2016 Graduate Institute

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...
Jennifer Kayle
Co-director , University of Iowa , Dance
Kayle is Associate Professor and Co-Director of the MFA Program in the Department of Dance. Her choreography is deeply informed by collaborative process as a form of collective knowledge-production. Together with The Architects, she is founder of Movement Intensive in Compositional Improvisation, a professional laboratory dedicated to ensemble improvisation. Her creative research examines issues of power, equity, and liberty. Full bio
Senior Fellow , 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...
Jessica Pleyel
Senior Fellow , 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...
Arianna Rigon
Participant , University of Iowa , Neuroscience
Arianna Rigon is a third year Ph.D candidate in the Neuroscience Program. Originally from Italy, she received a B.S. in Psychology (2011), and an M.S. in Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuropsychological Rehabilitation (2013) from the University of Padova. At Iowa her research focuses on social impairment following traumatic brain injury. In particular, she uses MRI to investigate how inter-individual differences in brain structure and function can predict outcome after a traumatic brain injury. Her project for the Graduate Institute aims at raising awareness of signs and symptoms of traumatic...
Participant , University of Iowa , Communication Studies
Bailey Kelley is a PhD student in Communication Studies. Her scholarly work explores issues of media convergence within television studies such as the relationship between online content production and traditional cable and broadcast industries. More broadly, her research is located in critical feminist media studies with degrees in both cultural studies and communication. She is committed to political engagement in both academic and community settings; questions of media literacy and public intellectualism underscore her research and service. In addition to her work as a Presidential...
David De La Torre
Participant , University of Iowa , History
David De La Torre is a MA/PhD student at the Department of History. His research investigates the role of urban universities in planning the postwar city along with negotiations with local heterogeneous communities. His MA project explores the University of Iowa’s involvement in downtown Iowa City through urban renewal planning and discourse. David is also a member of the History Corps and co-founder ofBridging South Central Communities. Both of these organizations provide a platform for public engagement through project-based collaborations. For his dissertation, he looks forward to bridging...
Diane Williams
Participant , University of Iowa , American Studies and Sports Studies
Williams is a PhD student in American Studies and Sports Studies. An educator, activist, coach, and athlete, she holds an MS in Exercise and Sport Studies from Smith College, an MEd in Social Justice Education from the University of Massachusetts, and a BA in American Studies and Women's and Gender Studies from Williams College. She has also taught middle-school geography and worked for nonprofit organizations. She's interested in exploring sport as a site of social change and community building. Full bio
Ellen von Holtum
Participant , University of Iowa , Library & Information Science
Ella von Holtum is an MA candidate in the School of Library and Information Science and a scholar in the Public Digital Humanities Certificate program at the University of Iowa. She received her BA in Creative Writing from Bard College. Ella is focused on librarianship in the margins: working with materials sometimes considered ephemeral or disposable and with communities whose needs and cultural investigations lie outside of the mainstream. She sees many possibilities for developing resources with marginal communities in mind.
Emily Climer
Participant , University of Iowa , Dance
Emily Climer  composes dances that try to expose how groups of people make decisions collectively. She is currently pursuing an MFA at the University of Iowa and teaching undergraduate dance courses. Prior to that, Emily worked for two years on the literacy team of Student Achievement Partners, a nonprofit of educators and researchers designing actions to try to improve student achievement in the U.S. Emily is deeply interested in how the mediation, communication, and adaptive structuring processes she has learned through her dance making translate to work in social systems. She received her...
Participant , University of Iowa , Religious Studies
Gwendolyn Gillson is a PhD candidate in Religious Studies. She received her B.A. in Religion from Gustavus Adolphus College, M.L.I.S in Archives from the University of Oklahoma, and M.A. in Religious Studies from the University of Iowa. As a Presidential Graduate Research Fellow, her research focuses on Japanese religions, particularly Pure Land Buddhism. She is interested in the connections and relationships among religion, culture, and society. For her dissertation research, she is utilizing a transnational feminist lens to study women’s grassroots social activism in the Japanese Jōdo Pure...
Heather Wacha
Participant , University of Iowa , History
Heather Wacha is a PhD candidate in Medieval History. Her interests broadly include women's economic and social history in twelfth- and thirteenth-century France, and the history of the book. She received her BA from Hamline University in St. Paul, MN in 1985 and her MA from the University of Iowa in Iowa City, IA in 2009.  Before returning to graduate school, Heather taught high school French in England and the US, as well as high school English in France.  Her most recent projects include updating the descriptions of the medieval manuscripts held in The University of Iowa Libraries, Special...
