2024-2026 Multifaith Scholars

Photo of Alyssa Carney.

Alyssa Carney

Majors: International and Global Studies, History

Minors: Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, Geography, Interreligious Studies

Mentor: Sandy Marshall (Geography)

Project Title: Echoes of Al-Andalus: Islamophobia and Migration in Spain

Proposed Research: Examine the lived experience of Muslim Arab migrants in Spain and the contested memories of Islamic Spain and the Spanish Reconquista within the context of growing right-wing populism.

Photo of Owen Hayes.

Owen Hayes

Major: History

Minors: Political Science, Interreligious Studies

Mentor: Brian Pennington (Religious Studies)

Project Title: Catholic Missionaries and Indigenous Peoples of Australia

Proposed Research: Using archival research and interviews, Hayes will examine contentious encounters between Catholic missionaries in Australia and Aboriginal peoples.

Photo of Hasan Khan.

Hasan Khan

Major: Computer Science

Minors: Data Science, Leadership Studies, Interreligious Studies

Mentor: Pratheep Paranthaman (Computer Science)

Project Title: Exploring Multifaith Engagement through Video Game Representation

Proposed Research: Based on visual and narrative analysis of popular video games as well as interviews with gamers themselves, Khan’s research aims to critically examine depictions of religion in video games with the goal of producing guidelines for game designers to improve religious representation.

Photo of Olivia Novak.

Olivia Novak

Majors: Religious Studies, Theatrical Design

Minor: Entrepreneurship

Mentor: Toddie Peters (Religious Studies)

Project Title: Abortion in Context: Historical Influences on 21st Century Abortion Discourse

Proposed Research: Examine the historical roots and religious discourses that influence today’s political debates about abortion and reproductive rights. With the goal of producing traditional scholarly outputs as well as a theatrical performance to share her research.

Photo of Jesse White.

Jesse White

Major: Religious Studies, International and Global Studies (Middle East and Africa concentrations)

Minor: Islamic Studies

Mentors: Waseem Kasim (History) and Mussa Idris (Anthropology)

Project Title: Mahdism and Sudanese: History and Memory of an Islamic Movement in North America’s Diasporic Sudanese Communities

Proposed Research: Combine historical textual analysis of archival resources with ethnographic research with Sudanese diaspora communities to examine the history of the Mahdi revolt, the role of Sufism therein, and how it is remembered today in light of contemporary politics and conflict in Sudan.

2023-2025 Multifaith Scholars

Photo of Sandoh Ahmadu.

Sandoh Ahmadu

Major: Psychology

Minors: Neuroscience, Interreligious Studies

Mentor: Pamela Winfield (Religious Studies)

Project Title: Bridging West & East: An Alternative for Emotional Regulation

Proposed Research: Explore the extent to which Buddhist subtle body schemes of the Indo-Tibetan sphere relate to neurobiological systems of Euro-American biomedical science, and how might these systems provide complementary resources for emotional self-regulation.

Photo of Kiara Cronin.

Kiara Cronin

Major: Human Service Studies

Minors: Interreligious Studies, Leadership Studies, French

Mentor: Sandra Reid (Human Service Studies)

Project Title: How Generation Z is Deconstructing Traditional Faith Practices

Proposed Research: Qualitatively examine the differentiation in spirituality, faith practices, and traditions of Generation X (1965-1979) and Generation Z (1995-2012), interrogating the influence of social media on Generation Z on those topics.

Photo of Kaelyn Rosenberg.

Kaelyn Rosenberg

Major: Cinema and Television Arts

Minor: Interreligious Studies

Mentor: Nicole Triche (Cinema & Television Arts)

Project Title: Vampire Media as a Reflection of Christian Values and Prejudices

Proposed Research: Research the intersection of vampire folklore, religion, and pop culture—specifically literature, film, and TV—to explore how Christian representations and reactions to the vampire reflect concerns with a demonic “other” and may manifest in demonizing marginalized groups through xenophobia, homophobia, and antisemitism.

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Hunter Siegel

Majors: Political Science, International & Global Studies

Minors: Interreligious Studies, Peace & Conflict Studies, Spanish

Mentor: Aaron Sparks (Political Science)

Project Title: Examining the Relationship between Religious Identity/Ideology, Political Identity/Ideology, and Pro-Environmental Orientation in American Christians, Muslims, and Jews

Proposed Research: Bring together religion and political science with a focus on pro-environmental orientations by evaluating the extent to which religious identity/ideology and political identity/ideology influence environmental values using established measurement scales.

2022-2024 Multifaith Scholars

Photo of Ashley Burnett.

