We are delighted to welcome our new graduate students to the Center’s MA program: Shyamala Engelhart, Andreina Fernandez, Kaylee Kagiavas, Logan Neser, and Melissa Powers. These students bring a rich range of experiences and interests:

Shyamala Engelhart has a BA in Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research interests include the intersection of gender and aging, with a focus on how contemporary women are resisting and rewriting common aging narratives and finding empowerment through online platforms such as blogging. Shyamala is a certified clinical hypnotherapist and her hobbies include playing chess, singing, and meditation.

Andreina Fernandez graduated from the University of Florida in 2017 with a B.S. in Psychology, a B.A. Linguistics, and a minor in Disabilities in Society. Her research focuses on Latinx identity, queer identities, and immigration.

Kaylee Kagiavas graduated with an Individualized Studies BA with minors in women’s studies, history, and psychology from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania in 2018. Her research and interests are focused on reproductive politics, women’s history, and nonprofit work. She is excited to further explore women’s and gender studies topics throughout her MA.

Logan Neser graduated from the University of Florida with his BA in Women’s Studies and two minors in Health Disparities and Public Health. He currently works as the graduate assistant for LGBTQ Affairs. He hopes to focus his research on the medicalization of transgender people’s identities and the ways that trans people contest this. He is also interested in disability studies and mental health.

Melissa Powers graduated from the University of Florida in 2017 with a BS in psychology and a minor in Women’s, Gender, and Sexualities Studies. It was in large part her work in feminist and queer theory through her undergraduate minor that inspired her to pursue an MA in the Center. She intends to continue working in theory with a focus on power and empowerment as well as an exploration into queer identities. Melissa views intersectional feminist scholarship as a means of impacting social change.


Women’s Studies Graduate Students (Left to Right) Logan Neser, Andreina Fernandez, Shyamala Engelhart, Kaylee Kagiavas, and Melissa Powers

News from Current MA Candidates

Our new students join our current MA candidates who have been hard at work on their exciting and diverse research projects, and have news and updates to share:

Mirela Cardinal’s MA research project, with the supervision of Dr. Tanya Saunders, is about queer visibility on YouTube videos in the Brazilian context. She is currently analyzing her data and developing her knowledge towards queer studies and discourse analysis methodologies through her independent study. She will spend the remainder of the year writing the first draft of her non-thesis project and applying for Ph.D. programs in Social Sciences or Counseling that center social justice.

Corinne Futch is a second year MA student working on her thesis project podcast about queer students’ experience at the University of Florida. She hopes to shed light on the marginalization of this community to invoke change within the university.

Meaghan MacPherson is working on her MA thesis with the supervision of Tace Hedrick to analyze the #MeToo movement as survivor discourse. She will spend this semester completing a draft of her thesis with the intention of defending in the Spring. She is also currently applying for PhD programs in Communication and Media Studies.

Marcela Murillo successfully defended her final project titled “Empowerment and Agency through Domestic Practices: A qualitative study of Laundry Practices in UF’s Family Housing” during the Fall. She obtained the prestigious Center for Gender, Sexualities, and Women’s Studies Research Madelyn Lockhart Graduate Student Teaching Fellowship for Fall 2018. This award has allowed her to gain more teaching experience through the lectureship of WST2611 Humanities Perspectives in Gender and Sexuality. Finally, her paper “Monstrosity, Motherhood and Indigeneity: Representations of Otherness in Contemporary Bolivian Comics”, which is the result of a Women’s Studies class, has been accepted as a chapter in an edited volume on Monstrous Women in Comics to be published by the University Press of Mississippi in early 2019.

Anthony Dustin Rollins is continuing his MA/PhD work in the Center. He continues to focus his research on intersectionality and contemporary HIV/AIDS activism within a queer context using a theoretical perspective informed by carnal sociology. His thesis will address the Sexual liberation narratives of queer men using Tuvada as pre-exposure prophylaxis. He is excited to continue contributing to the Center and queer intersectional scholarship.

Karleen Schlichtmann continues to work on her MA thesis with the supervision of Dr. Celeste. She is analyzing the representations of Black women living with HIV/AIDS in health research literature and comparing that to existing programs that serve this group. At this year’s National Women’s Studies Association Conference Karleen presented her research poster, “‘Just Imagine’ A World without HIV/AIDS: Black Feminist interventions in Health Justice.”

Jane Stanley is currently working on a non-thesis project under the supervision of Dr. Trysh Travis. This project takes the form of a blog detailing the histories and impacts of nine influential female comedians. Over the summer Jane interned at Gainesville Girls Rock Camp, which she found to be a transformative experience. Jane plans to graduate in the spring of 2019 and will attend law school after a gap year.

Matt Stern is working on the first full draft of his M.A. thesis under the supervision of committee chair Dr. Tace Hedrick and committee member Dr. Maddy Coy. This thesis will analyze graphic images of violence against women in the television series Twin Peaks in order make connections between the racialized and gendered ideologies employed in mass media and the discourse(s) involved in the #MeToo movement. He hopes to turn this thesis into a publishable paper and help spark conversations about the importance of empathy in perceptions of both fictional and real-life accounts of sexual violence.

Hannah Tabor is continuing to work on her non thesis paper with plans to defend in the Spring of 2019. Her research involves examining and analyzing the equity of women’s health services in Gainesville, Florida. In addition, she will present her research at the Global Status of Women and Girls Conference at Christopher Newport University in March, as well as attend the United Nations Youth Assembly in February. She is currently applying to Ph.D. programs in higher ed and sociology.

Nik Wiles completed a full draft of their non-thesis project this semester. It is a book about parenting outside of the gender binary, and it uses a memoir-style approach from the viewpoint of a genderqueer parent. Nik presented a portion of this book at the inSECURITY conference this year, and it received much interest, which is why they are currently pursuing publication. Alongside these endeavors, Nik continues their work as a Professor of English at Santa Fe College; they are also beginning work on an academic publication that addresses the potentially damaging effects of using umbrella terms in connection to gender identities.

Alexandria Wilson is continuing as a joint MA/ Ph.D. student. She continues to focus on the issues of violence against women and women’s exploitation in Central Eastern Europe. She is currently on a Fulbright grant conducting dissertation fieldwork in the Czech Republic. For her final project in the Center, she is working on a journal article in which she explores how women’s organizations in the Czech Republic and Slovakia are resisting the new “gender backlash” movement which has taken hold across Europe.