Heidi Renée Aijala
Participant , University of Iowa , English
Aijala is a doctoral candidate in English specializing in Victorian poetry and the intersections between gender, genre, and social class. At last year's Graduate Institute, she developed a poetry project that invites students to engage with poetry that records cultural narratives, investigates historical events of local, national, and global significances, and argues for political, social, and legal change. Full bio
Jeremy Williams
Participant , University of Iowa , College of Education
Jeremy Williams is a PhD student in the Higher Education and Student Affairs program. He received his B.A. in Athletic Training/Sports Medicine from Bethel University in 2005 and spent over six years working full time in sports medicine. Following a US Army deployment to Kuwait in 2011, Jeremy left healthcare to enter the field of student affairs. He graduated with an M.A. in Leadership in Student Affairs from the University of St. Thomas with the goal of encouraging veterans to enroll in college. As a company commander for an army reserve unit in Des Moines, Jeremy desires to research the...
Participant , University of Iowa , School of Library & Information Sciences
Kelly Grogg is a MA candidate in the School of Library and Information Sciences. Before attending the University of Iowa, she served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Cambodia for two years. In addition to her coursework, Kelly works as the Olson Graduate Research Assistant for the University of Iowa Special Collections and Archives, and works with Librarians for Social Justice, a group she founded in the fall of 2015. Kelly's passion is using social media, instruction sessions, and exhibits to highlight the manuscript collections found in the library. This prompted her interest in researching...
Keva Fawkes
Participant , University of Iowa , Art and Art History, Ceramics
Keva Fawkes is Bahamian Artist living in Iowa City, Iowa, where she is an MA candidate in the University of Iowa's Ceramics Department. In her multi-disciplinary art practice — which includes ceramics, sculpture, metals, design, and social practice — she explores identity, immigration, and cultural imagery using found objects and architectural references. Currently, Keva is working with the University’s ArtShare program conducting ceramic workshops as well as creating local public art installations. The goal is to promote development and positive social transformation through contemporary art...
Participant , University of Iowa , College of Education
Mary Nyaema is a student at the University of Iowa pursuing her PHD in Science Education. She is originally from Kenya where she has taught high school mathematics and science for seven years. As a graduate assistant, she has been involved in many K-12 outreach activities targeting under presented minorities to pursue STEM based careers. Her research interests include cultural responsive teaching, teacher knowledge and beliefs and problem based learning. She is also a member of I-fellows, Multi-Ethnic Engineering and Sciences Association (MESA), Graduate Students in Science Education (GSSE)...
Participant , University of Iowa , Immunology
Mohanad Nada is a Ph.D. candidate in Immunology at Carver College of Medicine with research interests primarily in developing cancer immunotherapy for cancer patients. Mohanad graduated from Tikrit Medical School in Iraq in 2008. Prior to his arrival in Iowa City, he worked as an assistant lecturer in Tikrit Medical School for two years. He also served as an editor for Tikrit Medical Journal (TMJ) in 2010. In August 2010, Mohanad received a scholarship from Iraqi government to pursue his doctoral study in Immunology at the University of Iowa. Mohanad also is pursuing a certificate in public...
Participant , University of Iowa , Religious Studies
Rachel Winter is a first year M.A. student in Religious Studies. Her research focuses on the intricate network between jihadism, Orientalism, terrorism, and Islamophobia, and how it is discussed through art. In 2015, she graduated from the University of Iowa with University Honors and Honors in Art History. During her undergraduate career, her art history research focused on Middle Eastern artists who identify as Muslim, but use their art to speak out against acts of terrorism that perpetuate Islamophobia. As a part of the Obermann Institute, Rachel looks forward to creating a museum exhibit...
Rebekah Chappell
Participant , University of Iowa , Dance
Rebekah Chappell is an MFA candidate in the Department of Dance and is a performer, teaching artist, and dance maker. She earned her BFA in Dance from Shenandoah University in Winchester, Virginia. Rebekah has taught dance throughout The United States, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua working with colleges, public and private schools, studios, and community programs. Her choreography considers the relationship between art and efficacy, examining the processes that facilitate a transformation of a person, place, and/or community. She is exploring how to connect embodied movement and lived experiences...
Ruth Bryant
Participant , University of Iowa , Center for the Book
Ruth Bryant is a second year MFA candidate at the University of Iowa Center for the Book. Her focus is on artist bookmaking and she is particularly interested in incorporating sculptural forms into her books. Ruth's current work explores issues of trauma, memory, and narrativity, and utilizes various paper weaving techniques and pop-up structures. She received her BFA in Craft with a concentration in book arts from Oregon College of Art and Craft. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and has been included in such publications as Analogy: An Arts and Letters Magazine and...