The Baylor Graduate School is pleased to announce the third cohort of the Summer Dissertation Fellows. This highly competitive fellowship includes a stipend of $3000 paid over two months (June and July) that enables advanced PhD candidates to focus on writing their dissertations without seeking summer employment. The Fellows will also receive support from the Dissertation Lab in May as well as from writing groups (organized by the Graduate Writing Center) throughout the summer. Please join us in congratulating the 2022 Fellows.

Debajeet Barman is a PhD candidate in geophysics where he images the earth’s interior using earthquakes and other ground motions from ocean waves, wind, traffic noise.  work on different numerical methods (seismology inverse problems) along with machine learning techniques for estimation of the subsurface earth. Debajeet has presented his research at a number of the nation’s leading conferences. Apart from research, he enjoys music and road trips to historic parks.


Anna Grace Beaudry is a PhD candidate in the Health, Human Performance, and Recreation Department at Baylor University. Her dissertation focuses on exploring the mechanistic underpinnings of cancer-induced cachexia, specifically, examining the functional status of cardiac mitochondria. Anna’s work also investigates whether mitochondrial degeneration may occur in a sexually dimorphic manner. She is a Baylor Conyers Scholar and earner of the DOTS Certification. Anna received her B.S. from Mercyhurst University with a double major in Sports Medicine and Exercise Science.

Karynecia Conner is a Ph.D. candidate in Curriculum and Instruction in the Department of Education. Karynecia’s Doctoral work engages Black Feminist counterstorytelling through Oral History to improve school reform policy and curriculum in America’s lowest-performing schools. In addition, she is passionate about research and engaging preservice teachers in culturally relevant pedagogy. Karynecia teaches TED 3180 Social Issues in Education Laboratory and is enthusiastic about serving and mentoring students, deepening their understanding, and working to create a supportive, brave, rigorous, and communal learning environment.

Josiah Hall is a Ph.D. candidate in Religion at Baylor University, focusing on the New Testament. His dissertation considers John’s Gospel through the lens of motifs of divine presence and absence common throughout the ancient Mediterranean. He has publications in several New Testament and Theological journals and is a co-author of the forthcoming Acts: A Handbook on the Greek Text, Second Edition. Prior to coming to Baylor, Josiah studied civil engineering at Stanford University and worked as a civil engineer in Northern California. He then switched careers and received an M.Div. from Covenant Seminary.

Shireen Khuwaja is a doctoral candidate for the Learning and Organizational Change program at Baylor University. In addition, she works as an Academic Coordinator at a nonprofit organization. She was awarded a full scholarship to pursue a Master of Teaching and Master of Arts in Education from the Institute of Education at University College London in the UK, and Master of Arts for Teachers in Middle Childhood Education from Georgia State University. Her experience in training teachers and working with youth spans across twenty countries. She is passionate about exploring the role of teacher-leadership in the increasingly diverse school communities. She has presented at the Association of Teacher Educators conference and published in the book, Globalization and Education: Teaching, Learning and Leading in the World Schoolhouse in print Spring 2022. Her dissertation is entitled Systemic Advocacy Leadership: Exploring Catalysts for Systemic Change Through Perceptions of Teachers and School Leaders Participating in a Multiple Case Study.

Jillian Landers is a PhD Candidate in social work at the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work. She received her bachelor’s in education from Texas A&M University in 2016, and her master’s in social work from Baylor University in 2018. Most recently, she worked as an advocate for Commercially Sexually Exploited Youth (CSEY) with Unbound Houston. Jillian is passionate about improving the working conditions of social workers. The focus of her dissertation is to explore social workers’ experiences of workplace support during the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) to provide implications for human service leaders.

Tim Lauve-Moon is a PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology. His dissertation explores how and why moderate to progressive, predominantly white congregations perpetuate racialized outcomes despite often having good intentions. While white mainline denominations and congregations have consistently developed racial justice statements denouncing institutional racism, previous research uncovers a dissonance, or loose coupling, between these claims of support for racial justice and the actual practices of these congregations. Through quantitative analysis as well as critical ethnographic interviews, this research aims to better understand how and why these well-intending actors and organizations often fail to enact meaningful change and, in some cases, even reinforce racism.

LaJoie Lex is a 5th year PhD student in English Literature, and she studies intersections of nature, gender, and religion in Early Modern poetry. In her dissertation, she demonstrates how writers in the 17th century used their poetry to conceptualize and influence various forms of life after death. Her research on female poets such as Hester Pulter and Margaret Cavendish aims to illuminate some of their overlooked poems and encourage further study of their work. LaJoie lives in Waxahachie, TX with her incredibly supportive husband, James, and her cuddly orange cat, Smoltzie.

Andrew Ronnevik is a Ph.D. candidate in theology and ethics. His dissertation is titled “Affective Theology: Dalits, Shame, and Salvation.” In it, he engages with Dalit theology (written from the perspective of India’s so-called “untouchables”) and affect theory (an interdisciplinary approach to the study of emotion) as lenses for understanding shame and dignity in relation to sin and salvation.


Ryan Sinni is a PhD student in English at Baylor University, where he studies the intersection of religion and literature, especially in Victorian poetry. His essay on Christina Rossetti’s “Goblin Market” won a Nineteenth-Century Research Seminar Outstanding Graduate Student Paper Award at Baylor and is scheduled to be published in the spring 2022 issue of Victorian Poetry. He will be writing his dissertation on arrangement in the poetry of Christina Rossetti. His article, “‘Stand still’: Delta Wedding and the Perils of Perception,” was published in the 2021 issue of the Eudora Welty Review.

Samuel Tandei is a Ph.D. candidate in Church Music at Baylor University. As a church musician trained in diverse backgrounds, he had served as a seminary lecturer and a minister of music and worship. His dissertation work focuses on how Western sacred choral music becomes a mode of inter-religious engagement between Muslim and Christian singers in Indonesian university choirs. A Fall 2021 recipient of the Outstanding Research Award in the Humanities from the Graduate School, he received his previous degrees from Liberty University, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Boston University.

Eric Villafranca is an Information Systems PhD candidate in the Information Systems and Business Analytics department of the Hankamer School of Business. He is a military veteran, with careers as an avionics technician and as an operational meteorologist. He attended community college while serving in the Texas Air National Guard, and it was during this time that he realized he was passionate about learning and helping others. His mentors encouraged him to continue his education to make a real change in the community. He is currently researching antecedents of information asymmetry and its impact on the behavioral intentions of people using rideshares in the sharing economy.

Zhao Wang is a PhD candidate in organic geochemistry/biogeochemistry supervised by Dr. William Hockaday from the Department of Geosciences. Her current research regards how plant physiological factors impact production and distribution of leaf lipids to inform interpretations of paleoecology and paleoclimate. Zhao loves to identify lipid molecules using mass spectrometry. In her free time, Zhao enjoys listening to all kinds of podcasts, spanning topics like general sciences, biomarkers, and daily news.

Anna Wells is a fourth year PhD candidate in the Religion department concentrating on historical studies. She earned her BA (2016) and MA (2018) in History from Baylor University. Her research focuses on the intersection between religion, culture, and gender by examining representations of women in saints’ lives across various expressions of Christianity in the late medieval world, particularly in Europe and Ethiopia. When she isn’t studying, Anna enjoys traveling with her husband and dog, reading fiction, and cheering on the Bears. Sic ’em!