Alumni Bio's PhDs

Alumni Bio's PhDs

Alumni Biographies - PhD's



Dr. Katherine Ellison
Ph.D. (2013) History, Western Michigan University

Dr. Anthony Frazier
Ph.D. (2013) History, Western Michigan University


Dr. David Zwart
Ph.D. (2012) History, Western Michigan University



Dr. Gordon P. Andrews
Ph.D. (2011) History, Western Michigan University
M.A. (1996) Educational Leadership, Western Michigan University
B.S. (1984) History, Western Michigan University
Dr. Gordon P. Andrews is an Assistant Professor of History at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan. He has taught a variety of subjects at a secondary education and university level, including social studies, education, and history. Dr. Andrews’s primary research interests focus on secondary education, gender, race, and immigration. His dissertation was entitled Undoing Plessy: Charles Hamilton Houston, Race, Labor and the Law, 1895-1950, and he is currently revising it for publication. In 2010, Dr. Andrews received the International Baccalaureate Educator of Distinction Award.

Dr. Karl Baughman
Ph.D. (2011) History, Western Michigan University
Karl Baughman has taught history at Concordia College since August 2009. Prior to teaching at Concordia, he was a doctoral student at Western Michigan University, where he successfully defended his dissertation “Women of Foreign Superstition: Christianity and Gender in Imperial Roman Policy, 57-235” in March 2011. Dr. Baughman is also the contact for Study Abroad and sits on the Council for the Concordia International Studies Consortium of the Concordia University System.


Dr. Irene E. Geisler
Ph.D. (2011) Western Michigan University
M.A. (2006) Eastern Michigan University
A.B. (1979) U of Michigan
I am currently teaching introductory courses in World and European history as a Visiting Assistant Professor of History at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan. My primary research interests are: Eastern Europe and the Baltic States, Russia/Soviet Union, Gender, Nationalism, Migration, Ethnicity and Oral History. The focus of my current research, “Into Diaspora: Gender, Annexation and Exile of Latvians 1940-1953,” is the examination of the involuntary and forced migration of individuals due to war and aggression. I am working on a series of articles on “Power Structures and the Problem of Sources: History Writing in Post-Soviet Latvia following 50 years of Soviet Annexation.” I am also in the process of revising my dissertation, “The Gendered Plight of Terror: Annexation and Exile -- Latvia 1940-1950” to publish it as a book. I recently received a Post-Doctoral Grant in Aid to conduct research at the Immigration History Research Center, with the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis MN, for academic year 2011-2012.

Dr. Samuel Ngovo,
Ph.D. (2011) Western Michigan University
M.A. 2003, SUNY Binghamton
B.A. 1989, Cuttington College


Dr. Brian Becker
Ph.D. (2010) Medieval History, Western Michigan University
M.A. (2002) Medieval History, Western Michigan University
B.A. (1999) History, University of Missouri-Columbia
Dr. Brian Becker was a Lecturer in Medieval History at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tennessee from 2009-11, and is currently an Assistant Professor of History at Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi. He has taught courses in The Early and Later Middle Ages, Medieval Conquest and Colonization, and The Great Plague and Late Medieval Society. Dr. Becker’s research interests focus on the medieval Mediterranean and include cultural interaction, exchange, and colonization, urban history and demography, forms of documentation, ways of knowing and memory, and historiography. His most recent publication is an article entitled “New Evidence for Genoese Cryptography in the Late Fifteenth Century: Antonio De Montaldo’s Cifrario of 1477 and the Defense of Chios against the Ottomans,” in Erken Klasik Dönemden XVIII.  Yüzy?l Sonuna Kadar Osmanl?lar ve Avrupa: Seyahat, Kar??la?ma ve Etkile?im/The Ottomans and Europe: Travel, Encounter and Interaction from the Early Classical Period until the End of the 18th Century, edited by Seyfi Kenan. He has presented at national academic conferences as well as those in Sardinia, Turkey, and Portugal. Dr. Becker has translated several works from Italian to English for the Encyclopedia of the Medieval Chronicle.