Ashley Burnett

Major: Political Science

Minor: Religious Studies

Mentor: Kathleen Crosby (English)

Project Title: Festivals: Exploring the Culture between Religion and Politic

Picture of Multifaith Scholar Beth Marzella

Beth Marzella

Major: International and Global Studies

Minors: Peace and Conflict Studies, Interreligious Studies

Mentor: Sandy Marshall (Geography)

Project Title: Iraq’s Intrareligious Background

Picture of Multifaith Scholar Claire Przybocki

Claire Przybocki

Majors: International and Global Studies, International Economics

Minors: Leadership Studies, Interreligious Studies

Mentor: Brian Pennington (Religious Studies)

Project Title: Rising Catholic Nationalism in Poland

Picture of Multifaith Scholar Daniel Scheff

Daniel Scheff

Majors: Political Science, Religious Studies

Minors: Leadership Studies, Interreligious Studies

Mentor: Amy Allocco (Religious Studies)

Project Title: Gender and Caste Identities in the Revitalization of Andal Worship

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Andy Walter

Major: Religious Studies

Minor: Music

Mentor: Andrew Montheith (Religious Studies)

Project Title: Colonialism, Christianity, and Indigenous Support for Cultural Genocide

Photo of Jasper Serenity Myers.

Jasper Serenity Myers

Major: Classical Studies

Minors: Asian Studies, Interreligious Studies

Mentor: Lynn Huber (Religious Studies), Kristina Meinking (Classical Studies)

Project Title: Female Same-Sex Erotic Encounters in the Ancient Mediterranean Religious Landscape

Proposed Research: Investigate the socio-religious-political contexts of the Roman tribas (the woman attracted to other women) and Greek Sapphic identity, including examining the depictions of women who love women within mythological and religious (including magical) traditions.

2021-2023 Multifaith Scholars

Photo of Darsev Kaur.

Darsev Kaur

Major: Religious Studies

Minors: Asian Studies, Leadership Studies

Mentor: Dr. Amy Allocco (Religious Studies)

Project Title: Analyzing Devotional Sikh Worship and Everyday Religiosity in Keshgarh Sahib Gurudwara

Photo of Aidan Melinson.

Aidan Melinson

Major: English (Creative Writing), Religious Studies

Minors: History

Mentor: Dr. Drew Perry (Creative Writing)

Project Title: Crossing with Crows: Reconciling Christianity with Neopaganism in the Shadow of Grief

Photo of Peyton Rohlfs.

Peyton Rohlfs

Majors: Literature, Religious Studies

Minor: Criminal Justice Studies

Mentor: Dr. Dinidu Karunanayake (English)

Project Title: Crossroads of Nationalism and Religious Identity: Sinhalese Buddhist Nationalism and Cultural Memory in the Sri Lankan American Diasporic Community in Staten Island


Photo of Madelyn Starr.

Madelyn Starr

Majors: International and Global Studies (Middle East Concentration), Religious Studies

Minors: Political Science, Middle East Studies

Mentor: Dr. Amy Allocco (Religious Studies)

Project Title: Creating Narratives of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Through Everyday Materiality in Religious Contexts

2020-2022 Multifaith Scholars

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JoyceLyn Bentley

Major: Cinema and Television Arts, Religious Studies

Mentor: Assistant Professor Ariela Marcus-Sells (Religious Studies)

Project Title: Then and Now: The History of Black Muslims in North Carolina

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Katie Grant

Major: Computer Science

Minors: Mathematics and Data Science, Interreligious Studies

Mentor: Professor Megan Squire (Computer Science)

Project Title: Analyzing Recruitment and Retention Techniques of Christian Identity Extremist Groups in an Online Context

Photo of Hallie Milstein.

Hallie Milstein

Major: Journalism, Religious Studies

Minors: Professional Writing Studies

Mentor: Associate Professor Geoffrey Claussen (Religious Studies)

Project Title: Jewish Identity and Wall Street

Photo of Alaa Suleiman.

Alaa Suleiman

Major: Computer Science

Minors: Italian Studies, Interreligious Studies

Mentor: Associate Professor Evan Gatti (Art History)

Project Title: Religious Fabric

Photo of Emily Wilbourne.

Emily Wilbourne

Major: Arts Administration

Minors: Dance, Business Administration, Interreligious Studies

Mentors: Assistant Professor Casey Avaunt (Dance) and Associate Professor Pamela Winfield (Religious Studies)

Project Title: The Influence of Japanese Imperialism on Buddhist Seungmu Dance in Korea

2019-2021 Multifaith Scholars

Photo of Srija Dutta.

