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Current and Past Graduate Students

Nels Abrams is a PhD candidate from Spokane, Washington. He attended the University of Washington as an undergraduate, where he earned a degree in the Comparative History of Ideas.  At the University of Utah he continues to explore the relationship between ideas and culture in a historical context. His first project dealt with the changing landscape of public parks as the nation left behind Victorianism and entered the Progressive Era. Currently, he is investigating the return of biological analyses in the social sciences during the 1970s after that lens of inquiry had become taboo in academia following the atrocities of the holocaust. Upon completion of his doctorate, Nels hopes to develop as a teacher and to find new intellectual projects.

Jon Bingham is an M.A. student focusing on U.S. history and the West. He is primarily interested in working within the public history field. Jon graduated from the U with Bachelors of Art in History and German (2007) and from Emporia State University with a Master of Library Science (2015).


Justin Bray is a Ph.D. student in U.S. history. His research explores the intersection of old age and religion in America. He has received awards for his research from the Center for Communal Studies at the University of Southern Indiana, the Department of Religion at Florida State University, and the Mormon History Association. Justin is a historian for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, working primarily with its oral history program.

                                 My name is John Perry Christensen. I grew up in Utah County and studied Philosophy at Utah Valley University before getting an MA in History at the University of Utah. I am currently pursuing a PhD in History at the University of Utah as a Maybelle Burton graduate fellow. Broadly speaking, my areas of interest include nineteenth and twentieth century US labor history and the global history of capitalism. More specifically, I study the history of the pharmaceutical industry and the illegal drug trades. I approach the study of medicine and drugs as commodities, and I follow the patterns of production, transportation, and distribution by which people came to consume them. I am particularly interested in determining how the regulation and the prohibition of medicine and drugs has reinforced class divisions and international economic relations throughout the twentieth century in both the US and the World.

Brandon Clark is a PhD student in History and Maybelle Burton fellow.  He previously worked as a geospatial analyst for the Department of Defense, as an independent GIS consultant, and as an overseas English as a Foreign Language instructor.  He completed a B.A. in History at the University of Colorado at Denver and a M.A. in History at the University of Colorado at Boulder.  His previous research includes an intellectual inquiry and a geographical / climatological study on the British military occupation of Boston (1768-1770).  His interests include early European exploration, Native America, the Seven Years’ War, the American Revolution, geography, and environmental studies.  His dissertation aims to investigate how geography and climate shaped the causes and outcomes of the American Revolution.  At Boulder he studied under Professor Virginia DeJohn Anderson (M.A. advisor) and Professor Fred Anderson.  His current advisor is Professor Eric Hinderaker.  Brandon hails from Jamestown, New York. Brandon can be contacted at

Amanda Fountain-Scheuerman studies Public History, Historic Preservation, and Native American and African American history.  She earned a BA in Anthropology from the University of Nevada, Reno (go Wolfpack!) and a BA in History from the University of Utah.  Amanda has multiple years of experience working in various museums in Nevada and Utah.  As a Graduate Research Assistant for the American West Center, she collects Oral Histories for the Marriott Library Special Collections’ Ski Archives project.  Amanda is also registering the Nevada Stewart Indian School as a National Historic Landmark.  Amanda thrives in the desert, at cosplay conventions, and gaming with her family.  

Elizabeth Egleston Giraud is pursuing a M.S. degree with an emphasis on American history in order to strengthen and focus the knowledge she has gained throughout her long and varied career in public history.  After working as an architectural historian for the Idaho State Historic Preservation Office and the Utah Department of Transportation, (where she is currently employed) and as a planner for Salt Lake City, she has come to believe that the study of planning, history and architecture has failed to coalesce in a way that effectively analyzes the history of our cities and neighborhoods.  She looks forward to acquiring new knowledge and developing new skills in order to convey the story of urban development in a new way.  A native of Salt Lake City, she has an undergraduate degree from Lewis and College and a M.A. degree from Cornell University in Historic Preservation Planning.  She loves tennis and cultural events.

