role of women’s education in shaping Southern mentality of womanhood in the Baptist church across class and racial lines during the Progressive Era using Louisiana native Caroline Dormon as a case study of the “new” Baptist woman. In addition to the US History major, Gabrielle’s two minor fields of study are Asian History and race and ethnicity. She has authored and presented several conference papers on Louisiana clubwomen and also authored an article on the Christian Woman’s Exchange in the KnowLA Encyclopedia of Louisiana, as well as a historical marker for Calvary Baptist Church, Bayou Chicot, Louisiana. Gabrielle currently works full time as an Assistant Professor of History at Louisiana College in Pineville, Louisiana.


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