Dr. Travis Bruce
Ph.D. (2010) History, Western Michigan University
M.A. (2000) University of Poitiers
B.A. (1999) Portland St.
Dr. Travis Bruce currently serves as assistant professor of medieval and Islamic history at Wichita State University. His publications cover intercultural relations, political authority, and territoriality in the medieval Western Mediterranean, and especially Islamic Spain. He has presented his research at numerous conferences in the United States and Europe, and published articles in journals from the same regions of the globe. His book, La taifa de Denia et la Méditerranée au XIe siècle will be published in 2012 by Toulouse University Press, and he is working on a manuscript entitled Rethinking the Medieval Mediterranean and the Islamic Maritime State: The Case of the Taifa of Denia. Dr. Bruce is also a member of a research group at the French National Research Center (CNRS) for a five-year project entitled “Imperial Government and Authority in Medieval Western Islam,” editing and translating the entire extant corpus of Almohad chancellery documents.

Dr. Christopher M. Jannings
Ph.D. (2010) History, Western Michigan University
M.A. (2004) History, Western Michigan University
B.A. (2001) Western Michigan University


Dr. Robert H. Duke
Ph.D. (2008) History, Western Michigan University
M.A. (1987) Educational Leadership, Western Michigan University
M.A. (1980) History, Western Michigan University
B.A. (1974) Secondary Education, Western Michigan University
Dr. Robert H. Duke is an Assistant Professor at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti and teaches courses preparing students for positions in secondary education. His research has focused on American political culture, especially the intersection of race and ethnicity with public education policies. Dr. Duke has extensive professional experience in the secondary school system, having served as Superintendent at Gull Lake and Mendon Community Schools, Directors of Curriculum and Community Education at Galesburg-Augusta Community Schools, and as an Instructor of Record at Western Michigan University. His research interests include Modern United States social, cultural, and political history, U.S. environmental history, and cultural exchange through agriculture. Dr. Duke has an upcoming book, Strength in Unity: Federalism and Waco, TX in the Era of Lyndon B. Johnson, 1935-1969. In addition to publishing many book reviews, he has also presented at many conferences and will give an Oral History Workshop at Western during the summer of 2011. Dr. Duke has twice been a member of the Recognized Faculty at the College of Education Celebration of Excellence Convocation at Eastern Michigan University and received the Gwen Frostic Doctoral Fellowship at WMU.



Dr. Ray DeBruler, Jr.
Ph.D. (2007) History, Western Michigan University
M.A. (1995) History, Eastern Michigan University
B.S. (1992) History, Central Michigan University
Dr. Ray DeBruler, Jr. is a Professor of History at Kellogg Community College in Battle Creek, Michigan and has been teaching there full time since 2007.  He has also taught at Kalamazoo Valley Community College and Western Michigan University. Dr. DeBruler’s research interests include land use and settlement patterns in Michigan, local history, and Jewish history. He is an avid speaker and presented at the Battle Creek Historical Society Speaker Series in Battle Creek, Michigan in 2009 and 2010.   Dr. DeBruler has also served as Research Fellow for Heritage Battle Creek since 2008.

Dr. Clay Johnson
Ph.D. (2008) Public History, Western Michigan University
M.A. (1999) Public History, Wright State University
B.A. (1997) History, Wright State University
Dr. Clay Johnson is the Executive Director of the Garst Museum and Darke County Historical Society in Greenville, Ohio. His professional interests include museum and exhibit management, nonprofit administration, human resources management, artifact conservation, and records and archives management. Dr. Johnson’s research interests focus on American flight and military history.  His current research is a book entitled Flights Past: The Wright Brothers’ Legacy and Dayton, Ohio which examines the relationship between the legacy of the Wright brothers, Dayton, Ohio, and the Smithsonian. He has also published articles on the history of flight and aircraft.

