Graduate Students

2017-18 Gumpel Fellow


Trisha Tschopp 

Trisha Tschopp is a Ph.D. student in the Department of History (Science Studies) whose work focuses on agricultural development in Israel / Palestine in the 20th century. Her work is situated at the intersection of environmental history, human geography, and science and technology studies (STS). Using qualitative methods, she researches how agricultural technology develops historically and how it changes perceptions of landscapes of the modern Middle East. Before coming to UC San Diego, she received a Master's degree in International Agriculture and Rural Development (Cornell University) and a Master's degree in Jewish Studies (Hebrew College). She also participated in Harvard University's Leon Levy Archaeological Expedition to Ashkelon, Israel (2008).


Sowparnika Balaswaminathan

Sowparnika Balaswaminathan, Ph.D. Candidate

Advised by Thomas Levy

Sowparnika Balaswaminathan is a PhD candidate at the Department of Anthropology who works with a traditional bronze sculptor community in south India who have ancestral ties to medieval artisans and temple builders. An aspect of her dissertation involves looking into the medieval metal trade between Jewish traders from the Middle East, and South Indian metalworker guilds. Much like the contemporary situation in which these bronzecasters who make religious idols also make the same as secular, decorative objects, sculptors in the past also split their times between doing temple-centric art and secular commercial craft. During the course of her graduate studies, Sowparnika has also participated as a volunteer in an archaeological dig in Apollonia-Arsuf in Herzliya, Israel at a crusader castle run by the Institute of Archaeology in the Tel Aviv University, and worked as the field lab manager at Faynan, Jordan under the supervision of her advisor, Professor Thomas Levy for his Edom Lowlands Regional Archaeology Project.

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Kathleen Bennallack, Ph.D. Candidate

Advised by Thomas Levy

Jewish Studies academic blurb coming soon...

Aaron Gidding

Aaron Gidding, Ph.D. Candidate

Advised by Thomas Levy

Aaron Gidding is a graduate student in the Department of Anthropology focusing his dissertation research on socio-political circumstances for the development of copper as a commodity. The focus of his research is based in southern Jordan and southern Israel, home to many pastoral groups throughout time including the early Hebrews. The research focuses on better understanding the social history of the pastoral groups that occupied that space and how they interacted with other larger civilizations such as Egypt.

Genevieve Okada Goldstone

Genevieve Okada Goldstone, Ph.D. Candidate

Genevieve Okada Goldstone is a PhD candidate in psychological and sociocultural anthropology. Her dissertation fieldwork focused on conversion to Judaism in Los Angeles, the second largest Jewish community in the U.S. and where hundreds of conversions happen every year. Genevieve is interested in the increasing racial and ethnic diversity within the American Jewish community and her work includes an emphasis on Asian, Latino, and African American converts.

Matthew Howland

Matt Howland, Ph.D. Candidate

Advised by Thomas Levy

Matt Howland is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Anthropology, focusing on the archaeology of the southern Levant. His dissertation research focuses on the social organization of copper production and trade in Israel and Jordan in the early Iron Age, the period of David and Solomon. Matt investigates the extent to which different ancient polities, including Edom, Israel, and Judah, were involved in the trade and trafficking of copper with cutting-edge digital methods, including 3D imaging and Geographic Information Systems.

Ian Jones

Ian Jones, Ph.D. Candidate

Advised by Thomas Levy

Ian Jones is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Anthropology whose research examines the social and political-economic aspects of copper production in southern Jordan during the late 1st millennium and early 2nd millennium AD, or the Early and Middle Islamic periods. As a historical archaeologist, his work is informed by information about metal trade and production found in historical texts, including the Cairo Geniza, a large group of primarily medieval texts found in the Ben Ezra Synagogue in Fustat, Egypt. In addition to numerous excavation and survey projects in southern Jordan, Ian has also participated as a volunteer in excavations at Tell es-Safi — the Philistine city of Gath — in Israel.

Brady Liss

Brady Liss, Ph.D. Candidate

Advised by Thomas Levy

Brady Liss is a Ph.D. student in Anthropological Archaeology focusing on the Iron Age, the period of David and Solomon, in southern Israel and Jordan. His interests and research focus on ancient metal production and how industrial scale copper production influenced the social, political, and economic development of Iron Age polities such as the biblical Edomites.

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Craig Smitheram, Ph.D. Candidate

Advised by Thomas Levy

Jewish Studies academic blurb coming soon...


