Doctoral Students


Tony Alonso

Anthony E. Alonso

Current Status: Ph.D. Student

Education: Bachelor of Music, Northwestern University (2002); Master of Arts, Theological Studies, Loyola Marymount University (2011)

Academic Project: My academic project centers upon Liturgical Theology, Ritual Studies, Ecclesiology and Theological Aesthetics

Area of StudyPersons, Community and Religious Life (Liturgical Studies)

Dissertation Title: To be determined

Current Research: The application of ritual studies to liturgical studies and its relationship to ecclesiology inspires my scholarship. I am interested in the complex ways in which communities appropriate their understandings of tradition; the multivalent interaction of the verbal and non-verbal languages of ritual prayer; and the ways in which the church’s worship embodies its ecclesiological structures. My current research focuses on the relationship between consumer culture and liturgical practice.

 Contact Information:  antonio.alonso@emory.edu


Johann Choi

Johann Choi

Current Status: Ph.D. Student

Education: B.A., University of Southern California, M.Div., Duke Divinity School

Academic Project: I'm interested in drawing on the Early Church Fathers, particularly their views on personhood and community, for the formation of a Pastoral Theology to address some of the issues in pastoral care today.

Area of Study: Persons, Community and Religious Life (Pastoral Theology)

Dissertation Title: To be determined

Contact Information: johann.choi@emory.edu


Danyel Currie

Danyel Currie

Current Status: Ph.D. Student

Education: Need bio info

Academic Project: Need bio info

Area of Study: Theological Studies

Dissertation Title: To be determined

Contact Information: email@emory.edu


Mark Jefferson

Mark Jefferson

Current Status: Ph.D. Student

Education: B.A., Norfolk State University (2005); M.Div., Candler School of Theology (2008)

Academic Project: I am interested in exploring the intersections between hip hop culture and homiletics, particularly focusing on the image of the African American preacher inside and outside the Christian tradition.

Area of Study: Persons, Community and Religious Life (Homiletics)

Dissertation Title: To be determined

Current Research: NA

Contact Information: markajefferson@gmail.com


Layla Karst

Layla Karst

Current Status: Ph.D. Student

Education: B.A., Whitworth University (2006); M.Div., University of Notre Dame (2010)

Academic Project: My research centers around the development and practice of Christian pilgrimage, examining the historical development of this practice in the Church, the ritual and liturgical experiences of contemporary pilgrims, and the role of pilgrimage in Christian conversion and formation. My broader research interests include the role of ritual, practice, and communication in the human encounter with the divine, the sacramental experience, and the fundamental ideas of revelation, incarnation, and conversion.

Area of Study: Persons, Community and Religious Life (Liturgical Studies)

Dissertation Title: To be determined

Contact Information: layla.ann.karst@emory.edu


Katherine Kime

Katherine Givens-Kime

Current Status: Ph.D. Student

Education: B.A., University of Wisconsin-Madison (2001); M.Div., Union Theological Seminary, NYC (2005)

Academic Project: As a practical theologian with particular capacities in the area of pastoral theology, I engage the rich intersections of homiletics, pastoral care, and ecclesiology. My work grows beneath the scholastic umbrella of theological anthropology, exploring the problems and particularities of multiplicity as it interrupts the hegemonic narratives of singularity, unity, and oneness. Emerging from the scholarly exploration I conducted as a Louisville Institute study grant recipient, my research investigates C.G. Jung’s recently published Red Book as a new song in the choir of theological and cultural voices exploring what it means to Christian and human.

Area of Study: Persons, Community and Religious Life (Pastoral Theology)

Dissertation Title: To be determined

Current Research: NA

Contact Information: kgkime@gmail.com


Ryan Kuratko

Ryan Kuratko

Current Status: Ph.D. Student

Education: need bio info

Academic Project: need bio info

Area of Study: Theological Studies

Dissertation Title: To be determined

Current Research: NA

Contact Information: needemailaddress@something.com


Michelle Ledder

Emily "Michelle" Ledder

Current Status: Ph.D. Student

Education: B.A., Eastern Nazarene College (2007); M.Div. Candler School of Theology (2010)

Academic Project: Working alongside women who are serving long-term prison sentences to create pedagogical methodologies for teaching theological education, generally, and prophetic preaching, specifically.

Area of Study: Persons, Community and Religious Life (Homiletics)

Current Research Interests: Liberative and Subversive Pedagogies; Relationships between Power, Agency, Psychology and Transformation; Restorative Justice within the U.S. Criminal Justice System; Multicultural Practical Theologies; and Practical Theories of Epistemology.

Dissertation Title: To be determined

Contact Information: eledder@emory.edu


Matthew Pierce

Matthew Lawrence Pierce

Current Status: Ph.D. Student

Education: B.A., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2001); M.Div. Duke Divinity School (2006)

Academic Project: My overall interests have two foci: Christian liturgy as moral formation and the impact of race, class, and geography on American Protestant worship preferences and the integration of place theory into theologies of culture toward a more robust understanding and practice of liturgical enculturation. \ Interdisciplinary by nature, my work also draws upon urban studies and urban planning, historical geographic information systems (HGIS), and practice theory. For the past two years I have worked with the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship (and its precursor) on the Atlanta Maps Project (http://disc.library.emory.edu/atlantamaps/).  