Dr. S. Mark Veldt
Ph.D. (2007) History, Western Michigan University
M.A. (1999) History, Western Michigan University
B.A. (1973) Religion, Cornerstone University
Dr. Mark Veldt is Associate Pastor at Gun Lake Community Church in Wayland, Michigan. After completing his Ph.D. in ancient history, Dr. Veldt completed a two-year program of classes and examinations leading to ordination in the Reformed Church of America. He has taught History at Western Michigan and Classics at Grand Valley State University.  Dr. Veldt is also an instructor in Systematic Theology, Bible Survey, and Church History in lay pastor training programs of the Reformed Church in America, and he is an Adjunct Professor in Spiritual Formation at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan.



Dr. Maureen O'Brien
Ph.D. (2006) History, Western Michigan University
M.A. (1995) U of Notre Dame
B.A. (1991) Benedictine College


Dr. Michael T. Martin
Ph.D. (2005) History, Western Michigan University
M.A. (1996) Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University
B.A. (1989) English, University of Iowa
Dr. Michael T. Martin is an Associate Professor and the Coordinator of the John F. Reid Honors Program at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado. Since 2004, he has taught a wide array of courses on Medieval Europe and also teaches in the Gender and Women’s Studies Program and language department. Dr. Martin’s current research interests focus primarily on the Carolingian Era, and the Italian Homilary and its contribution to early medieval studies and poplar preaching. He is collaborator and co-transcriber of Jean de Vignay’s Miroir Historial and has published articles on a large variety of topics. Most recently, Dr. Martin travelled to Spain to present “History Goes to Hollywood and the Beach: The Strengths and Challenges of Using Film and Fiction to Learn and Critically Analyze History” for the Fourth International Conference History Under Debate in Santiago de Compostela.

Dr. Andrea Yount
Ph.D. (2005) Western Michigan University
M.A. (1993) Western Michigan University
B.S. (1989) Education Western Michigan University


Dr. Lucia Curta
Ph.D. (2004) Western Michigan University
M.A. (1998) Western Michigan University
B.A. 1996, U of Bucharest

Dr. Stephanie J. Jass
Ph.D. (2004) American History, Western Michigan University
M.A. (1994) American Culture Studies, Bowling Green State University
B.A. (1992) History, Valparaiso University
Dr. Stephanie J. Jass is an Associate Professor of History at Adrian College in Adrian, Michigan.  She teaches courses on American History, Gender and Race, Native American History, Historical Methods, and Women’s Studies. Dr. Jass’s research interests include American History, Women's History, American Culture Studies, and Foodways. She is author of No Victory Without Work: A Pictorial History of Adrian College (2009) and A Guide on Legislation for Protection of Indian Burial Sites (1997). Her work over the past few years has focused primarily on Reacting to the Past, a pedagogy involving historical role-playing games developed at Barnard College.  Dr. Jass has worked for two years to incorporate the new program into the curriculum at Adrian College, and she was recently asked to co-author a game on the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Dr. Kevin M. Kain
Ph.D. (2004) Russian History, Western Michigan University
M.A. (1995) European History, Appalachian State University
B.A. (1990) History, University of North Carolina at Wilmington
Dr. Kevin M. Kain is a Lecturer in History and Humanistic Studies at the University of Wisconsin- Green Bay. His research and teaching interests include Modern Europe, Russian Cultural and Religious History, Gender History, and the History of Images. His book with Ekaterina Levintova, From Peasant to Patriarch: Account of Upbringing, and Life of His Holiness Nikon, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia (2007) provided the first English annotated translation of the Account. Professor Kain also contributed a chapter entitled “Reading between the (Confessional) Lines: The Intersection of Old Believer Book and Russian Print Cultures” to The Space of the Book:  Print Culture in the Russian Social Imagination (2011). He has two forthcoming journal articles on Russian monasticism. Dr. Kain has been the recipient of several research grants, including a Fulbright-Hays Fellowship, a Kennan Institute  (Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars) grant and two recent awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities.