Michael Huefner is from Omaha, Nebraska. He received his B.A. in History Teaching from Brigham Young University and is pursuing the M.S. degree in modern British history. A middle-school history and English teacher, he hopes to help students navigate this formative period, learn how to think and reflect, and establish an academic identity. He feels that becoming a better historian himself will allow him to better represent the discipline as a teacher. He cares deeply about the powerful relevance of history's lessons and is dedicated to advocating for public education, the historical discipline, and the teaching profession. He loves building engaging curriculum, spending time with loved ones, and gaining refreshment in nature. 

Nathan Lassen Jones is from El Dorado Hills, California, a suburb of Sacramento. He received his B.A. in history from the University of California at Davis and an M.A. in history from California State University, Fresno. His general area of interest is American history. Within that broad field, Nathan is particularly drawn to the history of religious and political thought, and frequently to the blending of the two. His current dissertation research examines Mormon political thought in twentieth-century America.
Jennifer Macias is originally from Fort Collins, Colorado, where she attended Colorado State University and received both her BA and MA in History, with an emphasis in Latin American history. She currently studies twentieth-century Latinx and United States History. Her dissertation investigates the ways in which Latinxs in the post-World War II era have fundamentally altered the political, social and cultural terrain of the Rocky Mountain West. Her areas of specialization include Latin American history, Gender Studies, and Latinx Studies. She has presented at various historical conferences, including the American Historical Association, the Western History Association and the Western Association of Women Historians. Her work has been graciously supported by research fellowships from the University of Utah’s American West Center, the Brigham Young University Charles Redd Center, the University of Wyoming American Heritage Center, and the University of Utah History Department.




Kate Mower grew up in the Salt Lake valley and attended the University of Utah out of high school. She studied abroad in Thessaloniki, Greece in 2007 and graduated in 2008 with a degree in Film. After five years working odd jobs, she went back to school at the University of Utah for a second BA in History, with an emphasis in ancient history and classical Greek. In 2014, she began a Master's degree in Ancient History, working with Professor Lindsay Adams, which she completed in 2016. Her thesis, titled "Creating Greek Identity: How Philip II of Macedon used the Third Sacred War to Infiltrate Greek Politics and Establish Macedonia as a Greek State," focuses on questions of political and cultural identity, transnationalism, central and northern Greek politics in the fourth century, military history, and religious history. She spent two summers working with the archaeology team Archaeotek in Rapolt, Romania on the excavation of a Roman villa.  She received a Research/Study Fulbright Grant for the 2016-2017 academic year to study at the New Bulgarian University in Sofia, Bulgaria, and to conduct research at four archaeological sites in Bulgaria and Romania.  She will examine the relationship between Thracian and Greek cults of Apollo at these sites, and create GIS images of artifacts. As a reciprocal benefit to these Bulgarian and Romanian communities, she will map the sites for local museums to promote tourism to these areas. You can access her Academia page at:

Cody K. Osguthorpe is from Ogden, Utah and graduated from Weber State University with a dual Bachelor’s degree in History and Political Science. In his undergraduate studies, he focused on a wide range of historical topics (including a senior thesis on the Baha’i Faith and race relations) and political theory. Currently, as a graduate student at the University of Utah, he is pursuing a Master of Arts degree in European History. His area of focus is Western Europe, from the High Middle Ages to the Early Modern Period. After completing his Master’s, Cody aspires to attain a Ph.D. 