Srija Dutta

Mentor: Amanda Tapler

Srija Dutta is a Public Health and International Global Studies (Middle East Concentration) double major with minors in Interreligious Studies and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Atlanta, GA. Srija first became interested in religious studies when working extensively with refugees in Clarkston, GA, and her interest escalated as she completed her Public Health Practicum in a rural village in Jamkhed, Maharashtra. Being the daughter of first-generation immigrants, Srija strives to use her privilege in efforts to study and advance Women’s Health outcomes within marginalized populations. Through her exposure to Hindu identities within her family, and her extensive studies of the Islamic faith through her Middle Eastern Studies courses, Srija developed an interest in analyzing and comparing the public health outcomes among religious communities– bringing together her Public Health and International Studies majors. Being born in Kolkata, Srija made it a priority to conduct her research in a manner that would benefit those from her hometown who did not have the same privilege and opportunity that she did. Srija plans on conducting researchat Hamari Muskan, a nonprofit organization in rural India that focuses on aiding and providing support for women that actively part take in sex work. Through her research, Srija strives to create a sense of empowerment and sustainable health for these vulnerable women while actively conducting research to further her academic interests.

Photo of Madison Gray.

Madison Gray

Mentor: Brian Pennington

Madison Gray is an Environmental and Sustainability Studies and Adventure Based Learning double major with an Interreligious Studies minor from Richmond, Virginia. She grew up in a secular household, and her interest in multifaith engagement began when transferred to a Catholic high school her sophomore year. Exposure to a new religious community piqued Madison’s curiosity, inspiring her to apply for Multifaith Scholars to learn more about interfaith issues and religious diversity. Madison’s research plans to incorporate Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping in order to explore intersections between religion and environment at the Hindu-Buddhist Angkor Wat group of monuments in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Photo of Sarah Jane McDonald.

Sarah Jane McDonald

Mentor: Mussa Idris

Sarah Jane (SJ) McDonald is a Religious Studies and International/Global Studies (Africa concentration) double major with minors in Leadership and Peace/Conflict Studies. Sarah Jane’s interest in religion and the ways faith traditions interact began in high school and has grown throughout her time at Elon through a variety of opportunities. Sarah Jane’s research centers around the role of religion in the lives of East African migrants, specifically refugees in Tanzania and Greensboro. Her project combines her study of Africa with a passion for refugees and will include ethnographic fieldwork while abroad in Tanzania.

Photo of Kylee Smith.

Kylee Smith

Mentor: Sandy Marshall

Kylee Smith is a Policy Studies major and with a double minor in Inter-Religious Studies and Peace and Conflict Studies from Sugar Land, TX. Kylee’s interest in multi-faith work began her senior year in high school when her school’s diversity theme for the year was “Healing Islamaphobia.” This sparked her initial interest in gaining a better understanding of other religious traditions and working alongside those facing discrimination. She interned in Refugee Resettlement the Summer of 2018 where her experiences opened her eyes to the stigmatization, prejudice, and discrimination refugees in America face simply due to their religion. As a Multi-Faith Scholar, Kylee will conduct qualitative research amongst resettled Muslim migrants to understand what impact relocation to a secular and religiously diverse country has had on their religious views and practices.

2018-2020 Multifaith Scholars

Photo of Marjorie Ann Foster.

Marjorie Ann Foster

Mentors: Glenn Scott & Amy Allocco

Marjorie Anne Foster is a Journalism major and an InterReligious Encounters minor from Columbia, South Carolina. Marjorie Anne has always been interested in multi-faith work since her early years of high school. In 2015, she spent a year traveling abroad and learning with diverse religious communities. Some of her travels included Nepal, India, Thailand, Peru and Swaziland. Through her travels and classroom endeavors, she has developed a deep respect for those of different faiths, particularly those practicing in their youth. Through her academics and personal pursuits, Marjorie Anne has seen the divide between the modern day faith practitioners and the way they are presented in the media. This has fueled her to research more about different faith communities and produce journalistic work that more appropriately reflects their modern-day lives and traditions. Marjorie Anne’s research as a Multi-faith Scholar will be focused on Muslim youths and the systems, structures and struggles they may face while at an American University. Her hope is to create a more accurate portrayal of these students live’s in order to build a bridge between different individuals and combat the bias and negative attention these people groups may receive in the press.

Photo of Kathryn Gerry.

