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Graduate Fellows

VIDL Graduate Fellows for 2015-2016:





Max Baumkel is a second year PhD student in the English Department at Vanderbilt University.  His research focuses on contemporary literature and digital media that shape our cultural understanding of disability, animality, and transgender embodiment.  Max hopes to explore the ways that digital pedagogy can facilitate broader access for disabled students in the literature and writing classroom, as well as improving access to online resources about Universal Design in higher education classrooms and pedagogy for faculty and graduate teaching assistants at Vanderbilt.  




Tim Foster is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. His thesis research examines the role of music and literature in the rhetoric of conquest in Early Modern Spain. Tim has worked as a Graduate Affiliate in the Vanderbilt Center for Second Language Studies where he participated in a variety of Digital Humanities initiatives including a group encoding of literary texts through the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI). He was a 2014-2015 HASTAC scholar where he implemented a Wikipedia article composition in his foreign-language class and built an interactive map based on his research on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage. Tim is interested in researching digital pedagogies in the language-learning classroom and the relationship between technology and study abroad.



Qiliang He is a Ph.D. candidate in the Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience program with a graduate minor in Quantitative Method. Using virtual reality as the main research tool, his research focuses on studying how people acquire spatial knowledge during navigation and how people represent and update the surrounding objects under different locomotion modes. Qiliang is a heavy online course taker himself, completing more than 10 online courses concentrating on data science and computer programing. In terms of digital learning, he is interested to learn what constitutes a good online learning course and how it differs from the traditional classroom learning. He hopes the statistical and data science knowledge accrued throughout the graduate study can shed light on these issues.



Stacey Houston, II is a third year doctoral student in the Department of Sociology. His master’s research examined the effects of maternal alcoholism on children’s later educational attainment. He is currently involved in two projects funded by the National Science Foundation designed to examine the factors that contribute to the underrepresentation of African-Americans in engineering faculty positions. Through his future work, Stacey is interested in understanding the contexts in which teaching and learning in higher education occur. As a VIDL fellow, he hopes to understand how digital technologies facilitate the spread of diverse knowledge and ideas. He intends to assess whether and how engagement in an online collaborative community model of teaching and learning is associated with increased levels of (diverse) knowledge production and consumption.



 Kylie Korsnack is a Ph.D. candidate in the English Department studying postcolonial theory and contemporary world literature.  Her research traces the effects of contemporary globalization on literary form and genre, and she has a special interest in the development of and intersections between mainstream science fiction and the category of literature often referred to as “Postcolonial Science Fiction.” Alongside her literary scholarship, Kylie also conducts research related to rhetoric and composition and the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL). Specifically, her work in this area explores how different technological platforms and/or innovations can be used to enhance student learning.  Her current project examines how writing teachers might use technological metaphors to reimagine their own pedagogical practices and ultimately develop new paradigms for teaching academic writing.



Gabriela Leon-Perez is a PhD student in the Department of Sociology and a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Fellow. 

Her research focuses on issues pertaining to health disparities and international migration. Her master’s thesis examined the use of Mexican health care services by residents of a community on the U.S.-Mexico border. Her current research explores the health transitions of immigrants in the United States and whether social context is related to changes in health. She is also collaborating on a Vanderbilt Medical Center grant, studying the physical and mental health of heart disease patients during and after hospitalization. As a VIDL fellow, Gabriela is interested in exploring the challenges and opportunities posed by the use of digital learning technologies by international students.



VIDL Graduate Fellows for 2014-2015:

Sandra Arch
Sandra is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Sociology.  Supported by a Vanderbilt Dissertation Enhancement Grant and Sociology Department Small Research Grant, her dissertation research examines meanings of work and the formation of community in post-bureaucratic organizations, in particular co-working spaces.  Sandra is interested in the future of work and the ways in which digital technologies connect people offline and facilitate in-person interactions.  Through her fellowship with VIDL, she hopes to investigate how digital technologies might foster collaboration, intellectual community, and productive dialogue among students.

