HTI/Lilly Dissertation Fellowship
Congratulations to the 2021-2022 HTI/Lily Dissertation Fellowship Recipients!
The HTI/Lilly Dissertation Fellowships are possible thanks to a grant from the Lilly Endowment Inc.
A first-generation daughter of Mexican migrant parents, Arelis is well acquainted with survival narratives, loss, and marginalization and turns to theological studies for pastoral care responses to human suffering. Clinically trained as a healthcare chaplain, she integrates over a decade of experiences in pastoral ministry with vocational commitments to social justice that extend beyond the academy and into the public and private spheres. As a Latina pastoral theologian, she anchors her methodological approaches in the works of Gloria Anzaldúa towards the inclusion of Latinx communities and development of Latinx pastoral care responses within and outside the discipline of practical theology. Grounded in her own identities and autohistoria-teoría, Arelis explores parallels of suffering and healing in sexual identity (re)construction and migration narratives within the Latinx LGBTQ+ community. Her work critically analyzes and tends to the spiritual and psychological impact of both experiences. Currently, Arelis serves as a Field Educator at Vanderbilt Divinity School, Movement Chaplaincy Fellow with Faith Matters Network, and as a member of the CPE Professional Advisory Group at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Otis Panayotis Coutsoumpos
Claremont Graduate University
Otis was born in Michigan and grew up in Costa Rica, Chile, and England before moving to the United States. His mother was born in the Dominican Republic and was raised in Puerto Rico and his father was born in Panama to a Greek father and a Panamanian mother. After working as a pastor in Maryland, Otis moved to California and is currently working as Associate Pastor for Community Engagement at La Sierra University Church. In view of his academic background in theological studies, Otis would like to dedicate his research to the area of philosophy of language with a special focus on religious language.
Rodrigo de Galiza Barbosa
Rodrigo loves teaching topics related to the Bible and the history of religion. He is interested in the relationship between Judaism and Christianity, and how they developed their religious ideas. Rodrigo has taught Bible informally in a church setting since 1995, and has been involved in theological education in Brazil, Cuba, Israel, and the United States. His research focuses on how religious groups used the language of contamination in sacred space to exclude people from their communities. He is currently working on Latin Christianity and ancient Judaism, and he wants to expand this further to include the discourse of other religious groups.
Southern Methodist University
Matthew Esquivel seeks to contribute to the field of the History of Christianity by exploring the early Church’s notion of salvation as sharing in the life of God, what it means to be the Church, and the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church. This includes how early Church communities, particularly in the Roman Province of North Africa, understood and practiced the sacraments, the charisms of the Holy Spirit, martyrdom and martyr veneration, and spiritual authority. He seeks to uncover insight as to how the Church today, including his own Pentecostal/Charismatic tradition, which he has pastored since 2009, could explore these questions in light of its own context.
Oblate School of Theology
Nathan Garcia’s fields of interest are Peircean Pragmatism, theological anthropology, and psycho-spiritualities. Nathan’s dissertation aims to cultivate a spiritual anthropology from a Pragmatic analysis of the anthropological spirituality of Thomas Moore. His aim is to formulate a philosophical foundation to provide for constructive dialogue across racial, cultural, and political boundaries.
Princeton Theological Seminary
Chauncey’s identity as a Chicano frames his research on the nature of ethnicity and belonging in the book of Deuteronomy. With Latinx concepts of identity, theories of ethnicity, and tools of historical criticism he explores the Pentateuch’s complex relationship to forming ancient Israelite/Jewish ethnicity. Ordained in the PC(USA) and writing in Spanish and English, Chauncey encourages the church and academy to help create a just society by celebrating the distinctiveness of all backgrounds, heritages, and languages.
University of Chicago Divinity School
Vinicius explores solutions to global economic and racial oppression. He researches grassroots initiatives and religious thought for the liberation of the Latin and the Black Americas. His dissertation experiments with the actual production and monetization of human dignity in Brazil. While Vinicius analyzes such structural matters historically and theologically, he synthesizes them with an insight derived from his legal experience: dignity only exists in acts that produce material redemption. Vinicius advances this claim by maximizing the innovating capacities of contemporary liberation theologies, critical legal studies, and philosophy.