Kathryn Gerry

Mentor: Amy Allocco

Kathryn Gerry is a political science and international global studies (Middle East concentration) double major with minors in inter-religious studies and Asian studies from Boston, Massachusetts. Kathryn’s interest in religious studies emerged from her practice of yoga in high school. At Elon University she was introduced to and became passionate about the field of religion in academia. Through multiple religious studies classes, Kathryn developed an excitement for learning about the interactions of various religions with each other and the globalizing world. Her research as a Multi-Faith Scholar focuses on the phenomena of worker migration in the South Indian state of Kerala. Kathryn’s project will examine the implications of this migration and subsequent flows of ideas, practices, and money on social, religion, and economic landscapes in Kerala.

Photo of Katie Hooker.

Katie Hooker

Mentors: Brian Pennington & Amy Allocco

Katie Hooker is a Strategic Communications major and an Interreligious Studies minor from Medfield, MA. Katie’s interest in interfaith work began in an introductory religion class at Elon and grew as she started to think about coursework through a personal lens. Katie’s research as a Multifaith Scholar will focus on the impact of Christian Missionaries on indigenous religions in Haiti, such as Haitian Vodou. Before passing away in 2016, Katie’s aunt travelled to Haiti over twenty times to build an orphanage and provide humanitarian aid alongside her church group. Katie is interested in how people of different religious backgrounds interact in the context of charity and missionary work and is excited to combine academic research with a personal interest.

Photo of Hannah Thorpe.

Hannah Thorpe

Mentor: Geoffrey Claussen

Hannah Thorpe is a junior from Annapolis, MD with majors in Religious Studies and Psychology and a minor in Political Science. Hannah has always been interested in the way religion quietly influenced our everyday lives, and especially the way people of different religious backgrounds interact. Hannah is interested in how prejudice plays a role in and among people who come from different traditions and how each tradition situates itself around inter religious encounters. This drove her to her Religious Studies major and to applying to the MultiFaith Scholars program at Elon. Her research centers around Jewish responses to NeoNazi movements in the United States.

Photo of Sonya Walker.

Sonya Walker

Mentors: Colin Donahue & Ariela Marcus-Sells

Sonya Walker is a religious studies and journalism double major from Church Creek, Maryland. She came to Elon with a dream of becoming a journalist but quickly was interested in multi-faith issues, especially surrounding Islam and its position within the world of journalism. Sonya’s research surrounds Islamophobia in the America airline industry with a focus on the intersections and representations of different religious traditions including Sikhism. Sonya looks forward to bringing together her interests in journalism and ethnography in this project and hopes to produce both scholarly and journalistic final pieces.

2017-2019 Multifaith Scholars

Kristina Meyer.

Kristina Meyer

Mentor: Toddie Peters

Kristina Meyer is a religious studies and mathematics double major from Richmond, V.A. Kristina’s interest in multi-faith work began in high school when she began to befriend people who came from diverse religious backgrounds. In these interactions with her new friends, Kristina learned to appreciate what made her and her friends both similar and different from one another. This fueled her interest to be involved in various interfaith organizations and programs upon coming to Elon. Her involvement in these organizations has caused her to examine the difference between programmatic dialogue and actively addressing actual social issues. Kristina’s research as a Multi-faith Scholar will be focused on considering how justice-oriented interfaith organizations interact with faith communities to promote participation in social justice work for their participants and congregations.

Styrling Rohr.

Styrling Rohr

Mentor: Amy Allocco

Styrling Rohr is a religious studies and anthropology double major from Cincinnati, O.H. Styrling was inspired to further her understanding of the world’s religions, particularly in Hinduism, after feeling like she had more to learn after her experience with religious studies in high school. Styrling is fascinated by the sometimes blurred lines that can exist between religious traditions and has further delved into this interest in religious diversity through her involvement in Periclean Scholars. In her work with Periclean Scholars, Styrling and her cohort have been working to push for inter-faith work and reconciliation efforts with a community partner on the ground in Sri Lanka. In her work as a Multi-faith Scholar, Styrling plans to analyze the ways in which South Asian musical and performance traditions may cross religious boundaries among Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians.

Sophie Zinn.

Sophie Zinn

Mentor: Brian Pennington

Sophie Zinn is an international studies and political science double major from Indianapolis, I.N. Sophie became most interested in multi-faith engagement during her time in a Jesuit high school. As a Jewish woman, Sophie felt inspired by the diverse representation of religious backgrounds around her and leaned in to learning more about the world’s religions. One of her courses, “Social Justice and Decision Making,” furthered her interest in religious studies and after discovering many of the injustices of the world, Sophie became a strong advocate for universal human rights. As a Multi-faith Scholar, Sophie plans on investigating religion and secularism in the public sphere through research on migrant populations from Middle Eastern countries in Europe.