Ramazan Hakki Oztan is an historian of the modern Middle East, with a research interest on the late Ottoman Empire and Modern Middle East. A native of Turkey, I have a BA in English from Hacettepe University (Ankara) and a MA in History from the University of Wyoming (Laramie). I was a pre-doctoral research fellow at the New Europe College (Bucharest) in Spring 2015. I completed my dissertation under the supervision of Prof. Peter Sluglett and will graduate in Spring 2016. My dissertation explores the late nineteenth-century connections between the expansion of global commodity chains, increased availability of illicit goods, and those who made political fortunes out of their contentious trade. My dissertation reconstructs a history of what I call ‘alternative marketplaces’ as a background to the often violent political transformations that marked the late Ottoman period, highlights complex connections between state-making and illicit economic practices, and problematizes the impact of global economy on nationalism. With a geographic focus on the Ottoman Balkans, I am interested in capturing the late nineteenth and early twentieth-century ways of attaining and circulating guns, cartridges, chemicals, bombs, monies, personnel, and propaganda materials. I explore how the introduction of such novel technologies and illicit commodities came to create an unregulated site of political economy in the late nineteenth-century Ottoman Balkans. In doing so, my work highlights more material conditions behind what is often seen as ideological processes of political change. Analytically, my approach moves beyond the local and regional terms of engagement and situates the late Ottoman Balkans within a constantly evolving and entangled world history context.

My name is Leighton Quarles. I grew up in southwest Montana and received a BA in History from Montana State University in 2007 before moving to the University of Alaska Fairbanks for an MA in Northern Studies with a concentration in Northern History. I became involved in public history while in Fairbanks and decided to come to Utah to pursue a PhD in US history with emphases in the American West, Latin America, and Public History. The Burton Fellowship has made getting a PhD fiscally possible rather than just a pipe dream, and has helped me not only in my PhD studies overall but also in receiving a graduate certificate in Historic Preservation and presenting material at professional conferences. I have been doubly fortunate at Utah—first in my receipt of the Burton Fellowship, and second in my tenure as assistant director of the American West Center under the auspices of Dr. Gregory Smoak. What really excites me is studying the West’s land and its peoples and trying to foster harmony and cooperation through better knowledge of different and intersecting pasts, something I hope to address in my dissertation, an administrative history of Zion National Park. I look forward to moving from the U into the cultural resources/public history field equipped to succeed in federal, state, or military cultural resources programs.
Arica Roberts Arica Roberts is a current History MA student at the University of Utah specializing in early medieval gender and religion. She received her BA in History from Brigham Young University in 2014 with minors in Women's Studies and Philosophy and was the recipient of the Susa Young Gates Award for her paper "Una Guerra Contra La Mujer: Chicana Feminism and Vietnam War Protest". In the summer 2016, she received the Reza Ali Khazeni Memorial Scholarship for Graduate Study Abroad for her work on the abortion miracles of St. Brigit of Kildare, Ireland and attended the Institute for Field Research for an archaeological excavation of a medieval monastery in Trim Co. Meath, Ireland. Her current project is her MA thesis on early medieval Welsh women, which uses a variety of sources from epitaphs, burial archaeology, and penitential law codes. She hopes to work more in archaeology and pursue a PhD program that bridges early medieval history and archaeology to study gender of this period.

Travis E. Ross is a cultural historian of the United States in the world, focusing particularly on the production and circulation of knowledge in and about the North American West in the long nineteenth century. Titled “History, Inc.—Hubert Howe Bancroft’s History Company and the Problem of Selling the Past,” his dissertation uses the networked production of the first comprehensive history of western America to tell a history of history that is not synonymous with the modern academic profession. He has published in Southern California Quarterly and has presented papers at flagship conferences, including the Western History Association, American Historical Association, and the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, and Publication. Originally from Missoula, Montana, Ross came to the University of Utah with interdisciplinary degrees from Wabash College, Vanderbilt University, and the University of Nevada, Reno. His work has been supported by research fellowships from the University of Utah’s American West Center and the University of California, Berkeley’s Bancroft Library. In addition to the May fellowship, he was a fellow at the Tanner Humanities Center and currently holds an Ellen Christina Steffensen Cannon Scholarship. For more on Travis visit his website:

Joseph Stuart is a PhD Student in History and Dean L. May Fellow at the University of Utah. His previous academic work has explored the connections of race and religion in the formation of New Religious Movements in the United States and the ways that religions use science as a means of gaining social acceptance in the United States. His dissertation will address the relationship of race, gender, and religion in the formation of conservative politics during the Long Civil Rights Movement. He has received fellowships and awards from the University of Virginia’s Office of Graduate & Postdoctoral Affairs, BYU’s Charles Redd Center for Western Studies, the Utah State Historical Society, and the Mormon History Association. He also works as a research assistant and editor for professors throughout the United States. You can find more about Joseph and his work at his website.