Dr. Kevin B. Vichcales
Ph.D. (2010) History, Western Michigan University
M.A. (1994) Western Michigan University
B.A. (1990) Albion College



Dr. Sharon Carlson
Ph.D. (2002) American History, Western Michigan University
M.L.S. (2001) Library and Information Science, Wayne State University
M.P.A (1991) Public Administration, Western Michigan University
B.S. (1987) Political Science, Western Michigan University
Dr. Sharon Carlson is an Associate Professor of the University Libraries and Director of the Western Michigan University Archives and Regional History Collections here in Kalamazoo, Michigan. In addition to managing all aspects of the University Archives, Dr. Carlson also teaches courses in history and library science at Western Michigan University. Her research interests focus primarily on American History, including American Culture Studies, Material Culture, and Public History. Dr. Carlson’s most recent publications include “Archivists Partnering With Oral Historians:  Documenting the Experiences of African Americans, Native Americans, and Mexican Americansin Librarians as Community Partners: An Outreach Handbook” and “Teaching American History: Archivists Partnering with Public Schools” in Librarians as Community Partners: An Outreach Handbook.  Dr. Carlson is an active presenter at professional organizations, most recently the Michigan Archival Association. Professor Carlson is very active in community and campus programs, and she has consulted several historical societies in archival methods.

Dr. April R. Summitt
Ph.D. (2002) History, Western Michigan University
M.A. (1993) History, Andrews University
B.A. (1987) History and English, Newbold College, England, UK
Dr. April R. Summitt is an Assistant Professor of History at Arizona State University at the Polytechnic Campus in Mesa, Arizona. Dr. Summitt has taught a wide array of history courses at ASU and currently teaches undergraduate students in environmental history and historical research and writing methods. Her primary research focuses on water issues in the American West, specifically the environmental histories of rivers and their watersheds. Dr. Summitt has authored two books that focus on Native American history, Sacagawea: A Biography (2008) and Sequoyah and the Cherokee Alphabet (Forthcoming in 2012). She has another book scheduled for publication in 2012, Contested Waters: an Environmental History of the Colorado River which examines interactions between humans and the Colorado River throughout history.  Her previous research focused on relations between the US and the Middle East, and she published a book entitled John F. Kennedy and U.S.-Middle East Relations: A History of American Foreign Policy in the 1960s in 2008. Dr. Summitt is a leading expert on water culture and environmental history.



Dr. Steven R. Cartwright
Ph.D. (2001) History, Western Michigan University
M.A. (1992) Western Michigan University
B.A. (1979) University of Michigan

Dr. R. Clifford Jones
Ph.D. (2001) History, Western Michigan University
Doctor of Ministry (1989) New York Theological Seminary
M.A. (1979) Religion, Andrews University
B.A. (1976) History, Fitchburg State University
Dr. R. Clifford Jones is the Associate Dean and a Professor of Christian Ministry at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University.   He teaches courses in Urban Ministry, The Church and Social Issues, Issues in Black Church Leadership, Biblical Preaching, and several other subjects. Dr. Jones’s book, James K. Humphrey and the United Seventh-day Adventists was published in 2006 and details the emergence of the Sabbath-Day Adventists. He edited Preaching With Power: Black SDA Preachers Share Secrets for Effective Preaching, a book of interviews of prominent African American Seventh-day Adventist preachers, published in 2005.  Dr. Jones is also the Senior Minister at All Nations SDA Church in Berrien Springs, Michigan and has served in this position since 2006.



Dr. Robert Galler
Ph.D. (2000) History, Western Michigan University
M.A. (1994) History, The University of South Dakota
B.A. (1985) English, The State University of New York at Albany
Dr. Robert Galler is an Associate Professor of History at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota and specializes in Native American History. He is currently working on a book entitled “A History of Crow Creek Tribal School” for which he is under contract with the University of Nebraska Press. Dr. Galler is also a frequent presenter at teacher training workshops and programs in Native American Studies. Recently, he presented at the National Indian Education Association in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 2009; on the Crow Creek Sioux Reservation in central South Dakota in 2010; at workshops connected to the Teaching American History grant program in Thief River Falls and Bemidji in 2010; at the Native Studies Summer Workshop for Educators (NSSWE) at the White Earth Reservation in 2010; and at the Minnesota Historical Society-sponsored Central Minnesota Teachers Academy in 2010. Dr. Galler worked to develop and organize an extensive public programming schedule pertaining to the display of “Lewis and Clark and the Indian Country,” a National Endowment for the Humanities exhibit in 2009. In 2009, his article “Sustaining the Sioux Confederation: Yanktonai Initiatives and Influence on the Sioux Confederation, 1680-1880,”Western Historical Quarterly 39 (Winter 2008) was nominated for the Michael P Malone and Arrell Gibson (Western Historical Association) Awards.