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Juan Carmona Zabala, Ph.D. Candidate

Advised by Thomas Gallant
2012-13 Gumpel Fellow

M.A. in European and Mediterranean Studies from New York University
Licenciatura in Translation and Interpretation from the University of Málaga, Spain

Juan's dissertation project studies the multiple ways in which the production, processing and commercialization of tobacco influenced the development of state institutions in Greece in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as well as the country's relationship with Germany, which was the main importer of Greek tobacco. He is especially interested in how different groups (farmers, urban workers, business organizations, political elites) strived to influence the governing mechanisms that existed around Greek tobacco in order to further their own interests. One important part of his project is the study of how the Jewish population of Salonika and Cavalla, the most important centers of Greek tobacco trade, experienced the intensification of anti-Semitism and political radicalization in northern Greece in the interwar period, which resulted in the exclusion of Jewish merchants from tobacco trade, and of Jewish tobacco workers from leading positions in the labor movement.

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Nur Duru, Ph.D. Candidate

Advised by Deborah Hertz

Jewish Studies academic blurb coming soon...

William Skiles

William Skiles, Ph.D. Candidate

Advised by Deborah Hertz and Frank Biess

M.A in Divinity, Fuller Theological Seminary

William Skiles is currently a lecturer at California State University, San Marcos, and is finishing up his dissertation on the Confessing Church in Nazi Germany. His research focuses on German pastors and their views of the Nazi regime and its anti-Semitic policies, especially as expressed in sermons.  In particular, his research explores the lives and careers of German pastors of Jewish descent and their experiences in Nazi Germany and in exile.

Teresa Walch

Teresa Walch, Ph.D. Candidate

Advised by Frank Biess
2016-17 Gumpel Fellow

M.A. in European History, University of California San Diego, 2015
B.A. in History & German, The College of Saint Benedict, 2010

Teresa’s dissertation project investigates space (from entire cityscapes down to specific neighborhoods, streets, and buildings) in Nazi Germany.  She examines how the regime, city officials, and ordinary Germans appropriated and redesigned space to fit their ideological visions and the extent to which they employed space as a means of social control during the Third Reich, physically demarcating who and what belonged – or did not belong – to the national community. A central aspect of her project explores the transformation of Jewish neighborhoods and buildings in German cities from 1933-1945. She is interested in researching how Jews were excluded from public space as well as how Germans physically and symbolically transformed and appropriated “Jewish spaces” in an attempt to erase even the memory of their presence in the urban landscape. Teresa received a Fulbright fellowship to conduct dissertation research in Berlin from 2015-2016.


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Jane Coulter

Advised by Nicole Tonkovich and Michael Davidson

Jane Coulter, a Ph.D. candidate in the Literature department, researches Jewish immigrant modernists in the Progressive era. Her analysis of novels concerned with and written by Jewish immigrants delineates how cultural identity, including religion, can texture claims about modernism and modernity. In particular, her research focuses on the work of Anzia Yezierska, Henry Roth, and Gertrude Stein. Coulter’s dissertation proposes a new connection between the Progressive era discourse that shaped immigrant education and the field of ethnic modernism. Her work examines what she considers the modernist pedagogy of interwar novels of the 1920s and 1930s. 

Julia Fermentto

Julia Fermentto Tzaisler, Ph.D. Candidate

Advised by Amelia Glaser
2015-16 Gumpel Fellow

Julia's main research question deals with the Biblical myth of the Promised Land and its modern manifestations in early twentieth century Jewish literature. The myth of the Promised Land had gone through many transformations from its Biblical association, through its evangelical return, its move to America and its final resting place in the Israeli State. In her proposed doctoral project she plans to build a comprehensive study of the modern reinterpretation of the biblical myth of a Promised Land illustrating how Zionism, globalization and capitalism reshuffled the cards and changed the myth’s metaphorical and physical face. One of her long-term goals is also to look at the intersection of language and immigration in both Jewish-American and Modern Hebrew literature — comparing the writings of Anzia Yezierska, Devorah Baron and Hemda Ben-Yehuda.

Sarika Talve-Goodman

Sarika Talve-Goodman, Ph.D. Candidate

Advised by Amelia Glaser
2014-15 Gumpel Fellow

Sarika Talve-Goodman is a PhD candidate in Cultural Studies currently researching issues of trauma and the politics of historical memory in transnational Jewish literature and culture, from the modernist period to the present. She holds an MS in Narrative Medicine from Columbia University, an interdisciplinary field that examines the role of narrative and storytelling in health care. She received a Fulbright scholarship to conduct dissertation research on how issues of power and identity shape narrative medicine practices in Israel. 

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Andrianna Martinez
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Phone: 858-534-4551

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