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Current PhD Students

Faris Almutairi

Faris is a doctoral candidate in the History Department at SIU. He received his M.A. from the University of Hull, Britain. Currently, his research concentrates on the social and intellectual history of Middle East from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries, with a focus on modernization, nationalism, and state-society relationships. His dissertation focuses on the religious discourses about social modernization and its effects on state-society relationship in Saudi Arabia from 1920s to 1970s. He participated in Middle East Studies Association 2017 Annual Meeting, presenting a paper titled by "An Analysis of Study Abroad: Understanding state-society relationship in Saudi Arabia.”


Greg Carter

Greg is a doctoral student in history with secondary fields in Africana Studies and Theology. He is a policy historian who specializes in the 1960s War on Poverty and whose dissertation will examine the Model Cities program in several American states. Greg has been published in Enterprise and SocietyNuggets of HistoryThe Miner’s Journal, and Loyal Legion Magazine. Prior to earning his master’s degree and beginning PhD work at Southern Illinois University, Greg earned his bachelor’s degree in history from Quincy Franciscan University. Greg received the Illinois Sons of Union Veterans award for distinguished service in 2012 and the Owen J. Blum Award for Outstanding Scholarly Achievement in History in 2014.


Matt Egbert

Matt is a doctoral candidate in History with a specialization in North African Christianity, martyrdom, and sainthood from the 4th to 7th centuries. His dissertation emphasizes the North African Christian community’s unique perspective on death, which developed due to the region’s liminal position between the Mediterranean and Trans-Saharan trade networks.  He received his M.A. degree in Ancient History from King’s College London in 2013, with his thesis tracing the agonistici branch of the Donatist Church and its role as both a religious and socio-economic movement. Prior to his graduate work, Matt obtained his B.A. from Campbellsville University in History and English.


Brooks Hudson

Brooks is a studying American history, specializing in the transformation of law, culture, and medicine from the Gilded Age to the Great Depression.  His dissertation traces the evolution of America’s first opiate crisis and the reaction to it.  He highlights how this period was pivotal in solidifying a criminal justice approach regarding addiction and narcotic use, and more importantly, the ways it expanded law enforcements’ ability to surveil and police personal behavior.  He received his B.A. from Murray State University, winning the Beasley Award for outstanding undergraduate.  He completed his M.A. at MSU in 2017.


J. David Kemp

David graduated cum laude from the University of Mississippi in 1993 with a Bachelor of Arts in history. In 2001 Mr. Kemp received his Master of Arts in history from Lehigh University. His thesis entitled “‘Musk-Cats and Monkies:’ Africans and Domestic Slavery, the Judicial Process, and Somerset’s Case in Eighteenth-Century England” was cited in the 2002 edition of Slavery: Annual Bibliographical Supplement.  While residing in Pennsylvania Mr. Kemp was an instructor of record at Ryder University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey where he taught world history. He later taught world history at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee. Mr. Kemp is currently in his second year as a PhD student at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. In addition to the black Atlantic, his academic areas of interest include colonial America and early modern Europe. Mr. Kemp plans on expanding his previous scholarship on Somerset’s case into his doctoral dissertation.


Liana Kirillova

Liana is a doctoral candidate in History, specializing on the Youth Movement in the Soviet Union in the context of the Cold War and Soviet Internationalism. Her dissertation focuses on the Soviet student construction brigade movement in the 1960s-1980s and the role of international students in these Soviet shock-work constructions. Liana received her M.A. degree in History from SIUC in 2016 and the Specialist degree in International Relations from Udmurt State University (Izhevsk, Russia) in 2014. She is a recipient of an Outstanding Thesis Award (2016) and Emma Smith Hough Library Research Scholarship (2016). Liana has published articles in Essays in History and Vestnik Udmurtskogo Universiteta.


Lu Li

Lu Li is a doctoral candidate in History, focusing on gender and family in modern U.S. history. Lu received her A.M. degree in English from Sichuan International University in 2014. She is researching a dissertation on the history of transnational child adoption from Vietnam by American parents from the 1960s to the 1970s. She is the winner of 2018 Clarke Chamber Travel Fellowship.


Xiao Li

Xiao is a doctoral candidate in history, specializing in American history and transnational migration.  Her dissertation examines the first Chinese woman doctor who obtained her medical degree in the United States: Yamei Kin (1864-1934).  This woman opened the first Chinese nursing school to modernize Chinese nursing and women’s education and worked with the US agricultural department to introduce soybeans into the American diet.  Before coming to SIUC, Xiao received her MA degree in American Studies from the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing and worked as a TV journalist for four years, focusing on international politics and U.S.-China relations. She speaks Chinese, Japanese, English and French.


Geoff Lybeck

Geoff specializes in the environmental cultures of the Atlantic World, Native North America, and U.S. Empire. He is interested in merging historical, anthropological, and ecological methods and interpretations in order to shed light on the interconnectedness of human and environmental histories. Before returning to academia to pursue an advanced degree, Geoff worked for several years in management at a renewable energy integration firm in the Southwestern U.S. He received his M.A. degree from Southern Illinois University in 2017.


Carlos Medina

Carlos is a doctoral candidate in the SIU History Department with a focus on twentieth century Puerto Rico, reproductive rights, and Latino studies.  He is currently nearing completion of his dissertation The Very Insides of Nationality: Reproduction and Women's Bodies as a Site of Colonial Encounters in Twentieth Century Puerto Rico, 1898 - 1973.  Carlos is a first-generation college student with a B.A. in History from Southern Illinois University and an M.A. in African American History from Northeastern Illinois University. He is a recipient of the Graduate Professional Student Council Research Award (2014) and an SIU Doctoral Research Fellow for the 2016-17 academic year.


Isacko Diba Yattani

Isacko’s research areas explore African political history and peace and conflict studies in Africa. His dissertation is titled “Inter-communal Conflict and Devolution in Marsabit County, Kenya: 1963-2015.”  Isacko earned his Master of Arts (MA) degree in History from Kenyatta University, specializing in political history, and a Bachelor of Education (Arts) from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA), majoring in History and Swahili studies. Isacko has published an article, “The Legacy of Colonialism and its Contribution to Conflicts in Communities living in the Marsabit County of Kenya (1964-2011),” in the Journal of Global Peace and Conflict.