Bradley Kiddie
Brad is a Ph.D. student in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department under the mentorship of Dr. William H. Robinson. His research as part of the Radiation Effects and Reliability group focus on the effects of radiation in space and other harsh environments on the operation of electronic circuits, and how new technologies can be designed to withstand or mitigate those effects. In his undergraduate thesis, Brad explored connections between philosophy and engineering design and the implications these have on technology development. Understanding the intense specificity of many of today’s research fields, he is interested in seeing how digital learning can be used to encourage more collaboration between engineering and the humanities, for richer results within both areas.

Zoe LeBlanc
Zoe is a Doctoral Candidate in the Department of History at Vanderbilt University. Her dissertation examines the relationships between pan-Arabism and pan-Africanism in the late 1950s and 1960s. Zoe’s research interests include 20th century diplomatic history of the United States and the Arab World, American Protestant missionaries in the Third World after 1945, and the history of modern Islamic international organizations and Islamic law. Zoe is also focused on researching the best practices of digital pedagogy in Higher Education, especially around the use of geospatial tools; social media; and online databases and exhibits in the classroom. Zoe is a Vanderbilt HASTAC alumni and her research is supported by the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. For information about Zoe’s projects, please visit her website at or follow her on twitter @Zoe_LeBlanc.

Kathleen McKissack
Kathleen is entering her second year in Vanderbilt’s M.Ed program in International Education Policy and Management.  While earning her BA in Psychology from Clemson University, she spent a semester living and working in rural Uganda with a community-based NGO, and is ultimately interested in working on education initiatives in sub-Saharan Africa. Kathleen is most interested in the potential of digital learning to: 1) foster personalized learning experiences for students of all ages, 2) expand access to educational materials utilizing the ubiquity of cell phones (mLearning), and 3) change the nature of collaboration and access to social capital for disadvantaged youth.  Her previous work experience in education includes time with the Louisiana Department of Education, the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, and Worldreader.

VIDL Graduate Fellows for 2013-2014:

Bradley J. Daugherty
Brad is a Ph.D. candidate studying religion with a focus on the thought and practice of early Christians, particularly the Christians of Roman North Africa. His current research explores the diversity of understandings of clerical office among western Christians in the fourth and fifth centuries. A former Lilly Faculty Fellow in Theological Education, Brad is interested in the opportunities and challenges that online and digital learning present for theological education and for the study of religion more broadly. He is also interested in the use of digital technologies in classroom teaching - both in expanding his own repertoire of teaching tools and in exploring strategies for introducing colleagues to the use of digital technology in teaching. Brad is also a 2013-2014 HASTAC scholar, a community of students working at the intersection of technology and the arts, humanities and science.

Amanda Doody
Amanda is a Ph.D. candidate studying organic chemistry under the mentorship of Dr. Jeffrey N. Johnston. Her studies focus on the use of new reaction methodologies for the total synthesis of natural products and natural product analogs of biological importance and interesting structure. Amanda is interested in the creation and application of computer adaptive modules for skill development in the physical and natural sciences, particularly Organic Chemistry, which is a course that reaches students of many different majors within the School of Arts & Sciences and School of Engineering. Through the use of computer adaptive modules and digital technology, she hopes to create a personalized learning environment for both traditional and digital classrooms.

Laura Hieber
Laura is a first year Ph.D. candidate in the Clinical Psychology department under mentorship of Dr. Sohee Park.  Her research focuses on severe mental illness, particularly psychosis, and the cognitive and social processes implicated by the disorder.  She hopes to use digital technology to address mental health needs on campus in designing a potential widespread virtual intervention methods and training programs for stress reduction and improve well-being among students at Vanderbilt. Additionally she is interested in utilizing innovative techniques such as web apps to probe their experiences more deeply and individually to better understand the underlying issues that would be addressed most beneficially. A video report of Laura's research is here.

Please see the Graduate Fellows Program page for information on how to apply.