The Baylor Graduate School is pleased to announce the fourth cohort of the Summer Dissertation Fellows. These Fellows receive support through a week-long Dissertation Lab in May as well as from writing groups (organized by the Graduate Writing Center and the Baylor Graduate School) throughout the summer. Please join us in congratulating the 2022 Fellows!

Eric Amouzou is a doctoral candidate in Church Music at Baylor University. His dissertation explores congregational signing in Ghanaian-pioneered churches in Dallas, Texas, focusing on how it shapes and reflects their identity in North America. Eric received a Bachelor of Music in piano performance from the University of Education, Winneba, in Ghana. He also graduated with a Master’s in Church Music from Baylor University in 2019. A trained worship and music minister, he has served in various music ministry roles in Ghana and the United States. Eric is currently the minister of music at Greater Bosqueville Baptist Church in Waco, Texas, and runs WorthShip House, Inc., a non-profit dedicated to educating and providing ministry resources for worship and music ministers in West Africa.

Abigail L. Bodeau is a fourth-year Religion PhD candidate specializing in Old Testament prophetic literature. Her dissertation analyzes the role of ritual in the book of Jonah, and how rituals undergird the book’s structure and theological message. Abigail likes to spend her free time reading novels, cooking, and making handmade soap.

Richard Eva is a philosophy PhD candidate specializing in ethics and political philosophy.  In his dissertation, he seeks to answer two questions: What does it mean to politicize something?  And, is it wrong to politicize things?  Rich earned his B.A. from Princeton University and worked at an investment bank before coming to Baylor.  He is the president of the philosophy graduate student body, helps coach the bioethics bowl team, and teaches classes in applied ethics.  In his free time, Rich can be found playing sports, dancing with his toddler, and thinking of punny paper titles.  

Bethany Gochnour is a doctoral candidate in the Learning and Organizational Change program. Her research examines potential changes in elementary teachers’ instructional practices based on increased foundational knowledge. Bethany has presented her research at various conferences, including SERA, SUGRS, and BERC. She received a 2023 SERA Dean’s Award for exceptional graduate student research. When Bethany is not studying, she enjoys listening to live music and spending time with her friends.

Katherine Goodwin is a fourth-year PhD candidate in Baylor’s history department studying women, religion, and books in late medieval and early modern Europe. Her dissertation focuses on the vernacular theology of women’s manuscript prayer books during the early English Reformation. She has recently been awarded a Major Grant Bibliographical Society (UK) and the Miriam Usher Chrisman Travel Fellowship from the Society of Reformation Research in support of her project. Katherine earned her MA in History of Christianity at Wheaton College, IL (2019) where she wrote on the role of women writers in the Reformation, and will be publishing an article based on this research in a forthcoming edition of the journal Church History and Religious Culture. In the meantime, Katherine enjoys cooking and baking for friends and is on the hunt for the next great hobby.

Daniel J. Gregory is a fourth year PhD student in the PhD in Preaching program at Truett Seminary. His dissertation explores the utility of Western literary chronotopes as heuristics for interpreting biblical texts and composing sermons based on those texts. Prior to matriculating, he pastored a church in Illinois for eight years. He holds a Master of Divinity and a Master of Theology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He and his wife Jodi have two children.

Caleb Little is a fifth year PhD candidate in religion, focusing on soteriology and patristic retrieval from a Reformed perspective. His dissertation is a constructive retrieval of healing as an image for salvation in Gregory of Nazianzus and John Calvin. He earned his Masters in Historical Theology from Saint Louis University. He serves as a deacon at his church. His favorite activities include spending time with his wife and dog, wood-working, playing board games, and reading science fiction and fantasy.

Christina Olson is a fifth-year PhD candidate in Religion, with a concentration in the Old Testament. She is interested in the use of social memory studies to explore death and burial practices in both the biblical text and the archaeological data. Her dissertation focuses on how burial practices and memory of the dead contributed to the developing national identity in Persian period Jerusalem. Christina has been actively involved in archaeological projects for over a decade, primarily at Tell Es-Safi/Gath, Israel and most recently at Baylor’s 2022 San Guiliano Archaeological Research Project in Italy.

Harrison Otis is a fifth-year English PhD candidate and Presidential Scholar. His dissertation investigates the relationship between community, individual agency, and narrative in four 20th-century novels from the British Isles. Harrison earned his MA English from the University of Regina, Saskatchewan, in August 2018. He has presented his work both nationally and internationally, and has been published in the Mark Twain Journal and Evelyn Waugh Studies. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, writing, hiking, and making music.

Ryan Ramsey is a PhD candidate in Religion at Baylor University. He holds a Master of Arts in Religion from Yale Divinity School (’19) and a BA from Lee University (’14). His dissertation examines the religious life of Mexican folk saint Teresa Urrea using the lenses of World Christianity and decolonial thought. He is a Graduate Fellow with Baylor’s Academy for Teaching and Learning, a Conyers Scholar (Baylor Grad School, 2022-23), and a Graymoor Scholar (Graymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute, 2022). He is also an avid bicycle commuter and coffee roaster.

Clay Smith is a fifth-year PhD Candidate studying the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament and ancient Israelite religion. His dissertation is titled, “Legislating Loyalty: adê Agreements as a Basis for Deuteronomic Legal Innovation.” The project suggests Deuteronomy’s authors compose stipulations that are not merely “law,” but rather stipulations inspired by and modeled after ancient Near Eastern political treaties, especially the Assyrian loyalty oath known in Akkadian as an “adê.” Clay lives in Waco, TX, with his wife, Aubrey, and two sons, Milo and Ellis.

Alison Trimper is a Doctoral Candidate in the EdD Leadership and Organizational Change program. Her dissertation focuses on the effects of Trauma Informed Care in the classroom, especially with those students living through trauma. Alison currently lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two children and is an 8th grade science teacher. 

Xi Zhu is a fourth-year Sociology Ph.D. candidate studying aging and health. Her dissertation focuses on the cognitive health of older adults in the United States and how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the cognitive functioning of older people. She earned her master’s degree in Sociology at Baylor University in May 2021. Xi had worked as a brand communication specialist for a pharmaceutical company in Shanghai before coming to Baylor. In her free time, she enjoys swimming, running, and music.