Area of Study: Persons, Community and Religious Life (Liturgical Studies)

Dissertation Title: To be determined

Contact Information: mpierc3@emory.edu


Jan Rippentrop

Jan Rippentrop

Current Status: Ph.D. Student

Education: B.A.,Luther College (2000); M.Div., Wartburg Theological Seminary (2005) Academic Project: At Emory, my research is multifaceted. Within liturgical history, I research the epiclesis of the Word and its variable patterns of liturgical inclusion. At the intersection of liturgical theology and narrative theory, I marshal the work of Paul Ricoeur to investigate ways in which expectation influences liturgical encounters and how liturgies extend beyond the confines of temporally-constrained worship services. As a scholar in the field of religious practices, I use ethnographic research to explore lived liturgies and hear people’s own thick descriptions of their experiences. From my minor area of study, Art History, I am learning visual exegesis, which interprets the claims that art is making.

Area of Study: Persons, Community and Religious Life (Liturgical Theology/Homiletics)

Dissertation Title: To be determined

Contact Information: janrippentrop@gmail.com


Anandi Salinas

Anandi Salinas

Current Status: Ph.D. Student

Education: B.S./B.A., University of Texas at Austin (2004); M.A., Duke University (2011)

Academic Project: I am working to revisit the ubiquitous practice of darshan as practiced in Hinduism through an ethnographic approach and the lenses of Indian aesthetics and visual culture theories and methodologies.

Area of Study: West and South Asian Religions (Hinduism)

Dissertation Title: To be determined

Contact Information: alsalin@emory.edu


Summar Shoaib

Summar Shoaib

Current Status: Ph.D. Student

Education: B.S. Georgia Institute of Technology (2007); M.A., New York University (2009)

Academic Project: My research interests include Islam and gender, women's religious ritual and performance in South Asia and "the Middle East," devotional literature, sacred space and place, and deconstructing categories of orthodoxy and popular religion. My dissertation will focus on the primary role played by women in a South Asian Sufi transnational organization through mawlid, a religious practice celebrating the birth of the Prophet Muhammad.

Area of Study: West and South Asian Religions

Dissertation Title: To be determined

Contact Information: sshoaib@emory.edu


Deeksha Sivakumar

Deeksha Sivakumar

Current Status: Ph.D. Student

Education: B.A., Linfield College (2007); M.A., University of Hawaii (2010)

Academic Project: I am a budding ethnographer focusing on the Hindu celebration of the goddess festival of Navaratri in South India called pommai kolu, a festival arrangement of dolls. My primary interests in religious studies include ritual performance, healing, materiality and femininity.

Area of Study: West and South Asian Religions

Dissertation Title: To be determined

Contact Information: dsivaku@emory.edu

Additional Information: https://sites.google.com/site/devikolu/; http://bommalattum.wordpress.com/


Jay Thomas

Jay Thomas

Current Status: Ph.D. Student

Education: B.A., Emory University (1997); M.Div., Columbia Theological Seminary (2003)

Academic Project: My academic project draws on theories of culture in order to explore the nature of religious formation through Christian practices, particularly the practice of preaching.

Area of Study: Persons, Community, and Religious Life

Dissertation Title: To be determined

Contact Information: jthom10@emory.edu


Kimberly Wagner

Kimberly Wagner

Current Status: Ph.D. Student

Education: Need bio info

Academic Project: Need bio info

Area of Study: Theological Studies

Dissertation Title: To be determined

Contact Information: email@emory.edu


Sara Williams

Sara Williams

Current Status: Ph.D. Student

Education: B.A., Moody Bible Institute (2005), M.S.W., University of Georgia (2008); M.A.R., Yale Divinity School (2013)

Academic Project: My research will explore the implications of a Christian faith community’s biblical hermeneutic and theological discourse for the construction of its identity and ethic in situations of sociopolitical conflict charged multivocally by religious symbols. I am particularly interested in how religious practices in these communities come to shape theological and political identification and action in such sites of conflict. I hope to approach my question ethnographically, and am currently specifically interested in the American Dispensationalist and Palestinian Christian communities. 

Area of Study: Ethics and Society

Dissertation Title: To be determined

Current Research: I am generally interested in religion, conflict, and peace building, practical theology, liberation theologies, religious nationalism, and Christian fundamentalisms. These interests converge in my central interest in the role of Christian faith communities in sites of sociopolitical conflict.

Contact Information: sara.williams@emory.edu


Jennifer Wyan

Jennifer Wyan

Current Status: Ph.D. Student

Education: Need bio info

Academic Project: Need bio info

Area of Study: New Testament

Dissertation Title: To be determined

Contact Information: email@emory.edu