Dr. Juleen Audrey Eichinger
Ph.D. (1999) History, Western Michigan University
M.A. (1992) Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University
M.A. (1980) Comparative Religion, Western Michigan University
B.A. (1973) Home Economics Education, Western Michigan University
Dr. Eichinger is the owner of an editorial business, Eichinger Communications, LLC in Tucson, Arizona. Her business provides editorial services to scholars and publishers, specializing in Medieval Studies, History, and Literature.  In addition to academic editing, she also provides technical editing, print publication, teaching, and writing services. Dr. Eichinger served as Production Editor at Western's Medieval Institute Publications for many years. She then was Director of Communications for Western Michigan University’s Research and Graduate Studies before moving to Arizona.


Dr. Florin Curta
M.A. (1999) Medieval Studies, Cornell University
Ph.D. (1998) History, Western Michigan University
M.A. (1995) History, Western Michigan University
B.A. (1988) History and Philosophy, University of Bucharest, Romania
Dr. Florin Curta is a specialist in medieval history and archaeology and currently a professor at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Dr. Curta has taught a wide array of courses on medieval ethnicity, economic and social history, religion, and archaeology. Dr. Curta has published four books, edited four others, and is the author of many chapters, articles, papers, and presentations. His most recent book The Edinburgh History of the Greeks, c. 500 to 1050 (2011)explores the relation between the presence of Byzantine troops and the rise of a landed aristocracy in early medieval Greece. Other works by Dr. Curta include The Making of the Slavs: History and Archaeology of the Lower Danube Region, A.D. 500-700 (2001) which was named a 2002 Choice Outstanding Academic Title and won the Herbert Baxter Adams Award of the American Historical Association in 2003. His second book, Southeastern Europe in the Middle Ages, 500-1250 (2006), was published with Cambridge University Press. His third book, Text, Context, History, and Archaeology: Studies in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages (2009) is a collection of studies which explores a wide variety of themes, from language, philosophy, and religion in Late Antiquity to medievalism and nationalism, as well as power in the early Middle Ages. Professor Curta is the recent recipient of a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens. He received Western Michigan University’s College of Arts and Sciences Alumni Achievement Award in 2003. Dr. Curta has also appeared on several History Channel specials.

Dr. Cheryl H. Lyon-Jenness
Ph.D. (1998) History, Western Michigan University
M.S. (1972) Biological Science, University of Michigan
B.A. (1970) English Literature, Kalamazoo College
Dr. Cheryl H. Lyon-Jenness retired in 2011 as the Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of History at Western Michigan University, where she taught courses in 19th and 20th century United States History and in Women's History. Her research interests focus on horticultural history with emphasis on ornamental plants as material culture. Dr. Lyon-Jenness’s 2004 book, For Shade and For Comfort:  Democratizing Horticulture in the Nineteenth-Century Midwest explores the mid-nineteenth-century boom in horticultural interest and analyzes its cultural significance. She contributed a chapter to Mapping in Michigan and the Great Lakes Region which received the 2008 Historical Society of Michigan Award and 2008 ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Award, Gold Medal for Regional Books.  Dr. Lyon-Jenness has also contributed a multitude of papers, articles, and presentations on horticultural and agricultural history.


Dr. Charles Johnson
Ph.D. (1997) History, Western Michigan University
Dr. Charles Johnson completed his Phd at WMU in 1997 with his dissertation titled "The national German-American alliance, 1901-1918 : cultural politics and ethnicity in peace and war." He is currently a professor of history and coordinator for international studies at Valdosta State University. His areas of research include the United States since 1877, US diplomatic history, American studies and German history and cultural studies since 1700.


Department of History
4301 Friedmann Hall
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5334 USA
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