2015 Graduate Institute

Co-director , University of Iowa , English
Barbara Eckstein (English, CLAS) co-directed the Graduate Institute in 2014 and 2015. Her own engagement work includes co-leading the The People's Weather Map, a digital humanities project. She is also a member of the Oakdale Community [Prison] Choir. In 2014, she co-directed the Obermann Humanities Symposium, Energy Cultures in the Age of the Anthropocene
Craig Just
Co-director , University of Iowa , Civil & Environmental Engineering
Craig Just is an assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. In 2006, he created "Design with the Developing World," a service-learning course focused on sustainable international development. In 2007, he co-founded the course "International Perspectives: Xicotepec" as an integrated example of interdisciplinary teaching and scholarship. In 2008, he was awarded the University of Iowa's President and Provost Award for Teaching Excellence for creative utilization of service-learning and for engaged scholarship through teaching. Dr. Just also received the David J...
Senior Fellow , University of Iowa , Psychology
Emily Kroska is a second year PhD student in the Clinical Psychology program. She earned her B.A. in Psychology from the University of Kansas, with a minor in Social and Behavioral Sciences Methodology. Her research interests include resilience, social support, and intervention and prevention work. Emily’s current research interests focus on stressful life experiences and cumulative risk factors. Her other passions include working with the Lupus Foundation of America as an advocate for awareness and patient’s rights. At the University of Iowa, Emily’s current project will work to engage the...
Participant , University of Iowa , Psychology
Amanda Ward is a PhD student in the University of Iowa Clinical Psychology program. She earned her B.A. in psychology from Truman State University. Her research interests focus on investigating early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Amanda’s current project involves examining future thinking in neurological disease. Through the Alzheimer’s Association, Amanda has educated the public about neurological disease and the importance of Alzheimer’s disease research. Amanda is committed to informing others about the indicators of neurological disease. 
Participant , University of Iowa , Human Toxicology
Andrew Nelson is a PhD candidate and Presidential Graduate Fellow in Human Toxicology. He studies radioactivity associated with unconventional drilling of shale gas. Nelson earned his B.A. in Biochemistry from the University of Colorado in 2009, and an M.S. in Environmental Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines in 2010. Much of his work to date focuses on developing methods suitable for monitoring levels of naturally occurring radioactive materials present in wastes generated by unconventional natural gas exploration. Nelson’s research has helped develop partitioning models to be used...
Participant , University of Iowa , Cinematic Arts and Gender, Women's & Sexuality Studies
Anna Swanson is a third-year MFA candidate in Film/Video Production in the Cinematic Arts Department, and is also pursuing a Certificate in Gender, Women's and Sexuality Studies, after earning her B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies at Carleton College in 2012. Through her films, writing, and teaching, she explores the possibilities of representation and ethical relation, with a particular interest in ethnographic film and experimental and social documentary. Relationships are central to all areas of her work, and she works to bring the inherently collaborative and reciprocal nature of...
Participant , University of Iowa , College of Education
Carla Gonzalez is a Ph.D. student in the College of Education's Educational Leadership and Policy Studies program with an emphasis in Schools, Culture, and Society. She received her BA in Spanish and Theatre Arts from the University of Iowa and her MSEd in Education with TESOL certification from Western Illinois University. She is an experienced K-12 and college-level teacher. She studied in Costa Rica during her undergraduate and graduate programs. Her research interests include the history of educational experiences of Midwestern Latinos in both K-12 and higher educational settings, the...
Participant , University of Iowa , Health & Sports Studies
Cathryn Lucas-Carr is a PhD candidate in Health and Sport Studies. She is researching, teaching, and writing about sport and physical activity from an anti-racist, transgender perspective. In her dissertation, she examines the shifting definitions of transsexuality and transgender within the sporting context. She is currently working on a project in which she traces the use of spatialized metaphors in constructing transgender subjectivity. Cathryn is also busy queering the fitness industry through culturally & politically conscious personal training and working toward gender, race, and ...
Participant , University of Iowa , Geographical & Sustainability Sciences
Cristina E. Muñoz is a PhD candidate in Geography in the Department of Geographical and Sustainability Sciences. Muñoz received her B.A in Environmental Studies and Urban Studies from Bryn Mawr College. She hails from South Central Los Angeles, California, where her family still resides. Muñoz’s passions include environmental and social justice advocacy, community engagement, and collaborating in diverse teams, which are reflected in her research endeavors.
Heather Draxl
Participant , University of Iowa , Language, Literacy & Culture
Heather Draxl is a PhD candidate in Language, Literacy & Culture. Her research focuses on the intersection of public scholarship, civic engagement, first-year composition, and technology. She currently works as an instructional technology consultant at Iowa and teaches composition at Kirkwood Community College. She is also interested in social justice issues related to access to technologies, as well as flipping classrooms and making instructional videos, particularly those that teach language or literacy.
Jessica Pleyel
Participant , University of Iowa , Art & Art History
Jessica Pleyel is an MFA candidate in the UI's Intermedia Art Department and a conceptual artist and curator. Her studio practice is multi-faceted, and includes sculpture, costume design, performance, social practice, video, and playwriting. She explores familial relations, intersectional feminism, gender activism, and the performative nature of hunting in her art. She is currently working on an exhibit entitled We Are Survivors in which she collaborates with other artists who create work as a means to raise awareness, educate, and heal from sexual assault. She has exhibited...