Jeff Turner

Jeff Turner is a PhD student in US History. He has a MA in Religion from Claremont Graduate University, and undergraduate degrees in philosophy and religious studies from Washington State University. Jeff studies immigration history, American religious history, and history of the American West. He is currently researching the religious implications of the federalization of immigration restriction in the late-nineteenth and early twentieth-century United States.



Beans Velocci was the 2013-2014 May Fellow and 2014-2015 Burton Scholar. Before coming to the U, Beans earned a BA cum laude in History of Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Smith College in Northampton, MA. They received departmental honors for a thesis entitled “‘A Very Threatened and Nervous Group of People’: Public Scrutiny of Sexuality at Smith College in Two Historical Moments.” Beans again focused on gender and sexuality at the U, with a new interest in childhood, the family, and labor. Their MA thesis was called “‘Prosperous, But Too Sophisticated’: Labor, Capitalism, and Endangering the Morals of a Child Cases in New York City, 1881-1920.” Beans is currently working on a PhD at Yale University, where they continue to pursue questions related to gender and sexuality in the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In an effort to not be altogether consumed by academic things, Beans also spends large amounts of time running on roads and trails, traveling to cabins in forested regions, and reading the complete works of various American women poets.

Alexandria Waltz grew up in Southern California and has lived in Utah for the past ten years. She received a dual Bachelor's degree in History and English from Weber State University and a Master's in History from the University of Utah. She is currently pursuing a PhD at the University of Utah in US History. Alexandria specializes in the 20th century, particularly in youth studies. For the dissertation, she is examining youth subcultures in Los Angeles during the 1970s and 1980s. This project has also remained her primary research focus as a Burton Fellow. After the PhD, Alexandria would ideally like to pursue a history teaching position on the university level.  

Lori Motzkus Wilkinson is a PhD student in History and Dean L. May Fellow at the University of Utah.  She received a Bachelor of Arts in English, with a Minor in History.  In 2015 she received her Master’s degree in American Studies and is now studying 19th and 20th century US History. She enjoyed teaching history for two years at Salt Lake Community College before pursuing her doctorate.  Lori studies Mormon history, literature, and gender.  Her research focuses on women’s identity formation though the analysis of larger sociocultural contexts.  She received the Mormon History Association 2017 Davis Bitton Student Research Paper Award of Merit for her paper, “Scribbling Women in Zion:  Mormon Women’s Fascination with Fanny Fern.” Currently, she is investigating Mormon women’s involvement in social movements. Upon completion of her doctorate, Lori hopes to continue teaching at a university to share her passion and knowledge of history and literature, pursue other intellectual interests, and golf much more.

Jessica Young graduated summa cum laude in 2014 with her Bachelor of Arts in History and a minor in Religious Studies from The Ohio State University.  Jessica studies American religious history and gender in the nineteenth century. She focuses on questions of religion and identity formation, women in religion, religion as it creates lifestyles and communities, and religion’s influence on the lives of ordinary people. While utilizing the Dean L. May Fellowship she created two original research papers entitled “The Power of Words: Plural Wives’ Rhetoric About Polygamy During the Mormon Underground” and “The Mormon Underground and Its Challenges to Victorian Masculinity.” Thanks to the generous Dean L. May Fellowship Jessica will earn her Masters of Arts in History in 2016. She plans to pursue work in museums so she can share her passion for and knowledge of US religious history with the public.


Last Updated: 8/20/18