Candler School of Theology, Emory University
Elaine is a first-generation multicultural Latina from Cuban and Colombian heritage. Her interests lie at the multiple intersections of religion, identity, and materiality in Afro-Cuban and Latinx religious cultures. Elaine approaches the study of religion largely from a cultural context, and argues that religious traditions, especially those emerging from African and Indigenous cultures, are best understood through the creative outputs of practitioners, paying close attention to the various forms of art which practitioners create. Elaine’s work primarily explores storytelling, focusing on the patakís, the mythological stories of West African deities known as the orisha. Her dissertation research examines the power, potential, and theo-sociological implications of reimagining religious worlds through Santería/Lucumí stories.
Originally from southern Brazil, Carina has had an interest in buildings and constructions all her life. During her undergraduate studies, she was fascinated by the study of ancient civilizations and buildings, which led her into contact with archaeological studies—a great fit for her architectural background. She started her master’s in archaeology, followed by the doctoral program. During her PhD, she has participated in archaeological excavations of a Paleo-Christian site in Sicily, Italy. This exposition to the early Christian world through archaeology has raised in her the awareness of the gap in scholarship about women’s roles in early Christianity. This became her focus of interest and topic of dissertation. With this research, she plans to bring the archaeological perspective into the discussion, which has been largely ignored in the academic world.
Boston University Graduate Division of Religion
Mónica sees her role in the theological academy as committed to advancing biblical literacy. Her desire is to equip students and congregations to think about the impact of Scripture in all matters. Mónica also desires to help combat the complacency and ignorance on matters of gender, racial, and sexual injustice as religious institutions are often the places where these social inequalities are perpetuated. Mónica hopes to be able to speak to the generation of American-born Latinxs who live in a new hybrid in-between space. The exploding population of American-born Latinxs are experiencing existential questions of identity as they carve out their own spaces and ask: What does it mean for me to be Latinx?
Luan Henrique Gomes Ribeiro
Luan Henrique was born and raised in Curitiba-Brazil, where he first interacted with biblical scholarship. As a New Testament scholar, his interests lie on the intersection between objects, ritual, and text, as well as on how social-historical analyses of early Christian communities might enhance the ways modern scholarship approaches the study of the New Testament. He currently works with Christian texts from the first and second centuries CE in which Christ, or the Son of God, appears as an angelic figure. Therefore, his dissertation focuses on models of early Christologies that are angelomorphicaly framed within Jewish angelology as well as asks the questions: why did some early Christians choose angel-related imagery and language in order to portray the coming of their Messiah? What were the theological and phenomenological appeals of having an archangel-like Christ? Luan Henrique is also a Seventh-day Adventist pastor in the process of ordination.
Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
Crystal’s work has been largely focused on the history of Muslim-Christian relations. Her dissertation work will continue exploring the history of Muslim-Christian relations, but specifically in Latin America as well as current expressions of Christian Zionism. Crystal is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and has served on the board of the Parliament of the World’s Religions and as part of the immigration collaborative of the United Church of Christ. Her academic research is informed by her commitment to interfaith relationships, the rights of immigrants, and the Latinx community. Crystal was born and raised in El Paso, Texas. Her mother, grandmother, and aunts and uncles immigrated to the United States from Mexico and it is their stories along with being raised on the border that have shaped her spiritual and personal identity as a scholar and minister.
Graduate Theological Union
Pamela studies the material, visual, and experiential qualities of liturgical textiles in Sixteenth-century Spain, England, and New Spain. Her focus is on garments of shame exhibited by the Inquisition in Sixteenth-century New Spain. She employs an interdisciplinary approach and draws from her own multicultural, multilingual life experiences growing up in Los Angeles to explore through the medium of cloth how identities and belief systems weave together amid Christian reform, retrenchment, empire, colonialism, hybridity, and resilience. Pamela is in discernment for ordained ministry and remains active in ministry with children, youth, and families in English-speaking and Spanish-speaking multicultural congregations. She plans to teach at a university or seminary while continuing to serve in ministry.
Seth Villegas is a PhD student in constructive theology. He specializes in issues related to the dialogue between religion and science. He focuses primarily on how technology affects religious and religious-like ideas. Seth developed many of his current interests in religion and technology while he was an undergraduate in Silicon Valley. His current research examines transhumanist and other secular communities, asking questions about the future of religious life.