Participant , University of Iowa , Center for the Book; School of Library & Information Science
Kalmia Strong is an MFA candidate at the Center for the Book and MA candidate in the School of Library and Information Science. She worked at the International Dada Archive, as an Olson Fellow in Special Collections, and at the Grant Wood Art Colony. Her research explores contemporary and historical zines and alternative publications, as well as the role of book objects and practices in cultural resistance and social change. Kalmia is the Program Director at Iowa City's arts organization Public Space One; here she works to instigate and sustain experimental, cooperative, and community-based...
Participant , University of Iowa , English
Katie E. Wetzel is a doctoral candidate in English at the University of Iowa, studying nineteenth-century literature and ecocriticism. She holds an M.A. in English Literature from the University of Kansas. Her work primarily engages with the intersections between social movements from the nineteenth century and representations of urban landscapes, but she is also interested in contemporary pedagogy, trauma studies, and social justice. Katie has taught both composition and literature courses, but currently teaches first-year Rhetoric at the University of Iowa. Her courses involve service-...
Participant , University of Iowa , Immunology
Marie Kim is a PhD candidate in the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program for Immunology. She earned her BS in Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics with a minor in Biomedical Research at the University of California, Los Angeles. She matriculated into the Medical Scientist Training Program at the University of Iowa to complete both her MD and PhD degrees. Her current research interests lie in therapeutic vaccine design. Her thesis works on the treatment of human malignancy. Her goal is to work with converting patterns of disease from the clinic into mechanisms of pathology in the lab...
Participant , University of Iowa , Theatre Arts
Melissa Gilbert is a MFA candidate in Theatre Arts with an emphasis in Costume and Scenic Design. She received her BFA in Theater Arts: Costume Design in 2010 from Macon Woman's College in Lynchburg, Virginia. During Summer 2014, she completed a University of Iowa funded research project on the application of bespoke tailoring techniques on non-traditional garments and materials used in England’s Notting Hill Carnival. University of Iowa credits include She Stoops To Conquer, the Iowa Partnership in the Arts production of MakeoverQuiet WitchesFour Stories...
Participant , University of Iowa , Anthropology
Natalie Luna-Renek is a Dean’s Graduate Research Fellow working towards her Ph.D. in Sociocultural Anthropology with an emphasis on the Anthropology of Religion. In 2010, she received her B.A. in Anthropology from California State University, Fullerton. She also earned her M.A. in Cultural Anthropology from California State University, Fullerton, in 2012. Her thesis research focused on the dream and spirit theories of Native Hawaiians living in Southern California. Natalie's dissertation research expands upon this previous work. She examines how Native Hawaiian animism is sustained away from...
Participant , University of Iowa , College of Education
Peggy Valdés is a PhD student in Higher Education and Student Affairs in the College of Education and current manager of the Latino Native American Cultural Center. Prior, she was a graduate Fellow in the ENLACE Leadership program at Northeastern Illinois University that conducts research, compiles and disseminates information about best practices, and seeks to create leaders who will improve the pipeline to post-secondary completion for Latinos. Peggy earned her BA in Sociology at NEIU, during which she worked as the Executive Director of Mexico Solidarity Network where she helped founded an...
Participant , University of Iowa , College of Engineering
Robert Hart is a PhD student in the College of Engineering at the University of Iowa. He is a Department of Defense SMART fellow working in collaboration with the U.S. Army Tank and Automotive Research and Development Engineering Center (TARDEC). His research interests include multifunctional composite materials, which have applications in aerospace and ground vehicles. Prior to the start of his graduate work, Robert worked for three years as an engineer in the plastics industry. During this time, he led a campaign to encourage interaction between fellow associates and local charitable...
Participant , University of Iowa , English
Stefan Schöeberlein is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of English at the University of Iowa and works as a research assistant for the Walt Whitman Archive. Between semesters, he teaches classes on US American literature at TU Dortmund University in Germany, where he earned his M.Ed. in Special Education in 2013. Stefan’s current research focuses on the intersection of the natural sciences and literature in the long nineteenth century. Having published on Walt Whitman and Darwinian evolutionary theory, he is currently writing an environmental history of paper-milling in...
Participant , University of Iowa , College of Public Health
Steven Rippentrop is a resident physician and student at the University of Iowa College of Public Health. He is a MA candidate in Healthcare Administration in Health Management and Policy. Steven holds his MA from Wartburg Theological Seminary and his MPH and MD from the University of Iowa. He completed an internship, residency, and chief residency at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. His research interests include community-based participatory research, population-based health interventions, and worker and environmental health. Rippentrop has been developing methods to advance...
Participant , University of Iowa , College of Dentistry
Tariq Ghazal is a PhD student in the Oral Sciences at the College of Dentistry. A native of Baghdad, Iraq, he received his DDS from the University of Baghdad College of Dentistry in 2006. Then he moved to the United States of America to pursue his graduate program in Dental Public Health at the University of Iowa's College of Dentistry, and graduated with his Master’s in 2013. In the spring of 2014, Dr. Ghazal also earned a Certificate in Biostatistics from the College of Public Health. His research interest is in early childhood tooth decay and dental care among the elderly.